Hi guys! I have been reading these forums for quite a while now and thought I would add in details of my journey with the dreaded pilonidal disease! I am 22 year old Australian girl and have been battling with this condition for just over 2.5 years. I developed my first symptoms in January of 2010 (just before starting my final year of university - great timing!). At this time I also had Glandular Fever so was recommended to wait for my immune system to become stronger prior to having surgery. I also had to wait for the university mid-year break so that I could have a decent amount of time off at home to recover. In July 2010, I underwent an open excision surgery with a local colo-rectal surgeon. I was told that the wound would take approximately 2 months to completely heal post surgery, as it was healing from the inside out. I was also told by a general practitioner doctor that I could expect "flare ups" for approximately 2 years post this style of surgery. I was seeing my surgeon for follow ups fairly frequently, where he would cauterize the margins of the wound to "promote healing". After each of these sessions, the wound would weap and become extremely uncomfortable. Needless to say, the wound never completely healed. I would, every couple of months, get a large flare up and would be taking more antibiotics! I was still told, though, that this was fairly normal - so I did not become too alarmed at this stage! In May 2011, I had quite a large flare up. I was to go on a big trip to Europe a month later and this freaked me out...a LOT! Luckily, by the time I went to travel, the flare up had settled down and thankfully I made it through my holiday with no real dramas!! Everything, though, unfortunately reared it's ugly head on Christmas Day 2011. I developed a MASSIVE boil, almost the size of an egg, on my natal cleft. I could barely move without being in total agony. Just my luck that it happened on a public holiday when nothing was open!!! Having been through the whole rigmarole before, I knew that the best way to promote drainage was to have hot baths and put heat packs over the area. Thankfully, after about 10 showers/salt baths and heat packs the boil started to drain which drastically reduced the pressure and pain to the area. My family and I believe that if this had not happened, I would have been in hospital with IV antibiotics and a likely excision. I, of course, went to my GP when able and started on more antibiotics. Shortly after this period, I noticed that some other physiological changes were happening. I had become excessively fatigued, had gained 10kg in a very short period of time despite a healthy diet and had had a lot of emotional changes such as reduced motivation and positive emotions. I went to a doctor to see what the problem may be. I was tested for thyroid deficiencies and hormonal changes. My cortisol hormone levels came back as double what they should be (normal range around 200-700 and mine were about 1300!), which is the hormone for stress. After ruling out Cushing's Syndrome through an MRI, urine test and ultrasound, the conclusion was made that I had much increased stress hormone level (causing all the physiological changes) due to a chronic infection ... THANK YOU PILONIDAL SINUS!! I had booked an appointment with my surgeon again to get his opinion. I had succumbed to the fact that I would have to have another operation of some variety. He told me that I would need a Bascom Cleft Lift procedure, which all sounded very good and of course, this forum helped me in understanding how positive the results have been for others! My sinus was draining non-stop for over 2 months prior to the surgery. I went into theatre on Friday June 1, 2012 for the Bascom Cleft Lift Procedure. I had been told I would need to be in hospital for 4 days (over the weekend). I ended up being in hospital for 6 days. I had a drain in place, which was removed around 4-5 days post-surgery. I was told everything was looking good and was discharged on the Wednesday. Unfortunately my IV cannula tissued on the first night, so I was commenced on oral antibiotics almost immediately. This proved to be a very bad decision - for someone with a chronic infection with potential antibiotic resistance!! I was at home from Wednesday afternoon and felt like I had a major flu from Thursday, feeling extremely lethargic, malaise and had awful stomach pain. I had put this down to having had so many drugs. By Saturday, the area where the drain had been removed had swollen up like crazy and was extremely tender to touch - I thought this was because I had been lying on that side for a week. My Mum (who had been dressing the wound for me at home, and who is also a nurse) looked at the area and called my surgeon at midday to get his opinion. I was rushed straight back to hospital and within four hours was back on the table having myself opened up again!! When I arrived at hospital, the nurses attempted to squeeze the area, which was unsuccessful and also extremely painful! I then received a morphine injection in my backside to ease the pain. I was in agony and very very sick. Mum said that she was afraid that I was septic and wouldn't emerge from the surgery alive. I ended up being in hospital for 7 days after this second operation. They washed out the infection site and had inserted a small open drain (which was to remain insitu for ~ 3 days). Thankfully, the medical team took swabs of the area and gained blood cultures to determine what antibiotics would work for the infection. I was also appointed a physician to assist with this. I was terrified that I may have MRSA, as I work in a hospital and could have easily acquired this from one of my own patients! Luckily, this came back clear. I ended up being on IV antibiotics for around 5 days. On the Tuesday, the nurse unit managed (NUM) and my surgeon decided that a vacuum assisted closure dressing/drain would be appropriate to use over the washed out area as the cavity was approximately 20cm long and 7cm wide under the skin. Basically, this involves having the wound packed with gauze and a vacuum attached which pumps blood/other fluids out of the wound and apparently promotes healing. I was initially told that this would be on for 2 weeks... 2 weeks came and then I was told it would be on for a total of 4 weeks. This really upset me because the VAC drain is quite painful. The wound has a very long tubing coming out of it with a machine attached which needs to be plugged in to operate (I call it my tail ). I've had it on for just under 3 weeks at this point - still have just over a week of it left and I REALLY can't wait to have it gone!! The packing/re-packing of the wound is AWFUL! I need to take strong morphine derived painkillers prior to this process and have to have this done 2 x a week. It has reduced my mobility a lot and instead of taking 2 weeks off work, I have had to take 6 off as I cannot sit/walk too far and I have this machine attached to me 24 hours a day. The stitches from my original Bascom Cleft Lift have been removed and the original job does look really good and is really clean. I do, though, have this massive gaping hole at the base of one of my butt cheeks (courtesy of the infection/wash out procedure). The NUM packing my wound twice weekly has said that the wound is very clean and has just over half closed since using the VAC drain, which is good news!! I have another 2 weeks before I go back to work - with another week of having this VAC drain in. After that is removed, I will have to pack the wound myself and use a seaweed style dressing. I hope that this awful disabling condition will be well and truly gone once this wound has healed and that I can start living the normal life of a 22 year old girl again (despite a pretty funky looking butt!)!! Sorry for the essay!!!