Just a "zebra" trying my best to live life to the fullest with EDS and POTS...and loving the ride.


Written by Katie. Posted in About Me, Memorable Experiences

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My 29th birthday was much different than my 30th.  Not necessarily better; just very, very different.  It is amazing to me what a difference a year makes.  I guess the way you could compare the difference between the two birthdays is that, 29 was different than anything I have ever experienced, while 30 was back to being “normalish.” 

Here’s my 29th birthday rundown:

Allie came home, which made it special to begin with.  However, the end of October was my sickest time.  Allie took me to arthritis swim class for the first time, since I was on medical leave and not working.  I did the arthritis work out, while talking with Bernice and Esther.  Everything felt great until I got out of the pool.  As the gravity hit me, I immediately became sick.  I thought I was going down on that pool deck.  Luckily, I did not, and after resting and adjusting back to the gravity in the locker room, Allie drove us to Grand Traverse Pie Company for lunch, and then to church.  At church, I was unable to walk up to receive communion at that time so Father Joe brought it to me.  We were then supposed to go to the mall and look at pants since I had lost so much weight and nothing in my closet fit me, but by this time, I was sicker than a dog.  We ended up going back to my house, so I could lay down and rest.  We watched the Bravo channel, one of our guilty pleasures, until it was time for dinner.

My Dad had made my favorite: stuffed shells, so Allie, Brad, and I went to my parents for dinner.  I was able to eat half of one since at that time, I was on a mostly Ensure diet.  The next day I ended up in the ER because of a massive headache, and the fact that I could not get my heart to stop racing (remember, at this time, I had zero answers.  I had never even heard of POTS and EDS).  I was given IV Reglan for the headache, which made me have a horrible reaction (picture me trying to rip out my IV’s, screaming help, and trying to escape the ER room.  At one point, Brad had to sit on me while he was crazily pushing the nurse button for help.)  I remember when the nurse arrived, he said that the reaction I had was a common reaction to the Reglan.  (This makes me wonder why he gave it to me in the first place).  Anyways, he ended up having to add vats quite a bit of Benadryl to my IV to counter-act the reaction.  After I was given a bag of fluids, and was finally calm, I was discharged, and told I had a migraine, and that everything else checked out “wonderfully.”

A few days after my 29th, I found out something that I will never, ever forget.  I was surprised with a very unexpected present.  I found out that a parent of one of the students I teach had organized a spaghetti dinner at her church to help raise money for out of pocket medical expenses for Brad and I to use for things like gas to and from doctors appointments, hotel stays, supplements, co-pays, etc, etc, etc…

I learned that the dinner occurred on October 20th.  My birthday. And what is funny is that this very special parent didn’t even realize that the 20th was my birthday.

When this parent came over with another friend who had also helped organize a lot of the event, to tell me about it, and bring the cards, donations, and notes of love and support that had been collected, I truly was speechless.  I couldn’t wrap my head around the fact that so many students and families, staff members, friends, and community members had shown up just for me.  It still blows me away and brings tears to my eyes to this day.  A year later, I still think about this amazing act of kindness often.

And now for my 30th birthday rundown:

I turned 30 last Thursday which means I went to work.  Yes, work!  I was immediately surprised with cards that my students had made the day before.  A few minutes later one of the teachers says over the loud-speaker, “We want to wish Ms. Katie a very happy 30th birthday.”  I turned a little red but I did not think it was a bad thing until one of my students said, “Whoa! 30 is all the way after the 20’s!”

Whatever.  At least they are learning their numbers.

As the kids continued to trickle in, one of my families brought in a gift of zebra socks and a Bath and Body candle, while another parent followed her in by bringing donuts for the class to have for snack.  From there, we had a typical Thursday morning.  It was a half-day for the kids, so after they were dismissed a few of my friends presented me with a sparkly 30 crown and zebra pumpkin cupcakes (I forgot to get a picture).  After we chatted for a few minutes, they left for meetings, and I went home to sleep.  After I woke up, I did some rehab.  Brad got home early, and surprised me with my all-time favorite flower~Gerber Daisies.  We went to dinner at PF Chang’s, and when we got home, he surprised me again with West Side Story tickets.  I was so excited, I could barely contain myself.  (And let me just mention that we will be going during an MSU football game.  That is true love, people).

After dinner, we went home to relax (under my new zebra blanket).  I talked to many family members and friends on the phone that night, including my in-laws, parents, nieces, and all 3 of my siblings.  (I have not been able to talk to Andy in over a month).  I definitely felt loved after the day I had, receiving so many messages, texts, emails, FB messages, calls, cards, hugs, etc…

The next day, instead of making a trip to the ER like last year, I went to Polka Dots instead to join friends in making bracelets.  Going to Polka Dots was kind of symbolic for me since last October, my friend Theresa took me to Polka Dots in my wheelchair.  Not knowing the store, we wheeled in and wheeled right back out.  There were just too many breakables, and not a lot of room to walk, let alone wheel through the store.

We spent the night doing what girls do best~chatting, laughing, snacking, and oohing and ahhing over each other’s creations.  It was a great way to ring in 3o with such great friends.

I will soon be celebrating with my family.  If you know my family, this is also normal.  We have never been known to celebrate a birthday on time.

So, there you have it.  The differences between my 29th and 30th.  As I said before, 29 was like something I have never experienced before, while 30 was more like the other wonderful birthdays I have experienced in the past.

Despite the differences between the two years, I do have to mention that there was one major similarity.  On both birthdays, I was surrounded by love, and by people who mean the world to me.  On both birthdays, it was the kindness and thoughtfulness of everyone who took the time to make the day special that meant the most to me.  Both birthdays made me realize yet again, how truly blessed I am, and what a gift life really is.

And now for a few pictures for memories’ sake…

Zebra socks and a Bath and Body candle.

A cozy, new zebra blanket.


Cards from my Students

Look what was in the mail! Lisa's new book.

A special message from one of my heroes.

With my sparkly "30" crown. Thanks, Angie!

Gerber Daisies from Brad.

2 Tickets to West Side Story! Thank you to the best husband in the world! I can't wait!


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