My story, not yet complete

Ted -

Posted 2010-03-28

I'm 41 years old. Active. I surf, mountain bike, practice yoga and eat an okay diet. I'm an advertising executive, which puts me on backside for 10 to 12 hours a day.

A few years ago, started having a nagging ache in my tailbone when I would sit and play piano. I assumed it was the hard bench. It would come and go. Then I took a new job in Hollywood where my commute was no 3+ hours a day. The commute was killing me. I bought a coccyx cushion (completely ineffective). I went to my doctor and she referred me to a pain management specialist.

He'd asked if I have any injuries. My problem is that since I was five I was playing sports, riding motorcycles, etc. In my adulthood, I surf a lot, and get hurt often. It's part of the sport. I may have fallen, but couldn't be sure. I had radiating pain from my coccyx through my sacrum as well as compensation pain in my lumbar.

He thought it may be radiculitis from a torn disc. Ordered an MRI of my lumbar. Found a "suspicious" L4-L5 disc. Treated with ice, medrol pack, physical therapy. No luck.

He did an L5-S1 Cortisone injection under twilight sleep. Prescribed Darvocet and Naproxen. No luck.

More ice, more PT, added Neurtontin. Took an CT-Scan of my pelvis. "Everything appeared normal" No luck.

More PT. Did a Caudal Catheter under twilight up my sacrum. No luck.

No more PT. Did an Cortisone injection on my coccyx. Success!!!!! For about 5 days until I was on an airplane :(

Did a Ganglion Impar Block under twilight. Then CT-Scan with contrast. "Everything still appeared normal". No luck.

Did a discogram. Holy cow was that painful! No luck. "Everything appeared normal."

Finally sent me to an orthopedic surgeon. I was switching to Kaiser Permanente. So I went to my new primary care doc and he shot three x-rays and upped the pain management to Vicodin. He referred me to Dr. James Lau (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, California).

Dr. Lau, took about 30 seconds to zoom in on my digital x-ray to show me that my coccyx was completely out of alignment. The uppermost bone had broken and healed itself at a funny angle so there was no way for my coccyx to realign. I went back and looked at the CT films. Though small, there is clearly something not right about my tailbone.

Anyway, I had it removed on Monday. Dr. Lau said it was very loose, which is why it was causing so much pain. It's like sitting on the edge of a knife. It's now Sunday. One night in the hospital. The pain wasn't nearly as bad as I feared. They have me on heavy antibiotics due to the high risk of infection. Not really sitting much. Walking around easily. A few light yoga stretches to keep limbered up. Other than the bad cabin fever, I'd say it was well worth it.

I'm just frustrated at the thousands of dollars and days and hours away from work when "Everything appeared normal" It is no wonder why our healthcare system is broken. Doctors and health providers make a lot of money "managing" pain. A few hundred bucks and an acute eye were all I needed to get this fixed.


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