The day of the appointment had arrived, and it’s amazing the things I remember, and things my mind has chosen to forget. I can honestly tell you that I don’t remember much. I don’t remember the waiting room or even getting x-rays done. In fact, I am not sure I did. I only remember the moment the Doctor came into the room.
He was an older man, a retired orthopedic surgeon, who wore glasses and blue and white plaid shirt. He walked in, and immediately made his way to his rolling stool. He placed both hands on his knees, and looked at me as he bent forward. His stare was an empty stare, the kind of stare you give an enemy, numb and with no compassion, he did not exude any kind of friendly vibes, and in fact I am not sure he’d seen a patient under the age of 60, in years. He began by saying, “ it doesn’t look good. You have two major curves, both equally bad, 72 degrees in the lumbar, and 54 in the thoracic.”
Borrowed from Hot 100 Tips
He paused, and I stared and waited for him to continue. I think he saw my look of confusion. What he had just said might as well have been a foreign language, all I knew was that whatever he had just said, it wasn’t good news. He began again, “ You need surgery. If you do not get surgery, by the time your 30 your spine will have crushed your lungs and your heart and you will probably be dead.” He said it straight and to the point. There was no filter, he was accustomed to working with the elderly, people who had heard it all, but at that point I was just a child, no one had ever said anything like that to me. I just sat there, and held in my tears, pretending to be strong, it was all that I knew, if I couldn’t pretend to be strong, I would never muster the courage to actually pull it off. I replied by asking, “Can you do this surgery?” He quickly replied, “No. I don’t do surgery anymore, and I don’t work with children. You have to see a pediatric orthopedic. Suzy at the front counter will give you the name of a Doctor I highly recommend, there might be a long wait to see him, but he’s worth the wait.” He paused and continued, “Do you have any other questions?” I shook my head and he stood up, shook both of our hands and walked out. My mama began to question me, “what did he say, tell me what he said.” I couldn’t speak I had no words. Had I said anything, I would have broken down into a million tiny pieces, so instead I was just quiet. I needed to process what he had just said, and what that meant for me. We walked out of the room and headed towards the counter.
At the reception desk, I spoke to Suzy and she wrote the phone number and the name of the pediatric orthopedic Doctor at Nemours clinic, Dr. Price. I took the piece of paper and squeezed it tight. I thanked Suzy and walked out, with my mama slowly behind me. She continued to pester me, asking me what he had said. But I was in a zone, her words were washed out, I could only see her lips moving but there was no sound. I was in shock and once I sat down in the passenger seat of my mama’s corolla, I felt the fear over come me. Fear that pumped through my veins leaving every inch of my body in a tremble. It was a fear that consumed me, that left me petrified. A vacuum that sucked any ounce of confidence I had left. And that was it, I broke down and I just cried the entire way home. I couldn’t speak, I just cried. My mama stopped asking and just drove. We made it home, and as soon as I walked in the door my brother was there to receive me. I just hugged him and cried. Still gripping on to the little piece of paper that Suzy had given me.
Once I finally settled down, I told everyone I had to have surgery. From the point on, I never cried about having surgery again. Those tears were a way of mentally preparing myself for what was to come. Tears of fear and of sadness, for myself. Tears that once I wiped off, left traces of strength with every drop. I could only be strong, and fearless. There was no room for fear and sadness in the journey that lay ahead. I was ready, and prepared, I would have had surgery the next day had I had that option. But this was only the beginning; there was still a long road ahead.