It is my birthday this month, and I could not be more excited. I am one of those people who cannot sleep the night before their birthday and will wake up excitedly at 4 a.m. I do dread the thought of being sung to — because I never quite know where to look, what to do with my hands, or whether my blushing face has reached tomato-level red.
This year is extra special, though. It isn’t a big birthday, and I don’t have specific plans. But this year, I can actually fully celebrate being alive for the first time in 15 years. It is the first birthday I won’t be in the hospital or having a nap to make it through a family dinner. We weren’t sure I would make it to this birthday due to all my health complications last year and the fact that my myasthenia gravis had progressed to the refractory form. This year I am feeling strong, energetic, and appreciative of my life.
Last weekend, I spent time reflecting on just how far I have come. At this time last year, I had to use a walking stick to get around, and I could not get up off the floor without crawling to a piece of furniture to pull myself up. I cut my hair short because I didn’t have the energy to brush or wash it, let alone blow dry and style it. I would hardly ever eat dinner, as I would choke on food after about 4 p.m., and I could not miss a single dose of medication (taken at very specific times) without feeling the consequences.
I couldn’t carry grocery packets, as my hands would simply open, spilling the contents everywhere. I could not hold a conversation or get through an entire interview regarding rare diseases without slurring or battling to enunciate my words. I felt constantly exhausted, as if every moment of every day required enormous effort.
And now? Now I go to the gym every single day. I am slowly building up my strength once again. I can get up off the floor by pushing up on my legs and wash my (still short) hair with the greatest of ease. I have been eating everything I possibly can (another great reason to start at the gym!) and have lowered my dosage of medication.
I am able to speak and laugh with friends, and constantly am being told by others that they didn’t know I had so much energy. I no longer fall asleep at friends’ houses during visits, and I can make it through an entire day without needing a nap. I am running two businesses of my own. But best of all? I am happy — right from my toes.
So again, I remember why I am celebrating this birthday, and I am more excited than ever to see what the future holds for me.
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