“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting an uphill battle.” Ian Maclaren
The name of my blog is Travel Well Fly Safe, It was named that for a reason – a reason I have never talked about.
I have been lucky to have lived for a long time without any serious illness. But I believe that health is a bucket. You add in stress, emotional pain, genetic predisposition, and environmental factors and when your bucket is full you get sick. In my case, six years ago, I became very allergic to smoke, pollution and chemicals. It is called Reactive Airway Disease. Traveling to third world countries in Africa and Asia has put me on a nebulizer and high doses of cortisone. I call my doctor much more from a trip than from my house. I became very allergic, developed Reynauds – a circulation problem which causes your fingers and toes to turn blue in the cold and Gerd. Two years ago (after a 16 hour flight to Australia) I was diagnosed with Sjogrins symptoms and didn’t know what it was – making dehydration and dry eyes on a plane something to worry about. But I am not these things.They are just a small piece of who I am.
I didn’t choose this but this is the hand I was dealt. I had to learn how to travel with the new normal. The alternative of staying home is unthinkable. I have had to alter my vision of what a trip should be to allow for the unpredictability of all these symptoms. I look at every trip now as a gift. The difficulty of having all these weird autoimmune symptoms is that every day is different. It is easier to stay home but traveling is my passion so I make it work. It requires more managing and planning, To do something in a new way, you need new ideas. The list of countries I can safely go to gets smaller. The list of medicines and toiletries I have to bring and activities I can not do anymore gets longer.
The hardest thing is because I don’t look or act sick, people believe it isn’t real. They express concern and suggest strategies and remedies. After a while they just like to pretend it isn’t there and hope I go along with that. It is hard for them to understand how in some places I am totally fine and in others I am on sixty milligrams of cortisone a day. They don’t realize that once I am exposed to something, it doesn’t disappear without medication. I can’t just walk away unless I do it quickly. There is an invisibility of certain illnesses that other people say they can see but they don’t.
Life does not always go the way you want. I place one foot in front of the other and climb higher. I believe that I have a great responsibility to live as happily and as fully as possible, to listen to my body and trust my instincts. I’m telling my story not for anyone to feel sorry for me, or excuse anything but to start the conversation. What if my story offers some hope to someone who thinks they can’t travel because they have “stuff”? A dull and predictable life is boring. Just do what you need to do to get where you want to go.