Tailbone removal

Ashley Loomis - flyeagle@sover.net

My problem happened about 3 years ago, while one of our grandchildren was visiting, she was playing and fooling around on the stairs that lead to the upstairs of our home, and I happened to say, I don't want you to keep doing that, because you might fall down them and get hurt, right at the moment I said that, my sock happened to catch the carpet and I slipped all the way down on my tailbone, only funny part was my granddaughter said to me, like that grandma? Like I was demonstrating to her.

Well it hurt for about 4 months to sit, then seemed better. But about 9 months later I found that every time I sat on a chair, driving, sitting on our bed, or the couch, my tailbone area hurt. Like I felt it had a black and blue on the tip. I suffered for a long time, fly on planes, it constantly bothered me. So 2 years ago while visiting my regular doctor I mentioned this to him, and he had me go in for a x-ray of the tailbone area. Nothing showed that it was broken. Well went through another 5-6 months and then my doctor referred me to a orthopedic doctor named Dr Lilly, here in Vermont. After seeing him he suggested that we try having a cortisone shot injected into the tailbone and see if that would help. After having that done, boy it hurt to sit for 2-3 days after, but then no pain. But after about 4-5 months the pain would return again. So about 2-3 times a year I would have these shots. This was going on 2 years. On the last shot we finally discussed having the tailbone removed and he explained that he had performed this a few other patients in our area and it would probably help.

I knew we were going to be going to our 2 week time share in Florida, we go in May, and in November, so before I would go the month before I would have the shot so I could swim, walk, sit on plane with out pain. I had my last shot in November 2002 and scheduled the surgery December 6th 2002, figuring with winter and lots of snow here in VT. would be a good time to have it done.

Surgery went well, came home same day, no pain well until the medication wore off, then it hurt!! Also the doctor mentioned that it was a good thing I had it removed because the tailbone was extremely loose and may have ended up breaking off inside my body at some point. X-rays would have not showed that. They did of course give me pain medication for 2 months to take. Different things occurred the first 2 weeks after surgery. Had staples removed on the 10th day. Before that my husband would have to change the bandage, and I would bleed a little through bandage, and nightgowns, so I started wearing to bed, those garments, that look like an adult diaper, but have 2 straps and just go from front to back. And I wore the thin kind of sanitary napkins on my underwear. The doctor said bleeding was normal, but to watch for any signs of infection, which there was none. Some of the side effects were because of the medication, could not go to the bathroom, for about 4-5 days, and took stool laxatives everyday, finally went and boy - at that time I thought I would rather be going through labor!

I had to sleep a lot, and my regular energy didn't return to about 4-5 weeks later.

I saw the doctor again at about 6 weeks recovery, and mentioned that I still couldn't sit longer then 15 min. and that my butt checks seemed to have these sharp pains through out the day or at night as well and would wake me up and then I couldn't sleep. He suggested physical therapy at the hospital. At first I said, well how is that going to help me sit on my butt? He said you'll see.

So 2 weeks ago I started physical therapy 2x a week for the first 2 weeks, and in Feb., it will be 2x a week for 1/2 hr. The woman is very good! The first time she hooked me up to this machine and to a computer, the area's were connected to the pelvis and tailbone area, and she had me do some things, like tightening my pelvic muscles, relaxing them...all kinds of different things, then she explained to me what I didn't know at all about after having this kind of an operation.

When the tailbone is removed, then the ligaments are cauterized and then joined together, because that is what controls the bladder and bowel area. So that the pain that she could see by the testing were muscle spasms, and that also in the pelvic area and scar tissue area were very taunt.

The 2nd visit she started showing me a few exercises to start to stretch that area, to do them 2 times a day. Each week she adds another part to the exercise, and also each time she uses a sonic machine that really feels great to me. It's the best part of going..I feel.

This week approaching my 8th week after surgery she had my husband come in and showed him gently how to massage and slowly with out much pressure to move the skin in the area of surgery. She also put on some strips of a kind of Band-Aid from Japan, in a star pattern that will stay on for a few days even when taking a shower, that will help to stretch the area of skin. And gave us extra when I need to change it.

I searched for a long time for a real good pillow to sit on, as I tried numerous ones, and wanted to find one that was jell filled.

I could go into something funny, around 4 weeks after surgery, my husband had to drive me everywhere, I could walk ok, but could not sit! In the car, we would put the passenger seat all the way down, I would lay down on my side, seat belt, and my head on a pillow. I made him take me to Walmart, because I had an idea. I asked the lady in the bra area for the jell filled bra's. Not for me to wear as a bra. but, my idea was that it had jell in them. I wanted a large size like 42 or bigger, but the only big one left that they had was a 38.and on sale for $5.00. So I took it and went over to the craft area and took a thin softer cushion, like the ones that people make decorative pillows with. I put it on the floor with the bra on top and sat on it, well that lady in that area look at me well like I was weird and I could see my husbands face a little red...but I took it home and dissected the bra took the gel filled pockets out and cut out the cushion, and inserted the gel pockets. It felt pretty good except that it was not big enough. A friend of mine suggested that I put a search on the net for the Roho pillows, which I found, and found one with the jell filled. I like it very much, it was $104.00.

My husband has had to drive me and I tried twice myself, I can do ok, for about 15-20 min. but then it gets to painful still. Walking around is no problem just the sitting still is. So I will continue to go to therapy, and also 3 times a day I use a moist heat microwave heating pad and place it on my behind when laying on the couch, or when going to bed. It seems to help and feels good.

I only take 1 pain pill before going to sleep, and take Advil 2x a day. I seem to be sleeping through the night better now. But I can see that it is going to take more time to heal, and I sure hope I am better by May as we fly to go to our timeshare.

Hope any of this information may help anyone else.

Ashley Loomis

Updated 2003-02-02

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