CAD slows me down, but I won’t miss a garden birthday party

I may have to sit out a Scottish dance or two, but I'm among friends

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by Mary Lott |

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“You’re invited to a garden party!” the card announced. Yippee! Nice parties are few and far between here in Papua, a province of Indonesia — at least the ones like the garden parties and teas I enjoyed back in Alabama. There were several reasons why this invitation was special.

Heather, the hostess, is a “GRITS” (Girl Raised In the South) like me. So I could be reasonably assured I understood what the party entailed. Second, the party was to celebrate Heather’s birthday. That is special. She and I share the same date. I had no intention of stealing her glory, but the shared birthday has established a bit of a bond between us. Plus, there was going to be dancing. I love to dance. I’m not any good at it, but I love it, nonetheless.

Two women smile broadly in a close-up selfie-style photo. They are sweating so it appears to be hot out. The woman on the left, who is older than the woman on the right, is wearing a pink blouse, and the woman on the right a blue blouse.

Mary Lott and Heather Marx celebrate their birthdays in Papua, Indonesia, in early January. (Courtesy of Jacinda Bassinger)

My husband and I haven’t danced in a long while. Although I enjoy it, Mike does not. But for me, he agreed to practice and go over basic steps so it wouldn’t look like I was pushing him around the floor. But just the practice two nights before the party wore me out. That was a warning sign.

The planned dances

Then, the next day, I learned what the dances were: a Grand March, followed by Scottish dances. I am not up to dancing a Highland Fling, and the Sword Dance is out, not to be considered. I inquired deeper because those are not the only Scottish dances.

Just an aside, Mike did not attend. Our boys had an activity that he needed to watch. Further, since I couldn’t dance, he wouldn’t be restricting my partying with his absence.

The Grand March was nice. All that was involved was parading around the garden with a partner. Around and around we went. At one point, it looked as if we were playing crack the whip as the couples began following in a single line and then holding hands. First, we made an inward spiral and then unwound it, stumbling and laughing together.

CAD affects my ability to have fun

This was the point I dropped out, sat down, and paid attention to my breathing. I didn’t even make it through the first dance. My cold agglutinin disease (CAD) had struck again!

CAD is an autoimmune hemolytic anemia. It is triggered by cold weather, which causes red blood cells to clump together and then dissolve. It is also triggered following an infection, such as the one I had just before Christmas. The resulting anemia makes me tired. Additionally, I develop a related cough and chest pains as I breathe.

When my friends see this, they begin watching for signs of a heart attack. It is not a heart attack. It is CAD with its myriad symptoms. My friends still become concerned.

An action-packed shot with a bunch of people, young and old, twirling on a tropical grass lawn.

Dancers attempt the Sir Roger de Cloverly, a Scottish dance, in Papua, Indonesia. (Courtesy of Jacinda Bassinger)

It was a good time to drop out. The next dance was a Sir Roger de Coverley, known in the United States as a Virginia Reel. This dance isn’t as energetic as a fling or a jig, but it does involve more energy than I have available. In a reel, the dancers form two lines facing each other. They bow and curtsy, and then the fun begins.

To those watching, a reel may seem like a chaos of jumping and skipping, swinging your partner before continuing down the row, and then swinging each person in turn. Reels are not hard to learn and provide a lot of fun and interaction with all the other dancers. I first learned to dance a reel at Girl Scout Camp Concharty in nearby Shiloh, Georgia. I hated sitting it out.

Family and friends make the fun

But now, due to all the symptoms of CAD, I must. At times, I choose to ignore my symptoms and participate anyway. That seems to prolong the inevitable fatigue that follows. This time, several of my friends who were attending sat with me and we chatted with the children and generally caught up on local news.

Not too much later, the dancing ended. We sang “Happy Birthday” to Heather and cut the cake. It was time to leave.

In the past, I would have been much more active at the party. Still, I am learning that enjoyment can be found by attending and seeing my friends enjoy themselves. “Happy Birthday” to my birthday buddy. Thank you for allowing me to celebrate our day with you.


Note: Cold Agglutinin Disease News is strictly a news and information website about the disease. It does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website. The opinions expressed in this column are not those of Cold Agglutinin Disease News or its parent company, BioNews, and are intended to spark discussion about issues pertaining to cold agglutinin disease.