Laughter is the best medicine, unless, of course, you have costochondritis.
Months ago I had a cough. Then I developed rib pain. It was so painful I thought I’d cracked a rib. Went to the doc. They took x-rays and said nothing was cracked, so that meant I had costochondritis. That’s inflammation of the cartilage between the ribs, usually caused from a prolonged or hard cough. The doctor suggested I take Aleve. I did that and modified some of my exercises because certain things just hurt too much to do. A month later it was mostly gone when I sneezed and found myself back at square one. (It was not a good day and a pint of ice cream was consumed.)
This round was even worse, for about two days driving hurt, breathing hurt. I was scared to move. I was terrified to sneeze. I couldn’t get comfortable in bed. I went back to the doc sure that I’d done something worse. Nope. It was still just costochondritis. Doctors don’t get up in arms about costochondritis. They act like it’s no big deal. But I make my living moving. And movement is what keeps me sane, so it’s a bid deal to me. This time they doubled my dose of Aleve (something I don’t recommend doing unless under supervision of the doctor), recommended regular ice sessions, suggested rubbing a muscle relaxer on and was told not to do ANYTHING that aggravated it. That was laughable. Everything aggravated it. Breathing was bad. I was told no Pilates, running or swimming for at least three weeks or until all symptoms were gone, not close to gone.
In my world this is a mini disaster. Movement is my drug of choice. My situation could be so much worse, and that is what I keep telling myself. This isn’t permanent. I’ve learned to appreciate pain in my body because I always learn something when I ache. I’m aware that everything is connected and when one part of the body moves it affects another. Now I’m living that. I can feel it firsthand. We don’t think about how our ribs and stabilizer muscles work with every little thing we do. It’s no shocker that opening a door hurts or turning the steering wheel, but I’m amused to notice it hurts when I alter the way I walk on ice. It only proves the benefits of Pilates.
I couldn’t stomach the double dose of Aleve for more than a few days, so I’m back to following the directions on the box, still icing, still trying not to move. And it’s been a week and two days. I’m leaps and bounds better. But still nervous that something will set it back to square one. I can’t wait till I move and feel nothing in my ribs. I’m still not doing my favorite exercises, but I have to walk. Over the weekend, after a big snow storm Matt and I went for a stroll. About a mile in I told him that I wasn’t in pain, but I was aware of my ribs. They hurt a little. He said we should head home. I wanted to continue on stroll in the much needed fresh air. “But the doctors said…” I was torn. I knew walking longer might slow down recovery. I wasn’t supposed to push through any level of pain. But I took the longer walk. I opted for mental sanity.
Not moving goes against everything I know about the body. And I’m going to appreciate all my workouts when this is over, even the ones that don’t go well.
So for anyone out there who has costochondritis, here’s what I think it working to help me:
- Muscles Rubs
- Regular Ice
- Aleve (but there are a downsides to this including stomach cramps and water retention)
- Attempting to immobilize the ribs cage and right arm
- Self-splinting when I sneeze, cough or laugh
- Talking to people because when I found out my rib wasn’t cracked I felt like a big baby. Turns out if you’ve had costochondritis (and lots of people have) you know it hurts.
- And referring to it as cost-o-coitus because it makes me feel better and because I blame Matt for the original cough that set the ball rolling.
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