I’d like to give you that special gift that keeps you on your toes (for those who can stand that is), or erect in your wheel chair, or upright in your bed. I’m about to take you on a journey – not to the rickety, run down land of scalpels and 4AM vitals – there’s so much more to the sicko life than that. This journey is for everyone.
It’s July, my adored birthday month (I know it's September, just go with it). The afternoon sun is so overbearing, my plants are cowering while I sit in front of my computer in my underwear. (When you are a professional sicko, you lose all modesty.) Today is July 28 (same thing...use your imagination!), the day before my birthday; the day before I enter my mid-30’s.
This will be my first birthday as a neuro-sicko-glamour-gimpette.
About a decade ago, I began celebrating my birthday week. Five years ago, I extended that to the entire month. This self-involved celebration only requires that I celebrate myself in some way each day. Not only is this practice a healthy alternative to aging anxiety, it takes the pressure off the “big day” for you, your friends, and your family.
Healthy or sick, even if we don’t recognize it, we are hard on ourselves – pushing our bodies and minds to their max: to be thin or get a raise or keep our job (in this economy, especially) or to be the best parent or the top student of the class or the prettiest woman or hottest guy on match.com, e-harmony, or whatever mate-finder Web site you fancy.
Self-destructive behavior like this is prohibited during the birthday month.
In the birthday month, you celebrate your achievements (even if you’re a total loser, moron, or derelict by society’s standards) – the positivity of your existence, your family, your friends, your health, however many dollars are in your checking account, your best feature, your biggest adventure, the best kiss you ever had, the smartest decision you’ve ever made. You indulge in simple, available pleasures like a bubble bath, a home-cooked meal – just for yourself. You buy yourself a new pair of sexy lingerie or briefs that show off your package – even if you have to charge it. You treat yourself the way you want others to treat you.
Those petite celebrations are seeds for growth. Take them with you, water them, talk to them, and allow your next birthday month to include the happier, healthier, more thoughtful you.
Kim, a homecare therapist visits me weekly. For the most part, I am homebound. As I enter the 11th month of my battle with Transverse Myelitis, a rare and incurable neurological disorder, I tell Kim that I don’t feel like celebrating my birthday this year.
Ms. Fearless, moi, actually fears the entire month of July. Bereft of self-involved, self-indulgent, self-aggrandizing, self-sufficient, self-satisfying celebration, I am tired. I don’t want people to see me. I don’t want to celebrate my shit life. I don’t like my steroid face. Blah, blah, blah. Complain, bitch, moan.
VOICE IN HEAD:
Come on Melanie, get over yourself. You’re not the only person suffering, and you’re certainly not the sickest person on this planet.
Since September ‘08, I have been on steroids. I was tapering off of them in my birthday month – finally something to celebrate – no more Alvin and the Chipmunks cheeks, time to cook up those blowfish veil, pop pop goes the balloon face.
Soon, I would have cheekbones again! And maybe my skin would even be zit-free. Absolute glory! My ego is completely satiated.
Note: My face is still not zit-free, and I am still on steroids.
The next day, I relapsed - spending a 5-day so-called holiday weekend on the couch in excruciating pain from migraine to baby toe. Until the IV Steroids could be delivered – 1000mg of Solumedrol infused through my portacath for five days – I existed in a state of delirium with a fully loaded semi driving back and forth over my body 24/7.
I never knew such pain existed.
I have plenty of pain pills: oxycontin and oxycodone. These glorious, mute, little friends give me my quality of life. But the relapse was even stronger than the oxy twins could bear.
VOICE IN HEAD:
Poor, miserable me.
And if you’ve ever been on high-dose steroids, you know I’m not joking. Mood swings. Tears and fits. Outer body experiences. You are lost in the valleys of your newly remodeled fluid-retaining face, fingers, feet, ankles, and the inner tube around the section of your body that used to be referred to as a waist – a damn good trim and slim waist (self interjecting).
So here’s the big question:
What the F**K do I have to celebrate?
And a Poor Excuse for an Answer:
Eventually, my hapless grin takes over, and I find shattered pieces of happiness, a giggle, a sunrise so beautiful I want it to swallow me and take me to the land of light and color. Lies. All Lies.
And then there’s reality…Question:
How the hell does any celebration happen under these circumstances?
VOICE IN HEAD Answer:
It doesn’t. So make it happen.
Stop whining, arrest your self-centered bitching, blow your nose, take a shower, brush your teeth, get off your ass and do something that matters. Do something that’s meaningful to you. Just do.
Whether it’s a birthday, the solstice, a pagan or religious holiday, the week of your period, or your anniversary, you have the power to turn that fleeting moment into a grand occasion. And stick to it damn it.
Considering my unexpected relapse, I extended my birthday month into August as well. However, after the first days of celebration, I was back in the hospital. This time I was imprisoned for almost a 3-week stay of myriad adventures. But that’s over and done with. Right now, I need to go and celebrate the rain.