Quick! The person on the moped stole our ice cream!
If anyone has been following me on Twitter the last few weeks you will know that I have been stuck in the house after having an operation. Today I would like to tell you all what I’ve had, what I’ve had done and how I’m recovering from it. Also think this could be a good educational piece (it could also be good if you suffer from insomnia but hey ho!)
I must also warn that some of the things I will say and some of the images that will come in this blog, wont be for faint of heart.
September 2009 and I start to feel a slight pain at the base of my back, above the buttocks but right on the tail bone. Despite the discomfort I chose to ignore it and carry on, thinking that I somewhere along the way I must have pulled something, so I carry on however in October the pain got so unbearable that even walking caused me to cry out in agony. That area of my body swelled up, and it got so bad that I needed to use my grandparents walking stick to lift me out of my bed.
I called the NHS direct and told them about what i was experiences and to me it felt like a muscle pain, so they told me that based on the information that I’ve told them that I should slowly try to put some anti inflammatory cream on the area to try to bring the swelling down. I got off the phone and did just that, only to be greeted with one of the worst burning sensations I’ve ever had, and I took my hand away and it was covered with (sorry in advance), some sort of gunge.
Armed with this information the next day I recalled the NHS direct and they told me that it sounds like I have something called “Pilonidal Sinus” and that I need to go see a doctor as soon as I’m able to move.
Before I continue, let me explain what “Pilonidal Sinus” is. Basically it’s caused when a gland at the very base of your back becomes infected. The exact cause of this isn’t known, but it’s believed it can be caused by either an ingrown hair, being overweight or even just sitting around too much. Knowing my body and knowing that I’m not exactly hairless coupled with the fact that I spend a fair bit of time in front of the computer made sense to me. What causes it to be so painful is that it’s tends to develop on the main pressure point on your back, meaning that every little movement you do, goes through that pressure point, causing a lot of pain and agony.
When I first found out about it, i went straight on the internet to do some research, and what I found out surprised me. Apparently it’s a very rare condition, only 26 out of every 100,000 people will ever suffer from it (not that sounds quite high to me), it tends to occur more in men between the ages of 25 and 40, and there’s always a chance of a reoccurrence.
As a rule there are 3 main ways to cure it. The first way is via antibiotics, to clear the gland and hope the body can do the rest. If this doesn’t work then the other options are surgery. One is where they cut away the gland and stitch it back up, resulting in you being fully healed within days. The other one is that they take away the gland and neighbouring skin to prevent any chance of a reoccurrence in the future. This is more tedious as they have to leave the wound open, resulting in it needing to be packed every day.
It was a few days before the pain had become tolerable enough to get to a surgery so I booked a taxi and went into one of our walk in clinics. When I got there the doctor had a look and prescribed me with the antibiotic “Flucloxacillin” (if i remember), and two weeks later, the problem was gone…
… Late December 2010 I start to feel it develop again, but with working in retail and it being mega busy, I didn’t go to the doctors until January 2011. The pain this time was tolerable and nowhere near as bad as before so i thought “you know what the body will sort this out without any help”. Anyway January came and i went to see my doctor. She prescribed me with the same antibiotics I had in 2009, unfortunately they didn’t help, so I went back in February, and this time I was given even stronger antibiotics.
I can’t remember the name of these antibiotics but they were evil. I’d be at work at by 1pm i was ready to curl up into a ball and fall asleep. Just like the last antibiotics they had no effect. Something different was happening this time too, there was a noticeable abscess developing on my tailbone, and once again it was becoming harder and harder to bend down, to lie down and some cases to even walk, So I went back to the doctors and they gave me the phone number to the hospital to book an appointment.
Standing outside with the form in my hand, and for a second i almost didn’t call them. My own typical stubbornness started to say “you know what, you can tolerate this, you don’t need to phone the hospital”, luckily enough I was able to mentally beat that train of thought into submission and I called them. They arranged an appointment for April.
April came and I headed for the hospital, the doctors there had a look at what I had and decided that the only course of action now was surgery, but at that time they couldn’t tell me when, so i carried on about my business, even finally meeting someone (this might appear in a later blog).
May came and I was asked to go back to the hospital, so i did and they took another look at me, then they said something along the lines of “we are pretty full surgery wise it will probably be another 3-4 months before we can see you”. I was disappointed in a way but thought fair enough. A few days later they phoned me and said “we have a slot open now for June 1st so we are going to book you into surgery for that day”. I thought “blimey that’s only 5 days away”.
June the 1st came and I had the operation. I can remember lying in the pre-operation room with the nurses preparing me to go in. They injected me with some painkillers and my head went so light. Then I remember them putting the anaesthetic into my hand. Looking at the clock I thought “I’m wide awake, it’s not going to knock me out” … GONE!
Waking up two hours later back in the ward with the surgery all done. The surgeon came over and told me what they had done. They went for the removal of the gland and the surrounding tissue. This would mean daily visits from the district nurses to replace the packing and the covering padding. I went home the same night, called my girlfriend and my boss and then started what has so far been the longest 3 and half weeks of my life.
If I say to some people that they could spend weeks and weeks at home, lying in bed and getting paid for it, your initial reaction would probably be “great!”, but when you factor in that you’re virtually bed bound for most of it AND you can only lie on either said, then the greatness quickly goes away.
On my second day home, one the district nurses came for the first time. As I said somewhere above, they have to come everyday to change the dressing until it no longer needs packing. Once it gets to a stage when the it just needs a dressing over the time, then they no longer need to come. Anyway, she took a picture of the wound for their records (Following picture not for the faint hearted)
The wound. 10x6x5 apparently.
As you can see this was no minor wound, but the drama was far from over. A week and half after the operation I wake up and walk to the bathroom after I finish what I’m doing I look down and notice something on my pyjamas’. Think its only some leakage from the wound I think nothing of it until I hear “drip drip drip”. Looking on the floor I notice that I am literally dripping blood.
Not knowing what to do I go back into my room and quick attach another padding to the wound hoping that I just stretched too much and the skin had become raw. “drip drip drip”. Starting to worry a bit now I grab a towel from the cupboard, place it on the floor and I literally stand there with the blood dripping on the towel. I call the district nurse and i say “is there any chance you can make me your first call, as well, I’m dripping blood and i’m sure that’s not normal.
20 minutes later she arrives, looks at the pool on the towel, and lies me down so she can have a look. She cleans the wound but the wound wont stop filling up. She calls the doctor and the doctor calls an ambulance to take me to hospital. 2 and a half hours later and after losing 3/4 a pint of blood they manage to stop the bleeding. Turns out it was a small artery on the wall of the wound had opened up. The surgeon was able to stitch it back.
What was fortunate was that the surgeon who saw me that day was the exact same surgeon who operated on me initially. She told me that the first intention as to take the gland away and stitch it back up, but as she went deeper and deeper to clear the infection she said it was obvious that she had to remove some more. In her words “by the time I had finished I could literally see the bone underneath”. I went home that night, mainly because I was too stubborn to stay in hospital overnight. Why stay there and sleep when i could do the same in my own bed?…
… Since then every day I’ve noticed an improvement. The wound has apparently shrunk by half in the last week. So far I’ve been able to sit on an air cushion for 29 minutes before i had to return to my bed. And today I went for my first walk outside since I had the operation 24 days ago. It was only a 10 minute walk around the block and when i got home i was exhausted. But now I know I can do it, it’s part of my healing routine now and I will be doing it every day.
Every day I wish for the nurses to say “you don’t need us anymore, you can just cover it and start to return to your normal life.” I know when I do I will still have to take it slowly for a while, but I welcome the moment I can return to work and return to getting on a train.
Thank you all for reading