My coccygectomy

Bonnie A Pence - bapence2go@yahoo.com

Posted 2008-11-23

I have taken way too long to write this letter. I have felt so much better since my surgery that I actually forgot that I promised to tell my story on this site.

Some background: I fell when I was 13 years old and evidently broke by tailbone (I didn't have an X-ray, but was told by several physicians throughout the years when having exams that I did so). As a result I have been in pain or uncomfortable for many years. I had trouble when my first baby was delivered.

In the fall of 2006 I started having more pain when sitting, which increased over the next several months. I could also feel movement when I sat, like my tailbone was moving around. I had no trouble standing, walking or climbing. In Feb. 2007 I went to my Dr. who scheduled an X-ray and CAT scan (no physical exam). These showed I had a buckle fracture. No knowledge of how it happened, but that's what I had. I didn't know what to do and my Dr. was less than helpful.

I continued in pain for several months, not knowing what to do or where to turn. I never improved, even though I sat on a tush cush (cushion with hole where the tailbone sits) at all times, except in my car.

I got online and found this website. I was very grateful for all the information and for those who shared their experiences. Some were very scary and I was worried.

I went to a new Dr. who did a physical exam and told me, "Yes, it's broken and is leaning to the left. Why don't we just get rid of it? You don't need it anyway." I wasn't sure about not needing it, but if it was broken and wasn't healing, I knew I had to do something because sitting on anything for more than a few minutes, even with a tush cush was too painful.

I had to search for a surgeon who would remove my tailbone. I didn't know if I'd find one close by since it is not a common surgery, but when calling Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo, I was referred to Dr. Creig McArthur, also in Provo (see Doctors and specialists in the USA). I visited with him and told him my story. He took an X-ray. When he received the developed film, he put it in the wall viewer and I heard him say, "Hmm. Acute." He then sat down and wrote out an order for surgery. I had the surgery in same-day a couple of days later - June 15, 2007.

I prepared in the short time before surgery by taking a lot of antioxidants, mostly Vitamin C, selenium, and multi vitamins and zinc. A friend of mine who is a natural healer told me to take the herb arnica Montana before surgery and right after (this helps in healing).

I was at the hospital at 6:45 a.m. and did not leave until 10 p.m. This was not due to the tailbone removal, but to the anesthesia (I think). My oxygen saturation level was initially too low and I had some trouble breathing, when that was solved my blood pressure was too low. I don't remember being in any pain after the surgery. I threw up a lot, probably due to the anesthesia (I think they gave me too much which slowed down everything). It took hours and hours to get my BP up to normal before they'd let me go home. Finally after 10 p.m. my son drove me home and I sat without pain in the car.

The surgery went very well. My surgeon, Dr. Creig McArthur told me he changed the location of the incision from the one they were taught in school. He said instead of cutting down the crease in the bottom, he moves the incision slightly (about a pencil width) to one side or the other (mine was to the left) where the skin is less tender and not so thin. He said since he changed to this method none of his patients had any infection or trouble with healing. I was the same. I had no problem at all with the incision, stitches, or healing in that area.

One request I made before surgery was that I be given a pre-emptive analgesia in the location of the incision before the general anesthesia. I read this on this website, I believe, and it made sense to me. And it was very helpful. This may have been another reason why I didn't have much pain or discomfort while healing.

I drove my car the next day and continued to do so (I seemed quite comfortable as I could lift myself slightly off the seat so had no problems - it has automatic transmission). I also sat in my recliner during the day, but put my legs over the sides so I wasn't sitting on the seat. I usually slept on my backů, which I am very grateful I could do, as I am most comfortable sleeping on my back. I sat on a deep pillow at the dinner table but I was never in deep pain after surgery.

They gave me Lortab in the hospital, which made me itch. After filling a prescription for the above, I never used it again. I only used Ibuprofen for a while.

My surgeon told me I would have pain afterwards. I asked him did he mean phantom pain like amputees experience and he said, "Yes." My chiropractor told me there are nerves in the tail bone (the coccygeal plexus) so when you cut the bone, you cut the nerves too. I used a homeopathic treatment called hypericum perforatum (for nerve pain) - you can find this at most health food stores - Boiron is the brand I used. These are very small white pellets that you dissolve under your tongue. I used these off and on (when needed) for several months. Now and then I might use them, but I really have been literally pain free for quite awhile. I also used Dr. Christopher's Bone and Tissue supplement - these are capsules made of several herbs (seeds, roots, and leaves) that are helpful for healing bones and tissues. I use a lot of herbs, vitamins, minerals, homeopathic treatments and other natural helps all the time. There are no side effects like you get with prescription drugs. You need very little and the body heals well. I very rarely go to the Dr. I do not have to take prescription drugs. I only use supplements to stay well. I sure hope I can continue to stay off the drugs and away from the Doctors. I am 70 years old.

I hope my experience will be helpful to others who are considering this type of surgery and are having confusion about what to do.

Bonnie A Pence

Orem, Utah USA

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