A friend of mine calls it her Spiritual Birthday—the day she almost died. I like that more than Re-Birthday, which is what I’d been calling the anniversary of my own brush with the Grim Reaper. It is a day filled with so much trauma and dread that it is almost crippling. I’ve tried to turn it into something positive, because despite what happened, it really is an incredible day—it is the day I didn’t die. It is the day that the pneumonia that sent me to the hospital with a “heart attack” didn’t do me in. I’ve written about this day before, and I’ll probably write about it in the future, because it’s a reminder of second chances.
On this day, five years ago, I went to the emergency room with severe pain in my chest. All the doctors said I’d had a heart attack, but it turned out that is was just massive inflammation around the heart, caused by pneumonia. Not technically a heart attack, but still capable of killing me. I’m told that I was lucky to survive, and that had I not gone to the hospital, I would’ve died. That’s a difficult concept to wrap your brain around. I still struggle with it—especially given the number of friends and family members that have died since my own experience. The difference between almost dying and dying is as vast as anything you can think of—and even then, it’s vaster than that.
Last year at this time, I was struggling with depression and anxiety—two of the constants in my life after my illness. I had never experienced either—at least not like I have these past five years. But last year, as I was celebrating my 4th Re-Birthday/Spiritual Birthday, I was optimistic about the year that ahead. To be clear, as I turn five, this year gone by has been anything but easy. The struggle with depression has been constant, and the anxiety…well…that shit has, at times, been unrelenting. At the same, no matter what the depression and the anxiety would have me believe, this year has been pretty damn good. I can see the positive, and on the good days, I can appreciate it as well.