3 weeks after coccygectomy

Gill - gill.langrish@hotmail.com

Posted 2012-09-23

Hi my name is Gill, and I live near Bournemouth, UK, this is a very brief version of my story. In 2005 I was standing on the edge of my bath cleaning a high window, when I lost my balance and fell backwards landing on the edge of our sink/basin, (right between my bottom cheeks!) and then landing on the bathroom floor in immense pain. I wish I could say I was injured doing something cool like skiing or horseriding but there you go, ha ha.

I thought that the pain would ease off on its own but how wrong I was! I went to the doctors and unfortunately was not taken very seriously but persevered and over the next SEVEN years have had every treatment going, x-rays, MRI scans that showed a fractured coccyx, physio, chiropractic treatment, manipulation and injections (lots of these, first two worked for a short period, then they were ineffective) cryoanalgesia and rhizotomy (rf heating).

It is easy to make light of all this but to tell the truth it has been a living nightmare, with so much pain and frustration that no-one else (apart from fellow sufferers) can begin to understand, people see you standing, walking carrying on with life and think you're fine! But you know that it is an act, that as soon as you are put in a situation that requires you to sit, the pain is immediate and all consuming. Sorry if I sound dramatic but I think this will ring true with a lot of you.

Well, I had just about come to the end of my tether and went back to a different GP who was great, she could see how this was affecting me and my family (3 children and a husband, who deserves a medal!) and she referred me to a top specialist in London, eureka! As soon as I walked into see Mr Stewart Tucker at Stanmore Hospital (see Doctors and specialists in the UK, London), he was so reassuring, I will never forget the relief of hearing him say these four simple words, I can help you, I came out and burst into tears!

So here I am now on Sun 23rd Sept. 2012 and tomorrow morning I am going into hospital for a coccygectomy on Tue., this is the last resort and I am really scared but hopeful of a good outcome, eventually. I know it is a very long and painful recovery but I will remain positive and keep smiling. I will update as soon as I am able to.

Please keep your fingers crossed for me :) x

Update, 2012-09-28

As promised an update, I went into hospital (Royal National Orthopaedic Hospital) on Monday and was first on the list for surgery on Tuesday morning, I was woken up at 6.15 am and sent for a shower using Hibiscrub, I was at this stage very nervous and scared, I was taken down to theatre at about 9.30 and given the anaesthetic by a lovely chap, he could clearly see how apprehensive I was.

I woke up back on the ward at about 2ish with my wonderful husband sitting by my side, I have no memory at all of going to HDU after surgery, (they keep you in high dependency unit for a couple of hours to monitor you closely after surgery). The pain was minimal but I was extremely drowsy and just drifting in and out of sleep. When I next woke the nurses were doing obs (blood pressure, temp, pulse) and again not much pain and this continued for a few hours into the evening. At midnight the night nurse was concerned as I hadn't passed any urine, so she put a bed pan under me (resting right under my wound), OMG, the pain was unbelievable and I started to cry, when the nurse returned she was horrified to see me in so much distress and apologised profusely, I calmed down and explained exactly what I had had done (surgery wise) as she wasn't really aware, but I must say she was lovely as we're all the nurses and doctors. I then had to have a catheter which was a great relief as I didn't have to worry about going to the toilet.

I slept on and off and Wednesday came and went still not much pain, the worst thing was really sore elbows from constantly lying on my side but my coccyx pain was not as bad as I had imagined. On Thursday morning the nurse removed the catheter and I had my first wee! again not as bad as anticipated, I then showered very cautiously and the nurse put the support stockings back on for me (very glamorous, not!) I was then given lots of medication (painkillers, antibiotics, anti sickness and laxatives) to bring home and discharged. The journey home was uncomfortable but my husband reclined the front passenger seat back as far as it would go and laid a duvet and pillow on top and I laid on that on my side for two and a half hours!

Home, hurray, slept like a baby Thursday night (think the pain meds are helping as they make you drowsy) and it is now Friday and I am lying in bed on my side using hubby's iPad to write this. I can honestly say the operation wasn't as bad as I had thought (I know the recovery is long and maybe when the nerves start to grow I might be saying differently) I also have not had a no 2 yet! but at the moment I feel good, relieved and optimistic, and relatively comfortable :).

I shall keep you updated on my progress and hope this helps someone else who is suffering, or thinking of surgery.

Gill x

Update, 2012-10-21

Hi, as promised an update. The first ten days after the op I was basically laying in bed on my side not doing anything apart from trips to the toilet and perhaps a little wander around to use my legs, but I felt very tired, nauseous from all the tablets, and achy so didn't want to do much. The pain around my wound was not too bad, it all felt quite numb, luckily and I think the Tramadol tablets really masked the pain too! The District Nurse came and changed the dressing and then ten days post- op came to remove the stitches, she had never seen a coccxygectomy wound and was a little rough when trying to pull them out, and had to leave one stubborn stitch in, unfortunately the whole scab that had begin to form came away too, but I think that was unavoidable and not her fault (she was lovely and very apologetic).

I had to return to Stanmore RNOH two weeks post-op (two and a half hours in a car and the same back!) for a check, I was told that the surgeon removed the whole coccyx, and my wound was not healing quite well enough, there are two small open areas that have not come together yet, but apparently it can be a lengthy process.

I am now back on two strong antibiotics but they make me feel quite ill, and have bad heartburn, has anybody else found this? I have also felt very achy around my hips and legs and feel quite down but maybe I am expecting to feel better too soon. The consultant advised me not to bend and take it very slowly so that I don't split the wound any further. However I am glad I have had the op and look forward to a good recovery and pain free sitting future.

Will keep updating on progress, hope this helps others x

Update, 2012-11-18

Hi, it is now seven weeks since my surgery and things are going well, my wound has now healed completely, thank goodness, I couldn't stand any more antibiotics! Although the area is still very tender, sitting and turning over in bed are quite painful. I did manage to go out with friends for breakfast and sat (with my coccyx cushion) for about 3/4 of an hour, woo hoo! so that's progress. I have also started driving today but only short journeys to start with, so I will see how that feels.

I am due back to work on Monday and I think that may be a trial as it is quite physical and I still find that my legs and hips ache a lot, especially when I climb the stairs, I am hoping this will wear off soon. Mentally I am feeling much happier and back to my old self, I did struggle a bit after the op, feeling low and teary, but I was told by many that was probably the anaesthetic and pain meds in my system. So I am feeling pretty good generally, a bit achey, a bit sore but better than I expected to, so that's a bonus :).

I will keep updating and let you know my progress, I have a check-up at the hospital in January to review things with my surgeon.

I would like to say a huge thank you to Jon for this site, it is brilliant and informative and has helped me a lot through this whole experience, so THANKYOU JON!

I wish everyone who reads this a painfree future, take care from Gill x

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