I'm having a coccygectomy tomorrow

Donna - bandontom@comcast.net

Posted 2008-11-30

Today is Sunday, November 30, 2008. I am having a coccygectomy tomorrow morning. My story is different from most that I have read. My coccyx pain is the direct result of an auto accident that occurred on July 12, 2008. I was driving a small Scion XB on that day with my adult son in the passenger seat and his girlfriend in the passenger seat behind my son. We were hauling some items that we purchased at a second hand store and the seat next to my son's girlfriend had been folded down to accommodate these larger items. The head rest on that rear seat was resting against the lower part of my seat when we were suddenly hit from behind. A man who was born in 1922 was driving a large sedan and he drove his car 4 feet into the back of our car, pushing that rear seat into my lower back. Because I was held firmly in place by my seat belt, I took the full blow to my lower back. Needless to say, the position of that seat saved the life of my son's girlfriend.

All of the subsequent tests indicated that there were no broken bones. After the pain from the bruised ribs and abdomen finally went away, I was left with constant pain to my tailbone. Because I had good auto insurance, I was able to seek every possible remedy for this constant pain. I had MRI's, Bone Scans, X-rays and visits to several doctors. None of which provided any reason for my tail bone pain. There was evidence of injury to my L3, L4 and L5 so they assumed that I was suffering from "referred" pain. So, I had injections into the tailbone.... no help; lumbar injections..... no help; physical therapy manipulations... no help, and tearful interviews with neuro surgeons asking for a solution.

One neuro surgeon finally took pity on me and agreed to do the surgery. I found out from this doctor that the allowed cost that can be billed for this operation is minimal. He suggested that most highly paid neuro surgeons just don't want to do it for that reason alone. Interesting......

I will update this e-mail as time goes by, but I truly empathize with each of you that suffer with this pain. It is also a costly condition.... If you don't have insurance that will pay for injections and procedures, you must suffer in pain. I never realized that I wouldn't be able to enjoy a movie out, a plane ride in a window seat, a 3 hour trip by car to a family reunion and so many other things.

I am very curious to know whether this operation will effect my posture, my activities or the other back bones that are deteriorating with age... I am 65

My name is DONNA, I would be happy to receive responses or questions.

Update, 2008-12-07

My surgery appears to be successful. We won't know for several weeks I guess. The surgery was done out patient in a hospital under general anesthetic. The surgery only took 30 minutes. My entire tailbone was removed, but instead of a typical 2 inch coccyx, I had one that was 4 inches long. I had been taking oxycodone prior to surgery, so I continued that regiment after surgery.

The day of surgery, I seemed to feel pretty good. Not much pain. But the next 3 days were very painful. Because of my large tailbone, the incision was longer than typical and required staples which agitated the back bone. At first, I was most bothered by the incision. Now, I am noticing the void inside my buttocks and the inability to find a comfortable way to sit. I spend most of my time on my side right now, laying down. Driving the car is impossible. (I tried). The first time I used the toilet seat (day of operation) I started to bleed. I apparently pulled on the staples. So, I learned to stand up if I needed to urinate. I'm okay now.

If you are planning the surgery, be sure you take stool softeners right away and eat foods that can easily be digested. It took 5 days for my first bowel movement which was an unpleasant event. My incision was approx 3 inches long and it started about 2 inches above my rectum. I am having no problems with infection. I AM VERY GLAD THAT I HAD THIS SURGERY ! ! !

Update, 2010-03-21

Update on coccyx surgery - one year ago. I was in a car accident in 2008 and the back seat was jammed into my tailbone. Funny thing though.... Even with severe pain, MRI's and Bone scans did not show a break or fracture. Therefore, it was hard to find a surgeon who was willing to help me. I described the pain as "sitting on a railroad spike"

In December, 2008 I found a wonderful surgeon who agreed to do the surgery. He told me that all surgery procedures are now price regulated. And he suggested that the price that he can charge for coccyx removal was less than he pays his surgical assistant. That could be the reason we are all having so much trouble getting the medical profession to take us seriously. Because of this limitation, he did not want me to put his name on the recommended physician list.

Anyway, he removed the entire coccyx and it fell apart in his hands. I wish I could say that I am pain free, but after 15 months, I still have pain sitting.... it's different now. Now it feels like "I am sitting on a 2 x 4". but I am so glad that I had the surgery.

First thing in the morning, I am pain free until I sit for about 10 minutes. Therefore, I have learned to take one oxycodone as soon as I get up in the morning. This keeps me comfortable for about 4 hours and then I take another 2-3 as needed during the rest of the day. I don't abuse this procedure and I have remained on the same dose for 6 months now.

I have accepted the fact that sitting comfortably is something that I will never be able to do. But it sure beats sitting on that sharp railroad spike.

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