Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Complexity of Birthdays

I turned 33 earlier this month. I don't often mention my birthday on my blog, but I thought I may share how I feel about my birthday in case others may have the same confusing birthday feelings.

Birthday are complex for me, wrought with so many emotions and many of them unpleasant.

There is a the childlike excitement that springs up around my birthday. And even though as an adult the actual birthday isn't usually all that exciting and I haven't had an actual birthday party for myself in years, I still get that gity excitement that it is MY day!

Another part of me is relieved to see another birthday and to realize I am not dead yet. Pessimistic? Yes, but it is true. A part of myself is still so tied to that 14 year old who searched "Cystic Fibrosis" online and realized that although I never knew the consequences of my disease, I was in fact more than half way through my life according to statistics. That 14 year old me never thought I would be alive to see my 33rd birthday and yet, here I am.

And just as morbid I can't help, but still feel the stress and fear of the life expectancy hanging over my head as each year passes. And considering where my health is, it is not an easy thing to ignore. Maybe if I had great lung function, or even average lung function for a CFer I could ignore it more easily. I know this disease has been rapidly destroying my lungs and I know that without better medications and treatments (that aren't even available yet) I do not have a sprawling life ahead of me. The life expectancy of someone with CF is around 37, but for people born in my birth year the life expectancy is still only around 28 (according to Vertex). And to make matters worse I have officially outlived all of my closest CF friends. The friends that I could relate to the most as our diseases presented themselves similarly have all passed away. It is a lonely feeling and not one that makes birthdays seem overly exciting.

I guess being 33 with CF is a bit like being in your early 80s (mid 70s for a man). You know you are old and you are lucky to be that old. You know you could live to see 90 or potentially 100 and you live each day as if you still have a good amount of them left. And yet in the back of your mind you also know you are old and there is just no getting around that!

And mixed in with all those emotions I also feel a little sense of hope on my birthday that maybe, just maybe I will be one of those people that lives to "100" (in CF years, of course!).


  1. My mom will be 80 this fall and you are right about the secret hopes and fears that come with that age.

    I will remember your words while trying to be a good daughter to her.

    I so admire how honest you are about the bittersweet struggles you have living a life with CF.

    As always, I hope for only more time for you with your loving family.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. I hope your mom is in good health and lives to be 100 (in normal people years). :)

  2. Happy Birthday!!! And thanks for keeping it real.