Wednesday, July 09, 2008

The Big 4-0

Today I reached a big milestone in my life: I turned forty years old (or young, depending on how you look at it). To me this is a victory of sorts. When I was diagnosed with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy at the age of five, the doctors told my parents that I would probably not make it past the age of fifteen. I proved all the doctors wrong. Despite my disease, I am still going strong. I'd like to think that some of it has to do with my attitude. But, a major factor in my longevity and well-being is the fact that modern technology has made it possible to extend the quantity of my life as well as improving the quality of my life. My ventilator, suction machine, and feeding tube, make my life possible. For that, I am thankful. It was my luck to be born in a country where access to such life-saving technology is possible.

Reflecting on the past forty years, I have regrets (who doesn't?), but I try not to dwell on them for long. I would drive myself crazy if I played the what if ? game too much. What is past, is past, so I just try to move on. My life has been a rollercoaster ride of ups and downs, sadness, elation, good times and bad. But, overall, the good times have predominated. My disability hasn't held me back from enjoying life. If I, or my family had allowed my disability to be an obstacle, I wouldn't have seen so much of the world, graduated from college, or gone on to receive a Master's degree in history. I have lived with hope for a cure for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy, but have come to accept the fact that there may not be one in my lifetime. If a cure does occur I would be the first in line, but if not, I can accept the fact. I have lived with my disability for so long that I have come to accept this state of affairs; I have become comfortable in my own skin. Over the past forty years, many people have come in and out of my life; family members, friends, acquaintances. Most of these relationships have enriched my life in one way or another. My family and friends have been instrumental as well in helping me get through times of trouble and helped to give me the will to go on, when things appeared hopeless. They give me a lot to live for.

In my forty years, I have come to the realization that it is important to try to take one day at a time, not to dwell too much on the past, and not to focus too much on the future. Life is to be enjoyed. Stop and smell the roses. Appreciate the simple things in life, for they can be the most enjoyable. I close with the quote that I have adopted to define my life--"There is no cure for birth and death save to enjoy the interval." (George Santayana (1863-1952)).

7 comments:

Lance Anderson said...

Hey John

Happy Birthday! See you tomorrow...

Cheers,

--Lance

annette said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, I hope you have an awesome day.

Anonymous said...

happy birthday from Chicago
Andrew
Coffey
Coffeygrinds.com

Kimi said...

Happy 40th John! I'm gonna be the big 3-0 in Aug! I feel sooo old! I hope I can stay young at heart like you have thru out your 40 years!

Maximo said...

Happy B-Day!

Anonymous said...

Hey I'm a twitter friend of a friend. Well really not friends. Internet friends (Coffeygrinds via VergeFringe on Twitter) Happy B Day! May you make Internet Friends for another 40 and beyond. Peace. twitter.com/alegion

Kathie said...

Happy Birthday, John! My friend , Shawn (also DMD) will be 40 tomorrow. It's a milestone so many of us thought was impossible 20 years ago. I'm so glad you are proving those doctors wrong!