My birthday is rapidly approaching, and shockingly the world is still spinning. It hasn’t exploded. Nor have I exploded. There aren’t little bits of Ellie raining down on the world. I expected more drama. It’s been quite the year. 

I’m still alive and that’s a good thing. An exceptionally good thing, given my rare and chronic health conditions. I’m blessed to see another birthday. Another day is never a guarantee, healthy or not. 
Life isn’t what I expected it to be. It seems to be smacking me in the face with unfairness. It’s such a harsh reality. I’m spending my days with chronic illness that has robbed me of what I thought normal was supposed to be. A big chunk of my life is now pills, injections and doctor appointments.
I’m always waiting. Waiting to see the doctor. Waiting on test results. I thought that would end once I got diagnosis, but it didn’t. Waiting is my new normal. It’s highly unstable. I have to get used to that, and it’s not easy, but I will keep adjusting, because I don’t have any other choice. Still, every day is a struggle to hold my head up high. 
I’m about to be 45. I don’t feel like celebrating my birth. It feels weird when you are fighting to live. Birthdays in chronic illness shine a spotlight on the fact that I’m still sick. Same as last year, with an added decline, physically. It doesn’t feel like the time for a party. 
I’d rather celebrate everyone else on their birthday, and save my moment for another time. For better days. For days when my health isn’t so restrictive. But I am celebrating something. I’ve won the fight for my life for another year. There were several times the Malignant Multiple Sclerosis almost won, but it didn’t. 
I’m the victor!! I’M STILL HERE!! I’ve held on to hope. Sometimes kicking and screaming, because the devil disease thinks it’s winning, but it’s not. 
I’m giving myself permission to embrace the truths of my health issues. Without guilt. Without belittling their validity. But you won’t see just fight or struggle from me. You’ll also see smiles and happiness. You’ll see me having good times with family and friends.
So, when this birthday rolls around to remind me that I’m still sick, still fighting for life every single day, I’m going to embrace the hard times. I’m going to keep on crying and feeling horrible, because that’s what chronic illness is. 
But I’m also going to fight the beast with every ounce of strength I have. I’m going to give that beast fight like he’s never seen. I don’t fight to lose. I’m still here. Living and breathing, despite it all. That’s for sure a reason to celebrate. Happy birthday, me!

Ellie Jean

Ellie is a 44-year-old woman living in South Carolina. She works as a cashier, but is always dreaming of more — she’s just not always sure of what “more” is. Her favorite hobbies are reading and reading book reviews. Within the first few minutes of meeting her, you’ll realize her nephews, niece, books and cats are her favorite things.