of course i broke my rib while laughing…

My dad asked me, in a very serious voice, if I have brittle bones. I was on my way home from urgent care with a confirmed broken rib and the first prescription for pain meds I’ve ever not turned down. I broke my rib last night. I broke it by laughing too hard while reading about rib injuries. This is not a joke. Real life is mostly funnier than fiction.

I would like to start by noting that I never broke a bone in my first twenty years of life. In the six years since, I’ve broken three (well, two really).

Over Christmas break sophomore year I broke my wrist when I was tackled by a 300+ lb former college football player in a friendly game of football. When that tackle happened it hurt but I didn’t actually know my wrist was broken until the next day… After I’d finished the football game and climbed a rock wall.
The second break was really a re-break of that same wrist. About a week after getting the cast off I fell… While dancing… Alone… In my apartment… To a ridiculous rap song.

What I’m saying is, I have a history. There are cool ways to break bones; skiing accident, bear attack, etc. Then there’s me, breaking bones while dancing and laughing. I’m really not even clumsy.
A few weeks ago I had a cold. It wasn’t terrible or anything, but it was the kind of cold that makes you cough really hard, dry coughs. That lasted a week or so, and at some point during that week I believe I coughed just hard enough in just the right position to possibly crack a rib. I only think this because the pain just below the right side of my chest started around this time. I mostly ignored it. I think I casually mentioned it to a couple of people and joked that it might be broken.

Last night at work there was a little downtime. Somehow a co-worker and I got into a discussion of who has longer arms. Holiday weeks can be kind of slow in newsrooms. Sometimes you have a few minutes to measure arm lengths and whatnot. So he reached up as high as he could and pressed his arm against the wall. I did the same, but as I was reaching I felt a sharp pain in my already tender rib. So I pulled my arm down quickly, knocking my elbow into the air conditioner control panel. That was the first actual sharp pain I’d felt in the rib. Everything else had been just nagging background kind of pain. I wasn’t super concerned but I figured I’d read up on rib injuries. So I checked out trusty (read: not that trusty, but useful if you just need some background info) WEBMd.

I was reading about broken ribs and taking comfort in the fact that there isn’t any real danger for an otherwise healthy person (aside from possible lung puncture). Then I got to the section about Flail Chest.

I’d like to pause here to say Flail Chest really is not funny. It sounds horrifying. My god, if you or anyone you know has experienced flail chest, I hope it’s over now. I also apologize for what follows.

The words “flail chest” really caught me off guard. I mean, I couldn’t get past the first sentence for the longest time. Then even once I read far enough in to learn that flail chest is when several ribs break and essentially the rib cage is not serving it’s cage purpose anymore, I couldn’t even speak to tell my co-workers why I was laughing. I believe I read the words “Flail chest is a serious problem… *interrupted by extreme laughter*” at least 10 times. I was crying because I was laughing so hard. Again, not funny… but flail chest is an almost cartoonish name for a serious ailment. Somewhere around maybe the 11th time I tried to read it I felt and heard a pop inside my chest. I believe my exact response was “oh shit” and then I leaned over my desk. Tears kept coming, but they weren’t from laughing anymore. The problem was I’d set the tone in the room and I’m not sure anyone thought I was serious for a while. I had two more hours in my workday and didn’t feel like I could even sit up straight, plus everyone around me was kind of confused about whatever was happening. Fun times!

I spent the rest of the night balancing between laying on my desk (my work was already done), and telling the story to anyone who came in the room while simultaneously asking them not to make me laugh.

I’m not one to rush to the doctor for things. So I told myself I’d go if it still hurt this morning. It did. In fact, it hurt all night. So I went to a local urgent care place (props to MD360 who had me in and out in less than an hour). I had to tell the story of how I may have broken it to no fewer than four people while waiting to find out if it was actually broken. Maybe they were following protocol, or maybe every time one of them left the room they were like “Hey go ask that crazy girl in room 3 how she thinks she broke her rib. It’s classic.” The doctor confirmed the break and sent me home with prescriptions for some good strong pain meds. They’ll be the first I’ve ever taken. I usually turn them down when the opportunity arises, but I figure an injury that hurts every time you breathe is a good time to test drive whatever the doctor orders.

I would be sufficiently embarrassed by the story of how this all happened, but I’m just not that kind of person. Honestly, I’m still laughing about it myself. I just wish I could stop laughing until the pain meds kick in.
When my Dad asked me if I have brittle bones, he was not kidding. I get it. I mean, to recap: I’ve broken my wrist getting tackled by a 300lb man. I broke the same wrist while dancing. I broke a rib while laughing too hard.
But Really, I promise I don’t have brittle bones. I think I may just be having too much fun.

And you know what? We still don’t actually know whose arms are longer.



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