Saturday, December 29, 2012


My birthday is the day after Christmas, which means three days ago I turned forty.

Like all birthdays, the number attached this year was bigger than on the last birthday, but this number felt particularly big--bigger, I'm sure, than forty-one will feel. In fact writing "forty" out just now made me cringe a little, so evidently even seventy-two hours on, I have not quite come to terms it.
After the hubbub of Christmas and the strain of working my Byzantine medical schedule, naps, and uncooperative appetite around holiday traditions and family visits, I just wanted a day when I had as little to do as possible.

I didn't want to go shopping, although that's how I usually spend the day (because the best sales of the year are on my birthday). I didn't want to go to a museum and have to pack all my medicine in a bag and then rush home once the fatigue set in, I didn't even want The Poet to take me out to dinner as he had repeatedly offered, because I didn't want to make a reservation and worry about my dietary restrictions and whether I'd be hungry on time. I didn't really even want to talk to people, because conversation when I'm on the Samento-Banderol-Teasel protocol can sometimes be exhausting.

I've come to my parents' house to hibernate for a few months and that was exactly what I did. I hid out in my bedroom/study. I wrote a blog post, I looked for quotations for my memoir, and took an hour and a half nap. When I woke up I was still tired. I tried reading, and when I realized I couldn't really focus on the sentences, I gave up and just laid back against my bedrest, half-meditating, half-contemplating.

Most of the time my thoughts are in the mix. I think about my writing or my medicine, making plans with friends, what to cook for dinner, or when I'll go running and how best to take care of The Poet and Cleo. But the day you turn forty is the day you inevitably do some tallying up.

And these were the numbers that came to mind:

40 years of life
15 and 1/2 years of health problems
14 years of full-blown Lyme
14 years without gainful employment
6 years since diagnosis
5 and 1/2 years of treatment
213 days no-holds-barred treatment
60 drops of Samento per day
60 drops of Banderol per day
60 drops of Teasel per day

These numbers, especially the first part, are good grounds for feeling retropsectively sorry for myself.  This was no pity party, however, because I know I made the most of those oh-so-tough years. I can't quite call them lost years because I learned things about myself and about life, and I made the  most of what little energy I had.

It was also no pity party because in my mind, the last four numbers are good ones. I don't know if the Samento-Banderol-plus-Teasel protocol will work. Experience has taught me that the fat lady really does need to sing. But at least I can tell myself I'm doing all I can, the rest is up to the universe. And in the last few days I've had moments--a few hours here or there--when things in my body have felt different, that is to say, better.

And also floating through my mind was this bit of wisdom I'd found that morning, from Benjamin Franklin:

"He that can have patience can have what he will."

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