Success with surgery


Original posting, 2003-03-02:

I had troubles with my back for a very, very long time. I remember falling onto the piece of furniture about 17 years ago, hitting a corner of the cabinet with my tailbone. I didn't go to the doctor (being 15 years old and hiding it from my parents), and walked it off in a few weeks. Since then there was a very mild pain every once in a while, aggravated by slips and falls, which I had by hundreds. In 1995 the pain got severe, my physician at the time did an X-ray but nothing was found. I'd been given Lodaine XL and it took a very little edge of the pain. It descended with time, but was constantly present on the background. I took a big fall of the mountain bike in the fall of 2001 and got pregnant at the same time! I started feeling persistent severe pain which I blamed first on the fall and then on the pregnancy - and postponed going to the doctors thinking that I didn't want X-rays taken while I'm pregnant and speculating that the pain will go away after I deliver. The pain became excruciating into the 3rd month, and I could not sit for more than 40 seconds unless I leaned 45 degrees forward. Luckily I got one of those "boppy" pillows that are designed to go around your waist to support the baby's weight during breastfeeding from a family member (as a baby shower gift), which I have successfully transferred under my bottom and that thing got me through my pregnancy. The last couple of months of pregnancy were a terrible horror, I couldn't sleep, sit, and even stand or walk without pain. I was constantly exhausted. I was still hoping for a natural birth, but my labor did not go too smooth and the doctor decided to go for a C-section, which was a blessing in disguise. There was no way that I could've pass the baby without further serious damage to my lower back. Anyway, to make a long story short - my beautiful healthy son was born, and my old and true boppy pillow nursed me through the next couple of months.

My physician prescribed me some Celebrex to see if it would help (no X-rays). Celebrex did not work too well (though it gave some effect) and she switched me to Vioxx. It helped a bit more, but was not the answer. I should've insisted on the X-ray! But I am a chicken when it comes to people in the uniform (white gowns included). So I went along with the medication. To my disappointment, the pain did not go away, and as getting worse, - not as sharp as without the meds, much duller, but still persistent and strong. I still could not sit, which was a major problem since I had to feed my baby. Try to stand all the time! I decided to hit the internet and found this website (THANK YOU, JON!). After reading all the stories I've decided to do something about it. So I took the providers directory from my health insurance company, and started to call all the doctors' offices in the 100 miles radius. After calling almost each of the sports injury and osteo specialist, I finally found Dr.Kane ( see Doctors and specialists in the USA, New Jersey), who had performed a lot of cortisone shots and some surgeries during his years of practice. I went to see him in summer of 2002 and he did the evaluation and took some X-rays. And the verdict was... my coccyx was broken! We couldn't pinpoint it to any specific event, since I had a lot of slips, falls, accidents, a pregnancy, etc. and one of them or all of them contributed to the breaking or my tailbone. Dr.Kane explained to me, that most of the times cracked or even broken coccyx does not require surgery and may be treated by other methods. However, since mine was significantly disengaged from the rest of my spine, and pointing sideways and even a bit backwards (if I remember things clearly), he suggested removing the broken piece. I agreed and we scheduled a surgery for a later date ( I had to postpone due to other health reasons).  

I've completed pre-admittance tests few days prior to the surgery, and I've checked in the Hackensack University Hospital in New Jersey at 7 am on October 29, 2002. I've spent 5 minutes in the waiting area, then 30 min. in pre-admittance, and then walked into the surgery room (I was given a choice to be wheeled in or to walk on my own). Then I got hooked onto the IV line, and one-two-three-fou...... there we go, la-la land! About an our later I woke up being all done. They wheeled me out into the post-admittance (or whatever they call the area). The only problem from the surgery was being a bit nauseous after the IV, but I've been given some meds for that and I could manage. An hour later Dr.Kane checked on me and told me that he removed 3 pieces of my tailbone and that everything went fine. Another  hour later I went home SITTING in the car - I was home by noon! I felt relief immediately after the surgery, though, I was pretty miserable the first week. Then the pain got a bit worse, but the scar was healing nicely and I knew I should give it some time. After all, my doctor promised me I would ride a bike two months after the surgery. I was given the Percocet for the pain. It did a wonderful job for pain, but wasn't agreeing much with the rest of my body, so when I thought I could manage without the Percocet, I went off 5 days after the surgery . On the same day  I took my car and went out to the pharmacy. I had to pull out and rest once on my way there. I drive Jeep Cherokee Sport, and in my opinion it is the most comfortable car for the coccyx conditions (with the back of the sit all the way up). I couldn't sit in anyone else's car at all, unless I was half-laying on the side, and even that caused a lot of main, but not in my car, so I'm very grateful for that! It took me about 2 weeks before I could sit for 15 minutes on the row. 4 weeks later I went to work - I had to get up every 20 minutes to half-hour to walk around and get the blood flowing and ease the healing pains. Two months after the surgery I COULD ride the bike.

It's been almost 4 months know and I bless the day I've decided to act, found this website, found Dr.Kane and went for it! The pain is still with me, but I only feel about 10-15% of what I used to feel, and I still feel that it is improving, so there is a chance for  a 100% happy ending.

Right now I am doing the rehab for the lower back (I also have some minor issues with lower back), and felt strong enough for a real exercise. I went to the sports club today on a guest pass. I've survived 30 minutes on the treadmill, went through 30 minutes of my back routine and some free weights (lightly). I feel a bit sore but great! I'm signing up for the sports club tomorrow! I have to take a lot of extra weight off now (it kept piling up while I wasn't feeling well, and that along made me feel worse, too). I feel that I am almost in control of my body, definitely being on the road to a full recovery.

I wish all of you good health and a lot of support from your friends and family. Again, thanks to Jon, Dr.Kane, all of you whose stories inspired me to change my life.

Update, 2004-01-11:

Hello again, everyone!

It's been 15 months since my surgery and 10 months since my last update. I've been getting a lot of emails and thought I owe it to everyone, myself and my doctor to write an update on my condition. .I am almost fully -98% - recovered. I know sometimes pain comes back, but I'll keep my eyes open and if it is in my charts to face it again, I'll face it prepared this time.

Sometimes I still feel pain, but it only happens when I have unnatural positioning of the body (for example, there is an exercise in Pilates program, when you have to "curb" your body into a ball and "balance" on your bottom, i.e. tailbone area - then it hurts) or when I sit on the couch all cuddly-up with my feet up on the couch and sideways for longer then 30 minutes on the row, or if I just plain sit for more then 4 hours. However, as soon as I change position, pain goes away. I shouldn't be taking unnatural positions and playing couch potato, anyway!

I have a relatively small (about 1.5 inches/3-4 centimeters) keloid scar, almost invisible if I stand upright. [Note - a keloid is an overgrowth of dense fibrous tissue that usually develops after healing of a skin injury]. Most of my big scars are, just my body's response. It was itchy in the first 6-8 months, but it's totally fine now.

Sometimes I still believe I feel a little something "cracking" down there when I do Kegel exercises, or contract my gluteus maximus while sitting, but it doesn't hurt. If it will get worse with time, I'll address it, but it doesn't bother me now. And, perhaps, it's just in my head.

So, considering those minor - especially comparing to horrendous past - issues, I can say I am 98% recovered. Almost completely! I was feeling this way about 6-8 months post-surgery, and it's been pretty stable since, so I don't expect it to be 100% at this point - but, believe, me, I'll do the surgery all over again. I think 98% is pretty darn good! I can do all the activities I want (except those two I mentioned above). I spend my workdays in the chair (just get up and move every couple of hours to boost circulation), and feel OK, and I can do all the active things I want: swim, ride bicycle, exercise, play with my son, etc. etc. etc.

Thanks, everyone, for your interest and, most important, your support, thanks to Dr. Kane, and personal thanks to Jon for starting this journey and sharing it with us. May you all be blessed with good health.


Update, 2007-03-04:

Hello, everybody! It's been a long time since my surgery, and I feel great. I have been receiving lots of emails, so I guess it is time for another update.

It's been over 4 years since my surgery, and my coccyx (or what's left of it) has been 100% pain-free for a few years now. If I had to, I would do it again. If anyone needs a good doc in USA, New Jersey - I highly recommend my doctor - Dr. Kane (again, his name is on the list). I've been in contact with some people who also went to Dr. Kane, and everyone I know has been happy with his expertise and service.

I also wanted to share, at the request of my friend, Olga, who became Dr. Kane's patient, as well. See Olga's story here.)

That's all, folks!

Kind regards, best wishes, be healthy and happy!


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