Jason in Minnesota - Jason.Laumb@audatex.com
About a year ago I broke my tail bone in hockey. After dealing with the pain etc. I elected to have it removed on Nov. 29th 2007. I have had the misfortune of having many surgeries in the past few years (shoulder, elbow, Achilles etc.) so I was pretty familiar with how things worked. This, however, was a little different. I had read several personal experience of ripped stitches and infections etc. and this was very concerning for me. To add to that, I work in computers and sit every day so I knew the recovery would be interesting.
My doctor was a man of few words and I was surprised when he said I would be back to work in a week, especially after reading personal stories on this site. My biggest concern ironically was not the surgery itself, but the anesthesia. I react very poorly to "general anesthesia" and I am usually sick for days after, which is worse than the pain to me. It also tends to constipate the heck out of me and considering the kind of surgery I was having that could be a real problem.
When the doctors were initially trying to figure out what my problem was last year, they brought me in to do a rectal exam (so fun of course). I told the anesthesiologist about my issue with a "general" and he said "we will use a MAC and you will come out of it really quick". I had no idea what that was but he was right. I recovered in minutes after they woke me up and was fine. I was very happy about that.
Before the Doctor came in to see me prior to surgery on Nov. 29th, I ended up talking to the nurse about my issues with a general. She said she hated it also and suggested I push hard for a MAC.
When the doctor came in, I asked about a MAC. He thought about it for a minute and when I could see he was not going to go for it I suggested a MAC in conjunction with a spinal (they numb the lower body). In the past a spinal had always freaked me out some but after having a cortisone shot in my lower back (basically a spinal) I realized how simple and pretty much painless it was. The doctor and anesthesiologist agreed to it. They gave me the shot in the lower back and it was pretty painless.
I woke up as they were bringing me into recovery. I immediately sat up with my arms and asked a nurse for something to eat and drink. I felt just as good as before they had put me out. My lower half was numb so I had NO pain at all. I was absolutely thrilled!!!! They brought me into a room with my wife and she was amazed. Within an hour the numbness started going away and I still felt pretty good. I had pain of course, but nothing like I thought… within a few hours (after I was able to urinate) they sent us home. That night I watched TV and ate pretty much anything I wanted.
The next day I was a bit tired but if I laid on my side there was pretty much no pain. The other bonus of the spinal and MAC was that my bathroom trips were completely normal. There was NO constipation. Again I was thrilled. Things were going so well that I even snow blowed the drive way the following Monday.
I found out the hard way a week later that regardless of what the doctor said, driving was out of the question… as one might expect, sitting down normally was quite painful. Luckily my boss was very accommodating and let me take a combination of sick days and work from home days. Today, 4 weeks later, I am able to sit with manageable pain. I just saw the doctor yesterday and he said I am healing so well that I can resume all activities in 2 weeks including down hill skiing and hockey!
I would like to point out 2 things that I think really helped in my recovery. I was ever so happy when I first took the bandages off (the second day) and noticed that the incision was horizontal, not vertical. I was able to sit down to have bowel movements just fine without worrying about tearing stitches if they would have been vertical (high five to the doctor). He also used some kind of liquid band aid and dissolvable stitches so there was nothing else to do. The other thing was the MAC and spinal. I can't stress enough how much the MAC and spinal helped and I hope this information may help someone else avoid the agony of a "general".
Please feel free to email me if you have any other questions and thanks to all of those who supplied me with information.
Jason in Minnesota.
Note from Jon Miles: Coccyx removal using a horizonatal incision is unusual. Hellberg and Strange-Vognsen reported the results of 65 coccygectomies carried out between 1955 and 1979. They reported that 10 of them had had a horizontal incision, and 4 of these had resulted in an 'unacceptable scar', which made a cresent shaped fold as the scar contracted. But it may be that a horizontal incision reduces the risk of an infection.