Coccyx removed 5 weeks ago

Gail Daoust -

Hi Jon,

I was injured 2 years ago by a colon rectal surgeon when he was performing a rectal exam with a ridged sigmoid scope (12 inches in length). He struck my tailbone during the procedure, and my life changed completely from that day. I have been unable to sit since that day. I used a coccyx cushion that I designed my self to use at work (office manager). I could sit on my cushion for up to 1/2 an hour then I needed to stand or lie on my side. To manage my pain I changed my position every 1/2 hour to control the pain. I was unable to walk for more than 30 minutes without increased pain in the tailbone region and hips.

I tried many treatments and nothing worked. After two years of no changes, I knew it was time for surgery. I had surgery July 25, 2002 and was released from the hospital on the second day. Home care (nursing) was set up, to clean my incision daily and change the dressings. This was set up to assist in decreasing my chances of infection. My ortho surgeon ( spinal surgeon) used a suture at each end of the 4 inch incision and 8 steri strips in between. By week three my incision was healed. Yeah...... My internal stitches continue to dissolve/heal. My doctor stated that my tailbone was very loose and this was causing my pain, and my prognosis is excellent..

I spend my days resting (laying on my side) and walking a bit around the house. I can now sit sideways on the couch. My hips get quite sore. I ingested Demerol my first three weeks. By the fourth week I decided to go off all medication, and see how I feel. The withdrawal from the Demerol lasted about one week, but now my head is clear and the pain is very manageable. I prefer to take no medication at this time. I use Extra Strength Tylenol if needed at bedtime. Overall I feel quite good. Pain minimal and mobility good.

I have not tried sitting yet. My doctor wanted me to wait until my six week follow-up, before trying to sit. I am hoping to start working out of my home part-time at week 7. I will discuss with my doctor.

I have a few questions and hope that you can give me some advice in regards to them. The reason that I would like to have some information regarding these questions is that I don't want to rush the recovery process.

  1. When do people typically start attempting to sit down after surgery?
  2. When you start sitting should it be on a coccyx cushion and then start weaning to just sitting on a chair?
  3. When do people with office type jobs generally go back to work?

Please feel free to post this on your website with my name included. I will keep you updated on my recovery.

Staying optimistic,

Gail Daoust

Reply from Jon Miles:

  1. It varies a lot when people feel ready to sit again. I tried a couple of weeks after surgery, for a minute or two, but go with whatever feels comfortable.
  2. Experiment to find what feels comfortable for you to sit on. I found the coccyx cushion to be the best at first, then after a while just a plain 5 cm (two inch) thick foam cushion, placed on any seat I sat on (I still use it, though I don't always need it).
  3. Some manage a return  to work after 3 or 4 weeks, but 6 to 8 weeks is more typical. But don't expect to be able to sit all day. I mixed sitting, standing and kneeling to stay comfortable. It is best if you can arrange a sit/stand desk.

You're right not to rush the recovery in my opinion. What you need most is patience, as it does take time before you're ready to put your whole weight on a new operation scar for hours on end. Gentle exercise, like walking and swimming, can help keep you fit.

Updated 2002-09-01

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