I got up and got dressed for my classes and then later to work that afternoon but the area in the center of my chest cavity was still extremely sore and achy.
I gave it a few days to go away and when it didn't, I made an appointment with the Dr's office because I noticed that a few of my ribs in the upper part of my rib-cage were now sticking out further than normal.
Exams and X-rays ensued with little clarification as to what had happened or was going on, so I was scheduled for a Bone-scan on February 27th. I got up that morning and drove to get the shot. (They give you a shot of a radioactive...something...so problem areas show up better on the scan.)
Let's just WebMD it, shall we? I'm usually against looking anything up on WebMD because of the panic it typically creates, but just this once.
"For a bone scan, a radioactive substance is injected into a vein in your arm. This substance, called a tracer, travels through your bloodstream and into your bones. This could take several hours.So, we're all caught up.
A special camera takes pictures of the tracer in your bones. Areas that absorb little or no amount of tracer appear as dark or "cold" spots. This could show a lack of blood supply to the bone or certain types of cancer.
Areas of fast bone growth or repair absorb more tracer and show up as bright or "hot" spots in the pictures. Hot spots may point to problems such as arthritis, a tumor, a fracture, or an infection." (Source: Web MD)
I got the shot/tracer, drove back to campus, went to my classes and then drove back to the hospital (20 minutes away) and had the bone scan. My family and my then-best friend met me there and sat in the waiting room while I laid on the table and let the machine work its way from my toes on up through my body.
I watched the screen as various colors came up on the screen, purples, blues and greens mostly, if I remember right. Then we got up to where I was having the issues, right at my sternum and the whole rainbow came into play. Yellow, orange, red. Whatever it was, it looked mean and angry compared to the rest of the screen.
So I asked the tech more about it. "What is that?" "What could that mean?" "What does it typically represent?"
Of course, he's just the tech and he told me that and told me that the tests are run for any number of reasons but given my issues, he would expect that it's being run to "rule out the possibility of a tumor".
While I appreciate his wording he used, I heard his whole statement but I really only listened to the very last word.
I'm looking at the screen and this angry mass of color is right at my sternum and spread out right across where my heart is, which--if you ask me--is a very vital organ.
I left the hospital and went to work and then to my apartment where I spent what would then be the longest night of my life alone. (It's now the second longest night of my life. That record would be short-lived as a month later I would lay--but not sleep--on the cold, hard hospital floor next to my cousin's hospital bed. I'll do an "A Decade Later" post on that one next month.)
I slept that night only because I cried myself to sleep.
But the next day was a new day and also my sister's 22nd birthday.
And it was the day we got a good report back from the doctor. Whatever was going on, it was not a tumor or cancer. At that point I didn't care what it was or even that it was bothering me because it wasn't the worst case scenario.
We'd do a few more tests and the doctor was able to determine that one side of my ribs had grown ever-so-slightly longer than the other side and the morning that I felt the pop, I had turned my body at the right angle, reaching across my body, and my sternum popped and dislocated a couple of ribs which was resulting in the angry red-yellow coloration on the bone scan that was revealing some resulting arthritis.
My chest still pops when I move just right, especially in cooler weather, and my ribs still stick out a bit more than the others, but it's not visually noticeable.
Ten years ago I was worried if I'd have one more year and what it would be filled with. Ten years later I'm thankful for every single moment in between. The heartache, the joys, the tears, the trials and the many, many blessings.
Ten years later, again on my sister's birthday (her real birthday this time, the 29th) we have a family member going through the same thing. They'll be going on the 29th for some tests and procedures and on the 1st for the results. And even though I've been through it before and even though I know that everything will be alright, it doesn't make it less scary.
So, if you will, take a moment and say a little prayer, today, on the 29th and on the 1st and every moment you think of it in-between.
But don't worry, you won't have to wait ten years for an update on this one.