Tuesday, April 28, 2015

My Other Birthday

I don't have an exact date, but sometime in April is my other birthday. It's the time of year that I celebrate surviving the worst of two bouts of viral meningitis.

Sometimes I look back and am surprised I survived at all. I often get angry at the doctors who discounted me and acted like this illness that nearly killed me was all in my head. It's hard to believe after telling the first doctor I saw that I don't usually go running to doctors and knew something was wrong, she brushed me off and told me it was probably hormonal. At least the ER doctor acknowledged that I was sick and said so, even though he couldn't find anything major off in my blood work.

It was a long, difficult road back. Sometimes you don't realize how challenging things are until your life is running more smoothly. Looking back, I can see that it actually took years for me to get back on my feet.

One thing I have noticed is that most people, when I mention the meningitis, are quick to say, "At least it wasn't bacterial meningitis!" Well, true. I'm "lucky" I guess, but that's like getting breast cancer and being told, "At least is wasn't lung cancer!" Um, OK... three cheers? And the fact that it wasn't cancer is another lucky point for me. Yes, viral meningitis is considered the milder form of the illness and it's not cancer, but that doesn't mean that it's like getting a touch of the flu, especially when you get it as an adult.

Where my true luck plays out is in surviving an illness that kills up to 20 percent of the people who get it and doing so without any long-term complications like deafness or brain damage.

It's fine if people think viral meningitis is no big deal. I'm going to use this time to be grateful for coming out the other end, even though there were times I didn't think I would and one time in particular I actually thought I wouldn't. The truth is that I'm both amazed and happy that I pulled through.

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