Going in for surgery

Angie - acostalas@msn.com

Original posting, 2003-04-20:

My coccyx pain started after having a pilonidal cyst removed from that area. Once the cyst was removed it left a void and my coccyx was directly underneath the skin. It was already painful for me to sit after the cyst removal and so I attributed the pain in the bone to that, however when the pain in my tailbone was still present after I healed from the surgery I knew it was something else. There wasn't any damage to the tailbone it was just that now there was no tissue cushioning it from whatever I had to sit on. My coccyx is very prominent but I always thought that was normal. After two sets of x-rays it was discovered that my tail bone doesn't curve as much as most do and the very tip of it curves slightly to the right. One of my biggest problems was that occasionally when I would get up from sitting or laying down that my coccyx would get hooked on the scar from my previous surgery! That was excruciating.

I saw two orthopedic surgeons before I found one that had actually performed a coccygectomy. The first one told me to gain weight or get it removed. He wasn't nice at all so I went for a second opinion, the second wasn't familiar with the problem (even though I had been told that he was when I made the appointment) so I finally found a nice Dr. that was familiar with my problem, he was also the only doctor that even bothered to take a look at it! He says that it's a fairly straight forward procedure and it will be out-patient but that I can stay overnight if I'd like. Surgery is scheduled for the 29th of April and I will write back to let you all know how it went for me.

First update, 2003-05-04:

I was scheduled for surgery on April 29 but it was postponed due to my insurance company not know what a coccygectomy was and so declining coverage. My doctor had to call their doctors and explain the situation, they wanted to make sure that it was a necessary surgery and not for cosmetic reasons (who could think that someone would go through this for cosmetic reasons, you can't even see the thing!!). So now I am scheduled for May 06 and will write on my progress as soon as I am able to. I read one account on here that was a bit like a journal and I think I will try that as well, it gave me a good idea of what to expect.

Second update: 2003-05-25:

I went to the hospital for my coccygectomy on 4/6/03, surgery was scheduled for 10:30 am but I didn't go in until 3:30 due to a mix up with the scheduling. I was originally scheduled for out-patient surgery but meeting with my Dr. before I went in he said that he wanted me to stay overnight so that they could monitor me and make sure that everything was ok. I finally got wheeled into the operating room and was put under general anesthesia. The surgery took 50 minutes I think and I woke up in recovery not feeling very good at all! Some unthinking nurse laid me on my back! I was in a lot of pain because of that and couldn't turn myself onto my side, luckily someone came along and helped move me onto my side which was more comfortable. They gave me a shot of Demerol for the pain because it was severe. That knocked me out for quite sometime which was nice.

When I woke up I was surprisingly ok, there wasn't much pain at all. It was most definitely uncomfortable but was certainly bearable. I had to shift from one side to the other about every 20 minutes that I was awake. I was able to get some more sleep though. Sometime in the night they brought the bedpan around and maneuvered me around on the bed to use it. My body just wasn't going to have this so I asked to go use the bathroom instead. Here I anticipated much pain, having to get out of bed and walk there and then sit down and then walk back. I was again very pleasantly surprised to find this rather easy, I rolled onto my stomach (with the help of the nurse) and shuffled my way to the bathroom. There was very little pain or discomfort in the whole process. I was thinking that it might be due to some of the pain killer still being in my system but when I woke up again in the morning and got ready to leave there still wasn't much pain. I walked out of the hospital and walked up to my 3rd floor apartment without a problem.

I must say that after reading some testimonials on this site I was braced for a very tough recovery but it has been very easy! My biggest problem is that my hips hurt from laying on them so much!! I was prescribed Vicadin for the pain of recovery and to date have only taken two pills, I don't need them :-) I have been up and walking around, since the day I came home, without a problem. My Dr. must be some magician because I've had a very easy time since the surgery. They did leave the top portion of the wound open to drain and in fact put a drain in it (looked like a drinking straw to me) that was removed by the Dr. two days after the surgery and even that was painless. When I went to see him to have that removed and for him to have a look he told me that I definitely needed this surgery because I had a large bony protrusion on the end of my tailbone (he didn't call it a bone spur but it might be the same thing) I also had another pilonidal cyst that was growing over the bone (they removed this as well).

I went for another follow up visit yesterday and he said that I'm healing very well. The incision itself was about 2 1/2 inches long and they left one inch of this open. There is now about 1/2 inch of it still open and the Dr. predicts that this will take about two weeks to close. There isn't any packing in it and I only have to wear a gauze pad taped down over it. The drainage is less and less each day.

I am sitting now, on a donut cushion, as I write this. I was able to sit on the cushion as of the 15th, just 9 days after surgery! I still can't sleep on my back though. I am going back to work on the 28th, 3 weeks after surgery, and that is a relief to me (and my boss!) Boredom is my other problem :-)

A note for anyone in the NYC area who is looking for a Dr. for this problem, mine is great! His name is Dr. Haher and he is the Chief of Spine Surgery for Lutheran Medical Center. I will say though that he is skeptical of people needing this surgery so if you go to see him be prepared for that. He didn't think that I had any other option other than surgery when he first saw me and after the surgery he knows that I had to have it done. But he said that most people who think they need it really don't. I was bothered to hear him say that but given that I had such a hard time finding a Dr. that was even familiar with my problem I didn't let that statement bother me, he still did a fantastic job.

If anyone would like to email me to discuss the surgery and my experience please feel free to, my email is acostalas@msn.com. I hope this gives hope to some of you who are contemplating surgery, though I don't think mine was a typical recovery given what I've read here and other places. I'm so thankful for finding this site and hope that all you who are suffering find relief!

Angie

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