The surgery

JMF

Posted 2007-06-03

First of all let me say a big thank you to Jon for this website. It is a God-sent for those who are going through this experience. My story begins with a visit to gastroenterologist for a check up on anal fissure which had healed. While I was there I told the doctor that I was still having pain and have been having this pain for a long time (years) but had recently gotten worse in and around my coccyx area. He went out of the office then came back and handed me a computer printout on coccydynia stating this was not his field of expertise but ordered a CT anyway. The CT ,of course, was useless and a waste of time and money. When he said this was not his field of expertise I knew that he no longer wanted me to come to him with this problem.

So I had been studying this website and others since the doctor had mentioned coccydynia. I decided to go to my primary care physician (pcp) for a second opinion. Upon examining the area she agreed that indeed it probably was coccydynia and said that the orthopedists and neurologists in Waco, Texas (where my doctors are located) would not treat it because they disagree on whether it is a bone issue or not. I called my orthopedist and he refused to treat me for this condition which confirmed what my pcp had said. So I told my pcp that I had already been doing some research and had found a group of orthopedists in Dallas, Texas that specialized in coccygectomy. She stated that she would order a bone scan and for me to drop off the list of Dallas specialists to her office staff and they will set up an appointment. I dropped off the lists of the Dallas specialists to her office that same day. Three days I waited for the bone scan to be ordered and for an appointment to be set up with one of the Dallas doctors, but nothing. So I called one of the doctors on the list, Dr. Kevin Gill with UT Southwestern in Dallas, Texas (see Doctors and specialists in the USA) and set up my own appointment for May 16th which turned out to be great. Called my pcp back and told her that I could not wait any longer because of the pain and took the initiative to make my own appointment and their help is no longer needed.

Dr. Gill knew exactly what I was talking about and stated that surgery would be the best course unless I want to try the shots first and then ordered an MRI of the lumbar and sacrum to rule out any other possibilities. I told the doctor that I did not want any cortisone shots because I had been through that already with my knee and ankle and still had to have surgery.

They set me up for outpatient surgery the following Thursday May 24th at 6 a.m. I decided to wear a house dress (moo-moo) so that I would not have to wear a bra and it would not be so difficult to get dressed after the surgery. All for my comfort. We had to get up at 3:00 a.m. to be gone by 4:00 a.m. It was a 2 hour drive. So we get there and register and are told that the surgery would be at 9:15 a.m. but Dr. Gill likes his patients to get there at least 3 hours early because sometimes his surgeries can go fast and he can get me in quicker. We were not impressed.

At 8:45 a.m. they told me to go back to room #11 where they started all the prepping for surgery. Everyone came in and spoke with me and answered any questions that I had then I went under the knife. A suggestion: when the doctors/nurses are coming in and answering questions it is a good idea to have someone with you that is writing down or recording the information because no one is going to remember that much after the surgery. All of the staff at Zale Lipshy Hospital were great and very professional.

When I was wheeled to the recovery room the first request I made was to be turned on my side. I wasn't nauseous at all so I took a drink of some orange juice and was on my way to the bathroom to release some urine and get out of there. My husband drove the Crown Victoria and put the front passenger seat all the way back then I had pillows all around and under me for a comfortable ride home. I still had plenty of pain medication in my system so I did not need to take any additional pain medication on the way home.

Once we were home, I went in and laid down for about two hours then I was up and standing at the computer or looking out our window at our beautiful back yard. I didn't go back to bed until later that night. When I urinate I had to put my hand under running water to get it started and that is because I am still swollen on the inside from the surgery so my stream of urine is weak and therefore taking me longer to empty my bladder. Made sure to have my husband get my cell phone camera and take a picture. The pain was more uncomfortable than unbearable.

Day 2 post-op I was in and out of bed and taking my pain medication. We had installed a handicap toilet before this happened so I did not need the toilet seat riser being so short (5'4") My husband was great in taking care of the incision. He would take an eyedropper fill it with peroxide and then pour it over the incision three times a day drying it with gauze and then apply triple antibiotic ointment once a day. I also took Vitamin E for the healing as well. It worked great.

Day 3 post-op I decided to take a walk around the school parking lot which felt great at the time but later that night I felt like I had went to the gym and worked out.

Day 4 post-op I walked around the house as much as possible and had my first BM which was not painful at all because I had been taking a prescribed stool softener before the surgery and was still taking it. My urinating has gotten back to normal. All of my bruising from the surgery was beginning to appear and that part of my buttocks around the incision was looking very colorful. I had my husband take another picture so I could see what he was talking about. Lots of yellow, blue, red, and brown colors.

Day 5 post-op still taking pain medication Norco which is a Vicodin/Tylenol combination two pills in the morning and two at night. The glue on the top half of my incision is peeling but no redness, oozing, or soreness. My husband stated that it looks like it is healing really well.

Day 6 went outside and took a walk around the school yard. It was nice to get out of the house. I can sit for about 30 minutes in a chair in front of the computer and only that chair. I cannot sit in any other chair in the house. Laying on my back is out of the question as well as on my left side because it feels like my incision is being pulled apart. Ouch! I sleep with a pillow between my legs to take the pressure off of my hips which are still sore.

I will be off work for six weeks because I work in a call center and must be sure that I can sit for at least 8 hours straight. Will be going back to the doctor in about 2 weeks for follow-up.

My experience has gone very well so far. I believe what really helped me was all of the research I did on the internet, a positive attitude, and moving as much as I my body will allow. The longer you stay in bed the more stiff you get.

I know that the recovery is long term but because of my research I know that I will get through it. This is by far the best website but there is another website were you can actually view how the surgery is done through medical illustrations.

The more you research this condition the more confident you will be about your decisions. Hope this will help someone who is having this surgery. If you are in Texas I highly recommend the services of Dr. Kevin Gill an orthopedic surgeon-spine surgeon affiliated with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, Texas. He has been practicing for over 20 years and has done over 100 coccygectomy surgeries.

Update, 2007-07-08

It has been six weeks since my surgery and I am doing very well. The incision has healed up nicely and the pain on a scale of 1-10 with ten being the worse pain it is about a 3 now. I can sit for a long time (3-4 hours) with only a little pain but bearable. I know the question was asked on this site awhile ago about sex, well my husband and I had sex about 5 weeks post-op with me having no pain at all from my surgical area and was very enjoyable.

My only nemesis is my car. I still cannot drive because I have a Honda Accord and those seats pull too much on the surgical area when going around a curve because of the design of the seat so that pain is about 5 on the scale but even that situation continues to improve. I can now sleep on my back and have no problems turning over in bed. I still have a preference to hard sitting surfaces over soft ones.

I have not taken any pain medication since 4 weeks post-op. My hips have not been sore since 5 weeks post-op when I could start sleeping on my back taking the pressure off of my hips. I am very careful not to lift over 10 lbs. Soaking in the whirl pool 3 times a week at the gym after 3 weeks post-op (that is when the nurse stated that I could start swimming or get in a whirl pool) has helped a lot.

Overall my experience has been a very positive one and I would do it all over again with the same doctor in a heart beat.

The experience of the doctor in doing these type of surgeries is critical to your success (they should have done at least 10 within the last year) and how your body heals is a big factor as well. This type of surgery is still considered in medical circles to be rare so it may not be for everyone but for those who chose to have it done, do the research. If you have any questions that I may be able to help you with, please email me. I hope anyone reading this will be encouraged. God bless you.

Update, 2009-07-19

It has been two years since my surgery and I am doing very well. I can ride a bike, sit in a car for hours when traveling, and sit through an entire movie at the theater without any pain. However, I am about 90% healed and soft chairs still can give me some pain but it is tolerable and with time should eventually go away. Casual exercises are very important such as: walking the dog, hiking, bicycling, and swimming.

Healing for me is a long process but I would do it all over again. The main thing to remember is not to get discouraged. Yes, any type of surgery is nerve racking but stay focused on the goal of being pain free throughout the healing process and don't give up.

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