By Clare Almand
22 Dec

A Lifetime of Decembers

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Today is my 25th birthday. I will be spending at least four hours of it on a bus home from New York and then who knows how many hours of it at the DMV to renew my driver’s license so it won’t be illegal for me to operate a motor vehicle the next day. While it’s not the ideal way I’d like to spend my birthday, I know that it could be much worse.

Over the course of many years, I have experienced what it’s like to spend each day from December 11th to December 25th in the hospital. And as someone who would call December her favorite month, having to spend any of it in the hospital sucks.

It’s one of those things that I don’t think about much during the rest of the year, but all those memories reemerge once this month rolls around. It hasn’t always left me pensive. I celebrated December 11th this year, because it marked the 15th anniversary of my aortic valve replacement. Not only do I still have that same mechanical valve, but it was also my last open heart surgery, which is definitely a reason to celebrate.

But when I think about my birthday, I inevitably think about the one that I spent in the hospital. Children’s Hospital was really generous—they gave me a pacemaker. And then I had birthday cake and opened a bunch of really nice earrings that I couldn’t wear because I wasn’t actually able to get my ears pierced since I had spent the entire week prior to my birthday in the hospital. Then they finally let me go on Christmas morning.

It’s fourteen years later and my mind is still incapable of processing that disaster of a December.

When I get off the bus and I’m through with the DMV, I’m going out to dinner with my family and friends, which is exactly how I want to celebrate my birthday.

I hope everyone in the ACHA community has a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

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