The Holidays Can Be Painful

We had much to be thankful for at Thanksgiving – living, for example – painful though it has been the past four months – is still living.

People often tell us how lucky we are. I agree. Then, my brain flips to what have could have been the worst outcome, not that we both could have been killed – but that only ONE of us had died. The very thought of it quickly sets me to crying. How could I go on without him? The devastation would be mind-boggling and I try not to go there, though sometimes I still do and am grateful for my physical pain. The mental pain of losing him would be greater than anything a few broken bones will ever bring me.

Jim is 8 weeks out from his shoulder surgery, his stitches are gone, and his sling is off. He’s still unable to sleep on his right side and isn’t supposed to be reaching that arm up over his head and does take the occasional Ibuprofen for pain. On the bright side, he’s able to play guitar again! Today he heads to his first Physical Therapy appointment.

I’m 2 weeks out from my clavicle surgery, the stitches were removed four days ago, but I’m still in the sling 95% of the time. I can’t sleep on either side yet and am still propped up with pillows when I do so. Good thing I’m okay with sleeping on my back. I was given a couple simple exercises but, for the most part, the elbow stays tucked to my side in an effort to not move things around too much. Pain pills are taken 2-3 times a day. It sucks. It always hurts even with medication. It’s frustrating and sometimes downright infuriating not being able to do for myself.

With a great deal of help from Jim, the tree is up and the house is decorated (at least inside – no outdoor lights this year). We got our first major snow storm Sunday-Monday. A foot of the horrible white stuff fell. Thankfully, the same young man who mows the lawn also does snow removal – not that I’m going anywhere without help.

As I’m still unable to drive, my son took me Christmas shopping yesterday. Didn’t get it all done, but certainly a majority of that is complete. Gift bags and boxes will replace much in the way of the actual wrapping of gifts.

Doing what I can on the writing front. Try to edit a few chapters every day. Progress is slow, but it’s still progress. I’m thankful for that, too.

Yup, the pain tells me I’m alive. I’m no fan, but it’s a constant reminder that we escaped a far greater tragedy and are meant to keep on going – in sickness and in health, for better and for worse.

The Holidays can be very painful. Mortality rates go up during this time of year. I hope you all are able to find the positives in a sea of negatives and that you can find something to be grateful for each and every day, no matter how small. It’s amazing how monumental just cracking an egg into a bowl can be!

Take care of each other and do what you need to do to take care of yourself – especially when that means asking for help. We all need help now and then. Don’t be ashamed or afraid to ask for it.

Why I Have Grown To Hate My December Birthday

Just Plain Random Weirdness

Another year has rolled around and my birthday is fast approaching, not that anyone would have the time to recognize that fact. They are all too busy shopping for Christmas or Chanukah gifts, too busy baking holiday cookies, too many office parties to go to, too many guests coming over for Ugly Sweater Parties. Too many decorations to put up and a tree to trim and on and on. There just aren’t enough hours in the day during December to take a moment to recognize the December Birthday Boy or Girl.

I didn’t always feel this way. As a kid my parents always made an effort to keep my birthday something apart from Christmas. A special cake would be made. I’d get to pick what I wanted for dinner or where I’d like to go out to eat. My presents came wrapped in real-live birthday paper. Birthday cards even came in the mail addressed just to me.

The first time I had to make my own birthday cake is when it all really started to go downhill. Not sure what year that was (only that I was still living at home with my parents) or how I somehow found myself completely alone with the realization that if I wanted my chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting and mint chocolate chip ice cream that I was going to have to go about getting those things myself. I only remember that I was alone and I made my own cake and I cried. It wasn’t until the next day that someone suggested maybe we should get together and celebrate it after the fact. I accepted it all graciously because I reckoned it was better late than never.

I hate to complain, I really and truly do, but having a December birthday really does suck. Every year you get to hear at least one person say, “Oh, you mean I have to get you a birthday present, too?!” No, you don’t have to get me a birthday present, but just keep that in mind when your birthday rolls around during any one of the other eleven months of the year.

Some people don’t make a big deal out of their birthdays and that’s fine, but others look forward to them and forward to the celebration with family and friends and having just ONE day out of the year they can call their own. I knew a couple of people in school and within my family that share my birthday with me and that was actually cool, we could commiserate together over the lack of overall recognition.

Since that first birthday spent alone and/or unrecognized came about, it’s happened more and more. My birthday to others has become an afterthought, and let’s face it, a downright inconvenience. At least that’s how it has felt to me. Think about this. What if every year you never heard a peep from anyone on your birthday? No one called. No one sent you a card, let alone gave you a gift. No one invited you out for any sort of anything. Your special day is completely forgotten and ignored by everyone. Or if they did give you a gift, they said, “Happy Birthday and Merry Christmas” even if your birthday is say, in August.

I am fully aware at how selfish this all sounds. That’s why it’s taken me so long to get to this point where I can actually speak up about it. It’s still not comfortable, but being quiet and modest and claiming it doesn’t really bother me is a lie. It does bother me. It bothers me A LOT! I’m not asking for extravagant gifts or a full-blown party with all the works. No, I’m asking, like millions of other December Birthday People out there, for simple recognition that we were indeed born and that we do indeed have a birthday just like everyone else. Every now and then it’s nice to be recognized that we’ve managed to live another year and that maybe that fact is considered a good thing by those that know and love us. You do love us, right, despite the inconvenient time of year we were born?

I used to look forward to my birthday. I don’t anymore and not for the usual reasons other dis-likers of birthday’s people give. I like the idea of getting older. It sure beats the alternative! Now, I just assume it will be another ordinary day in the lives of those around me. There will be no fan-fare. They will be too busy working, taking down decorations, planning New Year’s Eve parties, or returning gifts they got for Christmas. All their time (not to mention money) has been spent. Besides, they just got me a Christmas present!! I should just shut up and be happy with that.