A strange old tail - removed by Professor Doursounian in Paris

James, UK - jamesfairfax@gmail.com

Posted 2015-02-22

On Monday 9th February 2015 I had my coccyx removed by Professor Doursounian in Paris (see Dr Jean-Yves Maigne in Doctors and specialists in France, who referred James to Professor Doursounian). I stayed in the St Antoine hospital for 7 days, coming out on Sunday 15th February. I am now continuing to rest in a nearby apartment, before, all being well, returning home via Eurostar on the 24th February.

Excuse the pun, but finding a solution to coccydynia really is like chasing your tail. The lack of understanding within the healthcare profession is quite shocking, particularly in the NHS where the standard response can be a shrug of the shoulders and some vague statement of it hopefully disappearing soon - followed by questions hinting at how happy you are with life.

My pain started in October 2012 and during that time I have had every treatment possible, leading to the ultimate decision to go ahead with the coccygectomy last week. Time will tell as to whether that was the correct decision, although it was my only realistic one left. More on that over the coming weeks I am sure.

I have started a blog where my experience of coccyx pain, and all that comes with it, is documented - astrangeoldtail.blogspot.com. The purpose of this ongoing blog is twofold: to keep myself busy over the coming long weeks of recovery and to help spread the word and inform people of their choices should they have the misfortune to suffer similar pain. Ultimately, I want this to help create an increased awareness and understanding of the issues so people do not need to suffer for as long in the future. My pact is to keep moaning to a minimum and try and inject some humour where possible! I hope you find it useful and enjoy it. Do not give up.

James

Posted 2018-02-18

Last Friday, the 9th February, marked 3 years since I had my coccyx removed in Paris by Professor Doursounian. A lot has happened since, not least the birth of our little boy, Ashwin, as well as moving back to the Midlands to be closer to family and enjoy some fresh air!

As documented throughout these various blog posts, the recovery is a long and testing one. To be honest, I have no idea if that process is still continuing, although even if it isn't I am clearly a world away from life pre-surgery. I still get some scar tissue discomfort if I sit for too long at once or for too long over the period of a day. Hard wooden or plastic seats are still a big no, which means I still can't go to the football or eat outside in restaurants where hard seats seem to be the norm! I can't help but feel the perianal abscess I had last year was somehow related to the fact that my coccyx is not there, although both surgeons assure me it was just bad luck so I am trying to put it our of my mind and just crack on (no pun intended).

I have been really busy with work in the last few months, which has definitely been a test (longer hours, more meetings etc etc) but I have been able to get on with it as best as I can. Last month I did my first trip abroad with work in over 5 years to Addis Ababa in Ethiopia. I took a business class flight which helped massively but I also managed lots of lengthy meetings and car rides through the busy traffic relatively well. It felt like a real milestone as ordinarily such trips would be far more part of my work, so I can't wait to try and do more. I obviously still have to be conscious of my sitting, but I notice more and more occasions where I have switched off from it which is so much more relaxing! On Friday night I went out for a few drinks and, apart from getting up to go to the bar and toilet, pretty much sat down the entire evening even after a long week of sitting at work and on trains. It's a great feeling when you still get these unexpected reminders of what 'normal' life is like again!

Hopefully progress continues even if I can't really tell on a day to day or week to week basis. I won't pretend it is not still a but frustrating at times, but I try and keep it in perspective - and I am conscious by the time you approach 40 most people have some kind of ache or pain they have to manage! As detailed in other blog posts, I have learned a lot through this whole experience (both pre- and post-surgery). It has certainly taught me to be resilient to the stuff life can throw at you, and how important it is to just try and take things in your stride as much as possible. Chronic pain really can dominate you and I'd rather not have had to deal with it all, but you can only play the cards you get dealt.

I stubbornly refuse to get rid of my mountain bike in the hope that one day that may become a possibility again - it has sat dormant in the garage for a long time now! If in another 3 years things are even better, and I have been up in the hills on that, I will be absolutely delighted.

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