Today is a day unlike the other 364 days (and every four years, 365 days), as today is the 47th anniversary of an important day in my life. Perhaps the only important day in my life. On this date 47 years ago, it became possible for me to do, well, everything, which is not the same as everything well. I became a human being at 6:37 p.m. (just in time for dinner) on November 18, 1968. Thank you, mom.

Age is a statistic, and mine are these (for your own numbers, feel free to play with the age calculator that I linked to): As of today, I have been here for 17,167 days (counting today), which is also more than 412,000 hours and approximately 370,801,080 breaths, and 1,779,845,184 heart beats since I was born.
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Upside Down

For a year I lived with a diagnosis of Friedreich’s ataxia, a genetic, neuromuscular disease whose symptoms are quite close to mine.

My symptoms: Since 2005 I have been aware, at first dimly, of a mobility disorder developing in me; today, in 2015, I walk with a cane or impressive walking stick, stiffly, like I am wearing very tight jeans; I have little sensation in my lower legs and even have moments of “body confusion” in which I think I am moving my right leg but my left leg moves. I sway when I stand and fall/walk into walls and my sense of not knowing where I am in the world contributes moments of comedy to my day. I was in my mid-30s when the symptoms began to attract my attention, which means the symptoms began to appear several years earlier.

Instead, it is very likely that I have a disease called spinal muscular atrophy, but I am grateful for that year in which I thought I had Friedreich’s ataxia. This is because all that I knew upon learning my diagnosis was my diagnosis—Dr. M, my neurologst, did not even hand me a tri-fold pamphlet, “So You Have a Potentially Life-Shortening Condition,” if such an item is even available—but there were online groups ready to embrace someone like me.
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