I don't have the flu anymore, but I have had a lingering cough. A week or so ago, in the midst of the coughing, I pulled something like a muscle. Or I broke something like a rib. Whatever happened, it hurts.
It hurts when my cat Tiger puts a paw on my sternum. It hurts when I clear my throat. It hurts if I cough even slightly. It hurts if I hiccup or get in and out of a car or pick up something heavier than a cup of coffee. And God help me, it hurts if I sneeze.
Like anybody who doesn't like going to doctors, I turned to the Internet for a diagnosis, and I found all sorts of people asking for help from cough injuries. Apparently it's common to hurt yourself while coughing, which makes me wonder if we're all just doing it wrong. Maybe there is correct posture and incorrect posture for it, and those of us in the wrong position break our bones or pull a tendon.
The consensus online is that you're screwed. Once you break a rib or pull a muscle or damage the connective tissue in that general area, all you can do is wait it out, and it could take weeks to heal. You have to hold a pillow when you feel a cough of sneeze coming on, and you have to take Advil for occasions when you, say, play a French horn.
I called an actual doctor and talked to the nurse about the whole thing, and she said exactly what I read on the Internet, including the fact the doctor couldn't help me, so there's no point in coming in for a visit. So, here I sit, clutching a pillow and popping Advil and enjoying that rare deep breath that doesn't come with pain.