Er, excuse me, where did the year just go?? I am forty next month and I have not completed my F-List. This is not on. To make things worse, my shunt has decided to malfunction. Great timing, as always, Shunt! I had planned to go to Paris in September (it’s on my F-List) but now I can’t leave the house, let alone leave the country.
Maybe I’ll just have to be creative regarding that one. I have decided to start organising my fortieth birthday plans now. Because October is galloping up behind me at alarming speed and my gut is telling me that I am almost certainly heading for head surgery of some sort. So best to crack on with it now rather than wait and find myself in hospital, rather poorly and with no energy to organise a wash, let alone a party. I am now trying to decide what to do to celebrate what has turned out (rather surprisingly) to be an important birthday to me. Here’s why it’s important:
- I’m grateful to be able to celebrate a fortieth birthday. Not that every time my shunt fails I think I’m going to die – I don’t. But in the last thirteen years I’ve had nineteen troublesome brain and stomach surgeries, two shunt infections, a blockage, collapsed ventricles in the brain, my brain fluid leaking down my neck (it really shouldn’t be on one’s neck) and a couple of genuine moments where I did, momentarily, find myself thinking; ‘hmm, this feels dangerous. I wonder where this is going to end up?’. Having genuine uncertainty, even if it’s fleeting, as to whether you’re still going to be alive in a couple of days is rather odd. Also, probably more obviously, the work I’ve done on my shunt donation project has taught me that I am actually very, very, very lucky indeed. Life should be celebrated.
- I want to throw a nice party to thank my family and friends for helping over the years. I know what they’d say to that; ‘that’s what we’re here for!’. Well, yes it kind of is. But that doesn’t mean I take it for granted. The only way I can stay positive when I’m very ill is because of them.
- Last year’s birthday was a washout. I was so ill, I couldn’t even stay to my own party. I ended up in bed by 8.30pm.
- Although people may not see it this way, I’ve had a cracking first 39 years. I had a wonderful childhood, a pretty normal teenage existence (stroppy, spotty, thought I knew everything but still secretly loved hanging out with my family even though it was criminal to admit that), some very blessed years in my twenties working at Nick’s Music Studios which was the best job I ever could have asked for, and even though the years since then have been challenging, I’ve learnt a lot. I wouldn’t change a thing so far. Even the hydrocephalus bit. I have often said that if I were given the choice of going back to my life at 26, when I was diagnosed, and having the option of either NOT having hydrocephalus but staying in my life as it was at that time, with that boyfriend (we were about to sign a mortgage and probably would have got married), that job (before I worked at Nick’s Studios) and that perfectly-fine-but-unremarkable existence OR having hydrocephalus and ending up where I am now (single, only able to work part-time, feeling physically rubbish much of the time), I would without hesitation choose the latter. I prefer who I am now. I’m genuinely happy. Hydrocephalus and all.
So I feel I have lovely things to celebrate and lovely people to celebrate them with. But what to do? It’s hard to plan a big party when you’re feeling so ill you can’t function after 2pm and your memory is like a colander. I have no idea of what is going to happen be done regarding my head; I know they want to do ICP monitoring but what comes after that is anyone’s guess. I have pushed my party back to 10th November at the moment..I am hoping that if I do have to have a sizeable surgery, this will allow me to recover enough to attend my party! Here are the options I am considering:
- Hiring a boat on the River Thames and having a floating party, with live music from my friends-in-various-bands. It would be a four-hour cruise past all the major sights and back again. It would also be pretty expensive. But fun.
- Hiring a venue down here (by ‘here’ I mean Brighton as that’s the nearest large city to me and has the most options) with – again – live music and good food. It’s cheaper and it’s easier to accomplish if by any chance I am ill on the day. I could still go for a few hours whereas getting to London from here and then partying and then getting back when your head pressure is off is not really that enjoyable.
- A cocktail party at mine; it’s big enough and I have a 1950s cocktail bar that I bought on Ebay when I moved out here. The downside of this is that I cannot leave if I feel unwell and it’s a lot of organisation/preparation/clearing up, which isn’t easy when you’re ill.
I had wanted to spend my fortieth in Paris but that is now impossible. I wondered about having a Paris-themed party instead, with French food, French music and French decor. I need some suggestions if anyone has any. Please feel free to list them below! My aching head would be grateful for them. xx