Ribcage Ache Revisited • 20 February 2009

Still no tock. I may crack my heart right open for tryin’ though.

This is difficult to talk about, this auto-body work. But I felt two new sensations in recent weeks and think they might be useful to a very few readers out there.

Everything went black this morning when I fell out of scorp back in to a bend, because somehow the falling went right in to the chest, bending it deeply backward in the air as the feet went back to the earth where the hands were already gripping.

I know what vertigo blackouts are—the ones that come from tricking the body in space. The kind of inner ear loss of orientation where the needle just goes spinning off in to the abyss… and for a moment the body disappears while the brain tries to find something like true north.

But this morning was something different, like an aorta tourniquet. I think this little departure from the body resulted from suddenly constricting bloodflow to the heart. So odd. So physical. Visions of the open heart surgery I once observed: wrenching the chest open with a turnkey to render two gaping raw sides of ribs—and the physician reaching in to squeeze the heart in her little gloved hands.

The endocrinological work in this practice usually works by constricting blood flow to a gland and then flushing it with body fluids on the release of a posture. And I find that in twisting I apply the same sponge-action to the organs below the ribs. Squishing around the hydraulic system inside the peritoneum like so much ketchup and mustard in a plastic bag (remember that kids’ diversion?) is one thing.

But the chest? Well… I’m not so sure about working the same way with the pneumatic system that sits atop the hydraulics. If backbending is a drawn out dialectic between (I) heart opening and (II) leg/pelvis educating, it’s now time for me to bring the work back down to the lower registers again.

My god! Bored yet? I can’t believe I’m writing so much about the chest cavity. Better get out now because there’s even more

Hm. You’re still reading and somehow I’m still writing. As we were. So: I think I have a clue to the “ribcage ache” question that according to google brings a lot of people to this blog’s archives.

This last phase of chest-opening, for once I do feel what may be the ache that some people have described in the chest and rib cage. For me it’s a swath of tissue that tightens and almost tries to contract across the front of the chest. I know what a torn intercostal feels like and have a sense from pranayama of the sensation possible in the lungs themselves. This ache is neither.

If what I’m experiencing is what others experience, I think it’s the peritoneal pleurae straining strongly against the insides of the ribs. There are two connected layers of pleurae around lungs, so they may even be pulling against each other.

One theory: There is a pleural space between the two layers of this chest membrane and usually the space is filled with fluid. The ache may result from fluid being presses out of the space and the two layers of membrane pushing in to each other. I am just guessing this might happen if the ribs themselves grow large; or maybe if you press so strongly in to your chest that the fluid between the membranes rushes out. The pleurae in the chest are full of nerves, so the loss of the fluid in the space between them might feel intense in a not very pleasant way.

According to Gray’s, the ribcage membrane is similar to the membrane around the lower, hydraulic system—the visceral pleura. But the lower pleurae don’t have many nerves. So even if there’s just as much (or more) friction below on a regular basis, there’s less sensation-based freak out. Thank the sage Matsy for that.