The Tale of My Tail, Part II

The solution to finally getting rid of that pain in your butt.

By contributing writer Sarah Romeo

« Back to The Tale of My Tail, Part I

And the saga continues, of the time when I thought I was growing a tail, but it really just turned out to be a kiwi-sized lower back cyst on the urge of violent eruption. No big deal. If you haven’t read “The Tale of My Tail, Part I,” then I highly suggest you do, in order to get up to speed with this story. But in case you didn’t and are too lazy to do so now, here’s the SparkNotes version:

Pilonidal cyst diagram

When we last left our heroine, (me), I was laying face down on an examining table in the pediatric ward of a shitty Bronx hospital with a slew of hair weave-clad nurses prodding my naked butt with their rubber gloved fingers.

Raise your hand if you have been more dehumanized in the past week.

I had just been diagnosed with a pilonidal cyst in my lower back, a cyst I was born with, and when infected, grows to a size so large the body cannot capacitate it and it explodes out the top of my ass crack. Like seriously, how messed up is my life? I was handed a hot compress and told to keep it on the cyst at all times until it burst. In the meantime, I was also handed a full bottle of codeine. For the first time in days, things were starting to look up.

Part II

My dear friend Gwen, who accompanied me to the hospital, took hold of my arm and dragged me toward the exit of the hospital, partly because I could no longer walk, and partly because a heroine junkie we had met in the ER earlier was trying to offer us a ride home. Tempting as it was, we opted to take Fordham’s Rambulance back to campus instead. As I sat in the Rambulance, the pain I experienced took on a new personality. Before, it had been consistent, and no doubt excruciating, but it had this sort of dull quality to it. Now, perched on one butt cheek in the van driven by some dumbass 18-year-old in my Spanish class, the pain heightened and developed sharpness. It was if I was being repeatedly stabbed in the nape of my butt crack with an ice pick.

I asked the Rambulance driver to drop me off at my dorm, since walking was no longer a an option. Of course, a slew of college freshman were loitering around to gawk at me while rolling out of the Rambulance and hobbling into my building. I heard one whisper to another, “You think she has a UTI? She’s walking like she had a lot of rough sex last night.”

When I got back to my dorm room, I changed into sweats and immediately assumed the fetal position in bed. My roommate had gone home for the weekend, so Gwen sat with me so I wouldn’t have to get up when people knocked on my door. Ya know, I’m just that popular. My friend Tom, the stereotypical college smartass, came by to see what was up, and was clearly surprised to see me pale and decrepit under my blanket. I explained to him what had happened.

“Wait, wait…” Tom said, “You trying to tell me that you have a cyst…ON YOUR BUTT??!?”

“It’s on my natal cleft, you douche muffin,” I retorted. This drove Tom into a fit of grand male laughter, and entertained him for hours. Every few minutes he would swagger by my room shouting something like, “Hey everyone, Romeo has a cyst…ON HER BUTT!” and, “Sarah, I’m really sorry that you’re in so much pain…ON YOUR BUTT!” I have not yet forgiven him, and he will pay.

I had Gwen warm up my heating pad in the microwave, and then I promptly shoved it down my pants (if I had a nickel for every time I said that…). I thought that the warmth of the heating pad would offer me some sort of minor comfort, but alas, it failed to produce even the slightest of soothing. So it was time to bring out the big guns: codeine. I’ve never been big into opiates, so I figured just one would do the trick. But as the hours passed and my pain refused to cease, I introduced another dose, and then another, and by 3 in the morning I was taking two at a time. By that point, I had finally reached a state of euphoria that briefly distracted me from my pain.

But while I wasn’t focused on the discomfort, my mind, muddied by drugs, was now fixated on the notion of the cystial time bomb ticking inside of me. I didn’t know how or when it was going to happen, but I imagined it being loud. Like a bang or a gunshot. I imagined an explosive stream of hot, steamy fluid shooting straight out of my lower back like that of a geyser or a whale’s blow hole. I thought of all my internal organs being ejected with the contents of the cyst; my lungs, my cold and blackened heart, my harshly abused liver, and my womanly peanut of a brain all being splattered against the walls and ceiling of my dorm room. I knew the explosion was coming, and I was frightened.

By 5 am the euphoria of my codeine dosage had worn off, but it was too soon for me to take another one, and the pain was stronger than ever. I didn’t know what else to do, so I decided to take a shower. I shuffled down the hallway into our community bathroom. I stepped into the shower, turned the water on hot, and let the jet of water blast full force onto my throbbing cyst. Briefly, the stream created a twinge of pain, but then: RELIEF. It was the first time in a week that I had felt any sense of release from my continuous atomic wedgie of pain. I turned the water hotter and hotter until it was on maximum heat. My flesh was pink and scalding, but I didn’t care. The hotter the water, the more relief I felt.

I was blissfully happy in the shower (if I had a nickel for every time I said that…). But standing there amidst the fog, I realized that my hearing was starting to fade. Within seconds, I was completely deaf. Then, fuzzy, navy blue splotches crowded my vision. I became aware that due to the combination of drugs, lack of sleep, and intense heat, I was about to black out on the shower floor. Now, I have never blacked out for reasons unrelated to alcohol, so in my semi-sober state, I was not familiar with the process. I leaned my body against the stall of the shower and prepared to succumb to the forces that were taking over my body.

But leaning there, plastered to the wall, I imagined the sheer wealth of filth and VD crawling on the shower floor. I wouldn’t allow myself to catch syphilis that way. If I’m going to contract the clap, I thought to myself, I am going to do it with dignity, through a night of drunken, anonymous sex. Somewhere inside, I mustered the strength to push myself away from the shower wall. I shut off the water, grabbed my shower caddy in one hand, and my bathrobe in the other hand.

And then, I ran.

I made a stark-naked mad dash down the hallway. But this was not your average early morning nude sprint. Since I was about 75% blacked out, I barreled down the hall, smacking into doors and walls on each side, breasts and thighs bouncing asunder. I was a stray bullet of wet naked flesh. And when I finally made it back to my room, I collapsed into a heap on top of my bed and passed out.

When I woke up at 7 am, the cyst had still not burst, and I realized that taking care of myself was no longer an option. I called my mom, and luckily, she’s only a two and a half hour drive to school when the traffic is good. So Peg saved the day and picked me up.

I curled up into a ball in the back seat of her Honda CRV and braced myself for the ride home. You see, my mom is one of those nervous drivers who slams on the breaks if she spots a cat in the middle of the road 250 yards away. Thus, all the way up I-95 we would go from about 70 to 0 every ten minutes or so whenever she detected a slowly moving car about a mile ahead or so. Needless to say, it was a rough ride, but I slept most of the way.

When I got home, I stepped out of the car with relative ease. My mom asked me how I was feeling, and surprisingly, I felt okay. Good, actually. I yanked the heating pad out of my pants, and lo and behold, it was drenched in a gooey brown, yellow and red substance. Thanks to my mom’s horrible driving technique, the cyst had released itself during the car ride while I was asleep, and I hadn’t even felt it. THE PAIN WAS OVER.

I stayed home for the rest of the weekend while my cyst drained. It took THREE EFFING DAYS.

In the end, we found out that pilonidal cysts run in my family. My paternal grandfather had a few, and my dad’s sister, Lis, had one exactly when she was my age, and it never came back. I’m hoping our fates serve to be similar. Another interesting fact I learned is that it’s more common than you think; during WWII there was a pandemic of pilonidal cysts among soldiers, which they called “Jeep Disease,” because they spent so much time covering rough terrain bouncing up and down in Jeeps…I think you get the idea.

My advice to you is if you think you might be at risk for a pilonidal cyst, don’t smack your ass on anything. It’s really not a fun experience and I didn’t gain anything from it, besides a lot of butt jokes from my friends that carried on through the summer.

On the other hand, by the time all was said and done, three doctors, two nurses, both my parents, Gwen, my brother, and anyone who happened to catch a glimpse of my early morning burlesque show had seen me naked. My level of inhibition has been drastically reduced as a result of that weekend. Plus, I got to legally try codeine. So I think we can all agree that this story ends with a silver lining.

More from PIC:

Never have I seen a pilonidal testimonial like this one! Had me rolling!

Like you, I suffer from pilonidal disease. My first abscess popped up roughly ten years ago. I was 6 months pregnant with my son at the time, and had NO CLUE what to expect when my OB/GYN referred me to the man whose office was right next to hers....the man who will forever be imprinted in my mind as "The Lancer".

Don't be overly-annoyed for not being able to have yours cut out, either. It was the single most painful experience of my life (worse than childbirth), and I was not looking forward to having it done again.

Thankfully, my second abscess just burst this morning. So now I've experienced BOTH sides of the story when it comes to the joys of pilonidal cysts.

Your smartass college little brother is that guy. Earlier he called me "cyst girl", then said, "Good luck with your ass" followed by peals of uproarious laughter.

Anyway, I just wanted to give you kudos for this amazing piece of literature, and let you know three things - 1 - you're not alone, even though I know that doesn't make you feel any better about your particular problem. 2 - if you ever start to feel that pain again...that beginning tenderness on the tailbone...act immediately to keep it from blowing up into a full-blown abscess. I personally use tea tree oil. I just rub it on the spot a couple times a day until the pain goes didn't work THIS time because I bought more tea tree oil too late. Never again will I be short a bottle of tea tree oil. Never.

Thirdly....I will be bookmarking this site and sending a link to EVERYONE I know. It's the most hilarious way I can think of to explain to them what my problem is.

Kat sent me over, as I assume it was obvious I had no idea what she was talking about when I asked if she were growing a vestigial tail! lol I'm surprised now on two counts: 1~that I even had the general region correct, and 2~a pleasant surprise in finding this gem of self-deprecation. Kudos!

Your story had me almost rolling on the floor laughing!!
I was just diagnosed with this cyst and Strep A in the butt crack!!! The doctor was even shocked. I told him from now on just to call me Mrs. Strep he's sending me to a surgeon.

I got one of these too >=/
anyway, this was a cool story bro
you're a damn good writer

Very entertaining article. I am hoping you haven't had the pleasure of a re-visit from the good ol' P !
My first one was when I was about 21 yrs old.. about as painful and strange as your first encounter (and hopefully your last). After draining didn't get rid of it, I had surgery. Unfortunately, about 20 yrs later, it came back full force. Another surgery. Unfortunately, that surgery resulted in another strange item on my butt. An abcess on my cheek.. where in the hell did that come from? Turns out-after 2 surgeries later, MRSA was discovered (a nasty anibiotic resistant staff infection a gift from the hospital during surgery). A week in isolation and scars on my butt that look like leftovers from a bullet wound.
Five years later.. current day... guess what is back? So, having a job SITTING all day, doesn't make my life pleasant, nor is a 3rd pilonidal cyst surgery in my bankroll, so I live looking for relief. No fun.
Hope it doesn't come back to haunt you for years.


Oh my gosh, I don't think I have ever laughed so hard in my life from reading an article.

My 30 year old son just came from the emergency room a few hours ago from one of these horrible cysts. I don't have the heart, yet, to share with him that it can reoccur.

Thanks for making my night! Now if only you could make my sons night better!!!

Thanks so much for the story, its 2:40 in the morning in sunny old England, and i decided that while im waiting for the codiene to kick in i'd pick up the computer and see if its possible for anyone to feel as miserable as i have done for the last week!! Im 27 with 2 kids (who'll be up shortly wanting breakfast) this is probably the 10th time this nasty disease has invaded me, i thought that id lost all hope, but my tears of excruciating agony turned to tears of joy for a while when i read your story, a million thanks

xxxxx fellow manky disease sufferer xxxxxx

I love your sense your sense of humor to this situation . I've had several myself and boy are they really painful, I've had to have them all drained which is the worst ever!!!!!!!!!! They are honestly embarrassing especially being a girly girl.

Oh my goodness. I got diagnosed with this cyst on tuesday after i couldn't take any more pain. it started feeling sore on monday. come tuesday, i couldnt sit, walk or lay down. my dad took me to the emergency room. they couldn't drain it either because it was too hard. i too decided to put ice on it thinking it would be better. it's now friday and it's only gotten bigger and the pain is so much worse. my mom said it looks like it's about to pop. im debating whether or not i should go to the ER again to have them lance it. i dont want to waste another trip and money just to have them tell me they cant do anything yet.

Omg, that has to be the best description EVER!!! I've been suffering since I graduated college. Had surgery the first time, now 15 years later I get flares all the time but I refuse to have another surgery. Sporting a "tail" bump right now and I have to get in the car in 2 days for a 20 HR drive. Thank you for giving me a reason to laugh about it.

I'm 19 and although I've not been diagnosed, I'm pretty sure that's what I'm currently suffering through. (My mom told me she had the same thing when she was 19, took some pills and woke up 3 days later felling better. Since I have a job I really can't sleep for three days like she did). I was about to make a trip to the hospital when mine burst and is now draining. The fun part is trying to bandage it yourself since it feels like you are taping your butt closed.

Enough overshare for now. lol

Thanks for the great laugh and glimmer of hope.

I experienced this all throughout college but refused to get it looked at; I'm not one for doctors nor ever gone to the hospital before. (I'm one of those tough-guys-who-will-tough-it-out and, not only that, I thought it had gone away only to have it flare up several weeks later). Needless to say, I finally decided to get it looked at.

I arrived at the doctors office for initial diagnose and he tells me to drop em. Imagine the comfort I felt when the first words from his mouth were, "Oh shit".

He then later explained to me that my "situation" was one of the worst he has ever seen and that he didnt know how I had gone this long. I explained that I had developed a high pain tolerance.

I had to have surgery; they cut out about a fist full of me. Literally. I had to have a wound vac and then later the typical wet-to-dry dressing because it had to heal from the inside out.

Now, whenever I hear the phrase "pain in the butt" I smirk because I know EXACTLY that pain. ha.

If you experience the symptoms as so eloquently explained, please get it looked at. If not I'd literally kick you in your butt -however,that actually would probably relieve some pressure.

I have one now they suck :-(

I just found out I have a pilonidal cyst today. I have been in extreme pain for two days and yesterday the lump showed up. I called my doctor and he couldn't see me until today. I had it lanced and it was excruciating. I really appreciated your story though. It made me feel better to know someone else, especially another college aged girl like myself, was experiencing the same thing and I laughed at your creative descriptions. I too actually passed out due to the pain. I really hope we never have to deal with one of these again! Thanks for sharing your story!

i loved this article im only a sophmore in highschool and got my first pilonidal cyst around a week ago. it popped tonight and just like urs i didnt feel a thing, except the fact i was in a lot less pain and the back of my shorts were wet. ive been taking penacilin and sits baths for the past day and half and ur soo rite the hot water rlly did help the pain. im going to see a surgon tomorrow to see if i need to get anymore of the cyst removed. i have to say im very nervous, i hear packing the wound is extremly painful and i hope i dont have to endure that. im glad i got to read your article it made me realize my situation cud have been a lot worse bc my cyst was only about 1 inch long and a 1cm thick very small compaired to most ive heard about, but still extremly painful. i have many guy friends who think its funny to go around giving wedgies, so when they did this to me with my cyst i wanted to cry it hurt soooo bad. i did not want to tell them about my cyst bc they obviously wud have made fun off me to no end. eventually told then i had just hurt my tailbone so they wud stop bc they made it hurt so bad. if theres any advice i can give to people with these aweful things is see a doctor asap, take many sits baths for abiut 15-20mins with as hot as water as you can handle and until the cyst burst, drench it in tea tree oil which will soften it and make it come to head so it will pop. once again thankyou for sharing your story its good to be able to get a laugh out about at something as misarible as this.

The best story about pilonidal cyst that I've read so far. :) I just came back from the hospital, where they told me to put an ice compress on it, and it will go away. So far I was doing the exact opposite; I've been taking hot baths to relieve the pain. Now I am confused. Does anyone think that putting ice on it will actually resolve the issue? Will it make it go away without popping? Please respond if you have an idea.

I've dealt with one for the last year. Mine got huge and painful and ruptured after 5 days (on a Friday and I had a doctor's appointment on Monday for it). Instant relief. The sinus stayed open for a year and would drain slightly every few days so didn't get sore any more. I have horses and ride and I think it caused it. I live in Florida and it's been so hot all summer I didn't ride and the sinus healed up and it went away. It has cooled down the last couple of weeks enough to ride again and after only 2 rides my butt started getting that stinging itch and starting to get hard in that spot. I'm just about sick of dealing with the darn thing. If it swells up or opens up again, I'm going to the doctor and getting it removed. I'm not giving up horseback riding over a sour ass!

I'm sorry, I meant a sore ass although it has made me a sour ass also!

I've posted a comment on October 1st, when I asked if anyone thinks putting ice on it will actually help in any way. WELL, as it turned out it actually does. My cyst was pretty big by the time I went to the doctor's office with it, but he recommended that I should go home and put ice on it and see if that helps in any way. I bought 2 ice packs and kept changing them on my cyst. After 3 days the pain went away as the cyst started to get smaller and smaller. After about three months, I can still feel a bit of hard cyst (I reduced from the size of a gold ball to the size of a penny) and I think it's getting better with every day. So, I would recommend this as a FAST SOLUTION. Worth a try.

This was an excellent expose. I appreciate the effort and time you put into painfully detailing your experience. I to dealt with the pleasure of it all, and oddly enough this is why I ended up on your blog. I'm no fan of coincidence, but the lady who talked about the tea tree oil barked right up my tree. Someone in my household purchased a sparkling new bottle, and I am up for using it eagerly very soon.

With my first exposure to this horrifying incident I had surgery to remove some of the cyst, although the chances of them reoccurring may have been lowered, a 10% chance is just as bad as any. Someone always wins the lottery right? Sadly, I feel as if my butt has had a facelift now. Thank you for the article, and your courageousness. You mentioned I-95, would this be close to NC? I live about 45 minutes away, so perhaps I should have my mom drive me for a few hours to see what happens, haha.

Im going through the EXACT thing. Glad im not the only one who has grown a tail. Enjoyed reading, first time ive smiled in three days

This was great! I have suffered with these awful things and mine just popped today!! The pain is finally better thankfully because I was about to stab the dam thing if it didnt pop today. It took 3 1/2 days to finally pop and it was the size of a baseball. I have chose not to have surgery yet because I am busy so I have to deal with the 2 flareups a year that I usually get. This is the worst fucking pain in life. I remember saying earlier I would rather have 2 broken legs.

This also made me feel better about my cyst. I'm almost 8 minths pregnant and can't have it lanced, I feel like such a wimp, but it is by far the worst pain I ever could imagine, especially since this is day five with no relief. Hopefully mine will burst soon! I'm not sure how much longer I can stand it, and don't want to take too much codine because the baby probably doesn't need an opiate addiction. ;)

Wiping away the tears from laughter! Best story! Dealing with the same thing now! Thanks for the comic relief duri my plight!

my story was similar was very pianful just be lucky yours didnt take two months to discover what it was mine had to be surgiclly removed was the size of a softball the open wound nurse at the hospital after they cut it out she could put her whole fist in my wound so yea i feel your pain and i also got alot of butt jokes so i feel you on that on too