Rory Greenwell -
(link to update October 1999)
(link to update February 2000)
(link to update July 2001)
Me too! I had me 400 lbs of steel come down with me on a concrete floor... been dealing with severe pain in the area for over two years now. I worked as a mechanic in a large Ford dealership at the time. I had completed my apprenticeship and acquired my licence at this dealership, my employment with this firm had been a good one for 8 years.
April 25th 1996, the day of the accident. I'm pulling a large air jack (400 lbs) through the automotive shop, when I slip and fall backwards, with this jack in my arms. I land on my tailbone and sacral area with the jack landing on top of me. I laid there for a long time (10 - 15 min) before I could move, managed to lift the jack off me and get up to report the accident to my employer.
They drove me down to emergency and an x-ray was taken of my tailbone and lower back. I was sent home with a "bruised coccyx". But the intense pain continued for months afterwards and was not getting any better. I went to many specialists, and even tried acupuncture, but nothing helped. I have tried the cortizone route - it only made it worse. It felt great the day of the needles (boy do they hurt going in !!) but the relief was only for that one day. The needles leave you very sore and aggravated for 'bout two days. The anesthetic properties wore off in one day.. then things were actually worse. I could feel the pockets of goo in there and they felt like very irritating lumps, and tender to boot.
WCB (Workmans Compensation Board of British Columbia) kept sending me back to work, only for me to give up because of the pain in my lower back and tailbone. Finally, WCB sent me down to Vancouver for MRI scans to be done. The scans showed a disc bulge in the lower back that was interfering with my sciatic nerve. But the MRI plates did not show any of the tailbone area, the most painful part of my injury. When I asked why the coccyx was not included in the pictures, the specialist with compo told me that they rarely take pictures of this area because there is nothing that can be done about it anyway.. . . but they did find a disc problem, but it really didn't need to be operated on.. . I was adamant about the pain in my tailbone, but he said it was nothing to worry about and that it would heal in time. He didn't have a picture to look at and never examined the area in which I was in pain.. . . . . .
I was sent home again and told to go back to work.. . . . again. My employer had to keep me on light duties all this time because I could not function as a mechanic. Just driving a vehicle is extremely painful for me to this day.
WCB saw that I was not improving, and decided to send me to a pain clinic in Vancouver for six weeks. The daily regime was to exercise as a group and then attend classes about the human anatomy, how to deal with stress, pain, life in general. But I was never evaluated as to what part of me hurt. If I inquired (and I did) about my injury to my coccyx, I was told that it would get better.. . !
The exercise program was very painful for me, and the instructors always turned a blind eye to the fact that I could not lay on my back and was in severe pain anytime we did sit-ups or anything that required me to be on my butt. I was a wreck by the end of this program and the administrators knew it. At the end of my stay they said that I was fit to return to work. I still walked with a severe limp, could not ride in an automobile without intense pain, and felt crippling pain in the tailbone area 24 hours a day. But they told WCB that there was nothing wrong with me and I should be back to my work duties in no time. I was ordered back to work, not capable of doing my job. They made their decisions solely on the fact that WCB wanted to see results. I wonder how many souls have been subject to the same treatment. WCB cancelled my benefits in Nov. 97. We are about to lose everything because of a decision made by a group of people who don't care about anything except showing WCB results, and to keep their "success" figures up.
I have come to the point of INSISTING removal of the painful thing, but MD is being veeery cautious. Must be because it is a dangerous op. I don't care anymore. I can't live like this anymore. Can't even take my kids to a movie because I end-up standing in the isles.
Now that I am no longer under the control of WCB, I have seen specialists that have taken a real interest in my problems. They know what is wrong with me and I am on the waiting list for surgery to remove my tailbone. It only took one good X-ray and the help of an anesthesiologist and a surgeon to determine that the discs in my tailbone are damaged and that removing my tailbone will put me out of this misery. Amazing, this took no time at all once compo was out of the picture.. .
Coccyx removed 1999 January 19
4 days after the operation:
I have a REALLY sore ass !! Anyways.. the anesthesia that I was so worried about (makes me sick) didn't bother me at all. I woke up so gently and felt so good that in about half an hour I was out of bed putting my clothes on ready to go home.. . . !! I had asked for a particular anesthesiologist (the one I had been to for pain relief already) and he turned up for me.. this made me feel very comfortable, because I trust him.. he is the one that diagnosed my problem in the first place.. . I was pain free when I walked out of the hospital only one hour after the surgery. They had given me a spinal block and it was still active till about 5 o clock that evening.
THEN things started to hurt.. lol.. . OUCH!! feels like a rhinoceros head butted me!! The next day was hell.. could not move my legs without severe sharp pain. Day 3.. not so bad.. . 60 % of original Day 4.. have to keep reminding myself to SLOW DOWN.. pain only 40 % today.. pretty sore again.. think I did too much yesterday.. lol.. pain.. still 40 % ?? getting better and better. I am thrilled!! the shooting, stabbing pains that consumed my back, buttocks, penis, legs.. are gone they were gone the day I came home.. but didn't want to get my hopes up.. but they are still gone.. . (knock on wood).. I feel sooo much better, regardless of the pain in my butt from the surgery. I know that the surgery pain will be gone in a month.. I am so happy I could flip.. (but I won't cuz I have to be careful of my stitches.. lol) still can't sit down for any length of time.. I am kneeling right now to type this.. sitting is excruciating.. . the doc said that it would be for a month no moving too fast for a month either.. no problem.. a slug would beat me at the 100 yard dash easily right now. I feel I can beat this chronic pain now and get on with me and my family's lives.. . . a few more months and I should be as good as new.
13 days after the operation:
Well... it's been 13 days since the surgeon removed my tailbone. I am able to sit for a while now, but only for short periods. I had my stitches removed on the 27th of Jan by the surgeon that performed the operation. He told me that my coccyx was not attached to my sacrum, it was floating around all by itself. The term he used was "unstable".
When I woke up from the surgery I was surprised to feel calm and rested. I was not sick or in any kind of pain at all. Amazing what a spinal block and a mild sedative can do. I was sent home 1 hour after I had awakened, I actually got out of the bed myself and walked to our vehicle in the parking lot!! I was pain free till about 5 o'clock that evening. Then it started to HURT. moving at all was excruciating. this is a PAINFUL operation, just as I was warned. The next 3-4 days were at least a 10 on the pain scale, tylenol 4 and demerol were administered. The demerol seemed to smooth it over, but made me vomit in the mornings, especially if I drank even a little bit of coffee, but that passed once I knew how many to take and when, and was quite effective in bringing the pain down to about a 6. I could not sit, roll over, move my legs quickly, cough or even think about sneezing, so the first week was hell.
13 days have passed now and I am able to sit and type this.
All the sharp, spiking pains that were present before the operation are gone. Last night was the first pain free night in bed that I have had in almost three years. I remember thinking that I didn't want to fall asleep, because it felt sooo good. Then it was 9 am!
Every day that goes by now is better and better. the healing process is accelerating at an exponential rate. In my own opinion I believe I will be pain free in about two weeks (fingers crossed ). Right now I still feel the muscle fibres and connective tissue pulling sharply if I do anything too fast, and I still don't want to ride in a car yet, or sit for more than a minute.
The surgeons are definitely telling the truth when they tell you that you will be down for a month, this is still quite brutal at times. I think I am faring well though, up and around and it hasn't even been two weeks yet.
My advice to people thinking about this procedure :
1. If you are willing to endure a high level of pain for the first week of post op, this operation is definitely worth it. All my previous pain is gone.
2. I recommend the spinal block for the op.
3. Have lots of pain killer meds ready for immediate use after the op.
4. Make sure that your bed is soft, you will not be able to lay on your back and your hips will ache. (I used a thick foam).
5. You will not be able to shower or bathe for at least 10 days, so be clean BEFORE you go in
6. If you won't be staying in the hospital you will ABSOLUTELY need someone to help you at home, you will not be able to move the second day (I guarantee it).
7. First bowel movement: I was quite scared about this one and made sure that I was EMPTY before I went in. But it turns out that my first movement (2 days after the op) didn't hurt at all, my fears were unfounded....no problem at all (except to bend over and wipe)
8. If you read, now's a good time to do it...............
I recommend this operation to anyone who is thinking of having it done. this condition takes away too much of life, a month of recovery is nothing compared to the benefits. I see myself getting better each day and wish this could have been done and over with 2 years ago more to come.................gotta go now, my ass hurts!!
18 days after the operation:
I am also kneeling and standing and sitting, have to keep moving.. . even without a coccyx. I am also getting a little scared now because pain is still present.. . BUT it is a totally different pain! It is pain from the surgery.. . . . . it WILL take time. This pain is the type that gets better and better every day, I have ups, and I have downs I had a REAL down the other day when I tripped over the coffee table.. . went down in slow motion.. . . BAD.. . felt all the ligaments, stretch, pull, SCREAM.. tears in the eyes, just another day. This really is a tough op.. . . . I've had broken legs and smashed bones (I skateboard and skI and motorbike and do stupid, fun things) pain is not that bad to me.. especially when you know it will only be three months, tops.
This tailbone thing brought me down HARD.. lost my life.. thought about giving it up.. . being in the pain I am in now is nothing, this pain is SURGERY PAIN I now sleep at night, have NO problem getting out of bed in the morning and look forward to a bright new future.. . no matter what else happens I HAVE MY LIFE BACK !!!!!!!!!!!! people are telling me that my whole attitude has changed. I have people coming to visit ME! The surgeon took ALL of my coccyx.. it is no longer a part of my life.. . he showed me how much of it there was.. a good 6 inches.. all the vertebrae.. he only had to pull it out of me, no saws, no knives, no prybars (it wasn't attached anymore) I FEEL MUCH BETTER, the aggravated nerves no longer consume my every waking moment also, the L5 s1 disc in my back has stopped bugging me.. . I tell ya, the irritation of that damned tailbone was as big as a large dinner plate.. my whole body is starting to feel GREAT.. people should know that this IS brutal.. . . . like I say.. I know pain, but this was something to reckon with. BE READY !!! legs and back and "am I ever going to get better" will be on the mind.. . I tell you, I can honestly say that even if I end up with the pain I have now.. at this moment, it will be worth it.. no more "flashing ", "spiking ", tears in the eyes, pain that no one else can imagine. I SLEEP at night !
Oh yeah ....if you think that the coccyx is just "little" wait till you see it in front of your eyes.. . IT"S BIG!!!
I have been contacted by more than a few people lately asking me to update my story on Jon's excellent site, so here goes and I will start from where I left off.
End of Jan 99 :
My spirits are quite high now, I believe that it may be all over in one or two more months.
Feb 99 :
The healing seems to have slowed down somewhat. I do not have any discomfort from the surgical site or the stitches anymore, but I am still very tender around the coccyx area. After a long fight with Manulife Financial it seems they may've taken my case seriously (after a year and a half) and are sending some money for my destitute family and I. Anything physical or driving is still excruciating, but I am trying my best. I am gobbling tylenol 3's, but they are not very potent. I decide to start walking as a beginning to an exercise program. The first attempt is to the corner store (about 8 blocks) . Things are going well till the return home. About a quarter way home I realize that this may be a mistake, but I plod on and make it. Whoo !! I slept well that night LOL.
March 99 :
March 6th is the day I finally get my say with the WCB of British Columbia. It is also my son's birthday. The ride to the hotel where the appeal is to take place is very painful (I hate getting into a vehicle these days, I have to ride on the bench seat in the back and lay on my side, thank god my wife is doing the driving and giving me all the support I need) . The meeting takes only 30 minutes and we win, totally !! I could not sit down throughout the gathering and had to use my cane for support, I just hoped that the appeals officer didn't think I was faking or something. I was in agony the whole time.
April 99 :
What is going on ?? Why do I still have this horrible pain ? The pain has moved to the upper portion of my sacrum. I'm starting to wonder if I've gotten my hopes up waaaay to far...........
The docs all said that I would be as good as new in two months and it just isn't happening. This is taking forever.
Have not heard from WCB regarding our decision. What is taking them soo long ?? Manulife is sending me to the YMCA for physiotherapy, I get the feeling that they are going to railroad me and tell me that I'm ok.
I do their exercises, and follow their instructions. It is hurting a lot and I keep crapping my pants................
May 99 :
Saw my doctor this month and told him that the pain was still pretty intense. He told me to forget it and get a job........!!! I ask him how I'm supposed to do that now that all my tools have been repossessed (30 grand worth) and I still can't lift anything and have no energy at all and cannot lay on my back................
He prescribes a drug called " carbamazipine " that is used for epileptics to control their seizures, but it is supposed to help people with nerve damage pain. I take this drug for two weeks and feel absolutely horrible, all I can do is sleep. I am dizzy, nauseous and fatigued the whole time. When I see him the next time I ask to be taken off this yucky crap, so what does he do?? Doubles the dose. It is at this point I decide to find another doctor....................I realize that he has done nothing to help me with my fight with the WCB or Manulife and has actually hindered my progress with bad reports that no-one can read or understand. So I get in touch with some of my chronic pain friends and one of them mentions a name that I recall. A name that I had gone to school with and skateboarded with, I wonder if it is the same person. I call their office and talk with the secretary.
She says that they are not taking new clients at this time but will inform the doctor that I called. An hour later the same secretary calls me back and asks " are you the same Rory Greenwell that used to skateboard with Bruce??" I say "Yes, yes I am!"
I had an appointment to see him the very next week ! Small world huh ??
This new doctor is willing to try any sort of medication that will work for me, thank god...........finally.
Manulife does railroad me and writes a report that is absolutely false and says that I am fit to return to work
I write a scathing letter to the head p/t and tell her exactly what I think of her and her methods, three weeks of torture and abuse, just to be told that " I was outta here ". What a crock. Do not trust any of these " so called " insurance companies, they will screw you everytime.............
June 99 :
The appointments with this new doctor are going very well. We have tried an assortment of pain killing drugs, but many of them have gross side effects, but we will keep trying.
I am much more active now, but still pay a high price for doing anything too physical. I love to fix mechanical things and have started to repair motorcycles and other small engines stuff in my spare time and when I can do it without too much pain. Keeps the boredom away and keeps me active anyways.
July 99 :
I truly believe now that there are still more cracks or some kind of damage to my sacrum or upper coccyx. It is still bugging the hell outta me and I am very worried. I tell my new doctor this and he asks if I have had any x-rays since the operation. he is very surprised to hear that no such pictures have been taken, so sends me to the x-ray dept to get some slides taken. They come back negative, but I ask to see them and the technician lets me. I can see what looks to me like more damage, but it is hard to convince anyone so I am at square one again. I also ask him if there is anything I can do about a very large hemorrhoid I have had since the accident and he books me in to see a proctologist right away ! Everytime I mentioned this to the old doctor he told me to " ignore it " or " they heal themselves ". Well it's been 3 and a half years and it hasn't " healed itself ". So I am looking forward to having that little " misery " out of my life. The appointment is for Oct 19th. I'll let you all know how that goes.
My new doc also prescribes Percocet for my pain. Wow ! What a relief ! I can actually sit down and be comfortable on this stuff. Too bad it makes me feel gross, but I will try it for a while and give it a chance.
Aug 99 :
The Percocet is just too much too live with. I find I sleep too much with it and am very lethargic the next day. Too bad cuz it sure works for pain. We are going to try a different drug called MS Contin. It is timed release morphine.
I am doing much more now and can drive for short distances easily enough. I called the anesthesiologist that had given me help before because I wanted some more cortizone shots. But it seems he has turned his back on me, just like my original doctor did, once they realized that I was not getting better fast enough for them. They both said I would be better in two months, but by reading the info on this web site about others I realize that they were both totally wrong. Doctors hate to be wrong. it looks as if I will be recovering from this for years to come, both physically and financially. I do hope to get more of those shots though, they sure did help my lower back......................maybe my new doc can refer me to someone who cares.
The morphine is starting to work wonders. I get up easily, without the " grogginess " in the morning and it doesn't space me out at all. I feel quite alert now (we all need more lerts) and seem to be getting much more done. I am really enjoying working on the bikes, although some days I still cannot do it. This is going to be a problem for me if I do get a job again. I won't be very reliable because there are days when I just can't do much at all.
Sept 99 :
WCB finally paid us, but only up until march 99. They are going by the letter that my old doctor wrote which states " Rory should be recovered in two months ". Geeeez, I couldn't even climb a flight of stairs in march..................
The fight goes on with WCB. I am a little, tiny, teeny bit better every month. The morphine is wondrous. Why couldn't they have tried this in the first place ?? WCB is also sending me to see a psychiatrist " to deal with my depression". I told them that once my family was fed again that this " depression " would probably disappear. They didn't seem to understand LOL. So more to come about that. The first appointment is in Oct................
At the end of Sept I took a serious fall. This was caused by doing something stupid, of course. I will not say why I fell but a very interesting thing happened to me in the next few hours. As the bumps and bruises started to swell up on my right side from my hip down to my ankle (I had landed on my right side, all of it) , I noticed that my left leg felt very odd indeed.
There was no more tingling or " dead " sensations in it. My left leg felt as if it had come back to life and I could feel it again and had all my strength in it. Something which I have not had since my original accident.
I remembered hearing a popping sound as I landed, why do I get the feeling that my left leg had been dislocated all these years?
Anyways, since that dark day at the end of Sept, my left leg has decided to rejoin the rest of my body.........go figure.
Oct 99 :
I am writing this Oct 8th. This is the month where all shit will hit the fan. Manulife has asked for their measley little amount of cash back and after the way they treated us I think I will tell them to go suck an egg. I have appointments to see psychologists, appointments to see surgeons, a letter coming from my doctor explaining to compo why I am on morphine (I think they were very surprised to hear that.....) And a whole whack of other stuff to do and get on with.
I am still partially disabled and have many battles with " insurance " companies to get through. The creditors are still calling for all sorts of things, my credit is a shambles, my finances are a shambles, my pain goes on. Thank god for the support of my wife.
I cannot believe how injured people are treated in this day and age by the very people that are supposed to help us. You could buy insurance till it came out of your ears and it wouldn't do you any good. They want your money right away, but trying to get a dime outta them is like pulling teeth. I have never seen so much denial and corruption in my life.
So...........that's it for now. I know that I have left many things out because it has been a long time since I have done an update.
Thank you all for writing to me, it shows that there are people out there in the same situation and pain as me. Don't be afraid to go through with this operation, it has helped me immensely, it is just taking a very long time to recover. Remember also that I sustained more injuries than a broken coccyx and that these are a factor as well. I do not think that I am the normal case and most times things go much smoother than they have for me.
I will keep updating and answering questions for years to come. Don't be afraid to e-mail me if you want to talk.
The hemorrhoid situation I had has cleared up by itself. One night, as I was giving birth to a brick, I felt a sharp pain in my anus and concluded that I had gained another hemorrhoid. At first I thought that I would just live with it because I was in to see the specialist in two weeks anyways. I tried to put up with the pain for two days and finally gave up. I asked my wife to take a look for me and tell me what she saw. What she saw was a walnut sized " thingy " poking out of my bowels ! She said that it looked like a purple balloon half blown up, and that we had better get down to emergency right away.
Soooo she drove me to the hospital, stood around for an hour (couldn't sit) and then my turn came. The doctor in the e/r took a look and told me that this " thingy " was known as a "thrombosis", or a "thrombosed vein", and that it was a fair size (one of the best he'd seen) . So he got a needle and scalpel and proceeded to remove the thing. I was shocked at how much " stuff " he scooped out of there. The anesthetic wore off while in the truck on the way home......I was sweatin'!!! It took approx one week to calm down and feel better, by two weeks there was no pain at all. So this thrombosis had been there for 4 years, ready to give way, or blow-up, or whatever it did. I could feel " something " in there ever since I had this accident and it affected my daily life. Anyways it is gone now and my bowels feel MUCH better thankyou very much LOL. The specialist never did get to see it because, of course, it was all healed by the time I got to see him. I had the colonoscopy anyways, just to be sure. Nothing found....clear as a bell (so to speak) .
I started seeing the psychologist. She's very nice. I actually feel that I have an ally now. I got a rotten letter from WCB while in her care because I had missed an appointment (because the hospital visit mentioned above was the night before my appointment with the psychologist) with her. The letter from WCB was rude and threatening and said that I may lose benefits if I continued to miss appointments. I showed this letter to the psychologist. She was NOT impressed with WCB. And they wonder why I'm depressed?????? That whole month was a waste for me, all I did was sleep and contemplate suicide.
I stopped taking the morphine beginning of February. Everyone around me seemed to be so worried about it that I figured I would just stop. The world seemed to tilt on it's axis..........REALLY. I also had flu-like symptoms: very tired, dizzy. Not sick though, didn't do the funky chicken or anything like that..... I didn't crave more either. In two weeks I was fine. Pain is more intense now though.
Saw the surgeon again and asked him to take out more bone in the coccyx area. He examined me and had to refuse another operation. He said that he had already taken part of the sacrum and didn't dare go any further without risking nerve damage and possibly paralysing me. So I asked him what other options I had. It turns out that there IS one more thing we can do to reduce this pain. He suggested PERMANENT nerve blocks. This is a procedure in which the offending nerves are actually burnt or frozen to death, thus stopping the pain signals. I said "let's do it". This will be the LAST option, after this, there is nothing more that can be done. ..........................God I hope it works. So I await a phonecall from the anesthesiologist that helped me out with the cortizone shots and helped diagnose my problem in the first place, Dr. Kraima.
Mid Feb I started a weight training program. I feel so weak and have lost so much muscle in the last year that I have to do something.................. I've lost 35lbs in the last year or two....I WANT it back! I WANT to feel human again!! It is now the first of March and I am feeling much better physically. The muscle tone is coming back much faster than I expected. I just hope that I can keep it up. Some days it is hard to keep going with the nagging pain in the butt.......................
(Continuing on from February 2000)
The anesthesiologist saw me every second day to do nerve blocks.
These needles were injected into the sacrum area and contained anesthetics designed to interrupt the pain signals, enough of them and it should stop the nerves from firing and reduce the pain. I subjected myself to about 12 appointments and the area became extremely sore and bruised, butt it seemed to help near the end. We also used the fluoroscope the first few times and lo and behold there was still a segment of coccyx attached to the sacrum (I had been trying to tell him this..). The surgeon had told me that they had already taken part of the sacrum, butt, there on the fluoroscope, proof that he had lied to me, part of the coccyx was still there and painful as hell.
I got an apology from the anesthesiologist, the surgeon had moved away by then (to sail his yacht on the west coast ... must be nice).
The last appointment I had with the anesthesiologist was a complete surprise !
He had phoned WCB about all the shots and they had told him that I had osteoporosis. He blew me off ! Told me that there was nothing he could do for me.
A few weeks after this episode I noticed a white van hanging around our house. I had the feeling I was being watched...
I WAS being watched. WCB contacted me and set up an appointment to see one of their counselors. Turns out that they had video tape of me sitting on my step taking my kids to the dairy queen for ice-cream, and helping a youngster with his motorcycle. The WCB cut off my benefits that day.
I look like shit on the video tape, I hadn't done anything physical and yet they accuse me of being a faker. The whole appointment was a setup from the get-go. I am devastated. what now ?
My only recourse is to file another appeal...
Late July 2000. Wife asks me to leave. I move into my mother's basement. Beginning of the end for the marriage, about a month later I start divorce proceedings. The pain goes on and on and on...
Mid June 2001. Much changes in my life through the winter and into the summer of 2001.
I'll write more about it in another post. for now I am still awaiting my hearing with the WCB, and still wait for the divorce to happen. The PITA continues...
Keep writing to me okay ??
I'm ALWAYS here