Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lessons I have learnt from travelling with a chronic illness

via Pinterest
I was going to write a post on tips for travelling with a chronic illness in relation to my own trip to Jakarta last week. While that trip went quite well compared to some of my previous trips, I'm still disappointed that after about 2 months (that's seriously a record for me a the moment) of being cold/flu/gastro free, I've ended up with a sore throat this week and a pretty sour mood from being so tired. So no tips from me... only some thoughts.

The reason I think I was cold/flu/gastro free for two months was just because I stopped travelling and actually rested. This year has been a whirlwind of trips - I've been to the US twice, Germany, Papua New Guinea, Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Adelaide multiple times. I tallied up all the flights I had done this year by October and it came to something like 42. Then I stopped counting. I would not advise that you travel as much as I do in normal situations, let alone with the added complication of not having 100% of your health. [Side note - I'm seriously planning on cutting down on the travel next year. Also, I'm incredibly lucky that my body actually lets me do these trips to begin with, some people with endometriosis are pretty much bedridden.]

Despite my best efforts to rest as much as possible before, during and after my most recent trip, I still got tired, and subsequently sick. Air travel is draining. Well, any kind of travel is draining. I'm not sure if that is recognised enough in our society. People think that because you are just sitting in one spot that it surely can't be too hard on your body, but it is. Couple that normally draining activity with endometriosis and you get one wrecked person. This may be hard for other people to understand, because it is an "invisible" illness (one not immediately apparent from looking at someone), which can make it difficult when trying to explain to friends, your boss or your family as to why you are just so tired compared to them. However, just because someone else can't see the disease that is messing with your body does not mean that you are lazy or weak.

Travel has really highlighted to me the quick-fix nature of our society. In lieu of a cure for endo, at the moment all I can do is give my body good food and as much rest as possible. There is no magic pill for this disease. If I go to a doctor with pain and fatigue now, there is really not much that s/he can do for me if I don't take care of myself first and recognise my limitations. Some diseases are like that. We (as a society) have gotten used to the idea that pretty much everything can be treated with a simple pill, when in fact, that is not true for everything.

So for now, I'm constantly re-learning to accept that I probably won't be able to do as much as some other people my age may be able to do, or as much as I'd like to do, but I still have to make sure I have time for the things that are important to me, the things that make life worth living.

Last month I took part in National Health Blog Post Month. This post was inspired by one of the prompts from that challenge that I didn't get around to writing about during the month itself.

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