Turning 40 is a milestone in anyone’s life! We’ve all heard the sayings, “Lordy, Lordy, you’re turning Forty!” Well, it finally happened to me. I turned 40 at the end of last year! Sure, at first I wondered, “Do I look different?” “Do I suddenly have wrinkles?” You know the normal female response, I’m sure. Then I thought on it for a moment… I was born with sacral agenesis, a congenital spinal birth defect in the 70s and wasn’t even supposed to live past 6 mos due to cardiac complications. How could I have forgotten what I’ve been through in these 40 years? It’s because it’s been my “normal”. I’ve had many corrective surgeries, some of which I’ve chronicled here on The Doctor Weighs In. When I look back I think of how great my childhood was. Yes, I had surgery after surgery, but somehow what I remember is swimming, bike riding, playing tag (I wasn’t very good and was always IT), and going to school. I loved school and love work just as much. It’s not work actually, it’s what I love to do. So I didn’t realize the enormity of doing all that I’ve done and will do in my life considering the outlook when I was born. I was not to live nor ever walk. Well, I proved the doctors wrong on that and much, much more.

 

Turning 40

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Mark and Julie celebrating

Now turning 40 looked quite different to me! I felt proud to be alive. I’m a miracle baby and I have made it to 40!! How wonderful. I have always viewed myself as not being very different although I do realize having more surgeries than years I am old is different than what most people encounter in a lifetime. It’s been my faith in God, my family, my wonderful husband, Mark, friends, and our beloved lab, Stella, who have made my life wonderful. God made me strong, tenacious, and optimistic to handle whatever is thrown my way. Sure I struggle but always come out on the other side doing pretty well. I love this life I have and all the people in it. I’m 40 and want to shout it from a mountaintop. This year I was very sick in the hospital the week leading up to my Birthday. I was upset because I thought I would be in the hospital for my 40th and all I wanted was to celebrate with Mark and have a special dinner. Well, I wasn’t even able to eat but I held out for it. Finally, I was able to come home on my Birthday! Best present ever. It’s amazing how the simplest of truths in life really are what matter. Sure I didn’t feel well and probably needed to be in a bit longer but I was able to come home, take a shower, and slip into our bed. It was pure heaven to be home with Mark and Stella, after missing them for 8 days. It was absolute perfection. And my friends were so amazing. They surprised me with flowers and gifts and cards and emails. It was overwhelming. My sorority sisters, after all these years, pulled through in such a way that I could never have imagined. I still feel so blessed and loved. Now, I never like to make a big deal about things going on but one person (you know who you are) reached out to all our friends and word got out. It was amazing and I’m so grateful for ALL my loved ones who I think realized the enormity of me turning 40 before I really did.

 

A different perspective on aging

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Julie’s Mom and Dad

I also have a different perspective on aging. It’s a beautiful thing really. Our faces tell stories including wrinkles and fine lines. I’ve mentioned this before but I love the story my face tells. Yes, I’m getting laugh lines but that’s because I laugh and smile all the time. It’s the best medicine and it really impacts other people, too. I like to think it does anyway. I know how I feel around someone who smiles. It’s contagious! I do have lines on my forehead from crinkling my face when in pain. That is a large part of my life but I have to believe it’s my smile people see! Also, I couldn’t even be here writing this if it weren’t for my parents. My Mom and Dad raised me to be proactive and positive no matter what is thrown my way. They’ve taught me to be forward thinking and to have faith that God will always take care of me. It’s their parenting which helped mold who I am. I’ve always believed that our Birthdays are sort of our Moms’ day, too. I’m glad my Mom didn’t give up on me, EVER, or listen to the doctors and their limited insight. She is my rock from day one and forever. She’s my original and longest best friend. She still teaches me grace, kindness, and generosity. I hope that when people look at me, they see the same light exudes. So turning 40 at first was a bit scary but then it turned into this fantastic day filled with an excitement that I’ve made it and continue to make it. In my family, we always played the Beatles, the “Birthday” song for each member of the family on their Birthdays and it makes me smile. So, in good form, here is a true classic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZ5rx08TYXE.

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