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I turned 49 years old on April 5th, and for my birthday, I got to take a shower.
Yes, you read that right—I’m 49 now.
My dad calls me on my birthday. Until a few years ago, he’d sing “Happy Birthday,” but now he sticks to saying it and asks me what I’ve done to celebrate. This time my response was that I got to take a shower.
This is something you wouldn’t think of as a gift, but for me, this year it was. There were other special things too, but that shower was definitely a high point.
I am not a bath person, I prefer showers. On the rare occasion that I take a bath, I have to sit on a cloth so my bare butt isn’t directly on the porcelain tub. It doesn’t matter how clean the tub is or even if it’s brand spanking new. Not only do I need a towel of some sort as a buffer, but the idea of sitting and soaking in my own filth, even if I’ve showered first, creeps me out.
But after two weeks of spot cleaning myself with a washcloth and baby wipes—my mom calls this a whore bath—I got the all clear from my doctor that the hole in my bad boob had healed enough that I could shower and continue with regular wound care instead of packing the hole with gauze.
Two years ago, I had an abscess that grew large enough that I was admitted for breast surgery. In an attempt to keep gory details to a minimum, I’ll just say that part of my breast caved in and turned necrotic. When I woke up from surgery, a doctor told me that the dead area of my breast and nipple were removed.
Two years later, the abscess returned.
This time, luckily, I was able to have an out-patient procedure that resulted in what is termed as packing. An incision was made to drain the abscess, then the space got packed with gauze to be replaced daily so the body can heal from the inside out to help keep any nasty fluid from lingering inside. Again, I’m trying to keep goriness to a minimum, but I had no idea this was even a thing. It is—I googled it.
So yes, being able to take a full, normal shower was a highlight. Standing there while the warm water poured over me made me happy. I stood there appreciating the flowing water while I sang “Happy Birthday” to myself.
Then, I got to help my youngest niece practice using “the Force.”
She’s five, so her imagination is boundless, and she came up with this activity. Because of my beliefs and being a “Star Wars” fan, this was fun for me, yet such a simple thing. She grabbed my helium-filled birthday balloon, we both found perching spots to sit, and we used “the Force”—our power—to move the balloon back and forth to each other while trying not to touch it. But it was okay for her to grab the string hanging from the balloon with her toes…because sometimes five-year-old logic is awesomely amazing.
The weekend before my birthday, I had friends and family over, the grill got fired up, and yummy food was made for all to eat. A couple of my favorite people even decided to stay the night. We stayed up late playing games, having good conversation, and enjoying our time together.
Even though I’d be glad to sleep through this week, I appreciate all the things I experienced for my birthday this year and all the people who shared it with me. At my core, I’m an introvert who is not at all comfortable with a fanfare gathering focused on me but, all in all, I had a good 49th birthday.
And I got to take a shower.