The Cost Of A Bruised Tailbone

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Did you know that our tailbones are one of the few body parts that takes forever to heal? I found out rather quickly on a Friday night as I grabbed some food from the kitchen, trying to eat in between deadlines. As I walked down the hallway of my duplex with a bowl of mac and cheese, I slipped on the head of a plush monkey belonging to my dog Alta. As I tried to catch myself, all I could think about is how sad it would be if I spilled my last bowl of mac and cheese. PRIORITIES. I hit the floor hard and I let out a small cry as both of my dogs came over to investigate the incident with their wet noses.

I got up and went back to the couch to finish my half-salvaged meal. I took some Advil and try to forget about the incident. Two days later, I found myself in a lot of pain. I had dismissed it as part of the fall, but it wasn’t. On Monday, I couldn’t sit down. My 45-minute morning commute to work was one of the most painful experiences of my life. Who knew you needed that many muscles to drive?

Over lunch, I asked one of the elderly ladies at work to let me borrow one of her sitting donuts. Yup, I asked a 79-year-old lady to let me borrow her donut to sit on. She even gave me a free lesson on how to use it. I wish this was the one and only punch that my dignity would take, but alas, it wasn’t. 

Later that day, I drove to the urgent clinic down the road to see a doctor and anxiously walked around the waiting room. After an hour wait, the nurse invited me to sit before I shot her a stare and she remembered why I was there. The doctor took some X-rays and told me the great news: my tailbone wasn’t broken. However, he could only give anti-inflammatories as a bruised tailbone heals only with time. Also, as part of my fall, I had broken the skin; to prevent infection, he prescribed antibiotics as well. He told me to take it easy and try not to drive. I almost laughed at his face since it’s very difficult to reach my work (or live) in this city without driving.

Balance so far:

$0 – donut to sit on // lesson on how to sit on one

$25 – co-pay

$10 – anti-inflammatories, generic brand

$15 – antibiotics to prevent infection

$25 – bandages for my tailbone

$5 – 4-pack of yogurt to help the antibiotics

$7 – pint of ice cream

Total:  $87

 

One week later, I hadn’t taken it easy. I carried my donut inside my tote everywhere I went, including the hair salon. I continued to drive while sitting on my side and packing towels and pillows all around me. I could barely walk; my walking speeds were slow and really slow. I figured I should be getting better, not worse. One of the elderly ladies at work chuckled as I walked by her and she jokingly challenged me to a race: she on her walker and me, well, trying to walk. I’m pretty sure she would have won.

I went back to the clinic as my pain was getting worse and found out that the previous doctor had given me the wrong medicine for my injury. The new doctor prescribed me a new set of medicines and I crossed my fingers since I had now developed an infection. That day I gave up as I let my boyfriend drive me to the pharmacy and told my boss I had to work from home that day. Walking up to the register at CVS with a sitting donut wasn’t the greatest moment of my life.

Back at CVS, the new balance was:

$25 – co-pay

$10 – NEW anti-inflammatories, generic brand

$15 – NEW antibiotics to prevent infection

$25 – more bandages for my tailbone

$12 – ointments

$24 – sitting donut

$4.50 – Epson Salts

$60 – Uber rides to and from work for three days

Total: $175.50

 

Not being able to sit down, as a freelance writer, is basically death. I couldn’t sit down at my desk to write so my work suffered. I used a standing desk for a while, but my legs grew tired since I had to spend most of my waking hours on my feet. I caught rides with friends and my boyfriend the rest of the week. I started using my credit card for things I shouldn’t, like daily take-out, more Uber rides, Amazon movie rentals, and sad online shopping. I racked up nearly $500 on it (now paid off). It wasn’t until 3 weeks after my fall that I finally started to move around at quicker pace and saw actual improvement.

Then, I received a statement from the doctor and it was upwards of $3,000. At that moment, I was eternally grateful for health insurance and that I didn’t break an actual bone. My whiny self felt pretty damn silly after realizing how lucky I was. In the end, I forgave my dog and I appreciate sitting down now more than you know.

 

Muriel Vega is a writer and editor living in Atlanta. She loves to travel and this one time, she made a zine about pie. You can find her byline at The Guardian, Paste, NYLON, CityLab, among others. She hangs out way too much on Twitter. Follow her there @murielvega

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