Optimal thought and optimal fitness through reason, logic, science, passion, and wisdom.
Stay Focused: A Lifelong Lesson
Stay Focused: A Lifelong Lesson

Stay Focused: A Lifelong Lesson

Six weeks ago this Tuesday, I bruised or broke a rib(s). The culprit was this darn park bench, pictured. It also hit my right butt bone, which hurt for a week or so.


So how did I hurt myself? Or, more properly, how did the park bench hurt me?

On Tuesday, 12-21-15, I was walking on top of the bench for some balance exercise. I was on the bench around 11:00 AM on a cold day, so the ground was dewy and damp, and so my feet, and eventually, the bench top, were damp. Dampness on a bench like that makes it slippery.

No problem, when you are paying attention, looking at the bench top you are walking on, making sure some toes are on each side of the top-side edge.

But when I decided to look up and straight ahead to work on good posture, I lost focus on all the casual factors I should have been considering: placement of feet, use of toes, perception of foot/toe grip, friction, positioning of hips and shoulders.

So I slipped. I fell between the bench seat and bench back.

My butt and rib cage hit the bench seemingly immediately, like a quantum drop. I don’t even remember the fall. It was fast. I was on the bench back walking — then, in the next instant of awareness, I was butt to the bench, ribs to the seat back.

I figured, given the distance of fall and nature of the blows I took, that I had merely bruised my side or rib(s), or merely received a muscle bruise.

Regardless, I thought I was not hurt too badly, so I got back on the darn bench and walked on top a few times. I find it important for good psychology to do something properly after I fail or get hurt — as long as the injury does not objectively prevent or preclude me from doing so. We need to be sensible about things like that.

In maybe 5 or 10 minutes, I finished my first workout of the day. I had taken two people out for 2.25 hours over 2.25 miles of Spartan-run, MovNatish exercise.

After I hurt my rib, I still took someone else out for 1.5 hours over 1.5 miles of a similar workout, doing some hard work like carrying heavy logs on my shoulder and flipping heavy logs; then had to take care of my horse; then had to go to the feed store to get some bags of forage and alfalfa. When picking my horse’s hooves that day, my horse kicked a little with a back leg, as he sometimes does, and put a hock to my rib injury. The jolt was not pleasant. I had to stop picking his hooves for a minute. My stomach tightened up — but that was caused in part, I think, by my being nutritionally depleted after my workouts. The tightening might have been a light cramp or precursor to one.

Having that broken or bruised rib made everything a little harder.

Only after the two workouts did I think that maybe I had broken a rib instead of merely bruised it: when pushing on my right side, something seemed to move a little. I noticed that feeling over the next few days when I’d push over there, or when I did some two-armed hangs.

My sleep over the next few days was frequently disturbed by pains in my side whenever I would move. Or even sometimes when I was still.

While I exercised the two days after the injury, doing some walking, jogging, shoveling, balance work, etc., I took things light. I wanted movement, but I avoided things that caused a flare of pain in my side. For example, I did some two-armed hangs, but would stop immediately when I felt what seemed to be a bone moving. I did no one-armed hangs, handstand pushups (against a wall; I cannot do them free), or log carrying.

The pain was highest from Tuesday through Friday; during the weekend I felt some diminution of the pain; on Monday I felt significantly better — but still kept exercise light/moderate, and avoided things that hurt or could hurt.

The pain taught me the myriad ways our core — specifically, muscles along the ribs — is involved in all our daily activities:
1.  sweeping my horse’s stall hurt;
2.  carrying water buckets one-handed hurt;
3.  turning over in bed from my back to my side hurt: I was surprised how much torque was put on my right side when I was turning from my back to my left side;
4.  coughing and sneezing could hurt;
5.  breathing in deeply could hurt.


No point in going to the doctor, since they never do anything for broken or bruised ribs anyway. I did not think the nature of my injury would result in a damaged lung, kidney, or liver. And I did not find my breathing impaired (at week three, when I remembered I had a finger VO2 sensor, I took my VO2, and it was normal — if that is any indication of lungs working properly), I did not spit up any blood, I did not piss any blood. All systems seemed normal, all function good.

The one thing I learned on the Internet was to make sure I took deep breaths to clear out my lungs, to keep from becoming sick with pneumonia or something similar. Most other recommendations — be careful, take it easy, avoid blows to the side, don’t work out hard — were obvious.

The lesson in this story, the lesson I’ve seem my whole life long: I must always focus, i.e., seek to attain full awareness of reality; specifically, I must identify all casually relevant factors in a situation, then think and act accordingly to achieve my values. We don’t know everything, and can forget or be ignorant of some factors, but we can learn. However, if we don’t stay in focus, we’re lucky if we don’t get hurt. Focus is what we do and seek when we are passionate about life.

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