My coccygectomy surgery experience - Salt Lake City

Sarah, USA - sarahebainbridge@icloud.com

Posted 2017-08-13

I fractured my coccyx in the spring of 2015, although we didn't find that out for over a year. My doctor was unconcerned but took X-rays (showing nothing) and referred me to physiotherapy. Wit no improvement, the physio referred me to pain injections, after pain injections didn't work, I got an MRI which showed 'micro-fractures' or bone bruising. After two years of unsuccessful treatment, with no more treatments available we stumbled upon coccygectomy surgery. We searched for a surgeon in Salt Lake City who could take on the case and struggled to find one. Finally we found Dr Felix who did them all the time! (see Doctors and specialists in the USA, Utah)

Dr Felix told me that it was an easy surgery for them and one with little risk, BUT that the recovery was painful and long. Up to a year to be fully healed. Since my alternative was a never healing broken tailbone this was actually great news for me and I opted for the surgery. I am glad I did. This way I actually will recover. I did underestimate the pain however. I thought I knew what tailbone pain felt like and this was just going to be more of the same right? But actually it's significantly worse - depending on what you are doing, whether you are resting it enough and whether you are taking the pain meds.

Tips:

My play by play:

Surgery April 6th 2017 - I came to in the recovery room laying on my back(!!!) there must have been a good reason for this but it was very painful and they rolled me onto my side. I couldn't speak or look around, I just cried and watched the clock on the wall. Almost an hour later they transitioned me onto a normal bed and wheeled me to the ward. They kept increasing my pain meds during that first hour but were not able to dent the pain. On the ward they gave me morphine which worked beautifully! The morphine also gives you a false sense of feeling good - so be careful not to go easy. On day one I walked the lap of the ward with a phisio very slowly and dizzily. I was able to walk to the bathroom in my room. During the night they kept the meds coming - sleeping on my belly was the only thing that worked.

Day 2 - I was able to sink-wash and dress in loose clothes. Feeling pretty good! Until I was discharged and the morphine wore off

Week 1 - Hell! Pain and aching throughout my whole body, standing was the most comfortable, trouble pooping, tired. Walking around the block on the flat. Bending was impossible. Needed help putting on the compression leggings and socks and shoes. Could not pick up anything from the floor. Loose clothing and wound needed dressing daily by my husband.

Week 2 - Cancelled an exam - could not sit

Week 3 - Went on road trip - but lay on the back seat for all traveling - walking short distances. Started to sit awkwardly for short periods

Week 4 - Tried driving - very painful - took the exam with a standing desk

Week 5 thru week 6 - Worked on home renovations and hiked uphill a short distance. Pain spiked, steroids needed, drugs increased, bedrest resumed

Week 7 - Tried walking uphill again and couldn't

Week 8 thru week 14 - slow but steady improvement. Unable to sit in on classes - transitioning to being able to sit awkwardly in classes, to being able to sit normally(ish)

Week 14 - Quit hydrocodone - withdrawals

Week 15 - Dramatic improvements in pain levels and ability to do normal things like drive and sit for short periods without much pain.

Weeks 15-18 - Withdrawals form hydrocodone: weeks of nausea and irritability and depression. I can now bend with no restrictions. Lifting and hiking up hill still result in pain the next day. Pain is now better than pre-surgery pain!

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