I’ve always loved all things French so I quite like sharing my birthday with such an important national day of celebration and remembrance for France…July 14th, Bastille Day!
It is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille and the start of the French Revolution.
So What Is A Bastillion?
A bastillion is a fortress. The Bastille was a fortress used by French kings to imprison subjects who didn’t agree with them politically. It represented a place of oppression and captivity.
Bastille Day represents breaking free from such oppression.
As I think about my upcoming birthday and living with chronic illness, I could so easily feel like I’m in prison. The restrictions placed on me physically can become a fortress, a bastillion.
Special occasions or events can escalate the feeling of being a prisoner in my own body, my own home.
I could allow my “physical bastillion” to spoil my birthday, or I could take a leaf out of the French book and take decisive action…..a revolutionary response.
Birthday Balloons or Birthday Blues
Anyone with severe disabilities and chronic disease could easily be excused from trying to celebrate a birthday or another important milestone.
Any activity, outside of a well oiled routine, takes so much out of us. Much planning is required to achieve anything out of the ordinary.
Of course even the best planned strategies can turn pear shaped. A disease flare can destroy all hope of being able to move, let alone celebrate.
These are not excuses, they are realities.
However, if we are not careful we will just stop trying to make anything special. We could easily give up and turn our special day into a “birthday blues” kind of day.
No one wants to be miserable on any day but especially not on your birthday. Certainly not a chronic illness sufferer. Life is hard enough as it is.
Grieving and Celebrating
This year I’m acutely aware it’s going to be a different birthday for me. It’s the first since my Dad passed away 3 months ago. I’m going to miss my birthday phone call from him so much.
Dad always loved birthdays and making any celebration extra special. Growing up he made me feel like a Princess on my birthdays. Such precious memories.
I know the day this year will have moments when grief grabs me. I want to celebrate though because Dad would want me to be happy. He loved life and creating joyful moments was his speciality. I want to honour his memory by doing my best to celebrate life and the blessings I have this birthday.
Seeking the joy in life, no matter how simple, is absolutely crucial if I want to maintain some level and sense of well being.
So how can I keep the “Birthday Blues” at bay and embrace “Birthday Balloons”, despite my chronic illness and despite it being so close to Dad’s passing? Is it even possible given I’m in the early stages of grief?
I’m certainly going to try!!
Choosing Birthday Balloons
Let’s start with a few basic facts:
♡ A Birthday is just once a year;
♡ It’s important…you were born and your life is worth celebrating;
♡ It can be a simple occasion, it can even be a quiet day;
♡ You can set the agenda….It’s your day after all.
So what happens if you are just too unwell on the day?
Quite likely this will happen so here’s how I approach my birthday:
♡ I have a birthday month. Once July 1st hits, I take the opportunity to do special things as able. They range from cofffe and cake out with my husband or a day out in the country if possible. Morning or afternoon tea with special friends (on a day other than my actual birthday).
(This year COVID-19 has again impacted our lives greatly, and added an extra layer of celebration challenges for a chronic illness sufferer, who is already living with major restrictions on a daily basis.)
♡ I buy a few little birthday gifts online throughout the month. Little treats bring joy and don’t need to burst the budget. As they arrive in the mail, each parcel offers some birthday pleasure and excitement.
♡ I limit medical appointments. I want to focus on life and nice things. If I’m not critically ill, I can deal with health issues next month. It’s like having a holiday and it’s a wonderful birthday gift.
♡ I don’t plan any activities outside of our home on my actual birthday. My husband always has presents, a birthday cake and often a surprise, like pretty balloons or flowers to spoil me. There are lovely phone calls, texts and messages from family and friends to also make the day feel extra special.
♡We know we’ll be at home so we plan a lovely lunch….usually something decadent, like home made burgers in crunchy rolls, with all the trimmings. Something we wouldn’t normally have.
♡ We usually pick out a movie to relax with during the birthday lunch. We are thinking Peter Rabbit 2 might be the movie of choice this year.
♡ No specific plans on the day make it so much more relaxing. The stress of worrying about disappointing others because you have to cancel plans, is just completely removed. You feel so free and the risk of birthday blues, due to fear of missing out, is totally removed.
♡ If you happen to wake up on your actual birthday and find you are having a good day…you can make the most of it. Adhock plans can be so much fun. Just make sure you have a rest day planned the next day and probably the day after. With careful planning, if you are feeling well, why not push the boundaries a little on your birthday.
May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed. Psalm 20 v 4 NIV
Hopes For A Happy Birthday
Given our diseases work hard at making us prisoners in our own bodies, it’s vitally important we don’t add to those prison bars. Setting unrealistic goals and making definite plans for the day, will likely end in disappointment and tears. It’s supposed to be a happy day. We need to do our best to make it enjoyable and special. We owe it to ourselves, not anyone else.
Being brave to do things differently, on terms workable for you, is the key to choosing to blow away the birthday blues and replacing them with birthday balloons.
It takes a change of mindset and if you are used to big birthday celebrations, letting others know well in advance how you need and intend to spend your special day, is vitally important. The earlier loved ones know your new way of celebrating, the better opportunity they have to get their heads around the change to your previous way of celebrating.
So “Birthday Blues” or “Birthday Balloons”? The choice is yours, the choice is mine.
I’ll be choosing “Birthday Balloons” and I think my Dad would be very happy with my choice.
I think I might also indulge in a croissant on the day, as a nod to my love of all things French. Seems perfect and fitting really and almost wrong not to….don’t you think?
A Birthday Gift Idea – WEGO Health Award Announcement
Firstly I want to thank those who
nominated me for nine WEGO Health Awards for 2021. I am so honoured and grateful as this is an amazing opportunity to raise awareness of my Facebook Support Forum, Medical Musings with Friends , and reach out to more people globally in need of genuine care and support.
So, now I’m nominated my goal is to become a finalist, particularly in the Best in Show: Community Award category.
I can’t think of a nicer birthday gift than having my nominations endorsed, so I can use this platform to reach others.
The link below will allow you to click “Endorse” to vote for my nominations, which is the way the voting system works in the WEGO Health Awards.
You will see you can Endorse me for each individual category I’ve been nominated for. Once you click the Endorse button it takes you to another screen where you choose which award nomination you are endorsing:
- Best in Show: Blog
- Best in Show: Community
- Best in Show: Facebook
- Best in Show: Instagram
- Best in Show: Podcast
- Best Team Performance
- Hilarious Patient Leader
- Patient Leader Hero
- Advocating For Another
Thank you so much for your support, not just of me but for my forum and for helping me spread the word about Medical Musings with Friends.
If I can reach more people in need, as a result of these nominations and endorsements, I will be absolutely delighted.