Intercostal muscle strain. That’s what they call it.
It happens when a 61 year old man tackles a fallen tree with a hand saw, subdues it, cuts it mostly in half, then attempts to military press it over a fence and send it crashing to the earth beneath.
I’m in pretty reasonable shape for my age; I lift weights and walk on the elliptical on a regular basis, am only about 20 pounds overweight, and eat relatively well. But . . . that did not exempt me from the consequences of straining to cut that tree down.
Actually, it had been there for months. And I had put it on my “to do” list. One night during a storm the tree had fallen and I found it the next morning straddling our backyard wooden fence. In short order I went out and shifted its position slightly so that it was resting on one of the wooden support beams concreted into the ground (rather than resting on the flimsy slats). “There! That should hold it until a later date,” I said to myself.
Months went by . . . . Finally, I decided (the fact that my wife kept asking me to deal with it had nothing to do with it) it was time to cut this tree down to size. So, after trimming the other bushes in the backyard I headed for the unwelcome intruder. And . . . you know the rest of that story.
So, about 8 days ago I began to feel a strong pain in my right rib cage. It was in a very definite area, but I could not get to it, could not touch it in a way that identified the exact spot of assault. Ice couldn’t seem to deaden it, and ibuprofen didn’t seem to phase it. If I was sitting I could not usually feel it. But rising from a chair, or with legs extended in bed it was clearly present.
I went to the gym (as was my usual course) and tried to do exercises (much lighter, of course) in an attempt to identify the exact motion that would aggravate the pain. But to no avail. Nothing seemed to reach it. I spoke with several trainers about it, googled it online. Hernia didn’t seem to be the culprit, but intercostal muscle strain sure fit the bill. And there you have it.
With a repair time of anywhere from 3 weeks to 6 months I’ll be good as new. What?
Then to add insult to injury my eldest daughter came down with a nasty virus, then my youngest daughter, and then . . . me. Thankfully, I didn’t suffer with it as violently as they, but it has zapped me, nonetheless. In fact, I am still not over it.
I have been relatively impervious to illness for a number of years now. Oh, on occasion something would put me below par for a bit, but not for long. I have been rather healthy. But embarrassing as it is, I must admit there is a sense of great pride that goes along with not getting sick “right along with everyone else.” [NOTE: The fact that my wife began to have a twinge of it last night, but seems to be fine now, exacerbates that deflation to my pride.]
Then . . . this happens. And I am . . . just like everyone else. Isn’t it amazing how a slight change in a person’s temperature – even just a degree or so – makes them listless and incapacitated? We are delicate beings whose quality of life is maintained within a relatively small spectrum.
“To heck” with schedules, plans, goals and objectives. When you get hurt, or sick, all your best agendizing must be laid aside. It must wait. And you . . . must wait.
I am not a good waiter. No . . . I am not talking about waiting tables (although, that is one job I’ve never done in my life). You know very well what I’m talking about, because you have the same problem, don’t you? None of us is very good at waiting.
And yet . . . some things can only be arrived at by waiting. In those cases no amount of “by hook or crook” can advance us toward our desired destination. Healing comes gradually, and in its own time.
So, there has been lots of Netflix, napping, and trudging to the bathroom and back; a few pieces of toast, boiled eggs, and broth with soda crackers; Gatorade and Sprite, etc. But I am confident that one day we will emerge triumphant into a life that is a bit more fun to live. And, frankly, that’s how it has always worked.
So, have you gotten the virus yet? If not, I hope you don’t! I hope you continue to feel strong, impervious to disease, and unable to identify with the foibles and weaknesses of us lesser beings.
But if you do indeed find yourself flat on your back . . . embrace it as best you can, and remember that “this, too, shall pass.” Oh . . . and be careful using muscles you are not accustomed to using. Hire some professionals like I’m about to hire (to finish the job). It may hurt your pride (and wallet), but . . . your ribs muscles will thank you!