Worst Kept Secret: A Painless & Effective Treatment for Hemorrhoids

Victoria: So I heard recently that the average person has roughly 13 secrets, and this came from a researcher who studies secrecy and the effects of keeping secrets. So it's got some science behind it, but still I thought that can't be true. I mean, not of me. I'm an honest person, I'm an open book. I even write and talk about topics that scare other people, but the whole idea really got under my skin. I thought maybe I do have secrets. Maybe I'm just so good at keeping them, I have kept them from myself. So I did what I always do when I get a little hung up. I consulted the dictionary. And here's how Webster defines the word secret: information you're keeping from people close to you. And that's when I remembered the secret I had recently revealed to my husband.

The truth was, for the entire time I was dating my husband and into the first year of our marriage, I had been seeing another man that Kyle knew nothing about.     I might say I had a doctor's appointment or that I needed to run an errand, but what I never said is that I am going to see Dr. Gardner.

I kept Dr. G a secret from Kyle, but my girlfriends knew all about him. That's because Dr. G had a very specific set of skills, and he brought a lot of comfort and meaning to my life. Dr. Gardner is a fabulous proctologist who started the Oregon Hemorrhoid Clinic, where he continues to practice with three other doctors. And Dr. G had come into my life after I had long ignored that I was very uncomfortable, well, back there.

Victoria: Hi friends. If you're new to the Naked Librarian, welcome. I'm Victoria Payne, and I created The Naked Librarian because I wanted a place to share health and happiness news with grown-ass women. In today's episode called “Worst Kept Secret: A Painless and Effective Treatment for Hemorrhoids, we're talking about that pain in your ass.

It's a very informative and practical show, and it's also the final episode in our first season. So if you're not caught up on all the Naked News, please have a ball binging on episodes about emotional first aid, women and self-sacrifice, how to stop hating your clothes, and more—not to mention the precursor to today's episode called Poop Hacks.

Alright, now back to Secrets and Health and why we can be so weird about it all. So I honestly never planned to tell Kyle about Dr. G. The problem was Kyle had been producing my podcast and I didn't want him to hear about Dr.G for the first time while he was editing.

And so on a Sunday morning, I handed him his coffee and brought up, as you do, that I wanted to do an episode on non-surgical hemorrhoid treatments because it is honestly one of the very few medical procedures that I have had done that has totally changed my life.

And that's how my husband learned of my long health secret. And it's funny how I feel better having told him, but I'm pretty sure Kyle's feels worse. Kyle was raised by Midwestern parents who mostly communicate through code language. So this conversation really felt like daring him to love me. And as fate would have it, after I told him the truth about the other man, I also decided to start producing the podcast myself. So in the end, I gave up a secret I could have kept forever, but what's a little personal growth without a few awkward displays of courage?

Victoria: Butt health—it seems almost too personal to talk about. But let me ask you this. How is it that nature dictates that women must bleed in order to be fertile, engage in sexual intercourse, to make babies, then push humans out of our vagina? And yet all of these topics are considered impolite conversation. And those babies, well, they change our bodies and stuff can get a little inside outwards, if you know what I mean.

But because it's private, a lot of women, and I was one of them, literally grin and bear it for years. And here's another confession for you. I may have created the entire Naked Librarian platform just so I could tell you about Dr. Gardner and the amazing work he does because where else can I get a megaphone and tell the world about how much better your life can be when you get your hemorrhoids handled? And that unbeknownst to a lot of people, there's a treatment method for both women and men that is practically painless and the recovery is fast. Seriously, like after this episode drops, I could just peace out knowing I had made the world a better place.

Victoria: So let me introduce you to the experts on the show today. I invited Dr. Steven Gardner and his colleague Dr. Maria Siri to talk about hemorrhoids and hemorrhoid treatment. Now, one of their most popular treatments is called the Kei Technique, and there's a good chance you have never heard of it. The Keesey technique is a type of electrotherapy treatment for internal hemorrhoids using a negative galvanic electrical current that's sent to the hemorrhoidal tissue of the rectum and causes your body to heal from the inside out. And I'm here to testify that it not is only practically painless—it works! So, inside the episode, you're going to hear directly from these awesome doctors who provide compassionate care to people every single day.

Dr. Steven Gardner is a licensed naturopath and chiropractor who's been practicing for four decades. And Dr. Maria Siri is a board certified naturopath who's been specializing in proctology for 11 years. People come from all over the world to see them at their Oregon clinic, including some famous people that they have course were not allowed to reveal. But think of it, how humanizing to know that even the stars need someone to look after their bum. So, if you're at all curious, join me for a short informative conversation on butts and wellness.

Victoria: So something I was thinking about when I wanted to invite you onto this call is that I've gotten to know you a little bit Dr. Gardner over the years, but what's funny about that is I actually had more than one referral to come and see you for a couple of years before I actually came in. And at some point it was like the universe was conspiring— my primary care doctor had given me the information to the clinic and my really trusted chiropractor had also given me the information. And so I just really put it off. And I remember our first conversation was kind of something like, so how long have you been dealing with this problem? And I was really embarrassed to admit my answer, which was about 20 years, which at the time was the age of my oldest son. And so I'm just kind of curious, in both of your experiences, how common is that that people delay coming in to see you and why do you think that is?

Dr. Maria Siri: That's so common that I hear that every day that people have 20, 30 years have wanted to do something and they've been to other doctors and a lot of times they'll tell 'em there's nothing you can do or it's not worth going through the procedure to get it, so just kind of deal with it. And so they don't do anything or they're too embarrassed to tell anybody about it. And yeah, years go by and then finally, I mean, nobody wants to come to this appointment. They think it's going to be horrible. And I mean I can understand that it's embarrassing for sure, but most of the time they come in they're like, I can't believe I waited this long.

Dr. Gardener: I'd like to add a little bit to that. I think we're kind of in a time when people are more aware and also more willing to take the risk, if you will, to get a problem solved. For years and years, people wouldn't talk about these things. Also, if you had a child and you may be going to have another, you're not sure when to go about getting some repairs done or being evaluated. So we're now in a place where people are more commonly willing to go and take care of things.

Victoria: I didn't even think about that. I obviously waited until all my children were born and there were issues in between and it would've been really helpful to have come in between pregnancies. And so now I'm kind of curious, would that be your recommendation that people would get treatment as they go, or would it be to wait?

Dr. Gardner: Well, I think it's very good to go between birthing and part of the reason is that during labor and delivery there can be a lot of swelling. So if we can prevent that from being as bad as it was before or not happening at all, then we're pretty pleased about that. So that's what we try to do is get things fixed as good as we can while it's sometime before the next pregnancy and birth.

Dr. Siri: And we give lots of good recommendations to help with the labor and delivery process to help. So you know what to do right afterwards or during to help not get so many issues.

Victoria: Oh yeah, gosh, that would've been really helpful. I feel like thinking back to all the information I was reading about when I was pregnant and what kind of birth you wanted to have, I feel like this was definitely an oversight in my personal education. So there's kind of the stuff that we don't know or we don't talk about, but I'm also curious in your experience, what are some of people's misunderstandings about hemorrhoids, about hemorrhoid health?

Dr. Siri:  I think a lot of people think when they hear hemorrhoid that it's like some people think it's a big disease, they're not quite sure what it is. A lot of times people come in thinking that they have cancer. I would think that most of the time I have to reassure that this isn't cancer. This is something common that a lot of people deal with, nobody talks about. And people are pretty relieved with just that response, but they don't really know what it is. And a lot of times if you just see just your primary care, they won't do a full exam we would do into the rectum area. So it's unclear about what's really happening until we can actually really get in there and take a look.

Dr. Gardener:  And they may have a fear that this is going to be really painful and awful because anyone that's been through traditional hemorrhoid care has suffered quite a bit and we're trying very hard not to have that happen. But they don't know that about us unless they talk to who's been here before. Now we have so many people referring to us, other physician’s birthing centers, even urgent care places that refer to us because they've heard that our treatment basically is far less traumatic and painful than you might expect at a different office.

Victoria:  And that's honestly part of what I want to get the word out about because for all the people and for all the women like me who put it off, it was, I dunno if delightful is the right word, but it was so nice to discover that it was not very, in my experience, not very painful, especially compared to some of the other experiences I had had everything from childbirth to other injuries.

So, I in a few minutes I want to have you guys walk through a little bit about how the treatment works and what makes it different, especially from maybe someone's preconceived notions. But first I'm really curious about how you talk about what you do when you're not at work. So if you're at a party or if you're making a new friend, how do you talk about what you do? What do you call it?

Dr. Gardener:  I'll let Dr. Siri answer that. I

Dr. Siri: Usually say that I'm in proctology and then I'll go about, I mostly treat hemorrhoids and people get very curious at that point. And usually there's a lot of laughter that comes along with it. The funny part about talking to people is everybody kind of laughs about it at first and then always later that night, next day I get a text, I get an email, so there's something I can do about this. So that's the best. But mostly it always ends up being kind of funny. People don't really know how to respond about what do you do?

Dr. Gardener: I'm thinking about how often someone asks what I do and I tell 'em, I fix bottoms. What is that? I say, well, I'm a proctologist. And then there'll be that sort of squinty look and oh no, what is that and what do you do? And sometimes the spouse will tell on the other spouse, “Yeah, you need to go see that doctor. I know you have those kinds of problems.”

And then that makes for laughter and a little bit of red face. But what it does is just open up the conversation so people don't feel so petrified to talk about it. So 46 years now, I've been fixing bottoms so to speak. And so I have no problem talking about it to anyone. And if you knew the common people that have been here, you would all smile because you wouldn't know this from before. But many, many people that are very famous have been here. And that's a lot of resource for us because they refer others. You have people from many different countries that come.

Victoria: Yeah, and I'm so curious about that. I have a question coming up. I'm going to ask you more about that. So I know Dr. Gardner, you said that you've been doing it for 46 years. Dr. Siri, remind me how long you've been practicing.

Dr. Siri: 11 years.

Victoria: 11 years, okay. So how did each of you get into this specialty?

Dr. Gardener:  I really found out about it when I was in medical school and I had an episode of internal and external hemorrhoids because I was drinking a lot of coffee and staying up late studying. And one of my professors who was also a proctologist, I thought it was the keen to go talk to him. And that was Dr. Jay Oliver. And he invited me to come in and watch what he does. And the more I watched, the more I became curious about it. And so that was just the way I was guided into it. I had the treatment myself

Dr. Siri: And I learned everything from Dr. Gardner. So he taught at the school and I got interested in what was happening there. And I came to the clinic and did preceptorship here during school for about two years. And then when I was done, I started, and I've been here now for 11 years and learned pretty much everything from Dr. Gardner.

Dr. Gardener: See, I knew her as a student. I knew she was a hard worker and very bright and it was only a matter of time when she could figure out whether she wanted to give this a try or not. And she's been spectacular. Of course. I wish we had more like her.

Victoria:  I know you have told me that before. I love the relationships that you guys have with each other. It's so clear when you come into your office that you all like what you do and you like each other.

Dr. Siri: I said, we do have a lot of fun here.

Victoria: I sense that and you'd have to in this special line of work. Special line of work. So I mentioned earlier that in my experience, the process was so much less painful than maybe I expected, a very quick treatment in the treatments that I've had. I came in initially about eight years ago. I come back from time to time because somewhere between aging and just an active lifestyle seems like something will come up and it's so nice knowing that I don't have to live with that. But for someone who's never been treated for hemorrhoids or has maybe had some other kind of treatment, how does your treatment work and how is it different from other treatments that are out there?

Dr. Gardener: So what we use primarily to treat patients with is a direct current of electricity. That is we isolate the site and we want to treat and then we apply an electrical current that causes that site to turn white, then shrivel up and shrink away. We can regulate how much electricity or how long we treat so that the patient doesn't have to have a lot of discomfort sometimes. In fact, some patients won't feel hardly anything at all. It just depends on how the nerve supply and how it is for that patient. But it allows us to treat with very little discomfort. It may take a little longer, but usually not, and people go through it pretty fast. What's nice about that is that you don't have to do any cutting, so to speak, or any banding. So it's a lot less strong. It goes by quickly. And generally we're isolating a one or two spots at a time.

Victoria: When you say electricity or electrical current, that might sound pretty scary to somebody. Is this the regular old kind of electricity we're talking about?

Dr. Gardener:  No, it's not. It's an alternate or AC current. It's a direct current. So we can regulate the intensity of it so well and that makes it a lot better.

Dr. Siri: And there's not a lot of nervous tissue where we treat, so it's surprisingly not as uncomfortable as you'd think it would be.

Victoria:  And also the recovery time in my experience has been pretty quick. Is that common that sometimes within 24 hours I am back to my normal life? Is that common for everyone or is it individual in terms of how long it takes for somebody to recover after treatment

Dr. Gardner: For certain 90% or more are really not in any distress. Some have a spot of blood now and then or feel like it's a tiny bit achy, but it's usually minimal if anything at all. The nice news though is if they're suffering from bleeding or protrusion, even the first treatment will really make a difference in that. It may even eliminate the bleeding that they have off and on for years. We may be able to stop it right away.

Victoria: Oh gosh. I am really excited for people to hear about this because there is hope. And I've had a few conversations with friends. I had one friend, in fact, I made an appointment and I saw her and I said, Hey, you're coming with me to this appointment. Because I knew she really needed to have treatment herself, but she was afraid. So I was like, you can come with me, you can sit there, you can see what it's like. And I'm close to converting her. Maybe she'll listen to this podcast and be more ready.

So you've talked about how people come from all over the world and you get a lot of referrals. I know in separate conversations that I've had with you, Dr. Gardner, we've talked about why this treatment isn't, or maybe not why, but the fact that not a lot of people do what you do. And why do you think this treatment's not more readily available?

Dr. Gardener: There's a lot of possibilities, but the contemporary treatment is banding or surgery or some form of laser. It's not being taught in medical schools all around the country. You'd expect this treatment began many, many years ago. And the current thinking now is that most doctors don't want to treat simple hemorrhoids. They want to refer them out for banding or a surgery. But if they know of us in particular in our area, most everyone knows about us, so they'll send us over their patients or people that don't have the things that they will want to treat. We want to keep people out of the hospital if we can so that it's not so dramatic and not so painful. So we're sort of an alternative to the more common things that are being used by other physicians. I don't know that it'll ever be taught at the same rate as say banding and laser. It's being taught, but that's okay. There's room for all of us. We just happen to think that it's easier to do this. By our experience, most of the doctors in this clinic have also had treatment, so we understand exactly how it feels.

Victoria: So I know that I am going to have people listening from all, all over. And if they're not in Oregon can't get to you, what would you recommend for somebody else who couldn't come into the clinic? Is there a name for this kind of treatment that they could research and try to learn more about to see if they are something closer to them?

Dr. Gardener: Sure. The name of the treatment is called the Keesey treatment, and that's because of a guy Wilber Keesey that really first started experimenting and using it. We know that there are a few places back east, there's some people in Arizona, there's some people in Colorado. And even now in Montana, we have some other doctors that we've either trained or learned from someone like us. There was also some in Nevada, I don't know of anyone else that does it full-time like we do. In fact, we're now four people doing it. And so we have two women and two men in practice. And so we treat a lot of folks every day. I think some clinics dabble, if you will forgive that word, but don't treat people as frequently as we do. So we're more used to what we see. We can come more quickly with the diagnosis. We know right away if we're going to be able to help or not. So we like to let a patient know right away, yep, we think we can help or this is a problem that needs to be sent to someone else.

Victoria:  So we're wrapping up here. I have a question for Dr. Siri. So I know that in addition to Proctology, you also do some other anti-aging treatments. And I think my audience may also be curious about those. So can you say more about some of the other practices or some of the other treatments that you, and I was also curious, do you tend to have patients that come to see you for all of these things or is it pretty separate?

Dr. Siri: It can be kind of both. So I also do Botox for people and mostly I got into that because I use Botox on fissures, which is really helpful. So then people notice that I do Botox, so then I'll do Botox for them wherever they would like honestly. So that's always kind of fun. And then I also do some removals of moles and skin tags using a radiosurgery machine. But those are most of the two things I do other than just treating the hemorrhoids. And usually people just kind of come in and they notice a sign that I do that or I'll mention it if they're getting treated for Botox and for a fissure or something, they'll ask if I do it. But I do see people pretty regularly for both, but mostly treating the hemorrhoids is what I mostly do.

Victoria: So you're helping people be beautiful from the inside. I like that there's multiple talents there.

So I think the last question I have for you guys is one of the things that I like to do for myself and for my audience is to think about how one aspect of health is related to our whole health. And I'm curious if when it comes to hemorrhoid health or bottom health, how is it connected to our greater wellness? Is it just an aspect of aging or is it representative or connected to other things?

Dr. Gardener: If I tell people if it weren't for lousy diets and coffee and alcohol, I probably wouldn't have a job. So the things we see at the bottom are often reflecting the kinds of diet or bowel health that a patient has. And so I can tell pretty much right away whether I'm treating a diabetic or not, for example, or someone that has an autoimmune disease by the nature and the quality or lack of quality of health around the anal rectal canal. And so it lets me ask certain questions that might be appropriate about what they eat or what their lifestyle is like. So all of those things work together like that.

I wanted to add one more thing if you don't mind. We both treat men and women and some of our patients would refer one or the other of us based on our gender, but we treat both. And I was counting the patients today that were men and women that I have on my side and it's almost 50/50 and age group can be as young as children or I have patients over a hundred occasionally. So I may have a slight bit more women than men, but not too many. And men tend to put things off worse than women and they have to be pushed usually by someone who cares for them to get 'em to come in here. It's an interesting quality of people that we see. Some start off grumpy and not very willing to participate and they end up pretty much being our friends and we're thankful for that.

Victoria: Oh, I love that. I know from the men in my life that what you're seeing is true. Yes. If me and my girlfriends are putting off coming in, I can only imagine what some of the men that I know are doing related to that.

Well, this has been such a great conversation. I so appreciate you taking the time and helping me share really just some really great, I would say good news and great information with everybody because these are the kinds of topics that I think we're all healthier when we talk about

Dr. Gardener: Absolutely. Yeah. We thank you for having us on. Yes, thank you.

Victoria: I hope you enjoyed this production of The Naked News. Everything created here is for educational and entertainment purposes and should not take the place of talking with a medical or mental health professional. If you heard something today and thought, Hey, I need to go get this checked out, I say go for it. So thanks again for listening. You're amazing and cheers to living your very best life.