I’ve really hurt my rib. And to those who know me in the good old place we know of as The Real World: yes, again.
A bit of background for the rest of you. About two years ago my best friend indirectly broke my rib. She’d gone into a clothes shop to do what girls do – i.e. spend an astonishing amount of time trying on clothes – and I waited outside for her. We were in a shopping centre, on maybe the second floor, and I was leaning against a railing, people-watching the crowds below. Standing right at the corner was a mistake, though, especially when my friend crept up behind me, shouted “BOO!”, and I spun round and the corner of the railing jarred into my side. Youch.
Anyway. This time’s a bit more embarassing. I mean, that time’s kinda embarassing, in terms of how-I-got-this-injury goes. But I suspect this time’s worse, because this time, I don’t remember how I did it.
I know I went out with this same friend, for her sister’s birthday. I know we got rather merry, and then headed to another friend’s house, and got even merrier. The strange thing is, I thought I could remember the whole night. I wasn’t Cockpit-drunk. And yet, the next morning, I awoke to the most excruciating pain in my left side, maybe two ribs up from where I bust the last one.
The pain subsided after a day or two, so I thought I was fine, but then it came back with a vengeance a few days ago. That’s what happened last time, as well. I don’t think I’ve broken anything this time. It hurts to try to go to sleep, and I keep letting out small involuntary yelps, but I think that last rib injury was some of the most extraordinary pain I’ve ever experienced in my life. Anyone who’s broken a bone will be familiar with that distinctive sensation: a sort of deep, burning ache, which turns into an alarming shooting pain if anything knocks it. Of course, I’m sure if I’d broken – say – a leg, that ache would have been a hell of a lot worse. But at the same time, it’s worth remembering that you can’t put a cast on a rib. You just have to dose up on strong painkillers, and hope it starts to heal quickly, so that you don’t get that mesmerising shooting pain every time you try to move your body even the tiniest amount, or cough, or laugh, or do breathing.
So no, I don’t think it’s broken this time. I can’t turn my body to the left, but I can turn it to the right, and as long as I do it slowly, I can even breathe in fully! Amazing.
I am the ridiculous injury man. I used to play football, and squash, and very occasionally rugby, and the worst injury I ever got was a sprained knee that was fine after a week or so. Then I moved away from sports and all the hurties caught up with me. Four years ago I slipped on my way to the toilet in a nightclub, my leg went underneath me, my kneecap popped out of its place, and the muscles surrounding it tore into pieces. I couldn’t walk for a month and was on crutches for another month after that – and that’s without mentioning the months and months of physio, and the fact that it’s still not quite right if I over-exert myself. Then, the previous rib-thing, a year later. Fingers-crossed, I haven’t done anything properly bad since – but being pretty much injury-free for the best part of two decades, then getting two reasonably serious ones a year apart… well, I guess I was due.
I’m touching all sorts of wood that I never get another of those horrible, horrible injuries that – since I did my knee in – I can’t even bear to think about, yet always do, accidentally, in the middle of the night when I’m trying to sleep. That Arsenal vs Stoke one was fucking atrocious. I really, really wish I hadn’t seen that.
And do you know what it is? It’s not the pain that scares me about stuff like that – though I can’t imagine it’d be nice. With both my buggered knee and broken rib, the shock kicked in long before any pain. With my knee, since some inconsiderate bitch decided to faint on the other side of the room at the exact same time, and everyone rushed to her assistance instead of mine, and I had no reception on my phone, I happily dragged my immobile self into a corner and sat about for five minutes until someone found me. I don’t remember it hurting. I just remember telling myself I had to stay calm, because doing anything else would make it worse – so calm I stayed. With my rib, I just remember being winded more than anything else. Actually, the pain did kick in pretty swiftly with that, but I still managed to slog it around town for the rest of the day, go home, go to bed, and wake up the next morning before I finally decided it might be an idea to get someone of medical expertise to take a look at it.
No, it’s not the pain. It’s that sense of panic, that wave that washes over you when you know you’ve done something bad. That moment you realise you can’t move your leg. That moment you can’t help but yell out in pain when you twist your torso. That absolute “oh, shit” moment when you realise your plans for the next X weeks or months are completely ruined. That moment in A&E when the doctor says “We just need to do some tests to make sure the bone’s not CUT OFF YOUR CIRCULATION!!!!“. That moment where you look down and realise legs aren’t meant to look like that. That moment when… ugh.
No. No more injuries, please. No more hospitals and no more panic-sweats. From this day onwards, I am going to take one step at a time, stop, observe my surroundings, fill out a risk assessment, and then decide whether it’s worth risking putting the other foot forward.
This is probably cursing it, right? I am so glad I’m not superstitious. And that my desk is wooden.