I promise that I’ll stop bitching about my ribs. Maybe not anytime soon, but I will. I guess I’m just not used to being in a constant state of pain with nothing I can really do to alleviate it. I’m suddenly far more sympathetic for my father’s situation, not that I wasn’t before. The point is, the past week and a half have presented their fair share of challenges and some of them were worse than others. Allow me to explain. For those who may not have read my posts in the last week or so, I suffered an injury to my left flank while sparring with one of my fellow black belts over a weekend seminar. I stepped in with an attack using my left arm and my skilled opponent managed to duck around and punch straight into my torso, causing a sharp burst of pain and taking the breath out of me.
Luckily, we were one of the last matches before we broke for lunch so I was able to change and make my way home. I didn’t make the afternoon session as my left side felt swollen with a sharp pain every time I moved, breathed, sneezed, coughed or swallowed. At the time, I assumed that perfect it was simply a pain of the moment; that it would pass by the following day. I was wrong. Oh, boy, was I wrong! When I awoke on the Monday morning, I could barely move. I had to do that thing that turtles do, where I shifted my weight back and forth, in order to get up. My morning routine was brutal and the pain seemed to have gotten worse instead of better. I began to contemplate that perhaps I had fractured a rib.
I started to contemplate the possibility. It takes roughly 3,000 to 4,000 Newtons of Force to fracture or break a rib, which translates to a punch of about 675 psi (pounds per square inch). This would make sense, since martial artists our trained to punch with almost equivalent force to a boxer’s average punch of approximately 770 psi. That being the case, there was a definite possibility that my skilled opponent fractured something. On the other hand, the pain was somewhat different from the pain I felt back in 2011 when I suffered a confirmed fracture on my right side. Bottom line, I had to figure out if there was an actual break or not.
I decided to give it the Monday, as it was possible that the pain would still pass. I wasn’t completely debilitated, so I made my way to work and put in my day as usual. I emailed the dojo to let them know I would be absent for some time while I recovered. When Tuesday came, I noticed that the pain was getting worse. This suggested something muscular to me but as I often say, I’m not a doctor. My wife had a doctor’s appointment scheduled for the coming Friday that she no longer required. Instead of cancelling it, she called in and had it switched to my name instead.
Friday might have seemed like a long time to wait but trying to go to the ER for my current condition would be far worse. It would a require a wait time of six to eight hours at minimum, followed by an exhausted ER doctor who may not have the wherewithal to order an x-ray and would like send me on my way with some ibuprofen. No, thank you! It was better for me to go about my week without attending karate, allow myself to heal and take advantage of a scheduled appointment where the doctor might be more receptive to comment and suggestions. You can read about how that appointment went here.
In case you don’t have time to go back and read that post, I’ll simply say that it was a statutory holiday last Friday and while I was able to get in and see a doctor, the x-ray clinic was closed and I returned the next day in order to have my rib cage imaged. Now, the doctor said something that seriously gets on my nerves… He indicated he would call me IF he found a break or fracture. I asked him to contact me even if there wasn’t to confirm, to which he reiterated that he’d only call if he found something. When I asked how long I should wait, he said he couldn’t give me a definitive timeline; it would happen after he received the images and had time to assess them. Maybe in the next week or so.
The issue I take with such a statement, is that I’m sitting here in pretty serious pain and with every passing day, I’m wondering if a phone call will be forthcoming. This can be nerve-wracking. The only solace I take from this whole thing is that there really isn’t anything they do for a broken rib. You just gotta ride it out. He mentioned that if he didn’t call, it was simply muscle damage and there’s nothing to be done for that either but to take some anti-inflammatory pills and let it heal. Great. Yesterday morning, I finally got frustrated with waiting after a seriously ridiculous night without sleep and checked my online e-health file. The imaging results were noted as no visible fracture. Good news. Except that I’m still in pain.
On Tuesday morning, I had an incident where my nose started to bleed like a faucet again. I thought nothing of it, got cleaned up and went to work. Then sometime after lunch, my nose bled heavily again and stained the dress shirt I was wearing. Bloody fucking hell… pun fully intended. I decided to look up potential causes for nose bleeds and found consistent messaging that anti-inflammatory meds will often cause nose bleeds, and I just HAPPEN to be on one that’s prescription grade. I discontinued the anti-inflammatory immediately. I don’t even know if it was helping but I knew I didn’t want to be dripping blood all over the place.
On Tuesday night, I went to bed around 10 pm, hoping that the muscle relaxant would at least allow me to get some sleep. By about 1:30 the following morning, I threw in the towel and made my way out to the living room. There was literally no position that was comfortable and that didn’t cause sharp pain throughout my body. I sat in my leather lounger with my feet up on a foot stool. The difference this made is my weight wasn’t bearing down on my rib cage. I fell asleep and managed to wake up several hours later. I wouldn’t say I was refreshed but at least i got some rest. The lounger also isolates my movements so there isn’t a whole bunch of moving around.
The moral of the story today folks, is that even a minor injury can cause some issues. If there’s no break or fracture of the ribs, I have to assume that I suffered some muscle damage when I got punched, which honestly, makes all my painful theatrics seem a little excessive. but at least the recovery time should be significantly lower, with ribs requiring at least six weeks to heal and muscles may only take a few. Since it’s only been about a week and a half, I shouldn’t be surprised that it still hurts. But with some temperature treatment, continued rest and taking care of the area, I should be back to normal in short order. The real challenge will come from reconditioning myself and getting back into the dojo. But that’s a battle for another day. ☯️