My first plan for my birthday tomorrow was to make a return trip to the coast so I could see my dogs run on the beach. I’m acutely aware of time passing. Facebook showed me a photo of my Bowie that I’d posted this day last year and he has hardly any grey. Today, he is a grizzled old man.
My boys don’t have a lot of years left and I missed three of their most active years while I was busy trying not to die, so, if I could get them out of the house to the coast a few weekends a year, that’d be my dreams come true. Or, at least, one of my dreams. The really low-shooting one. I also dream of being able to have an extended conversation, but that’s getting pretty ambitious.
I’ve been watching the weather on the coast constantly, knowing there’d be no point in making the trip just to get rained on and succumb to the bone chills to which I’m so susceptible. As soon as the 10-day forecast was available, I knew it probably wasn’t going to happen. That was the first birthday plan to be doused.
But I had a plan B: I thought perhaps we could go out to eat for the first time in years. I’ve reintroduced many foods (most nuts and seeds, milk, corn, oats, nightshades) and I’d had a stretch of days where I didn’t need to go to bed in the afternoon, so I thought maybe I could risk going out to a restaurant, indulge in someone else cooking for me… you know, an early-bird dinner on a Monday, so the place is quiet — somewhere close, that uses fresh, local ingredients…. I haven’t worn a stitch of makeup in almost three years and, about a month ago, thinking of my birthday, I ordered a “sampler” of makeup online: a cheap case with a shallow circle of powder, eye shadow, blush. I thought maybe I could put on a birthday face, put some colour in my cheeks, make myself feel normal, maybe even attractive. I even rescheduled my haircut to be before my birthday. Dinner, dolled up and a do. This was a big deal.
Then, plan C: I decided maybe I could have a few of my old work friends over on the Sunday for an hour or two. Surely I could manage a very low-key visit Sunday afternoon and a very low-key dinner Monday evening… after all, I go to multiple doctor appointments every week. Plus, my birthday is falling during the follicular phase of my cycle, which is, historically, my least reactive time. I invited my work friends over for today and made a dinner reservation for 4 people for tomorrow, hoping our best friends, Z and J, could join us… But, it seems the very thought of an occasion is enough to kick off a roller coaster of symptoms.
My throat spot started to itch when it hadn’t bothered me in months. Headaches returned when I went weeks without one. My sleep got worse and heart palpitations were constant. Then, while I was sitting in therapy, my tongue started to swell. I bit into a Benadryl in between bitching about my doctors and my isolation. That kicked off this last week of trouble. I had no appetite, my body felt swollen and inflamed. My neck was stiff and I was chilled to the bone every day. Things calmed down a bit just in time for my second round of bowel tests a few days ago, but that appointment stirred up gut problems that stopped me from sleeping again and the roller coaster started another run around the track.
I gave in and cancelled the dinner reservation a few days ago during the second tongue swelling episode. If all my normal home-cooked food has become suspect, how can I heedlessly stuff my face with Carnaroli Risotto or Mini Duck Burgers? Plan B was scratched. I warned my friends that Sunday might not happen, gave them daily updates. I said, I still have faith that we’re on, but… we might not be on. I scrambled for backup plans D and E.
I decided, at the very least, I’d like to go to my favourite dog park, which I haven’t visited since becoming housebound. It’s huge, with fields, paths, bridges and a river and there are always tons of dogs. I would need a mobility scooter, but it might be worth the money to rent one. It’s meant to be sunny and warm and I immediately get tears in my eyes thinking about how happy my dogs would be to go there. When I really think about joy — freedom, nature, happy pups — this is what I want to do for my birthday. My sister and her boyfriend offered to come over on my birthday, too, so at least something would feel special if I were too sick to move off the couch.
Yesterday afternoon, I finally gave in and called my friends off, so they weren’t being strung along and could make plans for their Sunday. There goes plan C. But, ever the optimist, I told my sister that maybe, if I felt good today, I would get ballsy and jump on a late brunch or early dinner at an actual restaurant, actually dressed (plans F and G?). I slept a long time last night and awoke hopeful, but my body wasn’t cooperating and, at 2pm, I let her know brunch wouldn’t be happening. At 5pm, I texted her from bed and told her dinner wouldn’t be happening.
Tonight, I’m not doing well. I’m flushed and have cold sweats, my entire body feels swollen. Tomorrow, I won’t be putting on any makeup or eating any fancy food, I won’t be chatting with old friends or smelling the ocean air. But, I’m going to try my hardest to sleep peacefully and spend an hour outdoors, in the sun with my family and then watch some telly with my sis in the evening. Out of my 7 ideas, I have faith 1 or 2 will make it a special day and, if for some reason those plans are scratched, too, I’ll still be celebrating that Whoohoo, I made it to 42!