Travel Bug

June 10, 2017 at 4:14 pm (Uncategorized)

I’ve been writing this blog since 2006. I was scrolling through old entries the other day and realized how often I write about the hard parts of life in Chronic Town and that I’ve given short shrift to some of the wonderful aspects of my life since I was diagnosed with sarcoidosis thirteen long years ago. One of the consistently good facets of my life has been travel.

Since my diagnosis in 2004, Jay, Andrew, and I have been to Thailand, Iceland, Canada, China, Scotland (twice), Mexico, France, and Costa Rica, as well as to a good number of cities in the U.S. We are preparing for another big trip this summer. We’re heading to the Azores—a group of islands off the coast of Portugal—for a couple of weeks. Later on, we’re planning to explore the Washington coast.

Traveling means so much to my family. Of course, there is the joy of seeing new places. We live in a small city with almost no ethnic diversity. It’s important for us to show Andrew that it’s a big world out there with a lot of different kinds of people. Traveling also breaks us out of ruts and routines. It’s invigorating to take a break from daily life. But I think the most important reason that traveling is essential to my family is that it brings us together. As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, the challenges of living with my chronic illness separates us from one another. I’ve mentioned this before, but I spent roughly six of the last twelve months in the hospital. We tried to have dinner together every night was in there, and Jay spent every minute he wasn’t at work by my side. But it was still an incredibly isolating experience for each of us. When we leave the country, we get to leave all that behind. There are (hopefully) no White Coat visits or hospital rooms waiting for us abroad. There’s just the three of us—together—experiencing a new place.

Some people find it hard to believe that I am able to travel with a chronic illness. The implication is that if I’m really so sick, how is that I’m able to caper all around the world? I don’t travel when I’m in a rough patch. We’ve had to cancel more than one trip because I’ve been flat on my back in a hospital room. I also am exceedingly careful when we’re away not to overdo it too much. I definitely push myself, but I also make sure I take rest days in bed when I need them. For the most part, I’ve been very lucky. I haven’t had a major health breakdown abroad. I came close in China. A combination of food poisoning and air pollution nearly put me over the edge, but I was able to make it home. Since that trip, we’ve opted to stick with trips to more developed countries, so that if I do fall apart, getting quality care will be easier.

There’s always a risk to leaving home. For me, it’s that my health will fail and I’ll have a hard time either making it home or receiving the care I need when away. In a lot of ways it would be easier just to stay home. But I can’t. I need to remind myself that I am not just someone with a chronic illness. I am also a woman who can travel the world.

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