Coffee with Esther (March 2023)

Another Milestone! 

Hi All,

What a fabulous start to the year we have had in the Virtual Coffee Breaks. At the first get-together we struggled to have everyone online at the same time, so we decided to move the Virtual Coffee Breaks to a Google Meet room. This now allows us to have up to 100 people on at the same time. I’m sure we’ll never get that many people on at once, but at least we can all hear and see each other.

To join the new system, you’ll need a Google account. It’s very easy to set up and then it’s the same as before: just click on the link located in the Support Group on Facebook at the arranged time, and you’ll be in a safe space to talk about how you’re feeling and what you want answers to.

A massive thank you to the new members joining in and I hope we go from strength to strength.

In a week’s time, ten years ago, I turned 40! I was so excited, happy, and looking forward to it. I had a massive surprise birthday party; a nightclub was hired out and was full of family and friends. The drinks were flowing and the guests were dancing the night away. It was an amazing night and loads of fun.

red and black 40th birthday cake with shoes and a flower on top
three ladies hugging at a birthday party

Fast forward 10 years and, yep, my BIG 50!

Fifty, and now a sufferer of myelopathy! Fifty, and my life has changed so much that I don’t recognize the person I was when I was 40!

Having myelopathy has changed me in various ways. I have lost friends, family, my job, my driving licence, and my identity!

Knowing my BIG 50 is around the corner fills me with anxiety, loneliness, and dread. I should be looking forward to a special day, a fabulous night out, arranging a party, eating loads of cake and blowing up balloons.

I never imagined I would be using a wheelchair to go out or have to rest so much. I never thought the pain would rule my life. I have so many regrets. I feel frustrated and disappointed in the way my life has panned out. I feel lost!

I could sit here and be lonely and feel sorry for myself (trust me, I did for about half an hour, if honest). I feel guilty that I can’t do these things, I feel guilty that my family can’t celebrate with me. But then I thought, “Why do I have to do everything a ‘normal’ person does”?


I can change the rules. I can do this my way and still enjoy it. Instead of trying to cram everything into one day, I’m going to have a 50th birthday month! I’m going to do all the things I want to do but break them into small pieces. This means focusing on the things I can do and enjoying them, and not thinking about all the things I can’t do.

Instead of having a massive party with everyone I know and trying to mingle with everyone, I’m going to spend time separately with all the people who have stuck by me through thick and thin. I have acknowledged how I felt about my birthday coming up and sat down and wrote out what I’m grateful for in life. Then, with this list, I decided what I wanted to do.

My list goes like this:

  • A coffee and cake with my best friend.
  • A day with our grown-up kids and our beautiful granddaughter.
  • A night in, watching naff TV with my amazing husband.
  • A wander around a garden centre.

I’m going to have a BIRTHDAY MONTH! Doing little and often, as small doses of happiness is better for my mental health. I can appreciate every moment but also prioritise my rest times and manage my pain.

The lonely feeling has gone, and my big day doesn’t fill me with dread. In fact, on the actual day I will be hosting a Virtual Coffee Break, so I definitely won’t be on my own. I am sure my Virtual Coffee Break friends will be providing lots of fun and laughter.

When you have a birthday coming up, please do not sit and dread the day. Be positive and work out what you really want to do. Plan it. Break it down into small bits and enjoy every moment. Have a fabulous birthday month! 

If it’s not your birthday that you dread, but rather the birthdays of others including children, partners or close friends, just tell them that they’re very lucky they have a Myelopathy Warrior in their family circle, which means they get to have a birthday month too! Then break it down into small bite-sized treats so you can enjoy every moment too. No ‘normal’ person would get away with a birthday month.

Another positive thing about myelopathy!

If you would like to join in our Virtual Coffee Break.  Please look for the links on the Support Group on Facebook.

Here are the dates for March and April:

  • 16th March at 6pm GMT
  • 6th April at 11am GMT (A special guest will be joining us)
  • 13th April at 2pm GMT
  • 20th April at GMT at 6pm GMT

I hope to see you soon.