Coccygectomy at U of Minnesota Riverside

David -

Posted 2009-11-29

The nursing staff is wonderful and thorough. They explained everything in detail. They offered to find Cheryl a cot so she could spend the night. What a relief as we live 60 miles from the hospital.

Cher was surprised that David had total mobility, able to roll over, pull himself up and even after a few hours was able to get up and walk to the bathroom. The nurses gave him pain medication via I.V. whenever he asked for it until the evening when they encouraged him to take the meds by mouth. They kept him on the I.V. over night in order to give him antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medicine. They unhooked all of the I.V. after the last doses and we went home before 1 pm that next day.

After surgery protocol was for David not to take a shower or get his incision wet for 5 days, he went 6 to be safe. We bought disposable bath cloths. They worked wonderfully. David washed his hair in the sink. We also bought "Kandoo Wipes". They are the wipes little kids use when they are being potty trained. They have an anti-bacterial properties. I know this sounds overboard but I wiped and cleaned the area each and everytime David used the bathroom.

Speaking of that, pain killers make you constipated. The hospital sent him home with stool-softeners. They were a necessity. We are learning that before a B-M his discomfort is greater than after.

We knew once Dave started to shower each day we had to our best to keep the incision area (which is covered only by a kind of "dura-bond", a clear dried on covering) dry, clean and bacteria free. I will explain best I can how we are doing it. Before the surgery Dave was instructed to shower with an anti-bacterial soap (Hibiclens), we had some left over. So after he finishes showering he stands in the shower and I wash his back with the Hibiclens. I let the soap run down making sure it makes it to the incision. Then he rinses off. I turn down the covers on the bed with pillows across the middle of it. Dave lays down leaving the incision area exposed. We have a small fan on the dresser next to the bed. We let the fan blow on the incision for 10 minutes making sure the area is totally dry.

The incision is in a dark area and it is hard to examine to make sure there isn't anything going on that should not be. I know it sounds funny but I use a flashlight. We are diligent in taking care of and watching the incision.

We are totally blessed so far the incision is healing wonderfully and there is no sign of infection or oozing.

Anticipating the need for air-flow to the area and the discomfort some clothing would offer we bought white cotton boxers. I also bought some lightweight lounging pants that didn't have a double seam. Both were good purchases. White is bleachable and also easy to see if there is any bleeding or any discharge in. I highly recommend it. I did go a little overboard, I bleached and over cleaned every piece of clothing and or bedding that would come near him. The first 3 days I changed and bleached the bedding everyday. Better safe than sorry.

We put a body pillow long way in the bed between us. It allows David to lean on something in order to help keep him from rolling over inadvertently. It also prevents me from accidentally rolling into him. The pillow also gives Dave a place to put his knee when his back starts to hurt and needs a different position to lie.

Things we learned:

Proper diagnosis of absolute necessity. We were a little scared and disappointed when discussing the surgery with the Dr. He informed us the success rate was less than 75%. But after more discussion and our own digging for information we found the success rate goes into the 90% range when; the diagnosis is correct, the bones shift out instead of in during the sit/stand x-ray, and all other forms of treatment have been exhausted. David fit those extreme criteria so we felt more at ease about the choice we made to have the surgery.

The problem can't be properly diagnosed without a sit/stand dynamic x-ray. You need to insist on it. We did even though our orthopedic doctor condescended to us in doing it after he made a snide remark like "Did you learn about this on the internet?" We loved it when 15 minutes later he looked at the x-ray and said, Wow, there is a serious issue here. Don't you love it when you are right?

Have your surgery done by a doctor who is experienced. Try to go to a University Teaching Hospital. Don't let anyone with credentials less than a spinal expert does your surgery. Our Doctor is the head of the Spinal Department at the U of M, don't know how we ended up with the best but we did.

The University of Minnesota is affiliated with Mayo Clinic. After our experience here we would travel across the country to come back.

It is November 14, 11 days after David's surgery. He has bad days and not so bad days. He took himself off of his pain medicine after 5 days. He is taking anti-inflammatory medicine only. He still can't sit. Since he decided to stop with the pain medication he is taking some control of his recovery. He is trying to get out and walk 15 minutes a few times a day. We do live in Minnesota so getting out to do this everyday is a challenge all its own. He is sure the surgery will be worth it in the long run.

I will write more as time passes.

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