Going for coccygectomy

Lorraine - agnesnit-1@yahoo.co.uk

Posted 2011-05-08

In spring 2008, I fell getting out of the bath - landing on my coccyx on the edge of the bath. I was unable to get up, but thought once my husband had helped me up and I had pulled myself together, I would be fine. I wasn't and I went to the Accident and Emergency department and was seen by a registrar who told me: that there was nothing that could be done to help, no investigation to be done, to take paracetamol and go back to work. I could hardly walk, sit or lie down.

Forward to Autumn 2010, the occasional pain that I now felt (after my original injury had 'healed') was increasing to the point that it was taking my breath away when I moved on my seat. I went to see an injury consultant who x-rayed and examined me. As my coccyx was now fixed in the wrong position, he suggested manipulation under anaesthetic and steroid injections. He referred me to my local orthopaedic consultant to do this. I had the procedure and had some relief for about 2 weeks. My coccyx is now mobile and causing me horrible problems.

So, on the 19th May I will be admitted to our local hospital for a coccygectomy. My consultant thinks that I will do well post-op - he, apparently, has a good previous record with coccygectomy and is a very experienced surgeon.

Frankly, I am scared witless. I have been told some absolute awful horror stories by friends, who all seem to know someone who has had a terrible time with this procedure (maybe it's all the same person!?). I'd really appreciate any supportive advice from anyone who has had this done.

I have to add, my consultant also has a good sense of humour. I asked if I should lose weight before I have the surgery, as I've put on a lot recently due to medication for fibromyalgia and chronic migraine. He said no, because this is the one time in my life that having some cushioning behind me will be a good thing! He's the one medical person that has made me feel less self-conscious about my weight

Update 2011-06-05. 2 weeks post op - How relieved am I that I had that surgery!

Day of op

Walked down to theatre and went off to sleep, having told anaesthetist that I was really scared. He gave me some sedative and that calmed my nerves a lot.

Woke up in my bed, feeling woozy and in pain, but not too bad. Tried to wee in a bed pan and it didn't happen until 5 am the next morning it was decided that I was in urinary retention and was catheterised - 1.5 litres drained and I felt a whole lot better! I know of someone else who had same op here and came out of theatre with catheter so I think that just depends. I was still on morphine self administer pump at this stage.

Next day

Consultant came to see me later that morning and told me that I needed to come off the morphine as it had probably caused the urinary retention and I was getting really weepy at this point. I completely lost my rag as I'm allergic to anti-inflammatory medications (diclofenac and ibuprofen) and panicked. Liquid paracetamol is a great med and although I thought it wouldn't touch my pain, it worked well. After I had apologised to everyone for shouting at them, I spent most of that day being upset, but pulled it back together by the evening!

Got up for a shower on day 2 and managed to open bowels on day 3, which was NOT a problem at all. I was quite nervous about it, but it was absolutely fine.

Was able to walk up and down stairs, stand a sit and wander about the ward before I came home.

Home

Being in a car is a challenge as sitting down is not comfortable at all. I lie across the back seat on pillows, so I'm not totally flat - it gives passers by something to talk about!

At home I have a sun lounger in the lounge and lie, propped up, on one side or the other to watch tv, etc. I can sit for very short periods, but it is uncomfortable. I tend to potter about, so I don't have to sit down a lot. I can bend to pick things up, no problem and walk about, but only at home. We went to a garden centre at the weekend for a wander about and it was too much for me.

Sleeping in bed was difficult for the first few days as it's a challenge to move about in the bed, especially turning over - but it was before the op too and at least it's now getting easier. Using the loo is fine and I don't need a raised seat.

I don't, however, have the horrible pain that I had before; this is post-op, 'you've just had surgery on bones' type of pain and I know it will improve. My wound has healed really well - one tip is to use moist toilet wipes every time that you go to the loo - keep everything really clean to help to avoid infection, although I realise that you can still get infection if you are scrupulously clean and are just unlucky.

I'm hoping to be back at work in just over 2 weeks. I will probably go back part time for a week and see how it goes. My job entails sitting a lot at a computer. Work have bought me a chair, which I used before I went in for op, which I think will help. It's called the HAG 8106 Capisco Chair and they got it from Online Ergonomics.

I hope that this has been helpful - please email me if you have any questions.

Update 2011-07-17. 7 weeks post-op

I'm back at work part-time today (I have a sedentary job). I can drive for about half an hour and sit on one cheek or on my ergonomic chair for about half an hour too.

Walking, standing and sleeping are fine, but if I walk too far I get really stiff after I've been resting for a while (either standing or sitting). Every day it's better though. I made big improvements at first and now it's much slower, but still going forward.

Coccyx pain is pretty much gone, the pain I have now is, apparently, from the scar tissue (according to consultant).

Update 2011-09-18. 4 months post-op

Back at work full-time, using ordinary chair - ergonomic chair started to cause me different back problems (!) - able to sit pretty much as long as I need to. I still have to get up carefully and have post op discomfort rather than the coccyx pain that I did have.

Discomfort from op is still stopping me from being able to sit on a hard chair for any length of time, ride my bicycle and when I go for a long walk, I end up achy and after I've been sitting for any length of time after exercise, I'm very stiff.

My consultant said he would expect me to be back to 100% after 6 months, so that would be in time for me to go on holiday in November :)

I'm trying to give an honest reflection of what I feel like, but I'm aware that if you're thinking about having the op, 6 months seems like a very long time to be uncomfortable. I'm really nowhere near in as much pain as I was in before the op and I can manage this discomfort more easily. I'm having some acupuncture to try and get over this last little hurdle.

If I could go back in time and make the decision again about whether to have the op, with the knowledge I have now, I would say yes every time. The surgery has worked very well for me.

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