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Happy birthday to me

In 30 minutes, it will have been exactly thirty-two years since I was born. Thirty-two has always seemed like an important age to me, probably because that’s how old my mom was when she had me.

(Oops—looks like I just told my mom’s age to a couple hundred thousand visitors. Sorry, Ma.

When I was in high school, my friend L. and I had seemingly incurable crushes on our not-yet-out-of-the-closet gay best friends. A Ouija board once told us that in 2008 I would marry my [gay] BFF, so for several months—an eternity in teenage life— I would think about how in the distant future, when I was 28 years old, I’d find love at last with my crush. Twenty-eight was my mom’s age when she had my older sister, so that seemed like an important milestone to me as well.

Turning 30 didn’t phase me. In fact, when I was 29 and people asked how old I was, I would often reply with, “I’m thirty,” before realizing I was prematurely aging myself. It’s funny: only in the last couple of months as I neared age 32 have I started noticing wrinkles around my eyes. My facial skin, which has been plagued with acne far worse in my imagination than in reality, is starting to scar a little bit. My teeth, once straightened to near-perfection by years of braces, are shifting in my mouth. It’s strange to see oneself age, and a little off-putting. If you are older than I, please don’t groan and say, “Oh, Janet, please! You’re young!” I know I’m young. I’m happy to be my age. I’m happy to be living the life I’m living.

With rare exception, migraine disease is not a fatal illness, but it does take away days out of your life. Rather than cutting off the end of your life by months or years as a terminal illness might, migraine sneaks in and takes entire hours, days, weeks, or months out of your life no matter your age. It steals a few days from your senior year of high school here, removes you from having fun at your cousin’s wedding here, grabs you and kidnaps you for entire swaths of your college career. I’d like to imagine that those days I’ve missed due to migraine attacks are ones that don’t count in my aging, that I’m saving those days up in a bank and will be able to add them back to the end of my life.

So maybe I’m not turning 32 at all. When you consider all the days I’ve lost to migraine, maybe I’m actually just on the brink of 30.

In any case, it’s a beautiful day, I’m forcing myself to take the day off work from the bookshop, and it’s time for me to sit outside and relax a bit.

Happy birthday to me.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.


  • Louise M. Houle
    7 years ago

    Happy Day, today (for your birthday) and every day. Be well 🙂

  • tucker
    7 years ago

    It is a bit late but happy birthday to you! I was having my kids (twins) at 32 so it was a special age for me too. And it was the year my migraines started (while pregnant) so I guess I have to take the bad with the good. I am glad I got them later in life since I did have an amazing time before I had kids but I truly feel sorry for my kids when I scream at them in the morning or miss their sports activities or never volunteered at school even though I only work PT or know I am just undependable as a mom due to chronic migraines. I have handed out more apologies than I should ever have to because of them. I make it to work because I need to but I put my family second because work wore me out or I have to save my energy for work.

    And it’s the other people who don’t understand either. The relatives who live in other states who get birthday gifts a month late (happy 11th birthday 3 weeks after your birthday from your sorry, pitiful aunt who has felt like dirt for the last month and forgot your birthday). Sorry I haven’t uploaded that new information for that volunteer organization but I just don’t have the energy or really care right now, it’s low on my priority list, uh, kinda like groceries to be honest.

    So I love your approach, when these migraines are gone, b/c my mom’s left her after menopause so I have big hopes!, then we can gather back all those lost hours, days, weeks, months and years and spends our brain pain (and nausea) free days in pure pleasure. Arthritis, dentures and depends be damned! :):)

  • Anne Fink
    7 years ago

    I also am 32. I loved this post. It’s like it came out of my mind. Thanks for always being so relavant to my life. We are so similar in our journey, Janet!

  • Elaine Gross
    7 years ago

    Happy Belated Birthday! Hope it was Migraine free….

  • Winlin Kamal
    7 years ago

    Happy Birthday!

  • Eileen Marinella DeChaves
    7 years ago

    I totally agree and am thankful for this today as I am feeling old. I lost a few years to migraines recently and now feeling much better and younger with your help!

  • Tenille Binkley Horstkott
    7 years ago

    Happy Birthday Janet! Take time to enjoy your day.

    I love how you describe the way migraines kidnap, or steal moments out of our lives compared with terminal illness, end of life, we miss the inbetween throughout our life. Enjoy being 32.

  • Linda Castellano
    7 years ago

    Happy Birthday! Hope ti is pain FREE!

  • Paul Williams
    7 years ago

    Happy Birthday!

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