• Injured ribs and back – what it feels like (physically and mentally) during the healing process

    Cleaning is dangerous. Three days before Christmas I set out on a mission to clean my office. I like year-end cleaning because business is slow and it is a great way to use my time productively. With my hands full of stuff to throw away, I was walking toward the door with full momentum and caught my toe on the dog bed. Thankfully, Zena was not in the bed at the time. Hindsight tells me I should have moved the bed prior to my enthusiastic cleaning process to remove a trip hazard – but you know what they say about hindsight.

    During the fall, I managed to twist my body so that the frame of the closet door smashed hard into my back  between my spine and scapula. Laying on floor gasping for air, I couldn’t speak for awhile. I had knocked the air out of my lungs and had to wait for normal breathing to return. Del and Zena hovered over me, each in their own way asking, “What happened? Are you okay?”

    No, I’m not okay. That really hurt.

    Having dealt with cracked ribs in a past mountain biking crash, I was pretty sure I had done rib damage along with some muscle and maybe tendon trauma. I didn’t believe I broke a rib or did any internal damage due to my symptoms. The good news is that it could have been worse, the bad news is that I was in a lot of pain.

    In the first week or so, sharp pain at the injury site was triggered by normal activities like bending over, sneezing, coughing, laughing, lifting something off of a shelf, pulling on the dog leash, getting into the car, and sleeping (or lack thereof.) Anyone who has injured ribs know that the pain is intense and can be debilitating. If I can’t do simple human activities like rolling over in bed or picking something up off of the floor, how will I be able to swim, bike outside, run or ski?

    I need to recover quickly! I want to be back to 100% in a week or so, what can I do to make that happen?

    Early in the injury process, it is important not to do anything to slow healing, or worse make healing  backslide. Most active people (including me) are desperate to speed things up, but even with intervention modalities healing takes time.

    Not what I want to read or hear – even though I know it to be true.

    Normal movements caused me attention-grabbing pain for the first two weeks. Mentally, it is tough to accept the fact that you are hurt and the focus is now on healing, not fun, adventure and normal routine. Healing from injuries like this require mental coaching as well as physical care.

    If you get an injury to the ribs, like most injuries, healing time depends on the severity of the injury. This is just like a laceration wound, but injuries that can be seen easier to understand and justify the healing process. Injuries that cannot be seen make it easy to become impatient.

    For me, the first two weeks were really rough physically and mentally. I was heartbroken to have such a stupid injury. However, that’s why they are called accidents – no one intends to injure themselves doing sport or domestic activities.

    I am happy to report that I’m just over three weeks out from the incident and I’m significantly better. The next blog will cover some of the strategies and intervention modalities I used this time and the basic timeline of progress.

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