Saturday, February 23, 2013

The Fall

It's been a bumpy week. Tuesday night Alan and I went for a run. Less than a half mile in we were traversing some nasty broken sidewalks and I was jammin' to Summer Nights by Rascal Flatts. Feeling oh so energetic and a wee bit overconfident, I was clapping my heads over my head as we breezed along. And then I bit it big time. Bam, just like that I was on the ground. Thank goodness it was dark and the only person who witnessed my crumple was my beloved. We paused for a moment, he helped me to my feet, and asked if I could still run. Thankfully the answer was yes and we finished our 3 miler. The cold air soon numbed my scraped hands and knees. I was grateful that the fall hadn't injured me in any significant way. I took it as a sign of God's faithfulness to my process of training for a half marathon this summer. I felt tough knowing the crash and the "road rash" couldn't keep me down. I huffed and puffed triumphantly. I pretended I was a "real athlete" know the kind who get hurt all the time, shrug it off, and keep playing. Yep. Key word, pretended.

Then we got home. It was warm inside and my once frozen hands started to thaw. The abrasions began to sting unmercifully. The tough girl started to melt. I don't "do" physical pain. The shower was a stinging nightmare and for the next two days I couldn't keep bandaids in place more than a hour or two on the oozing sores all over the back of my swollen right hand. My knees were ok but sore when I knelt down. I started to notice a funny pain in my upper right chest, just below my clavicle. By Thursday it hurt a bit more when I bent over or breathed deeply but it wasn't anything bad enough to keep Alan and I from going on a four mile run that night.

Again I felt triumphant, no silly fall earlier in the week was going to keep me from my training schedule. After the run I felt the pain in my chest intensify. Getting into the shower that night I could see a raised bump in the part of my chest that felt bruised and sore. Breathing became more difficult. I wondered if I'd popped a rib out of place. I did a Google search. This seemed to be what I was experiencing:
Subluxation of the rib means that one or more of the ribs have been slightly displaced, which causes pain. The pain may come from your back around to the front and can get worse when you are breathing deeply. If you lean over, the pain will get worse. Usually this condition will resolve itself in a week or two.

Alan suggested some ibuprofen, but I went to bed too proud and too strong to give in to meds. Friday morning I woke up with pain so severe I was not just frustrated, I was scared. I could hardly move. Breathing, even normally hurt like H. E. double hockey sticks. Calling Alan, who was already on his way to work, I got weepy and asked what I should do. We decided it would be best for me to go into the ER. Fearing a punctured lung or fractured rib I drove my shaken self to the hospital. Two chest x-rays later the doc came in and said, "It's nothing." Because when you can hardly breath and it feels like someone just punched you in the chest with every move you make, you like it when the doctor tells you It's NOTHING. Ugghhh. I did appreciate hearing the morning prayer over the hospital loudspeaker. It kinda made up for the loneliness and fragility I felt while laying on the gurney. Basically the nurse instructed me to take 800mg of ibuprofen every four hours for a few days, don't run for a week, and get out. 

Friday morning, the hand healing, but now feeling like I can't breath...
Well, I have to admit the ibuprofen has helped, but this wasn't the week I had planned. Is it ever? I know that "the fall" will someday be a distant memory and in the bigger picture, this week's events are really very minor. This week people I know are dealing with the loss of loved ones, are afraid that their child may have cancer, and others worry about how they will pay for food, clothing, housing, etc. I sat in the ER very aware that I had a simple choice to make - go in to the hospital for peace of mind or don't. I didn't worry about health insurance or where to go for help. I can't pretend that my normal is really normal at all. The world tells me differently every single day. I have to appreciate my choices even when it hurts to know that others don't have them. 

The other "take away" from this week for me is the reminder that our pain, no matter the size, shape, or reason behind it, is ours. If we want to live translucent lives (thanks Beth Woolsey) then we have to be real about our pain. I could of put on a brave face, walked out of the ER and said nothing but "fine" to the people who asked how my day was going. But the truth is, I wasn't fine. I was angry, sad, and uncomfortable. I joked through a text with a friend that what I wanted to do was, "just go curl up in a ball and cry...but that would have hurt too bad." It's ok to be real about the stuff we are struggling with even if it doesn't seem to come close to the level of suffering others are experiencing. I pray that my vulnerability helps others have permission to share their pain... or at least join my pity party for a bit. I believe with all my heart that what God appreciates most is honesty. If we have to fall sometimes to get real, so be it. 


  1. Not being able to run for a week sounds like torture to me. :-) In all seriousness, I hope your ribs feel better soon. Life lessons really aren't fun to go through, but I'm sure you will come out of this an even more compassionate, wise woman. Hugs to you!

    1. Thank you Crystal and Heidi. Grateful for my community of friends who respond with compassion, honesty, and love.