Soul Coughing*


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I would totally own this tissue holder.


Every year about this time, the ol’ allergies kick in in the worst way.

My nose runs, the eyes feel gooey and thick like Jell-O and the coughing. Oy, the coughing. It’s hard and non-stop and enough to dislodge both kidneys. Or dinner. Usually, it’s dinner. Which is one, not-so-pleasant method of weight control when you’re middle-aged.

Three years ago, the allergy cough sent me to the ER. I was fairly sure I was having a heart attack (read about that awesome 4.5-hour visit here). This year when the allergies started, they were quickly followed up by a fairly brutal cold that piled on the mucusy misery. But this time, I wasn’t as freaked out when that familiar sharp chest pain stabbed. I knew better. Until I didn’t.


My back, after allergy testing. I am allergic to the world! And that is what happens when you live in Tucson long enough, which actually explains a lot about Arizona.

That knifing pain in the right side of my rib cage nagged every time I took a deep breath, coughed, laughed, well, pretty much did anything, which included some snatches or power lifts or thrusters, I don’t know what they’re called but it was some sort of weightlifting exercise and I did a lot of them, and by the next day, my ribs felt like they’d gone ahead and seceded from the cage. I powered through because that is what moms do. Things started looking up and I was actually feeling better until I… sneezed.

Yup, a sneeze did me in.

An innocent achoo exploded a rib inside my chest. At least, that’s what it felt like and that’s why I dropped a pretty bad expletive with my youngest kid in the front seat next to me. He graciously acted like he didn’t hear. It’s his reaction to everything I say, actually. 

The rib shrapnel bounced around enough, triggering even sharper pain, to make me check in at our nearest urgent care bright and early Sunday morning. Is it weird that I felt like I had won the Publishers Clearing House Sweepstakes because I was the VERY FIRST patient of the day? And, what does that get you, exactly, aside from a very misplaced sense of accomplishment? Eh, pretty much nothing. I still spent an hour and a half there.

The diagnosis: The X-ray showed no sign of fracture, so it was likely nothing more than a sprain or strain. I was given multiple prescriptions for medications, which easily put me over my quota to get the $5 off coupon at Target (woo hoo!) but my meds meant no adult bevie to take the edge off a rough day (noooooo!). And because I am over 45 and will gain weight merely by looking at drool-worthy Instagram videos of food if I do not exercise, I cut myself off from dessert, too. I quickly decided I preferred my self medication of chocolate and sangria (not at the same time) to the weird, tingly sensation I felt in my feet after five doses of steroids and a few muscle relaxants. And you know something? I think I am starting to feel better.


*Bonus points if you remember that alt rock band from the ’90s.

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