You Know You’re Getting Old When… (That Time I Hurt Myself by Sneezing)

Funny story.

Last week I caught a cold.

Well technically since the incubation period for the common cold is seven to ten days, I probably caught the cold the week before last.

Last week the symptoms began to manifest themselves.

You know the drill: itchy irritated nose and throat, watery eyes, runny nose, sinus swelling and congestion, mild cough, and sneezing.

Stupid fucking sneezing.

I saw the first signs of the cold on Wednesday night. I got up the next morning and slogged through my day at the office on Thursday, no biggie.

By the time we were clearing the supper dishes that evening I already knew that going to work the next morning and going to class downtown on Friday night, were out of the question. Hey, when you feel like crap the last thing you need is a seventeen hour day.

Now before anyone rolls their eyes and starts with the sarcastic “poor baby” comments usually reserved for the sympathy-seeking man-cold, remember that I’m living with Congestive Heart Failure.

With my ejection fraction in the low 20% range my heart pumps at about one-third the output of a normal person’s, therefore everything hits me harder.

Much harder.

I get a cold? It knocks me on my ass.

It’s too hot out? It knocks me on my ass.

It’s too cold out? It knocks me on my ass.

I didn’t sleep well last night? It knocks me on my ass.

I’m not careful and ingest too much fluids? (I have a strict limit of 1.5 l/day) It makes me bloat up and yes you guessed it, that knocks me on my ass.

I get the flu? Well no actually, I can’t get the flu.

I don’t care what those wacko anti-vaxers say, I get my flu shot every fall as soon as it’s available. Because if I get the flu? No joke – I could die.

All this to say that when you live with CHF there’s a lot of things you need to be conscious of and careful about.

Sucks to be you dude but when does this story get funny?

Take a chill-pill Bill; I’m getting there. Besides I’m only at 350 words 😉

I’m lucky, I don’t get colds often and have only had a handful since my CHF diagnosis in 2011. Each time I do though, I go through my mental checklist. I remind myself of all of the over-the-counter cold remedies I can’t take because of possible contraindications with my regular heart meds.

Plus there’s all of the signs and symptoms they told me to keep an eye out for; warning signs that something seemingly minor is turning major, and that I’d need to get to the emergency room before it becomes critical.

Good news – this time around everything seems ‘normal’ – no need to panic. It’s just a common cold.

So I make the prudent decision to stay home, rest, sleep, and take it easy on Friday. By the time Honey gets home that evening I’m already feeling a bit better. If I do the same again the next day I’m pretty confident our date-night at the opera on Saturday is still a go.

Phew, it looks like I’m in the clear. Screw you universe, you’re not getting me yet.

And then I sneezed.

Image courtesy of stockimages at

Image courtesy of stockimages at


Then I sneezed again.


All tolled, three sneezes in rapid succession.

And right at the beginning of the ‘choo’ portion on the third sneeze I felt something in my rib-cage let go with a muted internal snap.


Suddenly, standing up straight was painful. Sitting was painful. Breathing was painful. Sneezing again, coughing, laughing? All excruciating.

I looked at Honey and saw the concern on her face when she saw the look on my face. “Something really feels not right – I better get this checked out.”

End result: mild/partial (thankfully) tear to some cartilage in the lower left part of my rib-cage.

Prognosis: I’ll survive. Full recovery may take 6-8 weeks though.

Treatment: rest, no sharp sudden movements, and no heavy lifting, which I can’t do anyway on account of weak heart.

Find comfy positions to sleep in and make sure I get my full eight hours a night.

Take permitted over-the-counter painkillers as needed.

The universe always gets the last laugh doesn’t it? CHF isn’t going to get me, but a damn sneeze will.

It feels so stupid. Crossing the road you do everything to keep an eye out for that big truck that might be coming, then Achoo! You end up getting hit by someone on a skateboard coming from the other direction.

It’s hilarious. I’d laugh, except it hurts too much 😀

By the way, aside from being extra fidgety in my seat trying to find comfortable positions for my aching ribs, the opera was great 🙂

So how was everyone else’s weekend?

About Norm 3.0

World’s youngest grumpy old man & heart failure wonder boy. Interests: writing, woodworking, photography, travel, tennis, wine, and I know a bit about power tools.
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58 Responses to You Know You’re Getting Old When… (That Time I Hurt Myself by Sneezing)

  1. slfinnell says:

    Well wishes across the miles! Glad you get your vaccines too. Life has enough perils.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. facetfully says:

    Gee, Norm, I am just now reading this. Hope you are much better by now!


  3. I hope you heal quickly, that really does suck. I know, because my hubby sneezes no less than 4-7 times, and they ain’t little girly sneezes. Take care Norm!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Wishing you a speedy recovery, Norm. Think it about time you laid off the skateboards. 😀
    Take care.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Ouch, that sounds very painful, Norm! Get well soon and stay out of trouble! Sneezing, that is… 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Mama Cormier says:

    I remember having a teacher who ruptured his ear drum sneezing and laughing after having abdominal surgery was very painful when I was a kid. Hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. jan says:

    Oh, so sorry. I’ve had pneumonia twice so I can identify with ribcage sprains – ugh. I spent the weekend following my mother and her friends in walkers shuffling through the halls and eating fish sticks and tater tots (popular menu items at the retirement home – along with stewed prunes and coffee ice cream).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Jan. The mental picture of you shuffling around with a walker and eating easy-chew food…priceless! Now stop making me laugh, it hurts darnit!


  8. As my dad says, getting older isn’t for sissies! Humor is good for healing but, in your case, keep it below the LOL level to spare the rest of you! How was my weekend? Very busy but good. Thanks for asking. Here’s hoping you’ll be feeling good enough to open all those doors on Thursday.


    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Janet. I like your Dad’s wisdom and I may ‘borrow’ that line from time to time. Thursdays will be fine, though I may just dip into the archives a bit more often for a while.


      • I’ve been blogging every day for going on five years in January and although I really enjoy it, I’m contemplating either cutting back in posts per week or taking a bit of time off now and then. It’s not my blog as much as trying to keep up with all the other blogs and bloggers I like and not just by hitting “Like” but by actually reading and commenting. Have to see how that goes. I’ve also thought of reprising posts I did when no one was reading my blog and then deleting the original one to keep from having an enormous backlog of posts.

        As for my Dad’s wisdom, feel free to borrow it. I do.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. willowdot21 says:

    So sorry to hear how much pain you are in! Conpared to yours my weekend was borrrrrrrrrrrring!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Holy cow man! Sorry to hear you are feeling poorly. Heel quickly. Those doors aren’t going to photograph themselves.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. As if a miserable cold wasn’t enough, to be injured by a sneaky sneeze just isn’t fair. Feel better soon!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Amy Parmeter says:

    Argh – I hear ya. Of course, my hearing will be the next thing to go… Anyway , feel better!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hope things are progressing in the right direction for you. This getting older in your case, just plain old in my case, is not for the faint of heart. And, the person who came up with the ‘golden years’ to sell condos in AZ should have just kept that to him/herself. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. joey says:

    I feel your pain, truly. I’m feeling much, much better now, but I have this stupid unpredictable random cough and about half the time, muscles on my sides spasm. It is not fun. I am old, too, I reckon. I hope you’re feeling better today 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Lynn says:

    Oh my goodness Norm, that’s awful! Wishing you a speedy recovery my friend!

    Liked by 1 person

  16. cwaugh212 says:

    Keep smiling. It is the best therapy, regardless of the ailment.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Sherry Felix says:

    I’ve done that lots of times. Coughing violently also causes problems. Didn’t used to happen when I was younger. I have hay fever and I confess sneezing hard often makes me wet my pants.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Dan Antion says:

    I’m sorry to hear this, Norm. I have hurt my back while sneezing, I know how it hurts and it feels like someone was really out to get you. One difference, I would have used it as an excuse to skip the opera. I hope you feel better soon.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. msgt3227 says:

    I feel for you, Norm! Hang in there! Just remember, at our ages, if we were cars, they would disconnect our battery, fill our crankcase to the top with oil, and stick us in a museum…

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Joanne Sisco says:


    I didn’t realize that your heart issue from several years ago continues to haunt you in seemingly small but significant ways. It sounds like you’re perpetually walking on egg shells – so to speak – and that’s a HUGE thing to deal with every day.

    … but hurting yourself sneezing? Yeah, I’m not surprised. The velocity of a sneeze is estimated at 100 mph. That’s a LOT of pent-up force.

    Speedy recovery, friend!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norm 2.0 says:

      Thanks Joanne. My CHF is a chronic condition, the damage to my heart is permanent. I’m ‘lucky’ in that it is stable and not likely to get worse. I’m able to maintain a relatively normal lifestyle and with meds, regular follow-up, and my own vigilance, there’s no reason it can’t stay that way. Paying attention to signs and symptoms is something you get used to. Expecting to be felled by a sneeze? No so much 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Joanne Sisco says:

        We tend to take our health for granted – until it’s threatened. Your wake-up call was particularly aggressive. I hope for many more years of a ‘relatively normal lifestyle’ … give or take the odd incident inflicted by a sneeze 🙂


  21. Sarah Z says:

    Awwww….wishing you a speedy and uneventful recovery 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  22. quiall says:

    How can I say this with compassion and kindness . . .hahahaha! Sorry. Oh, and take care. But . . .hahahaha.

    Liked by 1 person

  23. Jennie says:

    Sorry to hear your terrible cold gave you a real zinger. I once broke a rib coughing, so I feel your pain- so to speak.

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Ahh! But you got to go the opera, that’s great. As I was reading this, I had doubts about that. No funny posts for you then! 😉 Stay tough!

    Liked by 1 person

  25. Phil Taylor says:

    Aaah, cartilage, ligaments, tendons etc. What was once the mini elastic parts that kept all our bones and joints moving in concert, breaks down as we age and becomes the bane of our existence. Rib injuries are particularly tough. Get well soon Norm! At least you can still write!

    Liked by 1 person

  26. Ruth says:

    Oh no, not good,Norm – look after yourself and get well soon…

    Liked by 1 person

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