Here’s a factoid I bet you didn’t know. A typical sneeze removes air from your body at speeds of up to 100 miles per hour. No wonder attempting to stifle a sneeze with that kind of velocity behind it can be challenging…and possibly even dangerous. Yet that is precisely what I’ve been attempting to do for the past month.
During what was supposed to have been a routine dog walk, I seriously bruised the ribs on my left side after falling hard onto the cement sidewalk.
Sneezing when you have injured ribs can be agonizing. And so, since that fateful night a month ago, each time the urge to sneeze comes over me, I do everything I can to stifle the sneeze.
Why not just blow my nose when I feel a sneeze coming on? The mere act of expanding my lungs with enough air to enable a productive nose-blowing puts significant pressure on my ribs. So instead, I pinch my nose, hold my breath, and pray that I can successfully stifle the sneeze and avoid the intense pain.
For the most part, my sneeze prevention approach has worked. But on several unfortunate occasions, the sneeze got the better of me and I would end up writhing in agony for several minutes until the acute pain on the left side of my rib cage eventually settled into a dull ache.
This morning, just a bit over a month after the rib-bruising episode, I once again felt the urge to sneeze coming on. But this time I bravely decided to let it go. I sneezed.
But three times.
EUREKA! While I could definitely still feel tightness on the left side of my chest with each sneeze, the feeling was more annoying than agonizing. And being able to experience a full, robust sneeze was amazingly satisfying.
I’m still taking Advil periodically, as the left side of my ribcage remains somewhat tender. But the worst is clearly over and I am thrilled that I no longer need to struggle to stifle that reflexive sneeze response.
All I have to say at this point is “ahhhh.”
Or perhaps I should say, “ahh-chooo”!
Written for today’s one-word prompt, “stifle.”