Friday, 21 July 2017

It's My Birthday

I've waited, intentionally waited, before writing today. You see, today is my birthday. Today I turned 62 years old. Today was a day I never expected to see, never thought would arrive for me. When I was 57 and newly diagnosed with ALS, I would not have given a plug nickle for anything past 60, and not much more for 60 itself. The statistics said it. I had ALS. I had been symptomatic for at least two years. My life expectancy, at best, was 36 months. That's what the neurologist said.

The problem is that life expectancy is all about statistics. My statistic of one has not followed the pattern of the norm. My progression has been slower than expected, causing me to endure this disease for longer than expected. So this birthday is both a marker of an unexpected gift, and an unexpected curse. It seems I will, once again, outlive my money and my plans.

For some people, each and every birthday is something to celebrate. This celebration of birthdays is not something universal, however. Our modern celebrations have more to do with our wealthy society than with any real tradition of celebration. On top of that, a great many cultures celebrate the births of boys while mourning the births of girls. I am fortunate to have been born in a time and place where birthday celebrations happen.

If anyone should be congratulated for this day, it should be my Mom. She is the one who carried me for nine long months, the last two of them deep into the heat of summer. She is the one who delivered me in a hospital room populated by nuns who had never had a child telling her what to do, and a doctor who was really only there for the final event. Birth in the 1950's was fully medicalized, leaving no respect for the woman in charge of delivering herself a child.

I call my Mom on my birthday. I did that today. I thank her for going through those nine months, that tough delivery, and being there for the rest of my life right up until this day. If anyone has a right to be congratulated, it is her. If anyone should be celebrated it is her. All I did on this day was get hauled out of a warm, moist womb into a cold, sterile world, once there to be slapped such that my first utterance was a cry of pain.

So happy birthday to me. I shall celebrate quietly, with a glass of wine and a plate of pasta. I'm not a cake fan, perhaps I might have an ice cream bar. I will watch a movie or two. I will go to bed at an indecent hour. In other words, today will not be all that different than other days. I'll just have completed another orbit around the sun, as so many have done before me, as so many will do after me.


  1. 🎶happy birthday to you!🎶happy birthday to you!🎶 sorry singing not included, have a terrible voice!

  2. Happy birthday, I'm the same age! My symptoms started when I was 58. Totally understand the blessing/curse aspect of slow progression... thanks for your blog