Monday, August 25, 2014
Happy Birthday to Me: Marvel I'm Still Here
Today is my birthday. I am 66. When I was younger, I envied my classmates who had the earlier birthdays. They could start driving and drinking before me and enjoy almost every other pleasure dictated by age in our society. There is no such pleasurable event left so now no one in my age group is eager to be the first to attain the new age.
It is a marvel I am still here. I should not be. The medical conditions I've had have been treatable for only a very short time in history.
I survived an emergency appendectomy in 1953 at age 5. In 1887, Thomas Morton performed the first successful appendectomy in the United States so people had been dying in America of this malady before then.
I first got unipolar depression as a teenager but did not receive treatment for it until I was in my early 20s, in 1974. In 1952, doctors noticed that a tuberculosis medication (isoniazid) was also useful in treating people with depression. Shortly after this significant finding, the practice of using medications to treat mental illness gained full steam. Prior to the 1950s, talk therapy alone was used. I've had both form of therapies. Although talk therapy is valuable, in my opinion it is useless without the drugs. I got both types of treatment in 1974 and that enabled me to get to a state where my depression could be managed clinically.
I got colon cancer at 58 in 2006. I was treated with both surgery and chemo. It was not until the 1870s that it was discovered that the cancer spread if the tumor was not removed. Hygiene had not been discovered yet in surgery so it was not until the late 1800s that the first patients survived cancer surgery of any sort. At the same time, the Curies discovered radiation as a cancer treatment. It was only in the twentieth century that chemotherapy was developed.
So if I dropped dead tomorrow, the very last thing anyone should be saying about me is how tragic it is that I was taken so young. I should not be here as an old person at all. This is incredibly what we do hear when a person of my age dies, that we were taken tragically young.
There is a website which has just about every piece of data worldwide on life expectancy. So I hopped over there this morning to see my current predictions. If you want to check it out yourself go here.
As a female in the United States, this was my prediction. The USA is 39th in life expectancy world wide for females. There is a complete list of all the gruesome causes of death which are likely to fell me as well at this age. I devoted little time to reading it, que sera, sera.
Then I checked my horoscope, as a Virgo on the cusp of Leo (Lergo), and here it is:
"People born specifically on the 25th of August are believed to be intellectual and charming with the sensible, practical friendliness akin to all Virgo's. Your requirement for plenty of mental stimulation gives you a natural thirst for learning and challenges. Your kind caring temperament guides you to like helping others but your independent streak and dislike of advice directs you to insist on doing anything your own way. Highly communicative and full of creative talent."
I think the least apt is my charming nature and the most apt is the at times will be very anti-social.
I can see why people prefer reading their horoscopes to their life expectancy charts. The horoscope is much kinder and gentler.
As for my plans today, I will be going to the pool and then toasting it late this afternoon with Jim and Rebecca. Essentially I am still glad to be here and I am glad I am able to say that. I will leave you with a swimming image that you probably need to be at least 66 to remember, Esther Williams as the screen siren of the swimming pool. She couldn't act but she could swim, dive and stage swimming spectacles like no one else ever has. These are wonderfully camp films, best seen with someone who appreciates campy films.