My coccyx removal surgery 8 days ago

Pascale -

Posted 2012-03-04

I am a 38 year old female that lives in Orange County, CA with 4 year old triplets. My story started when I was 20 years old and fell down roller blading for the first time, my tail bone was in a lot of pain for many months, I knew I injured it terribly but at the time I didn't have medical insurance and everyone advised me that nothing could be done about it, I just need to wait for things to get better and it did.

A couple of years later, my job required me to travel a lot, I would sit on airplanes for hours and drive to work when I was in town, drive to customers, etc… I started getting a cyst near my tailbone area that was quite painful. I was quite embarrassed about the whole thing and ignored it. This continued for many years. The cyst would come, a few days later it would drain and I would feel better. One day the cyst came and it was quite painful, I went to see my doctor, they told me there's nothing they can do for me at the time except lance it and for me to come back when it's healed. A week later, when things healed, I went back to the doctor and that's when they told me, there's nothing there don't worry about it, it must've gone away. This was quite frustrating, since 4 months later, the cyst returned and I think I just gave up on the idea of going to the Doctor since things are visible when there's an infection and they can't treat, and then disappear when the infection is gone and they can't see it.

Throughout this entire time, sitting on my tail bone was quite uncomfortable, unlike most people, their tail bone gets dislocated and points in, mine was pointing out making it longer than normal and it would poke at the inside of my skin, I always felt it was related to the cyst I was getting but could never confirm it. A few years later, I was pregnant with triplets and this caused more irritation to my tailbone due to the weight I was carrying. In October of 2011, the cyst returned, but this time it didn't feel better a few days later because it didn't drain.

One morning, I woke up with extreme pain to my tailbone, I could barely stand up. I visited my doctor which immediately requested an MRI of my tailbone, after the MRI I was asked to rush to urgent care, they saw a sack of liquid near my tailbone (infection) and they were worried about the infection getting to the bone, the doctor prescribed me antibiotics and a quick visual to my rear end where I have a dimple and he decided I have a pilonidal cyst, I tried to explain that I believe it's related to the irritation from my tailbone, he wouldn't hear of it.

The next few days, I spent my time researching everything there is to know about pilonidal cysts, the horror stories of the surgery and the specialists available, I found a surgeon in Northern California, 6 hours away and scheduled the first appointment available, I have to say the 6 hour drive was torture but I was focused on having the best specialist deal with my situation. Upon arrival, this surgeon did a complete exam and told me that I was misdiagnosed, I actually have a fistula. I was so excited I didn't have a pilonidal cyst, but now I had to figure out what a fistula is. He recommended that I find a surgeon near my home in Southern California and he assured me it's a simple procedure.

I located two surgeons in Southern California, I visited the first and his diagnosis was this "I'm not sure if it's a pilonidal cyst or fistula, but when I cut you open I will find out and take care of it", as you can imagine, that sentence alone drove me to cancel my appointment.

The second Surgeon Doctor Michael Stamos is head of surgery at UCI Medical Center (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, California) and he is a colorectal surgeon specialist. He only sees patients once a week and the rest of the time, he's a professor or performing surgeries. He examined me and my MRI images, he explained that whatever I have is not serious, it's definitely not a pilonidal cyst and after the surgery, if the wound doesn't heal it's a fistula, my surgery was scheduled as an outpatient, I can say I had no discomfort, I made sure my wound was always clean, and it healed beautifully 3 months later. It was ruled that my abscess was a "skin abscess", something irritated that area, just what I always knew "my tailbone".

The pain of the cyst went away, but the continuous nagging pain of my tailbone and the tip of the tailbone digging into the inside of my skin every time I sit was becoming quite frustrating, I returned to Doctor Stamos and explained to him the ongoing agony I have to deal with, he did tell me that my tailbone was dislocated, simply put "you have a moving coccyx, that's also quite long". X-rays were ordered to show the tailbone dislocated from the inside pointing out, with the tip of it pushing on my skin constantly which was the cause of the ongoing infection all these years. My options were, live with the pain or have surgery to remove it. I read all the stories on here, which really scared me but I had no choice, I would have to live with this for the rest of my life, as we age, our skin becomes thinner and I just couldn't live with that thought or the discomfort for the rest of my life. Surgery was scheduled last week February 7that 6 am, also an outpatient.

When I woke up from my surgery, and got out of bed, I have to tell you the pain was worse than my c-section delivering my triplets. The entire drive home I laid in the back seat of the car and upon arrival, nothing would make me feel better. Standing, laying down on my side, lying down on my stomach, nothing, I finally took a pain pill and slept for 7 hours straight. When my eyes opened, I felt nothing, I was so happy to think it's all gone, until I barely moved and the pain started again. I describe it as a very sore behind; I was curious and wanted to see my wound. What a brilliant surgeon he is, my cut was left to the side of my left but cheek, the inside of the wound was stitched, and the outside was "glued". I was told to shower the next day and do nothing with the wound, resume normal activity within 24 hours.

Next morning I got up, from 1 to 10, pain level was at 6, I took a shower, I felt no pain while standing, I decided to try sitting, upon sitting the pain level was at 8, I stopped taking the pain medication they gave me and switched to over the counter Motrin. On my third day, my pain level is at 4 when sitting, but I'm so happy I'm even able to sit, that it didn't matter. Day 5, I decided to try driving and did so for a short distance. Day 6, I have resumed my normal activities with a little discomfort, my butt feels like I had a good workout, the inside muscles are quite sore. Day 7, I no longer feel pain while sitting or getting up but when I sit longer than 10 minutes, an internal aching pain begins, if I take over the counter Motrin, it's relieved. Today, Day 8 my first day back to work, I drove 40 minutes to get here, uncomfortable due to no pain medication.

Over all, things are improving, if I am able to do what I'm able to do 8 days later, the future looks quite bright. I cannot say enough about the brilliant way this surgery was done to minimize wound issues. The cut is not down the center, it's on the left butt cheek, the inside of the wound was stitched, the outside they used the glue in order to decrease discomfort and chance of infection. Absolutely no wound care on my part. I am glad I decided to go through with this surgery and the future looks much better, one day at a time. I did a lot of research, I chose Doctor Stamos because he is an expert at colon cancer and chief of surgery at this hospital. To find a good surgeon for this procedure, one has to find a surgeon that performs a lot of this. Many patients suffering from cancer in the colon area have tumors that are between the colon and the tailbone, in order to get to those tumors, the surgeon has to remove the tailbone. The immediate thought is to find an orthopedic surgeon, in my case, the most experience one I found was one that performs this type of surgery at least 3 times a month for other reasons nonetheless, he performs them regularly. Good Luck!

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