Posted 7/16/2012 8:07 AM (GMT -6)
Hi ninjakat, sorry to hear about your troubles and I hope you start feeling better soon! I don't know much about fistulas, but my boyfriend went through something similar 4 months ago. He had excruciating anal pain (we thought was hemmeroids) that ended up being a horseshoe fistula and he needed surgery to repair it (had setons put in). As I understand it, setons cut off circulation around the abscess so it can't continue to spread. The wound/abscess stays open to allow the infection/pus to drain out slowly as it heals itself.
At first, the drainage issue made him depressed. We were not adequately prepared and the surgery hadn't been properly been explained to us...we didn't know what to expect, but when the drainage issue came up, we were both a little freaked out. Luckily, he only had drainage for 3-4 weeks at which point it gradually "dried up" and now it no longer drains.
For it to reach your sphincter, it sounds like it's pretty "high" up there. My boyfriend's horseshoe fistula was higher on one side than the other, but no danger of getting too close to his sphincter though. I've read there can be issues with anal incontinence if the seton cuts that high, as it is cutting through the muscle. I'm not totally 100% on this, so I could be wrong. Anyway, hope this was helpful. I found some very informative links through this site.
I know it seems hopeless right now. The pain can be hard to bear and mentally taxing. But after your seton surgery, and it starts to heal and drain, you'll start to have less pain. It's kind of a slow and long process of gradually feeling better. My boyfriend probably started feeling better about 2 weeks after his seton surgery, and now he is 4 months post-op and pain-free! No pain from the setons anyway, but he still has IDB issues (stomach pain, frequent bowel movements). Anyway, I know its hard, but just know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! As our doctor said to us just before surgery, "in a few months, you're going to look back on this like it was a just nightmare". Take care, and I hope you have a good support system :)