It’s been about four years now that I’ve had costochrondritis (slipped rib syndrome) and it wasn’t until only recently I started to feel a bit on the hopeless side. ‘Costo’ as it’s more commonly called (because, let’s face it, who wants to type out/say ‘costochrondritis’ right? Shit.) is an inflammation of the costal cartilage that connects your sternum to your ribs. In patients that have costo the cartilage decides, randomly and without much rhyme or reason, to get inflamed. This presents itself in the form of searing pain that radiates from the center sternum straight through to between the shoulder blades and is similar, and often mistaken for, a heart attack.
Yes, this is the joy that I’ve been living with since about 09.
On the plus side, it’s relatively harmless. Sure, it hurts like hell, but typically goes away in about a week and other than being painful and annoying, isn’t life threatening. On the downside, far as I can tell there is no cure. From the reading I’ve done most cases go away within a year, some longer, some shorter. Where it begins to get frustrating is that there is little to no information on this anywhere. No one seems to know why it starts (or stops), why it flares up, what causes it, and least of all what gets rid of it. So far i’ve read that costo is caused by:
- Injury to the chest area, typically sports related or weight lifting
- Sleeping improperly
- Diet (particularly bleached and processed grains)
- ‘Sleeping on a car door handle’ (…seriously?)
- Weak core muscles (akin to fibro myalgia)
- Internal allergen/irritant
So basically…anything. In the same vein, I’ve read that the following ‘help’ costo:
- Glucosamine with MSM
- Cortisone shots
- Surgery (removal of the tip of the 8, 9, 10 ribs that rubs against the costal nerve)
- Strict change in diet
- Heat….or ice…
- Inter-costal anesthetic
- Noni fruit extract/capsules
- Various herbal remedies or herb ‘packs’
In the years I’ve had it I’ve tried quite a bit. I’ve been poked and prodded, experimented on (basically…horrible doctor) with injections, cracked, twisted, x-rayed, cat scanned, and handed more pills to manage the pain than should be allowable; all with no long-term results. Ibuprofen works for a while, but drills holes in your stomach. The injections worked for about a day and no longer, and I got fed up with the pain pills. They caused more issues than they solved.
So where’s that leave me?
Well, I’m approaching year four and while it’s manageable I’ve yet to find a solution. I’m worried the Ibuprofen will cause an ulcer over time, or that cortisone shots will be excruciating. I’m worried it will further impact my job as I’ve had to take days off due to sleepless nights from tossing and turning through the pain. I’d like to think that someone out there has found a solution, some magic bullet that does this thing in and I can get back to my ‘normal’ life (Ha!). Something, anything to alleviate the pain and give me and everyone out there suffering with this stupid disease some hope.
If you’re out there mystery person, I’m listening…help.
Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.
“It’s hard to fight an enemy who has outposts in your head.” -Sally Kempton
There are so many beautiful people here it’s ridiculous. I mean seriously. No wonder the college kids come here for spring break, it’s like an all you can eat buffet. Unfortunately, I’m still starving. Not for lack of trying. Of the highlights for today was my random chance encounter with Julia which would turn out to be a highlight, and a disappointment, of the trip so far.
After lounging at the pool all morning with a few games of volleyball sprinkled in I decided to go grab a bite. I stopped for a minute to check out the ‘show’ outside the buffet area where two falconers were throwing trained birds of prey around the grounds like they were Frisbee. It was a bit disconcerting at first seeing this pterodactyl coming at you like you were on the menu, but they were thankfully trained quite well and always returned for a treat.
I filled up my plate with glorious junk food and went outside to find a table to eat at. The waiter directed me to an empty table towards the end and I sat down and commenced gnoshing. A few minutes later these two women show up and sit down next to me and with an obvious accent that I couldn’t place, greeted me.
I said I didn’t realize the table was taken and would be happy to move. She said it wasn’t a problem and sat down next to me and lit up a cigarette. The first was cute. Short, maybe 5’7 or so, and had long straight brown hair and blue eyes. The second was older, maybe 40′s, and looked a bit out of place but had a confident aura about her if that makes sense.
I listened to them chat for a while. After a few sentences I could tell it was some Russian dialect. It was around this point the waiter came by again and the shorter girl ordered coffee, and two tequilas I couldn’t help but think it was an odd combination, but I liked her style. I looked at the waiter and corrected her. “Make it three.” I asked what the shorter ones name was and introduced myself. “Yulia” – frankly I am unsure if it was ‘Julia’ or really was ‘Yulia’ but really, who cares. Yulia had just met Lahaisha (sp, totally) in the hotel and immediately hit it off as they were both from the Ukraine on business. They were both here alone and I eventually asked Yulia what she did for work and she replied ‘IT’.
I told her I was in Software and she laughed saying, “I am worst friend of all developer”. I asked if she worked as a QA tester and she laughed, smiled and nodded yes. She was in Mexico as an interim stop between business locations; one in Ukraine, another in Mexico, and finally in Jersey City. We joked about people from Jersey, I told her how dirty it was to which she let me know that where shes from Jersey City is ‘beautiful’. I couldn’t help but laugh.
This went on for about an hour, me talking to Yulia and Yulia translating back to Lahaisha who didn’t speak any English. Lahaisha was, as an aside, a Colonel in the Ukraine Immigration Office – explains the ‘aura’ I mentioned earlier. The waiter had, I realized, never come back with our tequilas I took it upon myself to carry out the task and try and score some points and walked down to the pool bar and carried back 3 shots of tequila with limes and salt (just in case). Yulia said that I was ‘very humble’ – not sure if that’s what she really meant, but hey, I’ll take it. I asked her how to say ‘cheers’ in Russian. The resulting phrase was neither comprehensible, nor remotely something I could repeat with any degree of accuracy. I tried anyway and failed miserably, choosing instead to say it in Italian.
It was a little past 3 at this point and I had a game of volleyball to catch but I didn’t want to just walk away. I told her that I had already made reservations at the ‘fancy restaurant’ downstairs for 6:30 and that I’d love if they both joined me. She asked me the name of the restaurant, I wrote it on a napkin along with the time and my name. I asked if she’d join me and got a ‘Yes, but I have no nice dresses!’. I told her we’d figure it out and ended with ‘It was a pleasure to meet you, I’ll see you tonight!’
I walked away smiling like an idiot.
I met up with Daryl and his wife Danielle from Toronto whom I’ve been playing volleyball with every day since I got here and we played a few games until the sun went down. I decided to bail early and head to the beach as it was the only day so far of the trip the red flags haven’t been waving. There’s been some incredible wind since I got here and the waves are rolling in at 8′+. I think I’d be O.K. but I figured I should get in some quality ocean time while the red flags were down. At about 5 I headed up to the room to get ready for ‘my date’.
I hit the hotel lobby first after getting ready, deciding it was probably a good idea to both A) have a drink and B) sit out in the open. I ordered a glass of white wine which, sadly, came basically warm but I downed it anyway. 6:25 rolled around and I started getting that feeling like she wasn’t coming. Frankly, I wasn’t surprised. It was a bit odd for a random stranger to ask someone to dinner but I still kept my fingers crossed. The reservations get cancelled after 15minutes past the time, and I waited until literally 6:44 before I sadly and somberly walked over to the check-in counter, one person shy.
Thankfully the dinner helped to alleviate some of the sting. The aperitif was a salmon mousse with an apricot/walnut crunchy top. The appetizer consisted of sliced lobster tail, grilled, over a bed of mixed zucchini and salsa verde. For my main course I selected the lambs legs Provencal with potato shreds which, I feel compelled to say, was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten and I believe I actually moaned after the first bite. Lastly, the dessert was a lemon/lime sorbet in a white chocolate and rosemary (?) shell. Everything was amazing and at the end I realized I’d polished off an entire bottle of red wine.
Full, content, and dejected I slipped Miguel a 20 for excellent service and took a walk around the beach. The tide was coming in and at this point it was about 11PM. I stood there on the edge of sea watching the tide roll and foam it’s way up to where I stood, feet planted in the sand like tree trunks and immersed myself in my own thoughts. Off in the distance the lights of a cruise ship flickered and slowly slid by on the horizon. I wondered if there was someone on the boat, leaning over the guard rail looking out toward the sea the same as me; two strangers trading gazes from hundreds of miles away.