Tailbone removed 17 years ago - worth it, but pain now getting bad again

Kate - Bob_ellentooth@worldnet.att.net

In 1985, my tailbone was "shattered" during childbirth with the use of forceps unnecessarily. The Kaiser Permanente-Sacramento doctors treated me as a woman who was unable to handle childbirth. My son was born in August, 1985. For 9 months, I was unable to sit or stand without assistance. Literally, someone had to lift me up and set me down. Doing so myself caused such extreme pain, I would almost pass out. Being a new mother, it is nearly impossible to express how this pain effected me. During those 9 months, x-rays done by Kaiser were "too blurry" to show damage to the tailbone or any cause of my pain. I finally went to a chiropractor whose x-rays showed a fractured coccyx. I took those x-rays to Kaiser and still was only sent to physical therapy.

Only after calling the Administrative Offices and threatening a lawsuit, was I allowed a referral to an orthopedic surgeon. I went to see him in March, 1986, he said, "I want to watch you for a while". After a month and nothing had changed, he removed my coccyx. At the time, I had a friend who was wheelchair bound and would literally lift herself up and plop herself down on her bottom in the chair. I remember crying while visiting her and wishing I could do that. I still cannot!

The orthopedic surgeon told me that my tailbone was broken in three different pieces, pointed straight down, and would have NEVER healed properly. Since my surgery, 17 years ago, I have continued to work until recently when the pain finally got to point it interferes with EVERYTHING I do. Being a single mother for 12 of those 17 years, I had no choice but to work, PAIN OR NO PAIN.

No longer can I sit for over 15 to 20 minutes without the pain getting to a point I must get up. I cannot stand without pain in my lower back and tailbone area. I cannot walk long distances without extreme back pain. Simply shopping causes extreme pain. If I did not have to shop for groceries, I would not. I cannot drive without pain in the tailbone area and my lower back. If I sleep for over 5 hours, I have to have help getting out of bed due to lower back pain. In order to even get those 5 hours of sleep, I take Naprosin or Motrin. During the day, I take Tylenol because Naprosin and Motrin causes me to get sleepy. Some days, I can barely walk, let alone consider working.

As for having the surgery, my incision got infected and I had to spend two weeks in the hospital on IV antibiotics. Because the incision runs up the "crack" area, it is endanger of infection from the rectal area. So be careful with cleanliness after surgery. The bacterial infection can lead to death if not treated immediately. [Note from Jon - this is a real but rare risk with any surgery. I have never heard of it happening after coccygectomy, and it didn't happen in any of the 200 operations reported in the medical papers that I have studied.]

As for recommending the surgery, YES, without a doubt. The pain I was in before the surgery was of such that life would have been impossible. The pain during the years after the surgery was of such I was able to work through it. I have had 17 years without extreme pain. For that I am grateful.

Now that the pain is returning, I do not know what can be done for relief. This may be something I will have to live with the rest of my life. From all my research and speaking with untold number of doctors, I am at a loss as to what can be done.

I was an Executive Secretary for 30 years and now I cannot earn a living due to the pain. I have taking a job as a cashier, but was unable to tolerate the pain in my back from standing and lifting.

I would love to correspond with others who have had long term results from surgery, both successful and unsuccessful.

Remember, just because most doctors treat you like you have lost your mind, DON'T GIVE UP. There are those doctors who can and will help.


Updated 2002-06-09

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