‘What An Idiot’
“Oh, no.”, I sit here thinking to myself…”I’m going to sneeze.”
Never in my life have I been this terrified of sneezing.
Even though I’ve previously broken many ribs — twice — no injury has been this annoyingly painful.
I’ve broken an arm, a leg, multiple ribs on both sides, had a shoulder out of socket, had quite a few ‘major’ surgeries and an equal amount of stitches here and there.
But I’ve never separated both sides of my ribs before.
Ribs attach by way of a section of cartilage to the sternum (breastbone). Last week, I popped the cartilage off the bone (aka costochondral separation) on both the rib and sternum sides of either one or two bones.
Now having had both, I would take a broken bone any day over this stupid injury.
When it dumped that huge amount of snow last Sunday/Monday, the four of us went snowboarding and skiing.
Cold and windy, the snow was amazing and we had a decent time together as a family.
Of course…on the last run!, I stopped to check uphill to make sure Luke was doing okay and, barely even moving, my edge caught a chunk of snow and sent me down hard. With no time to put my arms out to brace the fall onto my side/front I went with a ridiculous crunch.
It was a super weird fall and there’s not even a cool story to tell because I was basically stopped.
When I hit the snow I heard an audible pop(s). I knew instantly something had happened. We continued to finish the run and then walked around the village for a bit. Later we went to dinner but my chest wasn’t feeling great at all.
Not much of a painkiller-taker, I opted not to even take a single Tylenol after my last mastectomy so I certainly wasn’t keen on taking anything for one or two little ribs.
About 19:00, the boys convinced me to get it looked at for precautionary reasons of a potential pneumothorax so off I went to get it checked out.
Jeff picked me up just after midnight and I gratefully left Emerg with two Advil, two Tylenol and no breaks or leaky lungs seen on the X-Rays. I did, however, get to leave with the gift of separated ribs and it sucks.
It sucks mainly because they take two or three times the length of time to heal as broken ribs do and so far this has been notably more painful.
I’m always grateful for our health care, the nurses, docs and staff.
Everyone was so kind and tolerant to each person who came in for help. No matter how ‘big’ or ‘small’ their issue…from the dearest little dude who sat there for hours not sounding healthy at all to the the guy who demanded painkillers and sat shirtless with Nair burns on his arms…what a job.
Learning new things and having been reminded of some others, here are some ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’ of rib injuries:
- Now that I’ve taken almost more Tylenol and Advil than all of my surgeries combined (not quite but could be close!), having to still function somewhat normally, I recommend not ‘toughing’ this kind of rib injury out.
- Rest within reason. Something that doesn’t happen much but I’m trying where I can or not shovelling with both arms.
- Even if you use the unaffected side…the affected side still hurts like crazy with everything you do. It hurts to breathe, move, sleep, walk, cut food, wash hands, cough, laugh and certainly sneeze…the dreaded sneeze.
- Make sure to always take big breaths to keep the lungs working…deep breaths stave off pneumonia and, well, oxygen is a good thing to have in your lungs.
- Keep moving as much as you can and don’t sit still for too long.
- Don’t wash your floors by hand four days after.
- Ice the area.
- Hold a pillow against your chest when coughing or sneezing.
- Sleep…however you can get comfortable.
- When in doubt…and if this annoying pain doesn’t subside at least a little bit in another week or two, I’ll ask my doc what’s up.
- Standing out in the cold for over an hour makes it feel worse.
- Wrapping a separated rib is debatable…as your doc.
Most likely there’s nothing anyone can do so I’ll try to take ‘er easy and let it heal.
- …patience with self…something I’ve been forced to learn to embrace these recent years.
Hoping those tips help you if you have injured ribs and more importantly, I hope you don’t injure your ribs to begin with!