Original surgery left a sharp piece of coccyx behind

Bernhard Celestin - bernhardcelestin@gmail.com

Posted 2009-10-11

My story begins December 2004 when I sustained an injury at work. X-rays from the day of injury were negative. I had continuous pain but at first the doctor thought that with time I would be fine. Turns out my pain level remained the same. Three months later I visited another doctor, he ordered an MRI right away. It revealed a fracture of my coccyx. He attempted 2-3 cortisone shots but they only brought short term relief (20 mins). I was also doing some physical therapy but it would only bring very short relief. Since the infiltrations had not helped, the doctor recommended a coccygectomy. I sought out a second opinion from another surgeon and he came to the same conclusion.

To make matters worse, I had to leave the US shortly thereafter and moved to Europe then home in the Caribbean. Wanting to make sure nothing else could be done, I flew to the US and visited Dr Paul K. Mauer in Rochester. After reading my files, taking a look at X-rays and MRI I had brought, he examined me and came to the same conclusion: surgery was my only option. The insurance company (Zurich) dragged their feet long enough and finally surgery was authorized in September 2006.

Dr Mauer performed the surgery on October 26th 2006, according to him, everything went well. I was given medicine for the pain and revisited with him a week after surgery. I was then told I could leave Rochester on my way to a full recovery. Upon my arrival in NYC, I noticed that my incision had not closed. I reported the 1" inch gap to Dr Mauer's office and spoke to the nurse over there. She told me that it was normal and that it would heal with time. I was simply told to keep the area clean. I called in again a month after surgery to report the same problem (1 inch gap in incision) and was told the very same thing by the nurse. I figured this was not normal and called in again the following month only to hear the same thing from them. I also began physical therapy to help with the healing but despite the help from the therapist (is very professional) I only got short term relief. Three months after surgery, I moved to Haiti with the opened incision since I was told over and over by Dr Mauer's nurse that it would heal with time.

While in Haiti, I grew worried of the problem and went to see a surgeon. Upon examination he concluded that the gap had scarred and needed a minor surgery to close the incision. I had the procedure done by the doctor in Haiti and the incision was completely closed 10 days later. I then gave physical therapy another shot but got the same disappointing result.

I revisited Dr Mauer one year after surgery because my level of pain had not changed from prior to the surgery. Upon examination, he told me that 3 cortisone shots would do the job. To my surprise he did NOT order any post surgery imaging. I flew back to Haiti where I got the prescribed shots locally. They did not help at all.

I began to think that I would have to live with this pain for the rest of my life and fell into a deep depression. I desperately tried not to think about it but the pain was always present. I cannot sleep on my back, it gets painful after only sitting for 15 minutes and unbearable shortly after that. I have been unable to work or function properly as my level of pain is too much. I had to be very careful with medication as I am aware of the addiction one might get from taking painkillers such as percocet.

As I had given up on recovering from this injury, I guess my girlfriend and family had not and I was given a link to visit: www.coccyx.org. It gave me hope once again as I was able to get a lot of information from the site and also read about people just like me, with the same problem.

I decided to give it a chance and contacted Dr Foye (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, New Jersey) via email and was pleasantly surprised to get a reply from him within 30 minutes. He suggested I visit him so I booked a flight to NY as soon as I could and did so in August 2008. I brought him all my doctor's reports and images. He was astonished to find out that Dr Mauer never ordered any post op imaging done. He had me get some done that same day and the images revealed that a sharp piece of the coccyx remained and was the cause of my horrendous pain. I was referred to Dr Seth Kane (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, New Jersey) and visited with him soon after. His findings were the same. Both Dr Foye and Dr Kane recommended re-surgery in order to remove the sharp and pointy remaining piece my coccyx. I must say that Dr Foye and his staff (Grace) have been very helpful in the handling of my case, they are truly dedicated to their patients.

My second surgery finally got approved by the insurance carrier and I am awaiting a call back from Dr Seth Kane's office to schedule my surgery. I will keep you posted with any updates.

Bernhard Celestin

Update, 2010-06-13

So I had my second coccygectomy done in November 2009. According to Dr Kane, he removed the sharp piece of bone that was left from my first surgery. Early in my recovery, I noticed that the left side was recovering slower but I did not worry much about it since that is where the sharp piece was removed from. My right side continued to feel better but I was not making much progress on the left side.

I was supposed to revisit with Dr Kane in January but then the earthquake happened in Haiti so I ended up seeing him in April 2010. I must say that I was somewhat disappointed by my visit as I was not offered much explanation for the high level of pain on my left side. Moreover, Dr Kane did NOT order any post surgery imaging done and simply gave me a cortizone shot. Now this is what the first doctor (Dr. Paul K. Maurer) did after my original surgery and thus failed to notice the sharp piece of tailbone that was left. Not much result from the shot.

I am once again contacting Dr Foye in order to have some post surgery imaging done and I hope he will find out the source and cause of my pain. I am awaiting a reply from him and will send an update after my visit.

Bernhard Celestin

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