Last night I went out.
Last night I discovered that laughter hurts.
My husband and I met up with 2 lovely, close, friends at a comedy club. It’s the first night out I’ve had in a very long time. Actually, it’s the first night out we’ve had since our wedding 3 months ago. I put nice clothes on and full make up. I made an effort to look nice and feel normal. As much for me as my husband. If I look normal, I get to put everything else to the back of my mind and pretend that I am normal. Of course, it’s not that easy really. Pretending involves wearing a mask, and sometimes that mask will slip. Last night it slipped.
I’ll rewind a little. The tickets were booked a while ago. So I knew it was happening and I was able to arrange my time and energy accordingly.
It went a like this;
Saturday – I hadn’t left the house in 7 days and cabin fever was setting in, so I went into town with my husband for a slow, gentle wander and to a local middle eastern supermarket. He wanted supplies to make one of his epic curries and I just wanted out. We were out for around 90 mins. By the time we got home my legs were burning and I really needed to rest. I spent the rest of the day on the sofa with the little doglins looking after me and my husband cooked.
Sunday – My husband did some washing and cleaning while I washed my hair. I had to do it two days before going out as it takes up a lot of my energy and I’m trying to stock up before I got out on Tuesday. My shoulder slipped out of joint while I was doing it, so I made sure I kept it warm as I rested afterwards. We cuddled up on the sofa and spent the rest of the day watching TV together.
Monday – The day before going out. Knowing that I would be out Tuesday, I had always planned to do as little as possible today. That means eating pre-packaged food, no cooking, being on my feet as little as possible, making sure I go to bed on time and staying on the sofa all day. Days like today are boring. I feel ok, but I have to force myself to do nothing. It’s not easy, especially when you have an active mind, so I cave in and spend some time painting my nails.
Tuesday – Today’s the day. I wake up feeling a bit off and achy. I think I slept too heavily. That’s never a good thing, it means my muscles get stiff. The first thing I did after getting up was choose my clothes for later. I go with layers, it’s cold outside and it’ll be warm inside later, but my body isn’t very good at heat regulation, so I have to plan for every eventuality. I choose a skirt, top, cardigan and thick tights with flat boots. All black, comfortable and practical, but still stylish. Luckily my husband is working from home today so I can conserve energy and he helps me with food preparation. We plan to leave the house after 6pm, so at 4pm I put my make up on. Slow and steady, that takes me an hour. I rest for 45 mins and put my clothes on just before we leave. For ease and practicality, I plait my very long hair.
That’s 3 days of preparation, just so that I can go out for an evening. I have to stock up Spoons, so that I have just enough to cover my outing. Yes, Spoons. A lot of people have heard of The Spoon Theory, some haven’t, it explains how chronically ill people use and conserve energy better than I ever could. If you’re not familiar, here’s a link to the explanation by the lady that created it and a picture that will help…
Let’s get back to that mask slipping.
Everything was going well, I had saved up my spoons, I had a couple extra to use to enjoy my night out. The comedians were brilliant, it was a secret gig and 3 out of the 5 were well known TV comedians, Jason Cook, Chris Ramsey and Kevin Bridges. The chairs were uncomfortable, so I was having to fidget a lot. At least it looks like I’m fidgeting from the outside, I’m actually moving around just enough to release seizing muscles and stretch my back very gently. Towards the end of the first interval, my husband noticed I was in pain. He gently massaged my back and kept asking if I was ok. I said I was, even though something wasn’t feeling good, I didn’t know what it was and I didn’t want to make him worry. I took painkillers, I carry them at all times, and hoped for the best. The pain really hit about 15 mins later. As I was laughing at something Jason Cook said about an audience member, something in my chest popped. I couldn’t decide it it was in my back or at the front, it seemed to hurt everywhere. All I could do was grip my husband’s leg and wait until the second interval. As soon as the lights came up I went to the bathroom, carefully. My husband wanted to come with me, but being the ever independent person I am, I needed to go alone. I got into a stall and used the door to steady myself as I stretched and felt my back muscles looking for what I thought was a muscle in spasm. As I twisted, my lower right ribs popped back into place. The pain was white hot but luckily short lived, especially as it almost made me black out. I steadied myself and waited for it to pass while trying not to be sick. Somehow I got myself back to my seat. My husband took one look at me and made a face I recognise. It’s a quick flash of concern, followed by panic, that gives way to his sensible, practical mode. As I sat down he asked what was happening, I told him that laughing had dislocated my bottom ribs laughing. A silent micro conversation happened between us, his eyes asked if I was ok, my own said I wasn’t ok, but it wasn’t serious enough to leave and I was determined to stay. I took as deep a breath as I could and tried to join in with our friends conversation, while holding, squeezing, my husband’s hand and leg, but I just couldn’t concentrate on what was being said. Just before the lights went down for the final part of the show, he asked if I was good to stay, I said I was, and he told me that he can always tell my pain level by my eyes, but that they are beautiful when I’m in pain. Somehow he made it all more bearable in that moment. I made it to the end of the show and we left for home as quickly as my body could carry me. Luckily, my husband saw the mask slip, but our friends didn’t notice until I said something as we were saying our goodbyes.
Sleep wasn’t easy, I woke up every time I moved and had to take more painkillers during the night, but it definitely felt better this morning. Today I’m very stiff and in pain. I was expecting to be home alone today, but I woke up to find my husband working from home again. He had stayed to be sure that I was ok and that he was here if I needed him or if it happened again. I am very blessed to have such an understanding partner, I really don’t know what I would do without him.
So, that’s how I’ve found out that laughing is enough to make my ribs dislocate. Something I had never even thought would cause a problem before. It’s certainly a testament to how good the comedians were, especially Jason Cook!