Bittersweet Birthday


The title is a bit misleading in that I’m having a great day all said and done, so this isn’t really a rant or a whine about anything bad in particular, but more a wistful nostalgia about the year that’s passed and how things have changed so quickly in my life. My family wants to take me out to dinner, someplace upscale and fancy, which is how I love to dine – I’m a gourmet food junkie – but I honestly am sitting here thinking, “Man… it takes so much energy to get dressed up…” I mean, who wants to be exhausted and in pain on their birthday dinner? So part of me wants to just stay home and part of me wishes we were rich enough to hire a gourmet chef to come here and cook for us.

There was no breakfast in bed by the kids. In fact, I’m not sure they remembered it was my birthday until I screamed for them to wake up and get up this morning, then they remembered. Just once, I’d love for them to think outside the box and maybe, I dunno, clean the house, make me a fancy meal, or DO something to make my birthday special besides relying on buying something with cash. That’s pretty well taken care of this year, since they are dead broke… the problem is, they will use the being broke as an excuse for not ‘buying’ a gift or giving a gift, when what I really want from them is to have them think about it and share meaning. Write a poem, clean the house, cook a meal, make something, write a letter, do a collage of pictures, something, anything. But alas, they come from the greedy, break it and replace it throw away disposable generation and if you can’t spend good money on it, then it must not be worth doing, giving, having, etc.

Then there’s my health. Oh, I look in the mirror and I most definitely don’t see a 41-year-old woman. I feel much younger on the inside, but my body has taken a beating the last few years. I have purple striations all over my chest, upper arms, belly, thighs, hips. They are ugly. I looked like a stripped tiger or something, purple and whittish. Garish, really. I hate them. They will never go away. My eyes are watering as I write this, as they always water, from the excess edema and fluid, so I look like I’ve been crying all the time, even when I haven’t been. The saltiness of the fluid around my eyes burns and rubs red too.

I’m still on oxygen. The cord for the concentrator is only 50 feet long, so I feel like I have a leash with me everywhere I go. When I try to go to the bathroom, sometimes I get all tripped up in the cord or it gets stuck on something and I have to throw off the cannula, rush to the potty and have someone bring it to me so I can catch my breath. It’s not fun. I don’t like living this way, but I like the fact that with the oxygen I can feel almost normal when I’m sitting and not moving and it doesn’t hurt nearly as bad in my chest when I do move.

None of my clothes fit me any more, and the few that are new that do fit I hate how I look in them. I know the doc says the weight gain is all temporary and is edema from the congestive heart failure and that it’s going away and will go away and I will lose it all in time but that doesn’t change how I look and feel about how I look right now. I hate the sloshy squisshy feeling of my skin, where I can literally feel the fluid sloshing around inside my legs when I walk. My belly is distended and full of fluid and it sloshes too. By the end of the evening, even my neck and face are full of fluid. I hate it. The say it will get better. I believe them. But man, it’s tough right now.

But then there are some good things, like being grateful I’m alive. I am so, so, so grateful I’m a live. Given how bad things were, it’s a wonder I’m alive, a true miracle, really, and don’t get me wrong here — I am glad to be alive — but I can’t help feeling a bit cheated out of life right now sometimes. Why should I have almost had to die in order to be grateful to be alive? Why did my body have to be permanently changed, ruined, just so I could be grateful? I could have found my gratitude without all the pain and suffering. And I’m still suffering. I’m still struggling. I have a perforated septum. For my birthday, I’d like to have a plug installed in my nose! I have a bad back. For my birthday, I’d like a medication that makes that pain go away without making me loopy. I can’t breathe well. For my birthday, I’d like a set of lungs that do what they are supposed to without having to wear an oxygen leash everywhere I go. I mean, the things I want… I’m so selfish! LOL

I remember my birthday last year. I remember it the year before. They were two of the best birthdays I’d ever had. This year, I know it’s a good day. I’m happy, I truly am, so please forgive me for this whining post that sounds so ungrateful, but I just can’t help but realize I’m another year older but not another year better. This year took me down a turn for the worse, and I’m still recovering. I suppose things like anniversaries and birthdays bring you around full circle, make you contemplate the past and the present and ponder the future.

I find that I’m not so much focused on this birthday, today, as I am wondering what my birthday next year will be like. Will I be well on the way back to being myself again? Will I be me again? Will I ever be me again?

Then I think, Maybe I’ll be me again when I figure out who ‘me’ is. Who am I now? Maybe who I am has to change. I don’t know.

What I do know is I don’t feel grown up yet, so it’s so weird to me to have all these medical problems that I used to attribute to being old! I’m not old though! How did I get congestive heart failure? (Yes, I know even little kids can get CHF – but my mind can’t fathom that!) How did I get pulmonary hypertension? That’s something for other people, not me! I don’t want to be this sick person any more. I’m ready to be me again!

But anyway….

Besides those rambling thoughts rattling around in my brain, mostly, it’s been a good day and it will continue to be a good day. After all, it’s my birthday. The whole world should celebrate! ha!

Don’t think for a moment that I’m wallowing in self pity. I’m really not. It’s just that, this day, in particular, brings so many things into my mind to think about… I’m not even including the fact I haven’t sold a novel yet into the equation or whining about when an agent is going to fall in love with my manuscript and instead of telling me it’s a well-written, good story that they don’t know how to market, instead say, “Yes! We love it. We want to sign you!” Then I can give them all my other manuscripts and be that best-selling author I already know I’m capable of being.

I’m 41… I’m ready to ‘be’ there now. Let’s do this.

Love and birthday stuff,


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6 Responses to “Bittersweet Birthday”

  1. I hear you, Michy. Birthdays do the same to me–give me an excuse to reflect on the past year. It’s not always a pretty thing! However, there is always something to be thankful for, and I’m so glad that you are able to recognize that despite everything. You are amazing! Happy Birthday!

  2. AnnaB says:

    I hope you have a wonderful year this year, filled with many blessings.
    That your manuscript is a best-seller this year, and that you just have a overall great year.
    And most of all I hope all of your health difficulties resolve and you completely regain your health.
    Talk to you another time, I hope you have a very good day, and enjoy going out to dinner with your family today.
    And since it’s your birthday, just dress comfortable, let everyone else dress up, just find your nicest most comfortable in public type outfit to wear, and put that on, afterall it’s your birthday, and you should at a least be able to be comfortable. :o)

  3. I have been looking forward to my 40th birthday all year long! I plan on actually going out to the bar and celebrating. I may not be as healthy and energetic as I once was but dammit- I am alive!

  4. Derek Odom says:

    I have a good feeling about you. I think you will be fine, girl. 🙂

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