Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of my twenty-ninth birthday. For those of you who hate math, that means I turned 33. For four years now I’ve refused to officially turn 30, not because I’m afraid of getting older, but because I feel like I never had the opportunity to give a proper goodbye to my 20’s.
Although I was not diagnosed with dysautonomia until last year, I started experiencing symptoms in 2009, just months before my 30th birthday. I had always imagined I would celebrate turning 30 with a bang – one last hurrah to commemorate my youth. Or, rather, it’s passing. I pictured cocktails, and lots of them, perhaps skinny dipping in the ocean (just kidding mom and dad), dancing the night away, stopping only to watch the sunrise. Unfortunately, I did none of those things.
Some friends and I rented a beach house about a month after my 30th to celebrate. It was a fantastic time, very relaxing, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. But unfortunately there is no warning when your life changes. Had I known I may never dance at a bar, go to a concert, get drunk, stay up all night, or run again, I would have done all those things one last time. Finally turning “30” (or 33) requires acknowledging that life has already changed.
However, POTS already has changed my life. And since there is nothing I can do about that, I’m working on how I perceive that, how I react to it. For the past few nights I have had horrible insomnia. Insomnia is a typical POTS symptom, but it is unusual for me. In fact, I usually have the opposite problem. Instead of having difficulty falling asleep, I usually have problems staying awake. On a typical night, I will fall asleep literally within thirty seconds of my head hitting the pillow.
Anyway, I slept for about an average of two or three hours per night over the past few nights, so I woke up very tired on my birthday. When I’m that tired, my symptoms flare up, so my heart rate was much higher than I would like, I was lightheaded, had a headache and was slightly feverish. The lightheadedness often makes it difficult for me to balance, and I walked smack into my car in the Starbucks parking lot. I originally was hoping to go out and do something fun after work, like go see a movie, but ended up deciding on a much needed nap instead. However, after I woke up from my nap I became very sneezy and had a little difficulty breathing. I have allergies and they’ve been a challenge lately.
Ordinarily, I would have labeled it a bad birthday. While I want nothing more than to go do the things normal people my age are doing, like go out dancing or hit the bars, that’s not my reality right now. But as long as I get my birthday nap, I think I’ll be okay. And who knows, maybe next year I will finally turn 30.
“We will now discuss in a little more detail the struggle for existence.” – Charles Darwin