Again and again

Patrick -

In 1977 I was in eighth grade and 15 years old. I had been riding double on a bike quite some distance that day. I was the passenger, not the driver of the bike. As we made our way about town we did have to go over railroad tracks a number of times. My rear was sore after this. It continued to remain sore for several days and I complained a bit to my mom. She suggested I see a doctor about it. She said it may be a pilonidal cyst. She also told me one of my six brothers had also had one before. The appointment was made and I went to see the doctor. He referred me to a surgeon. The surgeon confirmed that I had a pilonidal cyst and surgery was scheduled.

I went to the hospital for inpatient surgery. Before surgery they came in and said they needed to give me an enema so that I did not have a bowel movement during surgery. I was nervous about it to say the least. When the nurse gave me the enema she directed me to hold it in as long as I could. My mind said OK, but my body said no way. My bowels emitted a huge mess. I was embarrassed and apologized to the nurse. She said don't worry that happens and it is not unusual.

Later, also before surgery they also had someone come in to shave all my hair away from the surgery area. It seemed like an excessively large area to be shaved at the time. Now that I'm older and understand better I know it wasn't. They shaved me as I lay on my stomach. The shaved are went about 1/3 of the up my back, down between my buttocks, the back side of my testicles, and the area between my legs and testicles.

The surgery performed was called excision of a pilonidal cyst. An incision was made to remove the cyst. My oldest sister wanted to see what it looked like, so I showed her. She described it as a hole about the size of a half dollar. The incision was not sutured, it was left open to heal from the inside out. I was in the hospital for 5 days. Insurance companies would never allow that today!

Because of the cost of bandages the surgeon suggested I use women's maxipads to keep blood off my undershorts while it healed. Although embarrassing to me, they worked. They were bulky back then as they didn't have the thin ones they do today. I needed to take cyst baths three times daily while it was in this open stage. I also needed to go see the surgeon often for it to be checked on. I think it took about six or eight weeks to heal, but it seemed like forever to me.

I had difficulty walking uphill without pain for a while after the surgery and was provided a school bus to get to school. I also had a medical excuse to be exempted from PE that term. I also had some difficulty retaining my bowel movements after surgery. If I had to go there better not be anyone in the bathroom because I could not hold it long. the surgeon said that would go away and it did. He said it was caused because of some cut to muscle.

The surgeon had advised me that the surgery would take care of it, but it could reoccur. He also said that reoccurrence rates were low. I think he may have said about 2% of people may have a reoccurrence. I was one of those 2%. Seventeen years later in 1993, age 31, just before my 32nd birthday I had another one. This time it was a different surgery done in the office. It was called incision and drainage of a pilonidal cyst.

No large incision was made this time. Only a small incision was made. The surgeon packed some gauze into it to assist in drainage. It was kept open for about a week or two and then it healed closed by itself. I needed to take cyst baths again to keep it clean.

I thought for sure this would be it with them, but it wasn't. About 17 months later in 1994 when I was 32 I ended up with another. I couldn't believe it. This time surgery was outpatient surgery. I was in and out of the hospital in just 19 hours. This time we did not use a general anesthesia, only a local one. I made that decision based on cost as I had no insurance. I did not have any problem with just local anesthesia it worked for this operation as it was not as deep as the first one.

It healed up well for me. Again I used maxipads for keeping blood off my undershorts. This time they were thin and had wings. I could conceal a spare in my pocket and I didn't have to wear my shirt untucked to hide the bulkiness extra in my shorts. That was a relief.

I went on with life think finally I got this problem taken care of and it will never happen to me again. Well guess what? I think I have another. I'll be going to see a doctor today to find out if I should schedule with a surgeon again. I'm 42 now and thought maybe I'd never have this again. Well I guess I'm one of the ones who go beyond the average of age as they normally don't see them after age 40.

I think my thick hair plays a part in it. I also think because I have a job that requires a lot of sitting to do paperwork also plays a part. I don't know for sure, but I would guess to say that my yard, which I mow with a 20 inch mower, that takes 1 and 1/2 to 2 hours to mow, and has some hill, and lots to mow around may also be part of the cause. The friction from walking, turning, getting sweaty while I mow may also play a role.

I wish anyone who reads this much success in dealing with a pilonidal cyst. It's not the end of the world. As you can see though it can make one who has one very nervous or annoyed. The pain isn't pleasant either. If your reading because you know someone who has or may have one, please be understanding when they don't want to discuss it. They will when they are ready.

Updated 2004-09-19

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