Success with the surgery
Mike Davison - firstname.lastname@example.org
Original posting, 2003-08-10:
I had the surgery on 11th of June 2003.
I am a 37 year old male and have a very high tolerance for pain. I had symptoms of coccydynia for almost two years. I had pain when sitting and increasing for the amount of time sitting. A sharp pain when moving from sitting to standing, but no pain when standing. In the last few months a new symptom developed. Sometimes when I sit I would feel the coccyx dislocate. It would feel like two bones knocking together.
The first six months were mild but getting progressively worse. I went to the doctor and was x-rayed. The films showed nothing abnormal and was advised to use the donut cushion. The doctor even said the coccyx cannot be removed. I used the cushion and things did not get better but slowly started to get worse. I couldn't go to see a show and the duration of a dinner out was about the limit. I did purchase the coccyx cushion, (the one with the U cut out in the rear) and cut the strap that holds the U shape in place so I could pull the U further apart when I sat. This really helped.
I then found your site which has helped me immensely. I printed out all the info that was relevant to me and brought it in to the doctor (Dr. Kaiser). They will not take an x-ray as described on you site. They also sent me to physical therapy. Manipulation did not help. Kegal exercises that they recommended just made things more sore when not sitting. Then I was sent to physical medicine where shots were recommended. I said no. I then DEMANDED additional x-rays. This time I laid on my side in a fetal position and had one x-ray taken relaxed and one with me performing a kegal, (for us men, an anal clench). The two films side by side showed the coccyx moving dramatically.
Meanwhile, I had been taking vicodine as needed. This allowed me to eat out with some comfort and even see a show. It also allowed me to drive a longer distance. It doesn't make me drowsy but it may for anyone else so be careful! Half an hour before an event I will take 1 or 2. (5/500 mg)
From physical medicine I went to the orthopedist. He looked at the x-rays and asked me what I thought. I repeated my story and said it's gotta come out. He agreed. He also told me that there is a high infection rate of about 20% for that procedure. Since my life has been on hold with this problem for some time, I felt I had no choice. My confidence was also boosted by his 30 previous operations for this problem (he is a surgeon with Kaiser in Southern California). The operation would take about an hour and I would stay the night in the hospital.
The day before the operation I was given flagyl for antibiotics and phospo-soda. Phospo-soda is to clean out your plumbing. It's the worst tasting stuff I have ever drank and two hours later if I swallowed a marble it would pop out in 30 seconds just as clean as when it went in.
Recovery was difficult at first. Laying on one side or the other. I recommend very little food or a liquid diet. Being able to sit on the toilet is one problem. Having a bowel movement is completely another problem. The internal swelling pushes on the colon restricting movement. Even extreme pain just coughing, sneezing or nose blowing. The incision is just above the anus and the bandage is taped on with something they use for assembling rockets (my wife refers to the bandage as a manpon). It's not coming off for one week anyway. What follows is the daily recovery (days in bold I consider significant):
- 1st day after surgery: Rode home in back of a SUV. Laid on couch. Had to roll of couch onto knees and needed assistance standing up. Painful to bend over just a little bit. Rolling over is a major event. Walking hurts. Vicodine every 4 hours. Keflex for antibiotic. Had morphine in the hospital. Looked at the toilet. No way!
- 2nd day: Walking is easier. Can bend a little more. Pain is easier to manage with vicodine.
- 3rd day: Toilet liberation day! No sitting on furniture. Pain is better but increases very much if I don't take the vicodine within the specified time.
- 4th day: Three hours late taking pain med. Very painful. On med I can water plants in the yard and get around fine. No sitting yet. Using packaging tape and cling wrap, my wife made me a waterproof butt shield so I can take a shower.
- 5th day: Can sit only if leaning forward and only for a very, very short time. Can stretch the vicodine to six hours.
- 6th day: Can sit a little longer and a little further back. More active today but I can tell when it's time for a pill without looking at the clock. Starting to get a rash under the tape that holds the manpon to my butt.
- 8th day: Went back to the doctor for the one week follow up. He said my coccyx was very mobile and the largest he had seen. Got a new and much smaller manpon. Said everything is healing well. Come back in a week.
- 9th day: Can almost sit normal for about one minute. Like a hot poker sticking me the longer I sit. It's not the old tailbone pain, it's the new surgery pain.
- 11th day: After a week and a half of being horizontal I have come to the conclusion that you can't spend too much money for a couch. Obviously I should have spent more. Still can't sit normal. When I do sit I get fidgety from the increasing pain after a few moments and have to stand.
- 12th day: Went back to the doctor and he removed the small manpon. Didn't get a new one. Shower as normal now. Return in a week.
- 14th day: Can sit for a longer duration. Mostly left and right cheek switching. Was able to drive the car (with the help of the coccyx cushion) to the market and do some shopping. 5 minute drive is about the max. When I climbed out of the car I was expecting the shooting pain that I have had all this time from coccyxdynia and it didn't happen. I just stood up. Life is starting to return to normal.
- 16th day: Can drive a little longer. Can go almost 12 hours without pain med but I start to get fidgety as the pain level increases. No great pain, just very uncomfortable at times. Tried my easy chair for about 3 minutes and then back to the couch.
- 20th day: Stopped taking pain med altogether, (except for advill). Still hurts but I think I've had enough vicodine. Drove myself 16 uncomfortable miles and saw the doctor He says not to return unless complications arise. This doctor has been the most professional person in the field of medicine I have ever met and his skill as a surgeon is exemplary. Thanks Doc!
- 23rd day: Went out to eat at a pizzeria. I was planning to eat standing at the counter but instead sat on the hard wood chairs, (no padding). The chairs were great. Made it through a half hour meal and only stood up once.
- 24th day: Returned to work today. Off and on I spent two hours and 100 miles in my car. Used the coccyx cushion but didn't take any pain med. Very uncomfortable. Stood at my workbench the rest of the time. Although the pain is different from coccydynia, it is a little less than before the surgery. I think vicodine is on the menu tomorrow.
- 30th day. Made it through a week of work. A lot of driving. Also saw a movie this weekend with the help of a vicodin and some cheek shifting.
- 2 months: Back at work for a month now. If I sit for a long duration my rear gets uncomfortable. Nothing like the pain before the surgery. All symptoms of coccydynia are gone. Just tender cheek bones from years of improper sitting. 85% better than before. I expect a full recovery and no more pain within 6 months. I'll update in December.
Note: A fractured coccyx is a physical problem. Get a proper diagnosis and get treated. Hocus pocus medicine will not help. If you don't like the doctor, go elsewhere.
7 months since surgery.
With very few exceptions, life is back to normal. The exceptions are:
- After a long movie, my rear will get tender.
- An occasional sharp but quick pain when sitting. (Like a reminder of the way things were.)
- A habit of sitting on one cheek because I've been sitting that way for so long.
I have since:
- Gone out to dine with friends without having to worry how long I'll be able hold out.
- Driven my car on a 1500 mile tour of the southwest.
- Not have to think twice before sitting down.
- Put my coccyx cushion away and haven't used it in months.
- Tattooed the letter 'W' on each of my butt cheeks. Now when I perform cartwheels nude it reads , "Wow, Mom. Wow."
(All right, I didn't do the last thing. I'm thinking about it.)
8 years post surgery and everything is in the distant past as if nothing ever happened. The only time I think about my experience is when I get an email on the subject or when I see someone with a coccyx cushion. My surgeon was Dr. James Lau (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, California)