Coccyx injuries and proctalgia fugax

David, UK - dcritchard@btinternet.com

Posted 2014-09-14

When I was in my early teens I was the best young high jumper in the UK, and not far behind with long jump and 800m/1500m. In 1963 I fell jumping 6'4". I caught the bar between my legs and landed on the board between the grass run-up and the sand pit. (How quaintly primitive the conditions seem now.) My pelvis opened like a book and my coccyx was dislocated and rammed upwards and outwards. The bruise eventually covered my whole backside and lower back. It even worked it's way into my groin. I was (mis)treated at the RD&E Exeter. I was given a bottle of paracetamol. When still in pain I was slapped across the still-bruised buttocks and told it was all in my mind. My hip measurement shot from 34" to 37".

Two years later a horse threw me. I sat heavily from 17 hands (68") on a tarmac road. More coccygeal damage, more indifference from the RD&E. Despite all this and intermittent pain, I was still one of the best athletes in the UK. I held various English and UK, European and Commonwealth records. After my first year at Birmingham University, I was going to travel out to Tenerife for high level training and final selection for the events I would represent the UK in at the Mexico Olympics. When I carried my trunk backwards up the steps and Dad stumbled, the doormat slid, and I sat down with a hundredweight of trunk in my lap. I missed the top step, but my coccyx didn't. I don't remember what happened next. My brain edited it out. But I'm told I ran around screaming with a large bloody patch spreading across my backside. It took Dad and five other men to hold me down. I was taken to the RD&E lashed face-down to a stretcher. Because I could walk I was not X-rayed. The bleeding wound on my left temple was just washed and sticking plastered. I was cut from my jeans. I had become incontinent of both faeces and urine. Grudgingly I was given an injection of morphine and sent home with another bottle of paracetamol.

By now I was getting sleepy and confused. Mum pointed this out and was told not to fuss. She had been a nurse during the war, and had seen brain injuries neglected for obvious physical injuries. So at home, they rang my University GP, Dr Roy Bolton. He listened, and told them to drive me back to Birmingham. 6 Hours later I arrived. Roy took one look at my eyes and I was blue-lighted to the QEII. By then I was almost unconscious. I woke with a sore head and backside. It was a day later. The cut on my temple was a depressed fracture causing a subarachnoid haematoma. I had had it plated. I now get left sided migraine. The Professor of Plastics had come in and lifted the skin around my gaping wound and performed an expansion graft to stitch it properly. I now have a neat scar. I never indulged in athletics again, it was too painful. I started to get coocydynia and proctalgia fugax. In the Camberley/Aldershot area where I lived it was treated well.

I contracted a viral dysentery in 1977. I lost 55% of body weight. I lived in Aldershot then and was treated in the Military Hospital. But they discharged me to the RD&E with the recommendation I should remain on elemental feeding for another month. The RD&E told me to eat normally and discharged me. I developed multiple food allergies and terrible joint/muscle pain. I was told I was mad. I rejected this. I was certified and incarcerated in Digby Mental Hospital and given ECT, not only to cure me of the illusion I was ill, but to stop me being gay. (I had just come out to my parents before I caught the dysentery). It didn't work. I was rescued by my solicitor, a University friend who came from a medical family. Dr Richard Jackoby diagnosed reactive arthritis (Reiter's Syndrome). He explained why I should not worry about coccydynia and proctalgia fugax. And the concomittent urinary retention and not infrequent urinary infections. He also diagnosed food allergies.

Richard Jackoby found that Trigger point injections help my pain control greatly. I can go to the gym and live a nearly normal life. BUT I need to take substantial pain relief - paracetamol and tramadol, with diclofenac and sometimes slow release morphine. The RD&E refuses to endorse this. The new Rheumatologist tells me that I did not develop reactive arthritis from dysentry but gonorrhea, since I'm gay and 'all gay men get clap'.

The RD&E Pain Specialist refuses to use trigger point injections because they do not work for everybody, so nobody can get it. She also says that gay men are all wimps and don't deserve treatment. She is the partner of the Rheumatologist. So I have no hope of escape. I now commute to Bournemouth for sensitive and non-judgemental treatment (and pay for it).

The problems I get now I am 65 are that the Proctalgia is no longer very fugax but can last days. And because I 'deserve' to suffer because I'm gay, I can't even get catheterised in the NHS. I've been taught to do it myself by the medics in Bournemouth. This urinary retention causes infections, and now I have almost permanent prostatitis, and epidimymitis. At least once a year my current GP is told to remove me from the 'unnecessary medication'. It keeps my solicitor busy. Sometimes I wake in agony as the coccyx relives all my trauma. And my memory does too with nightmares. I've received counselling for PTSD, which has helped, as has Cognitive Behaviour Therapy: Life is painful, but the pain will not kill me. It would be nice to sleep well, though.

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