I’m Forty Next Month. I Have A Par-day To Plan. Help.

September 1, 2013

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. 

This is where I wanted to be on my fortieth.  I love it here.

This is where I wanted to be on my fortieth. I love it here.

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

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  • Reply josiejolene September 1, 2013 at 4:32 pm

    I definitely think you should have a Paris themed party. It was my first thought when I started reading (before I got to the bottom when you suggested it yourself!). I think a party in Brighton/Hove somewhere where you can go home and not have to clean up is the most sensible option. What about having a party planning committee so that it doesn’t just fall down to you? I am happy to volunteer my services to help out as a committee member if there are others who would like to help out? I have a baguette in my bread bin as we speak and I already own a beret and can say Bonjour with a bit of a French accent. xxx
    P.S. Committee member sounds a little serious – you know that I mean it in an informal way! x

    • Reply jordantheheadcase September 1, 2013 at 4:34 pm

      Thanks Jo…Lana just emailed me with the same suggestion and offer to help. Nice to have lovey friends. I am awaiting some feedback from a few venues and soon as I do, I’ll have a better idea of costs/what I can do. Thanks for your help offer…I think I am going to take you up on it! xx

  • Reply happinessheals September 1, 2013 at 4:44 pm

    Good Day Jordan,

    Wow, yes the 40th Birthday was also really important to me as my father died when he was 39 and it was one of my goals to live to be 40. I am now 48.75 years young. I think for your birthday you ought to have a Paris themed party as you had planned to go to Paris. Here are a few suggestions for restaurants that I found on the net. I have never been to any of them as I live on Vancouver Island, BC, but I love to plan a party so here are a few of my suggestions.

    1. have the party somewhere you do not have to clean up! (I thought that was a great idea you had).

    2. http://www.cafedelice.co.uk/ in 40 Kensington Gardens, Brighton BN1 4AL – 01 273 622 519Café & Bistro in the heart of Brighton’s North Laine

    3. https://www.facebook.com/plateaubrighton 1 Bartholomews
    BN11HG Brighton

    4. Have one of your friends or family that loves to cook French throw you a party. I bet one of your lovely friends would enjoy creating a fabulous party for you. :~)

    5. Listen to French music and be kind to your amazing self.

    Thank you for sharing your amazing view of life with me. I Love YOU. :~)

    • Reply Jordan Adams September 1, 2013 at 4:49 pm

      Thank you! Interesting to see the Brighton venues there; I’ll check those out. Yes, I’m certain I cannot do any cleaning up afterwards this year! It’ll have to be an afternoon do as well if I’m still overdraining by then because I can’t move about by the evenings at the moment. I think that 40 has a far bigger significance for many than they expect. I feel it’s a really transitional time for people. Sorry to hear about your dad; that must have been tough. I nearly lost my dad when I was 11 (he had two brain haemorrhages) but luckily he came back to us. Thank you for your kind comments as always! Jordan x

  • Reply livelovedissertate September 1, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    The Paris themed party sounds great. I posted about my first trip to Paris earlier today – it may inspire a few ideas:
    Secrets to Planning Your First Trip to Paris
    Best wishes!

  • Reply Jayne September 2, 2013 at 1:02 am

    Paris theme, for sure! It sounds like a fun day, wish I could be there! I love how blogging makes the world a smaller place, introducing us to each other and reminding us there is a huge world out there with people (like you) who have amazing stories. You seem like someone I would love to sit down to coffee with, glad I stumbled upon your blog. BTW, I’m looking at 52 next month, and I can assure you, life just gets better & better.

    • Reply jordantheheadcase September 2, 2013 at 10:19 am

      Lol, the Paris idea seems to be winning hands down! Thank God, because the cost of hiring a boat on the Thames – even a small one – is enough to make your toes curl and not in a good way. Glad to hear life improves with age! I agree; I am so much happier now than I was in my teens and twenties; I think it’s the assurance you develop of who you actually are. Thanks for your kind comments and if you’re ever in the South East of the UK, drop me an email and we can meet up for that coffee! Jordan x

  • Reply Steve F September 2, 2013 at 7:16 am

    G’day Jordan,

    I like the idea of having everybody that is and has been important in your life involved. Will you enlist some help in getting things sorted or do you do it all yourself? As to ideas, I’m thinking of a kind of This Is Your Life show, but in reverse. You are the host for the presentation to your guests of the story of your life up to now. Maybe put together a bit of a slide show of your progression from childhood to 40 years young. I don’t mean for the event to be self-indulgent on your part (I’m sure you aren’t that way), but as a way of sharing your journey, and your thanks for the love and support of close ones during your hydro years.

    Anyhow, have a fab birthday, and I hope to catch up again soon. Keep up the great work with the blog. At a time when I’m trying to establish for myself what’s realistic and what’s not in terms of goals, your work is an inspiration.

    Steve F (Dunbogan, NSW, Australia)

    • Reply jordantheheadcase September 2, 2013 at 10:27 am

      Wow Steve, that’s an original idea! Top marks for that one! I think I’m going to stick with the Paris idea because that’s on my F-List of things to do before I turned forty; I had planned to go a few days before my birthday and stay there so I would actually turn forty in Paris – and kill two birds with one stone, so to speak. But the shunt has other ideas so that’s not possible now. By trying to bring Paris to Brighton for an afternoon, I’m hoping I can kind of tick Paris off my list! But I’m having a screen projector anyway to show Paris footage (in mute) on the walls so maybe a slide show of life up till now could be fun too. I have lots of photos of me with many of my friends (many of whom will be there) wearing dodgy eighties clothes and generally looking ridiculous so it could be fun to include them all in my mortification!
      Thanks for the good birthday wishes. And as to working out what’s realistic and what’s not goal-wise, I tend to stick to two rules now; do what makes you happy and count your blessings. Anything else – for me – never seems to work!
      Jordan x

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