Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The big 40


It happened. On June 11th, I turned 40. I remember when I turned 26 what my brother said. “Now your closer to 30 than you are to 40.” He then laughed a lot. As I turn 40, I’m being told that 40 is the new 30. I hope that’s true. 

Turning 40 seemed like something I really should blog about. It’s a big birthday for anyone. It’s a really big one for me. When I blew out my candles at my 30th birthday party, my HPS diagnosis was still pretty new. I’d been to NIH and I knew I already had a lot of inflammation in my lungs. They told me the pulmonary fibrosis was soon to follow. When I took that big breath and blew out those candles, in my mind I wondered to myself if I’d ever have a 40th birthday, and if I did, if I would still be able to take a deep breath and blow out candles. 

So, reaching 40 seems like a big deal. I should have something profound to say. I should have some deep words to share. 

The thing is I don’t. I’ve been putting off even writing about turning 40. 

It was a great birthday, but I’ve tried not to think about it too much. 

Health wise I’ve done SO MUCH better than anyone ever predicted. I had no trouble blowing out those candles! I did it in one breath! 

Yes, it’s true. My health isn’t as good at 40 as it was at 30. Yes, it’s true. My life sure hasn’t turned out the way I had thought. It’s hard not to think about that on a milestone birthday like 40. When you’re 20 you have an image of what life is supposed to look like at 40. 

My life sure isn’t what I pictured when I was 20. No husband. No kids. No money etc. etc. etc. 

I must admit (although I almost hate to for fear of upsetting some of you) that I can’t help but think that with every happy birthday, the chances that my pulmonary fibrosis will nose dive grow larger. In this way turning 40 is actually a little scary. 

Yet so much in life hasn’t gone according to plan. I want to say these things. I want to say what is really in the back of my mind that I would never share in casual conversation. I want people to understand how HPS affects our lives on so many levels. When it’s your body, you can’t pretend it away. You can’t ignore it away. It’s there like a ghost in the back of your mind that comes out from time to time and haunts your thoughts. 

Yet, at the same time, while things haven’t gone according to plan, I can honestly say I’m happy! I really am. How many people get to do something they truly love every day? Not many. It might not offer much financially, but when that pulmonary fibrosis catches up with me (or I get hit by a bus someday), how much will that matter. How many people get to feel like what they do on a daily basis helps so many people? How many people get that kind of meaning and satisfaction in life? 

We all get depressed. We all go through dark times. But, sometimes you have to choose to be happy. (I do know not everyone can do this.) I try not to focus on my constant financial worries that will always be there. I try not to mourn all the things I feel I should have been able to do in life. That word “should” rarely coexists with happiness. 

Turning 40 doesn’t have too much to do with all of that. 

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