Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Happy Birthday To Me

Today is my sixty eighth birthday.  For those who know me well, my birthday is not my favorite day. I always figured every one is born so what's the big deal.  I know it's the one day dedicated to you and billions of others born on that date.  I share my birthday with Mike McCarthy the coach of the Green Bay Packers, Miranda Lambert, Tracy Morgan and even Martin Luther for heavens sake.  

It started when I was born.  I nearly died when I was two weeks old.  My mom told the story many times.  When I was born sixty eight years ago, medical care was very different.  In some ways it was better, or at least more personal.  I became very sick, and the doctor was called to the house.  He walked in and discovered I had a very high fever.  They always told me it was 108 degrees, but I find that hard to believe.  He scooped me up and ran to his warm car with my mom following close behind him.  I was rushed to the hospital.  By the time I got there, I had turned blue and was all puffy.  They didn't think I was going to live and only gave me 30 minutes to live.  They called it pneumonia of the bloodstream.  I'm sure that term isn't even used today but things were different then.  Lucky for me, the doctor had recently been to a conference and learned about and obtained a new drug called Penicillin.  They had no choice and gave me an adult dose.  I started to get better and eventually I was back to health.  After that, I was pretty healthy except right around my birthday, I would get bronchitis or pneumonia.  It happened every year.  Getting sick at that time of year continued on for many years.  Actually until I got married, I was sick every year.  I lived in a house where people smoked.  No one thought anything about it or made the connection.  My dad smoked, one grandpa smoked a pipe and another smoked cigarettes.  Believe it or not, smoking was even allowed in the hospital.  When I had my kids, they allowed smoking in the rooms.   With my youngest daughter, I was in a room with two other women.  They smoked and so did their visitors.  I used to sit on a chair in the hall so I didn't have to be around the smoke. 

I did have one birthday party I remember.  We had moved to a new community when I was in fourth grade.  I was nine years old when we moved, but I turned ten in fifth grade.  My mom let me have a golden birthday party.  I was ten on the tenth.  My grandma gave some nylon stockings and a garter belt to hold them up.  They didn't have pantyhose back then.  I'm not sure but they probably had seams.  The best entertainment at the party was girls trying on my new nylon stockings.  It is amazing they didn't get ruined.  I don't remember anything else about that party, but the nylon stockings were a hit.  I thought I was so grown up and the next Sunday I had to sing in the Junior Choir at church.  I dressed up and put on my new nylons.  I think all the trying on made the stockings stretch because by the time church was over the garter belt had slipped down and my stocking were all wrinkled down my legs.  I was so embarrassed and humiliated.  I blush easily as it is, so my face was probably purple by the time I got to the car.  Another bad birthday experience to remember. 

Then nine years ago I had to have cancer surgery.  I am good now, but I was released from the hospital two days before my birthday.  So as you can see, I don't associate birthdays with good health or happiness. 

I am happy I no longer get bronchitis or have cancer.  I am happy to be as old as I am with an amazing family.  I can't help having anxiety in early November, but I'm turning over a new leaf.   From now on I am going to enjoy my birthday.  I am not getting any younger, and I need to appreciate and celebrate every single one.  As upset and annoyed with Facebook as I get, I really appreciated all the birthday wishes and messages.  It isn't about presents or cake, it's about life and friends and family.  We all have had misfortunes but it doesn't define us.  So here's to another year, the good and the not so good.

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