This is a post just to remind myself of my birthday last year. It's so I don't forget and so I stay grateful.
I told my close friend about a month ago how my birthday last year was probably the best I've ever had. He looked at me as if I was crazy. I had to explain myself.
The following are just a few notes/memories from last year:
- I spent my birthday in the hospital. I had not left the hospital (except to be transferred to the Shepherd Center from the MCG hospital while I was unconscious) since May 23, 2009.
- In the morning, my parents made me clean up a little. I didn't want to do anything that day and I didn't have anyone to impress. My self-confidence was shot and I didn't care how horrible I looked.
- I had to wear an oversized button-up shirt because my right brachial plexus (nerve) injury, in addition to the right scapula fracture, still prevented me from lifting up my right arm on my own. When the nurses would dress me, large button-up shirts allowed for the least amount of movement because anything more than that would give me intense pain.
- A day before, I was finally allowed to eat solid foods and drink normal fluids. I went from having water dropped in my mouth drip-by-drip by an eye dropper, to eating mashed food with thickened water, to finally being able to eat solid foods and fluids of normal thickness. I had to drink thickened liquids so it would go down my throat slowly. If I drank more than a very, very small sip—especially if the liquid was not thickened—then the liquid could go to my lungs and I could get pneumonia… again. That's the number one cause of death for spinal cord injury patients and I already had it once right after the accident and once when I was a child.
- The food services from the hospital had given me a free slice of cake from the cafeteria, and it just happened to be coconut cream pie—my favorite.
- My parents had me go down to the hospital cafeteria. I knew something was going on because after dinner, the empty cafeteria stays open and that's where we would go if more people came than what would fit in my hospital room.
- A lot of my friends had come to surprise me, including a few childhood friends and a few people who became close to me post-accident because they visited me a lot. That really touched me. My birthdays are usually pretty crappy and I had never been surprised by so many people like this.
- In addition to the birthday balloons that I received, one friend gave me a balloon that said, "Congrats!" because it was on sale, she said. A lot of people saw that and thought that whoever gave that to me must be crazy. It was great.
- My parents had gotten me Pizza Hut. During my days of eating mashed hospital food, I would always tell my family and friends how I was craving some hot Pizza Hut. I would think about it all the time and I would just close my eyes and remember the taste of the cheese and the buttery crust.
- Even the presents my friends gave me were great. I received numerous DVD's to help save me from the boredom of the hospital room.
- In the picture, I am wearing the neck brace and chest brace that I had to wear every day. The chest brace was the most uncomfortable thing ever. The neck brace just cramped my neck into one position, but the metal chest brace dug into my chest and caused me significant pain all day.
- I had not gotten a haircut or shaved since before the accident. My beard was so long and dirty around my neck that it had formed knots, as if it was in the process of forming dreadlocks. The hair covered up the nasty scars I had.
- The last time this many people wrote on my wall was on my birthday in 2009, and the messages were usually, "Happy Birthday! I hope you are feeling a lot better!"