Coccyxectomy Surgery 14 years after childbirth

Zee - keytomyhouse@aol.com

Posted 2009-11-01

In 1995 I gave birth to my first daughter. I was about 31 years old at the time. While the nurse mid wife was pulling on the umbilical chord to remove the placenta - it detached from the umbilical cord and the doctor was called in. As he reached inside of me I remember screaming "my back my back" This is when I believe my coccyx was injured…

Over the years I was always uncomfortable when sitting or lying down- a donut cushion in every room, car office etc. Lying down on my back or leaning against my headboard in bed was not an option it was unbearable and sitting was painful. I couldn't get on an airplane without my blow up cushion. Naturally it was embarrassing: I used a slipcover to hide the blow up pillow and everyone assumed I had hemorrhoids. I was mortified.

I tried all different remedies; nerve blocks, manipulation thru the anus to straighten out the coccyx (fun!), cortisone shots epidurals etc - nothing worked. An MRI lying down and x-ray didn't reveal much either…. so I learned pain management with Advil and decided to get on with my life anyway! I loved doing all sports especially hiking and tennis. I realized that standing up was when I felt the best (duh! There was no pressure on the coccyx)

Cut to: 9 YEARS LATER - I wondered if there was anything new out there? My OBGYN recommended a new orthopedist who read my history and thought I should try acupuncture I figured what have I got to lose? - It seemed to relieve the pain for a minute but nothing long-term; during the course of this treatment my acupuncturist asked me if I had ever had a sitting down x-ray… after all that's when I felt pain? A little light bulb went off in my head and an x-ray was ordered. The x-ray technicians were perplexed on how to achieve this x-ray as the sacrum hides a lot of the area but with some creative action together we completed this task, When I saw the x-ray picture myself I cried. It was pretty obvious to me that my tailbone was kinked and curled up under me.

As an HMO Kaiser member I got back in touch with my orthopedist and he agreed that a Coccyxectomy was probably a good idea. The search for a surgeon began. Thanks to this website and a post by Jeffrey Lawson I found Dr Lau at Kaiser Permanente in Anaheim (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, California). In the beginning of May with my x-ray in hand I drove an hour south to meet with him for a consultation. He immediately looked at the x-ray and said that my coccyx bone had probably broken during my childbirth and opened up his appt book to schedule my Coccyxectomy. I was nervous and scared. But I booked the date.

Pre-op for this surgery stinks (Ha ha). My surgery was to be on a Monday June 8th at 2 in the afternoon. Sunday I spent the day at home drinking magnesium citrate and eating Jell-O and clear liquids. Since the surgery location is so close to the anus the protocol is basically the same as a colonoscopy…. Surgery delayed 4 hours due to other emergencies until 6 that evening; headache throbbing I was finally in the Operating Room. When I awoke 2.5 hrs later wedged on my side in the recovery room Dr Lau said that he had removed 2 broken segments of my anterior positioned coccyx and that the surgery went well.

I spent the night on Morphine and sleeping meds and slowly worked my way to the restroom to tinkle successfully. Tuesday morning I ate a little something took a Norco #10 Vicodin type pill, an anti nausea medication and successfully tinkled a few more times. The Dr. came in and said to try to keep the bandage on as long as possible; keeping it dry and clean was critical. Infection for this surgery is a 10-20% rate and that is a high rate for infection. Dissolvable stitches were in place so he would see me for a follow up on June 23. Whenever I was feeling ready I could check out of the hospital and head home. There was a Lakers Playoff game that evenings so I pulled it together and let my Mom do the driving while I navigated on my belly in the reclining passenger seat.

It is now 6 days since surgery I also took stool softener and purchased a "grabber" to help pick up things from the ground during my healing. I have been able to walk up and down the staircase and can stand for decent period of time. I can sleep on my back with a little side edge; but mostly hang on my stomach and sides- I cannot yet sit down comfortably but I feel that I will be able to soon. Basically the incision will take about 10-12 days to heal and the interior tissue and such around 6 weeks is what I have heard. I am not on Codeine or sleeping pills rather just 800 mg Advil. I think that after all that is said and done this surgery will be life changing for me. I am confident it was the right thing to do and look forward to reporting back in the next few weeks

June 20, 2009 - I took a real shower 1 week after surgery on the 15th of June. My husband changed the bandage and we saw that the incision was healing nicely dissolvable stitches with butterfly tape over it. The doctor stressed that keeping it dry and clean was important. After that shower I figured out how to take a puddle bath on all 4s like a puppy to get that fresh clean feeling and at the same time keeping the wound dry.

I purchased a kneeling chair on someone's recommendation but honestly found that the pressure on the surgical site was uncomfortable. It is now 11 days post surgery and my mobility is definitely improving. I have been taking walks with the dog everyday and find that when my legs get tired I flop on my belly on a nearby lawn and rest. It's all-good and I still feel that when all is said and done it will be life changing.

Yesterday was my daughter's middle school graduation - my first real trip out of the house and in a car. Alternating butt cheeks in the car and flipping on my belly in the passenger seat I made it to the school and sitting on the gym bleachers with my backside hanging over the edge worked for a little while. Getting up and moving was my saving grace.

My real goal is to get on an airplane in 5 days as we have a family reunion on the east coast. While I can sit on a donut for a little bit I have to lean forward. I am nervous about the airplane because of the back of the chair and I am not able to lean back yet…. 5 days to go…. stay tuned

June 25th was very tough - the plane ride - very very difficult; vicodin, Advil, kneeling and standing. the trip itself as a whole was hard as well. I really should have stayed home. Being so limited in movement to do family activities and staying back was somewhat depressing. It rained a lot which was good for me but bad for family- Tennis at Wimbledon was on TV so that was good for me to stay occupied and hanging with and my sister while she worked at her tennis club was a great comfort as well. I walked everyday and that really kept me going. It was like the longer I walked the better I felt.

Today July 7 I drove a car; wedged with a pillow; donut did not feel so good but at least I am self-sufficient again. It is awkward but will get better.

I went to the vitamin Shoppe on the weekend and bought super cissus, collagen with hydraulic something & liquid glucosamine with chondroiton and msn. Anything I can do to help rebuild the tissue I think just can't hurt. I can lie on my back better and sitting although it hurts is different…I think. Tomorrow I am going to see if I can swing the tennis racket.

September 16, 2009 - I must be feeling better as I have not posted in over a month - Everyone says I fidget less but there is still pain there. The surgeon says now that it could take up to a year for tissue to rebuild. I saw the acupuncturist again - 1st time since surgery - He said that nerves also play a part. I think it whatever he did helped and I am going back tomorrow - I feel like my brain needs re programming from the chronic 14 year old pain.

Oct 30, 2009 - 5 months post surgery -I better post my little novella because I know how critical this website was for my healing. Overall I feel different, better yes, fully healed no. I think and the professionals I have talked to say it could take more than a year and I sincerely believe that. I am glad I had the surgery because although it does take years it is at least a step in the right direction. My family says I am so much less fidgety and while it is so gradual on a personal level they can see the difference more objectively. I AM FULLY FUNCTIONAL - AN EXERCISE FANATIC AND NOTHING CAN KEEP ME DOWN. If anyone has any questions my email address is posted. Thank you for this web site .

Sincerely,

Zee

Los Angeles, CA

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