You know that feeling you get when you can no longer explain away the pain and have to address it? I remember one specific time. I was at work for a half day. My 3-year-old at the time son was with me because he was home sick. I had to take him to work with me in the morning because I had to get some things done before staying home with him in the afternoon. I wasn’t feeling well, figured it was heart burn and wrote it off. By the time we got home around lunch time it was getting pretty bad. I took as nap as he slept off his cold and woke up feeling worse. By the time my husband got home from work I knew it wasn’t just heart burn.
While my husband took his turn watching the sick child and taking care of the dogs for the evening I drove off to the ER to figure out what was going on. Funny thing about ERs. Sometimes you wait for hours, sometimes not. After giving my age and main symptom they had me hooked up to an EKG machine before they even got my insurance card scanned. That was degrading, I was getting old.
So to make a long story short (which already know if you read my blog isn’t really my style), we did the multi-hour battery of tests with all the humming and beeping machines, even the really expensive one that goes ping, but nothing.
Eventually another and another doctor came over, then another. Each one would ask questions, but none looked happy. Apparently I wasn’t able to contribute to my diagnosis. Finally one came over, while the other two hovered in the background. He asked if I had been injured in any way. I said no. He said think, it would have been within the last 24 hours. I said no. He said could you have pulled your shoulder or something? I say no. Then I said “Well, one of my dogs jumped up on my shoulder, but she didn’t hang out there.” He laughed and said, “Yeah, no, a small dog wouldn’t cause the kind of thing we’re thinking of.” Oh, they have an idea, so I asked what they were thinking of. “A sprained rib cage. It typically happens when one or more of your arms are pulled hard.” Oh, I thought for a moment, and noticed the doc’s face getting a little more deliberate, looking for some sort of aha moment in me, as if he were waiting for me to do a big crushing reveal.
I slowly started, “Uh, well, my dog IS about 65lbs,” I offered. That startled him. Not what he was expecting. He said “Wow, well, that’s completely different issue, but … not what we were going for.” The nice doctors, those who initially thought the middle-aged stressed out working mom in front of them was having a cardiac episode, then moved on to other medical questions, had finally settled on the possibily of physical harm. They watched me sideways, from a distance, sending one over at a time to ask an apparently innocent question. They tried nurses, and then sent over a chatty nurse to take some more blood for more tests.
5 hours after initially arriving, and not even a minute in the waiting room, they finally agreed that I wasn’t an abused female, nor was there any medical condition causing this pain. The pain was still there. It hadn’t gotten any worse, but it also hadn’t gotten better. Based on that, they finally decided that yes, it was a sprained rib cage, but no way to guess how it happened. They settled that I was in no danger. They gave me some mild pain killers (since they knew I drove myself there) and sent me on my way.
20 minutes later, as I arrived home and told my husband what they said, he smiled. He said yeah, sounds like a sprained rib cage, and said and he knew how it happened, too.
The night before had been pretty cold, and I had gotten home later than usual from work. I took the dogs, all four of them, out on their leashes at once, and each pulled hard to get to their desired pee spots.
I didn’t remember basically being drawn and quartered (ok, halved).
He laughed and said “Hah. Typical.”