July 09, 2014

Worst. Birthday. Ever

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Every birthday since I turned 25 has been rough for me. 
Not because I feel old, per se. So all of you older ladies can stop rolling your eyes at my anti-birthday sentiments. But probably because I'm nearing thirty, and am no where NEAR as accomplished or fulfilled as I thought I would be at the ripe ol' age of 28. Don't get me wrong. I love my life. Honestly. I couldn't ask for a better family, husband, friends...But still. 
The last few birthdays have been hard.
So I went into this one determined to be positive.
So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be the absolute WORST birthday of. all. time. Seriously. And I'm not even exaggerating this time (even though I know I usually do).
The day started out fine. Great even. I spent it with my sisters and my nieces and nephews. We went and saw a movie, went shopping, and then decided to go out to lunch. I threw my shopping bags in the trunk, hopped in my car, and then began driving when a very powerful sneeze came on. I let it rip and then immediately felt pain in my right shoulder. It hurt, but the pain quickly lessened, and so I thought nothing of it.  That night I got all dolled up, and met the gang (aka my family) at the VERY posh and swanky Phil's BBQ in Santee. I know. Very glamorous. I was still a little sore, but I figured it was from my earlier sneeze and the fact that I had been working out pretty hard that week. The dinner progressed, we finished eating, and then we all continued to sit around and chat. While in the midst of a conversation with my mother-in-law,  an awful pain hit me in my right shoulder and chest, so strong that I couldn't talk, or really even breathe very well. And it didn't get better. After several minutes, my husband and my parents decided that they would take me to the ER, despite my vehement protests (anyone who knows me well knows that I HATE, absolutely LOATHE the doctor). So I went begrudgingly. Not that I had a say in the matter since I couldn't really talk anyway.
We quickly made our way up to Grossmont hospital. Luckily I have a sister who is an ER nurse because we were seen to immediately upon arrival, and after only 10 minutes, I was talking to a doctor about my symptoms. He, along with my sister, decided that I was most likely having "atypical" gallbladder problems, and the Doc ordered up a bevy of tests. Blood work was performed, along with an EKG, a urine test, an ultrasound of my organs, and a chest x-ray. 
They quickly decided that nothing was wrong with my gallbladder, and all of my tests came back normal. 
Except one. 
The chest x-ray. 
The doctor informed me that there was a "suspicious" dark spot on my x-ray that appeared to be in my lung. I, of course, went into panic mode as words such as "embolism" and "blood clot" started to be passed around. In the midst of my panic, my nurse assured me, "Don't worry. For every 100 patients with an abnormal chest x-ray, usually only one has an actual issue."  And I replied back, "Ha. With my luck, I'll be that one." He then promised me that if he was wrong, and I was right, I could, "punch him in the face." I owe a certain someone a shot in the kisser, because of course...I turned out to be right.
At about 12:30 in the morning, 30 minutes after the end of my dreaded 28th birthday, my doctor came in to give me the results of my CT scan. He informed me that I had some sort of mass growing on my 5th posterior rib. Let me tell you, when a doctor starts saying words like, "sarcoma," "tumor," and "bone cancer," you kind of start to tune out. Especially when he doesn't even entertain any other possible diagnosis. Needless to say, my husband and I spent a VERY emotional evening together as we were admitted to the hospital that night.  
The next day, Thursday the 3rd, with family surrounding me, I went in for a biopsy of the mass in my back. 
After four days of waiting, I received a voicemail from my doctor. Once I heard the words, "the preliminary report indicates that it is probably a benign cystic lesion" the tears came a-flowing. I never realized that "benign" was such a beautiful word, but I can tell you that it is now one of my favorites. 
I had my follow up appointment yesterday and received some answers to the host of questions that I had. As of now, we don't know exactly what is going on with my rib- it could be a cyst or it could be a "giant cell  tumor," but the chances of that are pretty slim. My doctor informed me that he couldn't say whether or not the growth was cancer free, but he did say that it "probably" was. At this point, "probably cancer-free" is good enough for me. The next step is for me to see an orthopedic specialist for removal of the growth. They'll then do a more complete biopsy and give me a definite diagnosis. 
As for the pain that brought me to the ER- my doctor informed me that cystic lesions often weaken the bone and that when I sneezed, the force of it may have caused a small hairline fracture in my rib. Yikes! 
But the best news of the appointment? That I still get to go on my trip to Europe next week! Halleluyah! I asked my husband while we were in the ER, "Is it bad that the thought of cancer makes me just as nervous as the thought of NOT being able to go on our trip?" He said yes. But I don't agree. I'm still in a bit of pain, but I'm convinced that I'll be at 100% by next Monday.
This whole ordeal, while scary, has served in reconfirming to me that the Lord does answer prayers. While most people know of my faith, and know of its absolute importance and necessity in my life, I'm not one to discuss it in a public way very often. But I would be remiss if I did not publicly thank my family, friends, and loved ones for their prayers and for fasting on my behalf. I felt it, and I felt the comfort of the Lord carry me through this trail. I am so grateful for the gospel in my life. It is my lifeline;  my most cherished possession. And while we're not completely out of the woods yet, I can see the light shining through the trees.
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