Snappy rib


I hate hospitals. Miserable clinical death houses. Full of lovely people working too hard for too little. Rife with superbugs. Places of healing turning to places of dying. I took my mother into one talking. She came out silent on a gurney. MRSA, but it wasn’t on her death certificate. Ditto my half brother Jamie. Routine check up for advanced Parkinson’s, overnight stay, low immune system, MRSA. I drove one long day to Poitiers to talk to him as he lay on his back. That night he was gone.

It was only down to my friends that I went to one this morning. I had a suspicion it was a broken rib but obviously no way of being certain. Even though that turned out to be right, I appreciate the doctors and nurses I met greatly for getting it checked out. They wouldn’t allow me to downplay it, and even as I tried to persuade them I had no need for an expensive X-Ray for the taxpayers they wanted to be sure I hadn’t punctured a lung when I told them I was short of breath. They could easily have let me smile my way out of being taken seriously but they didn’t listen to my words, they listened to the body in front of them. I’m glad to have had the chance to put my mind at rest, as I would certainly not have gone for an X-ray if I’d had to pay. Thank you, NHS.

I arrived at 11am, I was in triage by 11.20. I was in front of a doctor at 11.50, X-Ray taken by the very cheerful Fatima by 12.10. At twenty to one the doctor showed me my own chest on a screen, which was an odd experience. One of the ribs looked like a fault on the X-Ray. Jagged and distinctly out of place. There seems to be such a distance between one half and the other that I can’t fathom how in six weeks it’ll stick itself together. But that’s apparently what will happen. I’ll just have to remember to twist the other way next time I fall out of a tree.

I was out of the hospital before 1pm. Less than two hours is pretty good in my opinion. And probably good for them to have that x-ray on my record as now they’ve got a point of comparison if something goes wrong down the line. And also what price peace of mind? Well, free in this case. Thanks to you.

Pain is often about context. If I sneeze and feel a rip, it somehow won’t be as painful knowing that the rip is basically just cartilage, not my spleen. Although having just written that, I got up from lying down to close my bedroom door and momentarily felt like Wesley on the machine in The Princess Bride. I tend to be quite vocal anyway, but I’m finding a whole range of delightfully eloquent inarticulate noises. It wouldn’t surprise me if I wake up tomorrow morning to find a horny walrus on my doorstep, drawn down the river by my plaintive honking.

But my imagination was painting all sorts of scenarios where my rib was skewering all my vital organs together in some hellish kebab. Now when I worry I just have picture the sterile but strangely comforting black and white image of a cleanly snapped rib surrounded by muscle. And the doctor apologising. “Apparently it’s really painful, but there’s nothing we can do. Meh. It’ll heal. All is well. Nothing is fucked. Lucky sod. Back to work.


Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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