This is something I wrote last year on another cypher place. It is still true today on my 43rd birthday. Be grateful.
Well, there it is. It is my birthday. My 9 year-old daughter circled the date with a big, red circle. The swirl of the crimson shape makes me feel heavy-hearted. This year brought nothing to celebrate. Why should I acknowledge turning another year older?
At the beginning of the year, I underwent a thyroidectomy. I have been battling thyroid disease for many years. The medication rollercoaster to get my levels balanced did nothing in my body’s fight with my lumpy organ. My spare and second spare tires around my belt loop are the reminders of just how awful my body was losing the fight.
It took months of treatments and many medication changes to get it right. On the day of every test I would kiss my loved ones to wish them a good day. I didn’t know if it was for the last time. I became convinced I wouldn’t make it out of surgery. Maybe it was my time. Mom died at 39 years old. Today, I am 42.
The weeks that followed after surgery was like being on an old wooden rollercoaster ride that never stopped. From follow up tests, the worries, more challenges, my youngest’s rough time communicating and so much more. I kept hoping things would die down. But it never did.
Winter blended into Spring, Summer arrived with a leg injury. It was my fault. I had received the 6-month clearance that day. I was playing with my youngest. I caught her in a jump and she came down hard on my kneecap. My leg swelled from knee to toe. I couldn’t do anything fun with the kids for the rest of summer break. The kids did okay with limited activities. I felt like such a failure as a mom.
To say I was depressed was putting it mildly. After a battery of medical appointments, I was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I was sent on the way home with a prescription and orders for self care. HA! Putting myself as a priority is odd and unfamiliar. I had a lot of reprogramming in myself to do. I started by journaling and doodling in the coloring books for adults. It became easier to do in between interruptions.
When school was back in session, I thought I would finally get me time. That honeymoon ended swiftly as I would get the rescue calls to get my youngest. Her communication abilities completely shut down. She has autism and is partially verbal. My girl was screaming at school for reasons unknown. It turned out she was hit with a big mess of infections. Screaming was her way of dealing with the foreign feelings in her body. It broke my heart (and ears) every time she would wail in my arms. Eventually, she healed. We learned what to do the next time she physically communicates pain. School is being a happy place again.
When a lump was found, in the ultrasound the technician stopped the scan. She got the doctor who saw it and sent me directly to the OR. It had grown too fast. I had a lumpectomy right then and there. I hadn’t prepared for surgery so I had to drive myself home after. And the worry train started up again.
Thankfully, those test results were clear. I had a lot of emotional healing to do. I slowly took back the reins of my life. The bad days are still always just around the corner. Sometimes the crushing pressure on my heart makes me not to want to get out of bed.
“HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU!!!” I hear the chorus coming down the hall. It is my kids and hubby.
It is as if lightening struck my depression bubble. Everything becomes sharper and brighter.
It is my birthday. I am here. I know I didn’t feel grateful in the OR. I felt grateful when I woke up in ICU. I felt grateful to hear my family’s beautiful voices. I didn’t feel grateful that I couldn’t have coffee. I did feel grateful when I could have showers again. I didn’t feel grateful when loved ones disappeared when I needed support. I am grateful for the people who surprised me with their love and care packages. I didn’t feel grateful when friends passed away or their children.
I am grateful for the healthcare system. I am grateful to be able to celebrate my 42nd birthday because I can. I am feeling such appreciation for the small things that turned out to be so big and mean so much.
As I blow out the candles, a feeling of gratitude washes over me. It is okay to feel sad. It is okay to be grateful too. I am grateful for another year. The New Year is looking a lot brighter now.