True fact: Every birthday is a gift. No matter your age, take a minute and remember those you’ve known who have not made it as far as you.
We mostly obsess about birthdays when our new age ends with a zero. Sure, these are major milestones, but in point of fact every year you get is a real bonus.
In 1999, I arrived in the emergency room at age 35 in the sixth month of my second pregnancy. My fixed and dilated pupils were symptomatic of my brain stem functions such as respiration starting to shut down. This was caused by an extremely large cerebral homorrhage. 70% of patients presenting with these symptoms die. Through top notch medical care and a lot of luck I survived the brain surgery to stop the bleeding. The baby seemed to be unaffected. I was put in a medically induced coma for 2 weeks to keep me still while I recovered from the surgery. When I came out of the coma, the entire left side of my body was paralyzed from the brain damage. It was not clear I would survive the swelling of my brain.
There was another miracle when I gave birth to a baby boy 6 weeks before his due date while I was still hemiplegic.
I did go on to make a dramatic partial recovery, but I so vividly remember my 36th birthday as one for the records because it really wasn’t a given. I have also celebrated every Valentines Day since as another type of birthday because that was the day my brain started to bleed, and we all get busy thinking about those we love on that day.
While the experience was intensely traumatic, scary and difficult, it made me appreciate every birthday rather than dread getting older.
I have extremely limited patience for listening to friends cry over getting another year older.
I will turn 55 years old this Wednesday, so I have passed those two big milestone birthdays where my age ended in a zero. You will not hear me complain about having wrinkles or gray hair. To me, they are truly badges of honor for having lived this long.