Ribs on my mind (and not the barbecued kind)

Sherri Gardner HowellBlount, Farragut, Kitchen Table Talk

Ribs. Pretty much the only thing on my mind the past five days is ribs.

I wish it were the barbecued, fall-off-the-bone, good eating kind, but it’s the internal, protect my lungs kind that are on my mind.

I was working Friday when my left shoe caught on a perfectly normal, non-threatening floor, I tripped and down I went. I twisted to my right and went down hard on my right knee (the non-bionic one!) and my right side.

I initially worried about the knee because I couldn’t put any weight on it when I tried to stand.

By the time I finished at the doctor, had paramedic help getting me into my house and had an hour to settle down, the knee was better. It was still swollen, but better.

The ribs, however, were causing me incredible pain, in spite of the fact that the X-rays showed no obvious fractures.

I am wondering, as I moan and groan my way through the day, how do boxers stand it? Blows to the ribs seem to come regularly. Do they have some magic healing potions? I am also wondering if there is some kind of upper bustle I could wear that would bounce me off the floor like a cartoon character and protect my ribs.

This isn’t my first dance with rib pain. Four years ago I stepped off a curb wrong on a business trip in Chicago, fell and broke three ribs. In November, when I fell at church, the fractured ribs hurt more than the broken hand and took longer to get past.

Now, here I am again, and I am convinced that rib pain has few equals. Breathing hurts. Coughing reduces me to tears. Raising my arm or trying to push up out of a low chair almost makes me pass out. Even clearing my throat sends a stab of pain through my body.

I am trying to be hopeful that time will be on my side in healing these ribs. I am trying some simple breathing exercises I found online and managed to get off the couch a few more times today than yesterday. If you had asked me earlier if I had a high tolerance level for pain, I would have said, “Oh, definitely,” but those boasts are gone. Nothing makes you feel more wimpy than tears when all you did was change positions in the recliner!

In the meantime, work isn’t getting done, appointments for the second cataract surgery got canceled and a great trip in nine days is teetering on the brink. And my poor husband is missing a lot of golf!

The dog is the only one happy. Having mom on the couch with limited movement and a warm blanket is her idea of a vacation.

One thing is certain, I am having a hard time finding shortcuts for this. My prayers for healing are including another for patience. I hate to pray for better television options. And I doubt the New York Times will heed my suggestion that two Wordles a day would be a hit.

So I will try to behave. I will try to move as much as I can tolerate so I don’t get stiff. And I will work on my million-dollar design for a ribcage bustle. Trippers all over the world will thank me!

Sherri Gardner Howell has been writing about family life for newspapers and magazines since 1987. She lives in West Knoxville, is married to Neville Howell and has two sons and three grandsons. Her newest adventure is as a travel agent with her own company, SGH Go Travel. Email her at [email protected]

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