A Coccygectomy Is the Last Resort.


I still am not physically able to sit on this chair.  I mean, I suppose I could lower my body to the plateau, achieving a close facsimile of the international sign for “sit.”  But I definitely couldn’t put anything close to my full weight down on that.  Not without yelping in pain, and drawing unwanted stares from my fellow coffeehouse patrons.  Fellow coffeehouse patrons who, fortunate bastards, don’t suffer from my current malady. 

I’m fairly certain I broke my arse.  

It has been 11 days since “the incident.”  I’ve managed to get back on the horse as far as walking, running, cycling, and swimming.  Reaching for an errant toss of the baseball from my 8 year-old during a game of catch?  Feels like someone sniped me with a well-aimed flick of the crossbow string.  Stretching for a low backhand a foot off the grass, searing pain, and I instinctively whip my head around my shoulder, searching for the ill-intentioned archer.  No archer.

Just a broken arse.  I think.

As I mentioned a few blog posts ago, I tripped the light fantastic at a recent Tahoe Boys Weekend.  Although I have used the phrase, “trip the light fantastic” often–I just love the way it feels coming out of my mouth–I suppose I never truly had a handle on what said phrase actually means.  Now I can speak from experience with the phrase.  From a position of authority.  I haven’t looked it up yet, but I’m reasonably confident that the (perhaps the secondary or tertiary) meaning is, “to fall down slick hardwood stairs, landing on one’s coccyx with a full-bodied thud, often accompanied by the tripeee seeing stars.”  Check, check, and check

I took a quick inventory while catching my breath on all fours.  Elated not to have a split-open skull, wrist bent the wrong way, or chicken-on-the-bone lower leg.  My arse was numb.  I cut my teeth on so many Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner, et al cartoons featuring near space falls onto cartoon character buttocks, with our hero or villain dusting himself (always himself) off and moving on to the next frame.  So I do not, as a rule, assign a ton of concern to broken butts.  Plenty of meat down there, anyhow, to protect me.  Evolution at work, you might even say.  Net net, I got to my feet, feeling pretty good about myself. 

But it’s now been eleven days.  That’s practically two weeks.  As with everything else, I run a quick Google Search.  Regular readers will appreciate why I am very careful about exactly what I type into the search box:  “My broken ass,” instead of “a broken ass.”  The latter would surely trigger some silent alarms at my next pass through security at SFO.  I appreciate Google ignoring my profanity-crippled search as a kindly uncle or school nurse would, accommodating the fact that I’m in a pained state.  So I search.

It appears based upon my extensive 30-second research that I may have, indeed, broken my tailbone.  My coccyx.  And the dull ache punctuated by occasional crossbow target practice is known as “tailbone pain,” or “Coccygodynia.”  That is not a good-sounding word.  It definitely does not feel good coming out of my mouth.  If someone told me health officials had identified a strain of “Coccygodynia” in the Bay, I would not swim in those waters.  I am surprised that “Trip the Light Fantastic” and “Coccygodynia” are not listed as antonyms.  They should be.  

Google assures me that my Coccygodynia will go away away on its own within a few weeks.  Or months.  Months?!? In the meantime, I am encouraged to do the following:  First, sit completely upright with proper posture — keeping my back firmly against the chair, knees level with my hips, feet flat on the floor and shoulders relaxed.  If I was the kind of person who habitually sat in chairs this way, very proper and impressive, I probably would’t have tripped the light fantastic in the first place.  

Second, Google tells me to lean forward while sitting down.  I can do this, though I’m not sure I understand given the vague instruction.  And I’m certain my fellow coffeehouse patrons will by this point be keeping a very close peripheral eye on me.  Thirty-five percent chance, too, that my following these first two steps will lead directly to a frightened barrista activating the silent alarm on the counter’s underside.  But I press on.  

Step Three says sit on a doughnut-shaped pillow or wedge (V-shaped) cushion.  That sounds kinda nice, like meditation maybe.  Final Step?  Apply heat or ice to the affected area.  Nope.  No sir.  This would be the final straw, and the odds of my being frogwalked by the local police out of the new Peet’s on Chestnut Street go way up.   Probably 75%, maybe more.

There is one last resort if the other steps don’t bring relief.  Surgically remove the tailbone.  A Coccygectomy.  Say what?!?  Just remove that bad boy–the coccyx–surgically.  Seems a bit extreme to me.  And while I don’t have any particular attachment to my coccyx, I just think I’d like to keep as much of my spine in place, intact, as-is for as long as I can.  

So I guess I will pick up a v-shaped cushion and ice pack and head out for a cup of joe.  At least this dull ache is a reminder of a truly memorable weekend that doesn’t come around that often.  And I’m OK with that.  

Thanks for reading.  


  1. Love it. I once took “A Flying Leap”. It only took 4 months for my cracked sternum to heal. I fully comprehend.

  2. Love it! I once fell backward and landed coccyxially while going up a spiral staircase while carrying a laundry basket that was a few inches wider than the stairs. I was in a hurry and so was repelled backward at about the same speed at which I had been charging upward. Never did drop the basket thus preserving the state of the freshly folded laundry. The grimace on my face, however, scared the bejeezus out of my two year old son who had witnessed the whole thing and I was unable to pick up and soothe the child. (Refer to shooting bow and arrow type pain described above.) Not to worry, coccyx healed fairly quickly, but still sometimes on cool, damp days…..

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