Cough muscles are a thing

Mar 04

Last Monday was a chemo recovery day, which basically means I spend the whole day in bed. It’s hard to stand, let alone move and function. On those days I execute minimal function to keep myself alive and my people both alive and on schedule. I am so grateful that my only “job” on these days is to rest. It’s also a blessing to my soul that so many things keep happening: my mom went in to have lunch with the girls at school on her days off, my sister and dad called me out of the blue to check on me since I hadn’t called, a meal was brought, carpools happened, friends and family messaged/emailed/texted/loved. Even while I’m quiet, I’m present.

Today — a week later and feeling much better — I woke up with a list of things on my mind I want to do: organize Girl Scout cookies for donation, clean out the fridge, laundry, etc. Greta and I spent our breakfast time “shopping” for summer swimsuits for her in our catalogues (where do all of these catalogues even come from?) and talking of lake swims. We are ready for warmer weather but I currently have three inches of snow dusted over my four inch daffodil (or laughodil as I have long dubbed them) buds.

Just as I’m zipping up Greta to put her on the bus, I coughed — again — and felt — another — pop in my back along my ribs. I’ve been coughing so much that I pull muscles in my “cough muscles” and it hurts like the dickens. What are “cough muscles” you say? Well, cough muscles are the muscles all around your ribcage that contract when you cough. My cough muscles are getting a lot of use, just like other muscles they get tired/pulled/strained then the next time I cough I change posture to try to protect them and keep it from hurting, and then I pull one spot really bad causing it to spasm. It’s a frustrating cycle. The first time this happened — I think it was in December — I thought I broke a rib. The pain in my side was so significant that I was gasping. I called my doctor and they had me go in for a chest X-ray, knowing that breast cancer can metastasize to bone which weakens the bone and could cause it to break while coughing. Lucky for me, I did not have a broken rib, and I left sheepishly with a “you pulled a muscle” diagnosis. (No sign of bone metastases made it a happy/relieved day.)

This pulled muscle cycle keeps happening and I am over it. Of all the things to slow me down, pulled muscles from coughing seems outrageous. I have muscle relaxers added to my litany of drugs that mitigate side effects and those are effective when combined with time and rest. There is no “quick fix” for it and the muscle relaxer makes me fall asleep both of which add to my frustration and overall loss of productive time.

So, this morning I was supposed to be doing a whole bunch of things around my house, and instead I am writing because it hurts to move.

Thus as I pause to consider what I can gain from rest today, and I appreciate even more the times that I am able to do the things.

I have a lot of sedentary activities I can do. I can blog. I found out I did not win the Hamilton tickets lottery today, but I entered the next Hamilton tickets lottery because I am relentlessly hopeful. I can grocery shop online — a big win for our family these days. I can look for a promotion code for new swimsuits for the girls. I can read the book I am enjoying so much that I am only reading a few pages a day to drag it out.

There is much to be done and I’m grateful for all the many things I can do.

Oh, and please pray for my cough muscles.


  1. Kris Staverman /

    I completely understand and pray for your relief from “cough muscles.” It is the most intense pain I have ever felt (and I’ve had four kids). Who knew such tiny muscles could be such a pain in the … rib 😉

  2. Karin Eppert /

    Sweet girl, I am praying for healing for you and command those cough muscles to relax and quit hurting in the name of Jesus! Praying today that you sit at His feet, lean back against His strong chest and rest.

  3. Dave /

    Praying, praying, praying. 50.

  4. Ginger /

    You are doing today well! Hang in there, Spring (the season of life and new growth) will be here soon!

  5. Praying Jen!! Love you!

  6. Marlayne /

    Cough, Cough, Cough Please go away from Jen❣️Is there something I can do for you? Continued Prayers ✝️?

  7. Kim Rourke /

    Dear Father, I pray for Jen and her cough muscles that both can relax and regroup giving relief and renewed energy to Jen, who houses these muscles.

  8. Kathi Roth /

    Praying for those cough muscles as I’m typing.
    Reading this reminds me to live intentionally today
    Thanking God for the beauty of the cardinal sitting on the snow covered branch in my backyard. Your writing inspires me. Hugs to you❤️

  9. Newbie friend /

    Praying for you Jen. Thought of you often the past few weeks while we were in Australia and New Zealand – beautiful countries and very friendly people !

  10. Peggy /

    Jen, I will definitely put in a good word for those cough muscles. With all your other issues, it seems rather unfair the cough muscles can’t see fit to relax on their own. My guess is you must need extensive beach therapy. Get those bathing suits ordered!

  11. Roslyn Mathie /

    A milk shake is good for a sore throat. I am sure it is “Therapeutic “ for a cough. Love Mum RN

  12. Christin /

    “But I entered the next lottery for Hamilton tickets because I am relentlessly hopeful.” Hahahhahaha Hahahhaha!!!!!!!! I love you! (And be gone, muscle pain! In the name of Jesus!)

  13. Prayers for healing for your cough muscles and your entire body. Your gratitude is such a beautiful thing. You are an inspiration.

  14. Bonnie B Jackson /

    If the Lord can command the waves to be Still…. I pray that He calms the Cough waves as well! !! Praying the banks are overflowing in TN I pray that your day overflows with restful grace!!!

  15. i sent amy an email regarding a hamilton ticket for tonight.

  16. Tonja R Hemmerick /

    Praying for you and relief for your cough muscles as I am enjoying my lemon savannah smiles with a cup of coffee that I received yesterday. Love and miss your sweet smile girl.❤️

  17. Cindy Mitchell /

    Jen, Sending prayers for you, your cough muscles, your body and every bone in your body.. You are the strongest woman I know.. You just keep on trucking and take care of your self..Sending hugs for a little comfort.