Surgery, March 1st, 2012

Syrena - SCaffiliates@gmail.com

Posted 2011-10-09

My name is Syrena, and 10 years ago, (12/2001) I was the hit in a rear-end collision, while I was at a full stop. He was looking to merge into traffic and he didn't see me until he hit me. He was accelerating, and since he didn't see me, wasn't even trying to put on the brakes. I got hit very hard.The pain in my low back was unbearable. Eight months prior to this, I had had back surgery on my L-5, for a bulge in the disc. It was successful and I was mostly recovered from that surgery. The pain from this new injury, from the rear end collision, was much lower in my back, excruciating,.... worse than the pain from the L-5 bulge in the past, and went into my left buttock and down my left leg. But the worst part was the feeling that I was being poked in the rectum from the inside. I couldn't imagine why I was feeling that awful sensation.I couldn't walk well, and I couldn't get comfortable no matter what position I sat, lied down, or stood up. I would just cry. I found it difficult to go to the bathroom, (number one or two!), as it felt as if I couldn't use the same muscles as I normally would to go the bathroom.My orthopedic doc, in Bridgeport, CT, sent me for an MRI, but that didn't show anything, and he said that my previous surgery site looked just fine. My chiropractor kept trying to adjust me, but nothing was giving me relief. I was starting to feel that I wouldn't be able to survive that kind of pain for the rest of my life, and someone had better figure out what was wrong with me. I knew something else had to be going on, but the doctors kept telling me it was just muscular, and to give it time. My orthopedic started giving me cortisone shots, and they helped. However, he still didn't know I had a broken coccyx and sacrum!

I kept asking both doctors for an x-ray. They kept telling me that it was unnecessary, and that if there was anything there, the MRI would've showed it. I persisted. They still wouldn't give me one! So, two years later, I went for another opinion at Yale Orthopedics, in New Haven, and the doc there literally found the broken bone in a minute and a half. Sent me for an x-ray, and voila...there it was!

I was furious that my former docs wouldn't give me that darn x-ray, despite my asking for two years. The doc at Yale suggested surgery. I made preparations, but was found, on the day of the surgery, to have an infection, and couldn't proceed. He told me that I was high risk, and he wouldn't give me a surgery until my regular MD would clear me from candida infection. This was in 2004. He had put me on an awful diet in preparation for this surgery, and told me that I had to be on it for many weeks after the surgery. I believe that is how I got the candida issue in my digestive system. I figured that if I had to go through that, again, I may never be able to get this surgery. It has now been many years, and I have simply gotten cortisone injections, every three months, for years. I have been able to be moderately functional and reduced pain, but have not had full range of motion or functional lifestyle.I live in Florida, now, and am seeing an osteopathic orthopedic doc, in Ft. Lauderdale, who does non-surgical techniques, but am not feeling happy about my options. I don't want to rule them out, completely, but from what I am reading, here, on Coccyx.org, it seems that most people are not getting relief from osteopathic treatments. He wants to proceed, soon, to giving me a coccyx epidural, and if that doesn't work, to put an injection of cortisone in the sacral/coccygeal joint, where I am having most of my pain from. It sounds, from other testimonies, that those treatments are not effective. So, I feel discouraged.

In recent years, I've developed very serious, sometimes potentially life-threatening allergies to foods and chemicals, so surgery is a little bit of a daunting idea for me. However, I am getting to the point that I can't deal with this pain, much more. I hate the limitations in my lifestyle. I want my freedom to live comfortably, again! I am going to see a surgeon, that is recommended by someone, here on Coccyx.org. I hope he will be able to do a local anesthetic, rather than general anesthesia, (due to my allergies). I've read one testimony of someone who had a local anesthetic and did the surgery successfully, so I know it can be done. It is a matter of whether or not this surgeon will agree to do it.If anyone has any advice that they feel will help me in this process, please feel free to write to me. I will update after I see the surgeon, and beyond.

Syrena, in S. Florida

Update, 2012-01-22

I decided to consult a surgeon in Ft. Lauderdale, who has a very good reputation. He will be doing the surgery with a gastro-rectal surgeon, also from Ft. Lauderdale. They sent me for an MRI and it is seen, clearly that there is no other good option for recovery. The coccyx had multiple fractures that re-healed, directly pushing into my rectum muscles. The sacrum was also broken and rehealed, but doesn't look like it is causing any problems.

I'm scheduled for surgery in March to remove the coccyx. Both surgeons told me that it is a very quick surgery, only taking about 45 minutes. I'm feeling a little nervous because as I'm reading many of the posts, here, on Coccyx.org, I am figuring that I'm going to be in some pretty strong pain post-op, and will not be able to take meds by mouth. I have many drug sensitivities, and so was planning on taking compounded acetominphen and using ice. That seems to be my only option! I don't know if that will be enough. My husband is worried that it won't be and then where will I go for help with pain if I can't take anything? I'm understanding, from reading the posts, that I might need pain meds for a few weeks.

Has anyone here been able to do this without strong pain meds? The plan is for me to be home hours after surgery. Maybe I will need to stay in the hospital for a day or two so they can give me IV meds? I wasn't too nervous, but now I feel nervous. I know I really want to get this bone out of pushing on my rectum, and to stop getting cortisone shots, so still want to do the surgery.

I could use some prayers, please, if you can. Thanks!

Update, 2012-03-04

I had my surgery done on March 1st. I am not on any pain meds, except over-the-counter strength acetominophen. I am using a TENS unit, ice, and homeopathic remedies to assist me to deal with pain, and so far, so good. As I've mentioned, earlier, I am not able to tolerate many drugs, so this is the best for me. I can sit, for a very short time, with my hiney hanging over the back of a donut cushion, which I am doing to type this update, (two 1/2 days after surgery).

To prepare for surgery, I used a practice called "BodyTalk Technique", which is energy medicine, so may not be for everyone, but I believe that this has also been helping me. I also am using a pain meditation that I found on QuietMindCafe.com, if anyone would like to check it out. It is available at no cost.

As for difficulties, I am not able to have a steady stream of urine, which is uncomfortable, but must say that the suggestion to get a raised toilet seat, by others here on coccyx.org, is a very good suggestion! Standing up from a seated position is very difficult, and these commodes make it easier. Also, I have a low grade temp, right now, so will be monitoring that. My pain levels vary over the day from about 5 to 10, depending on how long it has been since I've done my TENS unit and ice.

I'll update again,.later.

Syrena

Update, 2012-03-11

I'm 5 days after surgery, and took my first shower, today. My pain levels are OK at rest and standing. I'm not taking the acetaminophen anymore, and only use the TENS unit, once a day. Ice, three times a day, now. The motion to go to lying down position or getting up from lying down are a bit painful. I didn't have dissolving stitches, due to fear of allergy to triclosan and also after reading that many people, here, have had inflammation and infection issues from using the dissolving stitches. I requested that they use Prolene stitches, and they were used on all three levels of incision. They will be removed on March 16th. The problem with going this route is that they have the ends of the sutures in tight buttons on both ends of my horizontal incision. Right in the flesh of the butt cheek, and since they are so tight, they are difficult to put padding under. The buttons are irritating my skin, so this, right now, is my biggest distress as far as pain goes. It is itchy and irritated.

It is still difficult to urinate, as it is difficult to bear down at all without pain. I've been using enemas to go number 2, and that has been effective with no pain involved, since day one.

As for homeopathic remedies, I used Arnica Montana for the first 48 hours. I used Aconitum Napellus for the low grade temp and inflammation. I believe they helped, and I'm not using them anymore, either.

The "BodyTalk Technique" I use, daily, is the "Fast Aid Protocol" and involves tapping the cortices (find the Bodytalk cortices tap on Youtube), and then gently holding the incision under my fingers while tapping the head and heart for two full breaths. Then doing the cortices tap, once again. It only takes a few minutes and lets the brain and heart-brain know where to send healing energy. This may or may not suit all, but I believe in energy work, so please take what you want, or leave this part behind.

I feel very good about my surgeon, who is Dr. Kalman Blumberg, in Fort Lauderdale (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, Florida) . I feel he did a great job, along with the gastro-rectal surgeon, who is John Roberts, also of Fort Lauderdale. Both are very confident, capable, and good bedside manners.

I'm still able to sit for short times, using this donut cushion, so will continue this update again, later.

One week after surgery

Due to trying to move carefully when going to lying down position, or getting up from lying down position (and also from only sleeping in on my right side), it seems I've irritated an old injury to my L-5/S-1 disc. The area is quite spasmodic, and I'm back to using the TENS unit, almost constantly in that area. No longer using the TENS unit in the incision area, though. I still ice the incision.

The buttons on the incision are still irritating me, and my husband has been putting gauze underneath the buttons to try to stop the irritation. I re-scheduled my appt with the doc to remove the stitches, up a couple of days, and hope he'll remove them at the 11th day, instead of 15th day.

I'm able to sit, better and better, now without a donut cushion, if I sit carefully on the front of the chair, and don't lean back. Not on very hard chairs, but firm is ok, as well as the sofa, which is soft.

Sleeping is still a problem, because I can't sleep on my back, tummy or left side, leaving me with only one position to sleep. My neck and back are getting very fatigued from this.

Overall, considering what I've been through, I'm doing ok, and feel faith that I will keep getting better and better.

Update, 2012-03-18

Day 11, I drove myself to the surgeon's office to have the sutures removed. Driving is difficult, but I did ok by putting a fluffy but firm bed pillow under my thighs, and one behind the small of my back, and then also putting an ice pack on the seat between the two pillows. I hoisted my butt off the seat for most of the drive, but with the pillow, the hoisting wasn't too difficult.

The doc's medical assistant was charged with removing my stitches, and told me it wasn't going to hurt and that they will slide right out. Well, that is NOT what happened, but I don't think it was her fault. I had three layers of stitches, and the deeper, internal stitches pulled out with some moderate resistance and pain. A few "ouches" and deep breathing, and that was ok. Then she said that the surface stitches were going to be easier, UNTIL she realized that my skin was growing over the sutures, and that as she was pulling, the skin was getting tangled with the sutures. The pain level was unbelievable, and I began to cry and scream out. Instead of it being a quick procedure, that should've taken seconds, that part took about 5 minutes because she had to keep untangling my skin from the suture. She told me afterwards that she had never seen anything like that in the 15 years that she had been doing this. She did her best, all the way through, to help me stay calm, and I don't fault her at all for the pain I had to deal with.

I believe that if I ever have to have surgery again, I will take my chances with dissolving stitches. I don't ever, ever want to go through that again! Yesterday, I began using the homeopathic remedy, "Symphytum Officianale", which promotes healing of amputated bones. You can look it up at ABCHomeopathy.com, if you want to look at it for yourself. I will likely use it for 3-5 days.

I'm starting to be able to sleep for short times on my left side, which is a nice alternative to only sleeping on my right side, for the past 10 days. I really, really look forward to the day I could lie on my back, again.

I'm able to walk a little further than I used to walk before the surgery. I can walk the length of my block and back home, with little discomfort. Before the surgery, that would have hurt my back too much. So, am glad for every little victory!

I go back to the doc's in 2 weeks to follow up, again.

Two Weeks After Surgery

I thought that I would be more comfortable after the sutures were removed, the other day, but after the ordeal I went through, I guess the skin needs more time to heal. I've been having to ice the incision, often. It is nice to have the buttons and stitches gone. Cleaning the area is easier now.

This will likely be my last update for a while, so want to say that despite the challenges of going through surgery and recovery, I'm very glad that I did this. I don't have the feeling of pressure behind my rectum like I did for 10 years with the broken coccyx pushing up against it. I also find that I can stand longer than I was able to for the ten years before the surgery. I'm walking to the end of the block and back without feeling the back fatigue, and that is nice. I'm going to continue to re-build my stamina for walking and standing. Before the surgery, I would have to use a walker in the grocery store, because I couldn't deal with the fatigue and pain from walking and standing. I can tell, already, even after only two weeks, that I will likely be able to leave the walker behind, now.

I'm still challenged to sit, since the surgery, but am feeling a lot better on getting up from a sitting or lying postion. I can now lie on my back for about 10-15 minutes if I put pillows under my knees to keep my hiney raised a little. That feels much better on my neck and shoulders than just being able to lie on my sides (mostly right side) for the past two weeks.

Yesterday, I overdid it, and drove 10 miles (5 each way), and really felt the pain for it through today. I will have to be more careful until I'm more healed.

If I could give any advice to people who are going to be getting the surgery, I would say:

After ten years of trying to avoid surgery, and using all sorts of different therapies, if I had to do it again, I would've had the surgery 10 years ago, instead. For the first time in 10 years, I have some hope!

Peace and Healing!

Update, 2012-05-06

It's been two months (nine weeks) since my surgery. The incision is healing very nicely. I can sit much better, now, though still need to sit on a pillow when I drive. Also reclining back on a chair is still slightly uncomfortable on the incision, so am still avoiding doing that.

The problem I'm dealing with now, is that it seems that the coccyx fracture and sacrum fracture wasn't the entire story for me. I didn't realize until now that my L5/S1 disc herniation is actually causing half of the symptoms that I thought were from the coccydenia. I no longer have problems with the dagger feeling into the colon. It is easier to sit as there is no more bone pain on sitting. But, I have pain coming from my hips, left buttock and left leg. So, will be having to deal with that, now. I am discussing options with my orthopedic doc and also chiropractor.

I am very glad that I had the coccygectomy. Very worth the inconvenience and discomfort to be free of some of that pain. I truly look forward to the next few months as the incision heals completely.

I appreciate all of the support from the people who have shared on this website, and who have written to me, personally. Thank you, Jon, for all that you do!

Syrena

Update, 2012-07-01

I last mentioned that I was having some other issues that need to be dealt with. I'm seeing a neurologist who thinks I might have some spinal cord injury, so will be undergoing diagnostic tests over the next month. I don't believe that the neurological issues are from my having the surgery, but were there prior.

I am updating, again, because I feel bruised around the surgical site, on the left side of my sacrum. My husband says that I have a little bruise, just above the coccygectomy incision...about an inch and a half above it. I don't remember bumping into anything, so it must be from the surgical wound, even 3 1/2 months later. Interestingly though, I didn't have a bruise there up to now. So, I am calling my surgeon to ask if this is normal.

I'm still needing to sit on soft surfaces. I use a pillow to sit, unless I am sitting on our couch, which is already soft. And yet, even then, I have to kind of lean on to my right butt cheek to sit on the couch. That gets kind of fatiguing after a while. When I sit on my computer chair, I have a pillow, and must pull my legs up and sit cross legged to take the pressure off of my low back, but am ok to lean back, as long as the pillow is positioned properly.

I am not sure if it is normal that I still have bruising and some discomfort at 3 1/2 months. Though, I will still say that it was a good decision to do the surgery, IMO, because I have less pain than when the broken mangled bone was in there pushing on nerves and distorting ligaments.

I hope that there will be further healing. I just read someone's post, and she is 11 years post-op and still sitting on pillows. I guess that if this is as good as it gets, I'll just learn to live with it. It is still better than the broken bone in there.

I know I have other things going on besides the tailbone being broken and removed. I also have a previously broken sacrum, which they obviously cannot remove, and I have a large central herniated disc at L5-S1, which may be causing some problems, too. I haven't read anyone else posting about having neurogenic bladder or bowels, which I have. I had thought all along that it was from the broken tailbone, but apparently, it is not the case. Hence my visiting a neurologist to find out what else might be going on.

I hadn't thought I was going to post updates here, anymore, but the healing marches on.

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