Terrible Two Days in My Life

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Osteoblastoma in the United States accounts for about one percent of all primary bone tumors. In the largest group studied, people with this bone tumor ranged from six months to seventy-five years with the average age being 20.4 years. Also in the study, an osteoblastoma was two times more likely to occur in males than in females. Lives are changed dramatically when faced with news of having, or a loved one having, an osteoblastoma.

In August of 2011, my chiropractor sent me to the doctor to have a standing x-ray done. She had this done because she thought one leg was shorter than the other. From the x-ray, she would measure the bones from my legs. The next morning when tennis practice was done, I traveled to the hospital and had the x-ray done. That afternoon, I was practicing tennis against the garage door and watching two little kids when my sister came outside. She came to tell me that she would watch the kids for a little bit because my mom wanted to talk to me. As I was going inside, I had a million reasons passing through my head as to what my mom could possibly want to talk to me about that couldn’t wait until I was done watching the kids. Nothing I thought of was the reason she wanted to talk to me. When I arrived upstairs, my mom was sitting in one of the chairs in our living room, and my grandma was sitting on the couch. My mom looked very serious and uptight sitting in the chair with a stack of papers in her hands. At that moment, all that was rambling through my head was that I was in trouble for something, but I had no clue what it was. She looked as if she was holding back her emotions while waiting for me to take a seat. When I finally sat down on the opposite end of the couch as my grandma, my mom’s facial expression changed. She started by telling me, “I received the results from your test.” I started getting worried that my chiropractor was right thinking I had a short leg. I didn’t want this to be true. It seemed like forever before my mom spoke again. Her next statement sent a wave of relief to me. She told me that I did not in fact have a short leg. After that, I couldn’t figure out why telling me this was so important that it couldn’t wait and why my mom was being so serious and uptight while telling me this news. All of the news she had just told me seemed harmless until the news she told me next.

What she told me next changed my whole night. She told me, “When the radiologist looked at one of your x-rays, he found a lesion.” I must have given her a puzzled look because she went on to explain what it was. My mom told me, “In the radiologist’s report the radiologist recorded that you have a 2.5-cm lytic expansile-rimmed sclerotic lesion on your lower back.” Now, at this time, I still did not have a clue what it was she was talking about, but I was freaking out on the inside because it sounded serious with all of the big medical words. She went on, saying, “The report states the appearance and location of the lesion suggests it is an osteoblastoma.” I still had no clue what it was, but I was worried what was wrong with me. At that point, I looked over at my grandma and noticed that she was crying. This caused me even more worry because it had to be something serious. My mom finished by telling me that I had to return to the doctor for further analysis. She told me that the doctors would need to do a CT scan and MRI to find out for sure if it was actually an osteoblastoma. This was the most shocking news I had heard in a long time from my mom.

My night was changed from the news of the doctor’s report. Once I walked back out to the kids to watch them, I was still somewhat shocked at the news I had just heard. I felt like a zombie the whole night and felt like I was having a huge nightmare. I never started practicing tennis again that night after hearing the news from my mom. I just sat on the ground against the house the whole time until the kids’ parents came and picked them up. When I walked back upstairs, sitting on the counter was a packet of information on what an osteoblastoma was and how it was treated.

We had to go grocery shopping that night right after I was done watching the kids, so I grabbed the packet to read on our way to Wal-Mart. I remember that I read the packet as quickly as I could, and read as much as I could understand. As I read further into the packet, I got more and more scared of what I would have to suffer through to cure myself of that tumor. As I read the part of how it was treated, I became even more scared. I started telling my mom what the packet said and asking her about what the information meant. That was when my mom realized I had the packet and told me not to read it because it would just worry me more. That was all it took to break me. All I remember that I did was put the packet down, looked out the window, and then I just burst into tears. I had realized just how serious and dangerous the tumor could be and just how much it could change my life from that point. I didn’t remember anything else about that night except that I was very worried and scared, and I could see on my mom’s face that she was very stressed out and worried also.

The next day, I rode to the hospital with my mom for the MRI and CT scan. When we arrived there, we first had to walk into a room and talk to a doctor. My normal doctor was not there that day, so we had to speak to a different doctor. She was very nice and explained to my mom and I what the radiologist had noticed, gave us a copy of the x-ray and showed us where he had seen this spot, and then explained what would happen next. After that, she sent my mom and I down to the waiting area for my MRI and told us that we would be going back to talk to her afterwards.

I became very nervous while waiting for the MRI. I had only had a MRI done once before when I was very young, and, at the time, the machine scared me with the size and loudness of it. When the MRI specialist finally called me back for the MRI, I was shaking. My mom didn’t go back with me which scared me even more. The MRI specialist led me back to a little room. That room led to another room that had the MRI machine in it. He gave me a pair of headphones to drown out some of the noise. He then had me climb onto the MRI machine and told me to lay as still as possible. He left the room, and the loud noise started. It was so loud that I could hear it perfectly through the headphones, and every now and then the noise would change to something different. It would always repeat through the same set of noises and in the same order as the time before. The noises of the MRI machine were annoying at first, but then I started getting used to them and ignored them. It seemed like forever that I was in the MRI.

Just when I closed my eyes and started to fall asleep, the noise stopped, and the guy came back into the room. He started taking me back out to where my mom was waiting, and, on the way there, he started asking me what I had been wearing the day before. Because he hadn’t found anything on the MRI, he asked my mom what I had been wearing the day I had the x-ray. He told me that she couldn’t remember so he was asking me. I couldn’t think of what I had been wearing. All I was thinking was, “How does this connect to why I was at the doctors?” I then remembered that I had been wearing my tennis shorts and a t-shirt because I had went from tennis practice straight to the doctors to have the x-ray done. He asked if it had a tag or elastic that would have lined up with the lower part of my spine. By that time, we were out in the waiting area where my mom had been waiting. He asked her if my tennis shorts maybe had a tag or elastic that would have lined up with the lower part of my spine, just like he had asked me before. Neither one of us could remember. After that, we had to wait in a different waiting area for the doctor we had spoken to before.

While we were in the waiting room waiting to be called back to talk to the doctor again, I remembered that my tennis shorts were reversible so they did not have a tag on them, and the elastic on them would have been too low to line up with the spot on my spine that the radiologist had noticed on the x-ray. I told my mom that, and she told the doctor when we finally went in to talk to her again. In the meeting, she asked me again if maybe the elastic of my shorts would have matched up with the lower part of my spine. That was when it occurred to me that, the day before I had used a hair binder to tie my shirt in the back. I told the doctor that, and then everything made sense to her. She told us that the hair binder must have matched up just right with my spine that it showed through onto my x-ray. The doctor stated, “Nothing showed up on the MRI, and everything is fine.” I didn’t have a tumor on my spine. At this moment in the doctor’s office, I heard a sigh from next to me. My mom was relieved that the scare of me having an osteoblastoma was over. The doctor informed us that mistakes like this one rarely happened and, she was sorry that it had gotten our whole family so worried. All I think of now is, “How did one simple little hair binder get doctors so fooled, and why did it happen to me of all people?”

When I look closely at the x-ray now, I can see the spiral shape of the twisted hair binder. I laugh at it now, but at the time I was so scared and worried. All the evidence we had at the time supported the fact that I had an osteoblastoma. My mom has kept the papers and x-ray from the experience as a memory of those terrible two days in our lives. I will never forget how I felt those two days and what my family and I went through. The news of having an osteoblastoma changed my life for two days, but for many people, the news of having an osteoblastoma can change their life forever.





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