Razzyirt's Cleft Lift - An International Experience

PA to me was actually a complete and total surprise. I had a car accident and had tailbone pain. They thought I had broken my tailbone from the impact....turns out, not so much! I ended up with a golf ball sized abscess and the most excruciating experience of my life.

All of this happened in November of 2012. Prior to this, I had never even had a twinge in my tailbone area, or any sign of it. I had my cleft lift in February 2013. So, I actually only had an abscess for 3 months. And it was horrific. I had very extensive disease (which is actually very rare to go from no symptoms to a softball sized abscess that went all the way to my tailbone and actually wrapped around it). Dr. Sternberg actually mentioned that I came no where near to following the text book. So, I try to point that out to people....my case is considered rare (and very extensive!) Hence the reason I had a close to 9" scar from my cleft lift.

And I also thank my lucky stars every day that I didn't do an open wound surgery, as they would have had to pretty much remove a butt check :p So, it is a caution I also give...there is no way to tell (minus an MRI or some such thing) how extensive the disease is under the surface, and how large the open excision would be...until the surgeon gets in there.

I am still a firm believer in the cleft lift being the best available procedure. Of course, it isn't available to everyone out there (which, hopefully, one day will change). Until that time, people have to make the best informed decision they can. And, education and knowledge is power! :wigglebum:
 
Thanks for the reminder sandman! I was going to post the final medical costs that I had for the whole thing. At the top I had my estimates....but now that I've actually paid everything, here we go:

Dr. Sternberg's surgical fee - $5800.00
Surgical Centre final fee - $4500.00
Anesthesiologist fee - $800.00

This is all in American currency,obviously. So, you have to factor in the conversion factor. Also, I paid up front,in full, so they gave me some pretty big discounts. If you don't pay upfront, it could be at least double. I think they do have a payment plan, but don't quote me in that...

San Fran is also a very expensive city. So,flights were $1400', the hotel is going to be $2300 (we had to get in early for the consult and then are staying for drain removal and leaving the next day). To help with some of the costs, we went to the supermarket and loaded up on good foods and have been eating them, rather than ordering in. Food will still probably be $1000 or so, and them there's all the misc fees (taxis, baggage fees for each flight, odd treat and trinket etc.).

In order to do all this, I actually took a loan from my parents (thankfully, they were able to help!). And I set up an American currency bank account with cheques. And just wrote each provider a cheque. Please, feel free to ask any and all questions you have. I'm happy to help, and I want to help other people beat this horrible disease!

Now...update....Day 3 post op:

I shouldn't have been so worried (of course!) about going to the bathroom. Ended up having not even a twinge of pain. I would definitely recommend taking a stool softener though (the doc prescribed one). Made everything nice and easy.

I am having stomach pain and cramping today but I think that's from all the pills. It's annoying and sore. I am also still in pain but its easily managed by the pain pills. If I try to go without taking the pills, I really start feeling it and have to take something. So, I'm not at the point where I could stop them.

I'm working at sitting at the end of the bed. Very tender. And I'm gonna go for another walk this afternoon. Enjoy the beautiful weather.

As for the cleft lift...so far, no regrets. It really hasn't been too bad. And from what I have heard about the other options....I say this is the way to go! And even though the area hurts, it's a different pain and I already feel a huge relief in the area from having the abscesses removed. I never realized how much pressure was down there. I guess I just got so used to it, I never thought it would get any better.

I will continue updating regularly and everyone, feel free to badger me with whatever questions you have!
Sorry to reply so late but was this before the discounts or the final price including the discounts
 
Hi Carlos, no worries about late replies! That's why all these threads are here.

The costs I posted are with the discounts. If I hadn't paid in full, or had gone through insurance (ie: being an American citizen), it would have been A LOT more expensive. So, technically, this was the cheap plan, lol! It is definitely an expensive endeavor! If you have any more questions, don't hesitate to ask.
 
PA to me was actually a complete and total surprise. I had a car accident and had tailbone pain. They thought I had broken my tailbone from the impact....turns out, not so much! I ended up with a golf ball sized abscess and the most excruciating experience of my life.

All of this happened in November of 2012. Prior to this, I had never even had a twinge in my tailbone area, or any sign of it. I had my cleft lift in February 2013. So, I actually only had an abscess for 3 months. And it was horrific. I had very extensive disease (which is actually very rare to go from no symptoms to a softball sized abscess that went all the way to my tailbone and actually wrapped around it). Dr. Sternberg actually mentioned that I came no where near to following the text book. So, I try to point that out to people....my case is considered rare (and very extensive!) Hence the reason I had a close to 9" scar from my cleft lift.

And I also thank my lucky stars every day that I didn't do an open wound surgery, as they would have had to pretty much remove a butt check :p So, it is a caution I also give...there is no way to tell (minus an MRI or some such thing) how extensive the disease is under the surface, and how large the open excision would be...until the surgeon gets in there.

I am still a firm believer in the cleft lift being the best available procedure. Of course, it isn't available to everyone out there (which, hopefully, one day will change). Until that time, people have to make the best informed decision they can. And, education and knowledge is power! :wigglebum:
Hi Razzy, I'm also gonna have the cleft lift internationally, hopefully in NYC sometime in July. I've got an appointment with a doctor in a month to meet him first and set that up beforehand. I just have a quick question. When you say you only had an abscess for 3 months, do you mean the actual infection? As in, you had that white thing without lancing and draining for 3 months, or do you mean that you had surgery three months after it first showed up?

I'm asking because I first had my pilonidal disease make an appearance on Jan. 14 (today is my three-month pilonniversary hehe), the abscess itself appeared on the 18th and it was drained on the 19th. I haven't had an infection since but just pain for a few days twice. If you lived with that thing for 3 months, wow you're brave, I don't know how you handled it.
 
Howdy! My story is a little bizarre to be honest...

But, I was in a car accident at the beginning of November, about 3 days later I got an intense pain in my tailbone. It was excruciating. Looked completely normal from the outside. I went in to the doc 3 times. They figured I had broken my tailbone from the car accident (it was a pretty bad accident). I even went in for x-rays. It was so painful I couldn't walk, sit, stand, lie down or even actually get the x-rays done very well!

They gave me Tylenol #3...didn't even take the edge off. This went on for about a week, until I was in so much pain I was seeing black spots every time I moved...woke up one morning and I had a golf ball sized lump at the top of my butt crack that was draining massive amounts of puss. It actually happened that quick. Day before, looked completely normal, next morning I had a third butt cheek, lol!

So, I went to my GP, who sent me straight to the ER. They knocked me out and drained it. Sent me home with no follow up. Ended up in urgent care 2 days later as it wouldn't stop bleeding and I was in excruciating pain still. What followed was pure hell. They drained it again and packed it, without freezing or anything. Then they sent me home with home care set up.

What followed was WEEKS of packing changes. Each one was incredibly painful. I could barely walk. I was off from work (and actually ended up getting laid off for "poor attendance"). If I tried to do anything, I bled heavily (through the packing, dressing and my clothes). The home care nurse came and changed the dressing every second day....and, absolutely no healing occurred. I was left with a gaping crater (underneath a small hole cut in the surface as it was an "incision and drainage" procedure) that would not budge. This went on for over 2 months...and by the end of all this I was still taking percocets regularly to deal with the pain. It was horrible.

All that was offered to me in Canada was the open wound excision. To me, it was completely bizarre to think that somehow the solution to a hole I already couldn't heal, was to cut a much larger hole! So, this is when I started searching for options and decided to travel to the US for a cleft lift.

So, short answer to your question, I did live with an active infection, drainage, dressing changes and a large (about a dime size on the outside) hole that would not heal for 3 months prior to my cleft lift. My life had completely ground to a halt. I was pretty much bed bound, had lost my job and did nothing all day.

When I did have my cleft lift done, I found out just how bad things were, as I had a soft ball sized abscess below the skin (right down and wrapping around my tailbone). Had I opted for the open wound excision, I would have been in for a world of hurt!

February 13, 2014 was a year post cleft lift and I've had no issues so far. I'm happy with the result (I mean, of course it would have been much nicer to have never had this in the first place...I can dream!) Hence the reason I'm a huge pro-cleft-lift-er! I just can't stand to hear all the stories on here about recovering from open wound excision...and worse yet, hearing the ones that don't heal!

I'm sure I rambled off there a bit....but if you have any questions about traveling, the surgery etc. just let me know. I'd be happy to help if I can!
 
Hi Razzyirt,

I found reading about your experience with pilonidal very helpful. I first had surgery 17 years ago then again 10 years ago, both were open excisions that fortunately did heal. It has recurred and I already have seen the surgeon who is offering me only the Limberg flap as the surgical method, which I am highly disappointed in. I too live in Alberta and am seriously considering going to the Oregon to see Dr.Bascom. Do you have any other tips for me for this international medical experience? How are you doing post surgery now over 1 1/2 years?

Cheers,
Fransia
 
Hi;

Sorry, I have been a bit incognito for the last little while. I recently returned to school and life has been crazy hectic! It is amazing how, once everything settles down, life just takes over again!

As for how I am doing, in all honesty, GREAT! It will be 2 years out come February 2015, and thus far I've had no issues.

I still get a little bit of sensations at times from the scar (some nerve-y type stuff, but very minor). And I do still have a bit of numbness in the flap area. But, I've reached the point where I can sit fully on it without feeling a thing. And I can lie down on hard surfaces etc. I still haven't attempted a full sit up on it, and rather do crunches...but I don't think it would be all that bad if I did (more personal preference).

I've also not had even a hint of recurrence. Not a twinge, nothing. Which has been awesome. Since the cleft lift I had, I have forgotten about it completely (and I hope that I will never have to deal with it again!)

As for the international medical experience...it was pretty daunting. I think the hardest part for me was overcoming my own fear of doing it. I would say to make sure to have a good support network and plan in place. Plan ahead, have all your prescriptions filled here and take them with you. Bring along the wound care supplies etc. Know the location of the surgical centre, have a car prearranged to pick you up. Know who's going to be looking after you post-op, both while in the US and when you get home.

Also realize that the travel itself can be a bit rough. The ride home wasn't the greatest, I will admit. If you can get a direct flight, do it! Minimize how far you have to walk, and how much sitting you have to do (and go for the aisle seat!) Also, watch for nausea when flying/driving, what with all the painkillers.

And give yourself a few weeks (if you can) to recover. Pamper yourself. Drink/eat that protein! I watched the entire series of Friends actually while I was recovering :p

I hope this helps a bit...if you have any questions, feel free to ask!
 
Razzyirt just read your story and I can only assume you wished you had the cleft lift before anything else ! So glad it went well ! My son is 19 and has his first flare I am thinking we are going cleft lift before anything else . Thanks for doing your post it is very helpful to new kids on the block !