This year, more than any other since my diagnosis, my birthday and multiple sclerosis collided in their own vicious, but quiet ways.
A birthday warrants a dinner out, but I chose a lunch instead. I may want to indulge on this special day, and rich foods wreak havoc on my system at night.
There was an MS social event that happened to fall on the same day and my sister and I wanted to go. We took our mom with us and that was the excitement of the birthday afternoon, except for the excitement that came later when I treated myself to a diet coke (I’m trying to drink water instead of soda), and my mom and I went looking for the bear on the loose in our hometown.
There was a call from my younger sister asking why I was home at 7PM, shouldn’t I be out celebrating and getting cute guys to buy me birthday drinks? Actually, a good movie and my sofa seemed like the best way to spend the evening as the exhaustion from the MS event, lunch out and bear hunting were starting to set in. Not really hunting, please don’t call PETA. We just wanted to get a look at the lost, furry stranger.
Also, I was due for a shot that night. Perhaps I could have planned it better than to have to do a shot on my birthday night, but I hadn’t done one the night before as I didn’t want to be dealing with the day after shot aches on my birthday. The night before that I had blown off doing the shot as I was at a Church event until 8:30, that was my wild night out on the town for the week, and was too tired to deal. The day before that was the Lord’s day and you are supposed to rest and give yourself to God on that day, not to ms injections. So the shot was overdue and needed to be done on the actual day of my birth.
But the most obvious way that MS and the day exploded into each other was when at lunch, my sister (who also has MS) pulled out her lunch time medications. That reminded me that I had a new medication that I needed to take at lunch so I pulled out my own little pill box. That caused my mom, who being our mom is clearly much older than my sister and I, to state how she had her own lunchtime medications but didn’t bring her own pillbox as she feared that would make her look like an old lady.
And there it was. As the heartburn from the french fries I had consumed during lunch began to take hold, it occurred to me why, before my diagnosis, I was telling friends I was turning into an old lady before my time. MS symptoms and treatments can too often mirror those of older people, making us feel older. Then, when a birthday hits, we are even more aware that with the combination of the years and the illness, old lady land is right around the corner.
But not for me, I decided. I will fight old lady land, ms or no ms, birthday or no birthday. That is why I dared to have a cup of tea while I watched a movie at the end of my special day, risking spending the entire night in the bathroom with my ms bladder issues. How many old ladies do you know who would dare to do that?
About the author: Yvonne deSousa was diagnosed with relapsing/remitting multiple sclerosis in 2009. Yvonne created her blog designed to help those with chronic illness laugh amid tears. Yvonne also enjoys writing about Cape Cod history and has been published on Cape Women Online and in the Provincetown Banner, and Cape Cod Times. Visit Yvonne online at YvonnedeSousa.com or Yvonne deSousa on Facebook.