“I have good news and bad news,” the doctor said. “The good news is that your rib isn’t broken. It’s just bruised. The bad news is that it’s just as painful, it takes just as long to heal, if not longer, and we treat it the same way.”
Honestly, I was having a hard time figuring out the good part of the news.
The doctor wrote me two prescriptions for pain medicine and sent me on my way.
I had fallen on the ice one day earlier. It had been raining as the temperatures dropped, and even though the roads were perfectly passable, my driveway was a sheet of ice. It doesn’t help that it’s also very steep. I pulled the van into the driveway only for it to slide back out, which was pretty frightening. Thankfully, no one was coming down the road.
My neighbor’s driveway is flatter at the bottom than mine is, and I managed to park the van there temporarily. The plan was to spread enough salt on the driveway that I could park. On my way up to the garage to get the salt, I wiped out on the ice and immediately felt a sharp pain on the left side of my chest. Moving off of the driveway, I made it to the house through the snow-covered grass.
Once inside, I changed into my snow boots and grabbed heavier gloves, all the while jamming my left hand into my rib cage because the pressure alleviated the pain a bit. Jen looked at me and asked what was wrong.
“I fell,” I replied. “I’m fine. I need to go salt the driveway.”
As I was salting the driveway, I went down again. This time I slid all the way onto the street. On my butt. I actually ruined the pants I was wearing.
But I managed to get the van into the driveway, at which point I once again trudged through the snow to get back to the house.
I didn’t go to work the next day. Jen took me to Urgent Care, where I was x-rayed and told that it wasn’t broken, but only bruised. Which is just as bad, according to the doctor.
I went back to work about a week later, but even then, I’d come home, eat supper, and then just lie down for the rest of the evening. After a few more weeks, it became much more manageable and I was finally able to sit, stand, and walk normally.
Today is five weeks since I fell, and things are mostly back to normal, although I still can’t exercise for real. By which I mean running and lifting. But I’m able to play guitar again, so that’s good.
I learned ten things from having a bruised rib.
- When people say it’s very painful, they’re underselling it.
- Lancaster’s Urgent Care is very good, although their definition of “urgent” doesn’t seem to have a temporal aspect.
- At first, sneezing feels like being shot. Then it feels like being stabbed. After that, it feels like being kicked. Then it feels like being punched. Finally, it goes back to feeling like a sneeze.
- When you’re using your Fitbit to limit steps, the battery lasts way longer.
- Avoid hiccups. Seriously.
- I wish I had saved a few of the narcotic painkillers for the “bad days” in the second and third weeks.
- Don’t expect to sleep much.
- Showering was easier than I expected; drying off was more difficult than I expected.
- I never realized how much I bend and twist until I couldn’t.
- When people say it takes a long time to heal, they’re not kidding.