Coccydynia is not an Island in Greece


Middle age sucks. The human body is like an old car. For each year that goes by it seems like another part falls off, and things that shouldn’t leak, start leaking. I’m sure I’m the first person to figure this out.

At some point in the past year I fell on my ass, and bruised my tailbone. I think it was during 20 Prospect Jr.’s hockey season. At the time I didn’t really think much of it, because my left shoulder was in a hell of a lot more pain. But after 6 months the shoulder pain went away, and I began to notice that my ass still hurt. Not debilitating pain, but just enough to make me feel like a geriatric.

I tried to pretend it was just stiffness from a long bike ride that was causing it, or perhaps it was from slouching in my chair at work. I figured if I just waited long enough it would go away. But last week I finally resigned myself to the fact that it ain’t stopping.

So I did what any hypochondriac 40-something would do, I started googling. Apparently, tail bone pain is pretty common among sedentary middle age folks that fall on their ass. I know, pretty amazing revelation, huh?

The medical term for this is Coccydynia, which sounds like an STD, but is just inflammation of the coccyx. Which is a fancy way of saying “pain in the butt.”

The prescribed treatment is eat less, exercise, and get off your ass. Unfortunately, this mean the condition is permanent, if not quite terminal. So I have swallowed my pride, and done something I never thought I would do. I put a pillow on my chair. Not just any pillow. It’s actually a foam seat cushion for sitting at sporting events that I modified by cutting a small wedge out for my coccyx.

(Hey, stop making fun of the size of my coccyx! Guys are sensitive about that sort of thing.)

It was at this point that I realized I have become an office archetype. The dreaded “Seat Cushion Person.”

If you’ve ever spent any amount of time working in an office, you know that there are several universal archetypes:

The Back Pain Sufferer: There’s the poor bastard with back issues. This person is always complaining that they need a special chair, and when they finally realize that the building operations team doesn’t give a sh!t about their pain, they start bringing in all sorts of contraptions to give themselves better lumbar support. Pillows, cushions, exercise balls, the list goes on and on. Eventually, they have made so many modifications to their chair that it begins to resemble the cockpit of a fighter jet. I feel for the back pain sufferer, and I like to point out that medical professionals have said that sex is the best thing for back pain. So they should go ___ themselves. (Kidding!)

The Carpal Tunnel Lady: I suppose that men suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome too, but I have yet to run across one in an office. Maybe it’s because we suck at typing, so we never get to the point where the nerve endings in our hands start to burn. Carpal tunnel lady can always be spotted by the ginormous armor that she wears on her wrists. Like a falconer, she wears a reinforced gauntlet stiff enough to clothesline a running back. So don’t mess with carpal tunnel lady.

The Sensitive Smeller: The sensitive smeller is constantly stopping by your cubicle to ask “can you smell that?” The source of the smell can vary from someone’s lunch in the microwave three floors above, to a diesel truck parked a block away from the building. No scent is too small to escape the bloodhound like nose of the sensitive smeller. And the presence of any sort of scent in the office is enough reason for them to stop working, and start complaining. We eventually got so tired of one sensitive smeller’s complaints that we dis-assembled their computer when they were out of the office, and placed a Pine Tree Air Freshener inside of it. When they returned to their office and started their computer the little cooling fan inside the CPU would make their office smell like a 1978 Chrysler Cordoba. By the end of the day the sensitive smeller was curled up in a fetal position on the floor, sobbing.

The Loud Talker: If you have only one loud talker in your office, consider yourself lucky. The loud talker apparently believes that modern telephony is like two Campbell Soup cans tied together with a piece of twine. Because of this they feel the need to shout into the receiver so that within a few weeks, everyone in a 30 foot radius is familiar with all of their medical, and financial history. We once took a soundproof hood from an ancient Teletype machine (look it up kids) and placed it on their desk when they were out on a trip. Then we removed their phone cord, and replaced it with one that was only 4 inches long, so that to speak on the phone the loud talker had to stick their head into the soundproof hood.

The Respiratory Sufferer: This person is a close cousin of the sensitive smeller. The difference is that the presence of any strong smell, or fume in the office is enough to send them into fits of phlegmatic coughing, until they eventually ask to go home for the day. I once had a cube neighbor who actually feinted, and collapsed on the floor when the smoke from the barbeque outside the window started coming into the building and forming a cloud in our office. As people rushed from every direction to see if she was OK, I rolled my eyes, and kept typing at my desk thinking “Faker”. This is why I am no longer allowed to be a first responder.

Burnt Popcorn Person: The presence of the mysterious burnt popcorn person in my last office was so annoying that we removed the microwave popcorn from the vending machine. This stopped them until their next trip to Target, where they stocked up on Orville Redenbacker and returned to burning a bag of popcorn every day at 2pm. The Burnt Popcorn person is a master of disguise, who somehow slips through every dragnet you construct, because they know that once they are discovered they will be moved into the aisle with the Sensitive Smeller, and the Respiratory Sufferer for entertainment purposes.

The Cookie Monster: The cookie monster is addicted to sweets the way that a hillbilly with a twitchy eye is hooked on Meth. And like a drug addict, the cookie monster will deny their addiction. You would think that the cookie monster’s addiction to sweets would mean they always had a bowl of candy in arms reach, or struggled with their weight. Not so. Paradoxically, the cookie monster is skinny and will never bring goodies to the office to share. Instead they will troll the aisles looking for unattended candy dishes. Put a cake or cookies by the copier machine and the cookie monsters will flock around it like moths to a flame.

I could go on and on  lamenting that I too have joined the ranks of the annoying office archetype. Especially since I am sitting on my Coccyx-pain relieving pillow. But I’ll save the rest of the list of annoying co-workers for another day. Now if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to go burn some popcorn.

8 thoughts on “Coccydynia is not an Island in Greece

  1. I have to tell you something to make you feel better. I have a 21 yr old who works for me. He is about 5’4″ and weighs probably 140lbs. He is in the National Guard and called me last weekend after his PT test in a complete state of dismay………because he failed his PT test. The same test numerous 40 year old men in his unit had passed. While I did feel bad for him, I can’t help but wonder if he could hear the smile in my voice while I was consoling him. Even my athiest self was wondering if there is a God. Just sayin’.

  2. I didn’t expect all this chuckling. It feels really good to have such a huge smile on my face now as I get my daughter’s breakfast and school lunch ready.

    Thanks, Tom.

  3. At my last checkup, my doctor spoke the words, “A man at your age …” So I feel your pain. Sort of.

    My office actually has a Carpal Tunnel Guy, so they do exist. In fact, he’s also our Back Pain Sufferer *and* our Loud Talker in addition to being yet another possible office archetype: Food Allergy Man. That’s the man (or woman) who gets to exercise a veto on any group food purchase or staff lunch.

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