Health

I write this book from the perspective of a conventionally “non-disabled” traveler in the sense that I have neither mobility problems nor require any special needs accommodations. I would not dare speak for travelers with serious physical challenges: I simply don't know how it is, other than suspect that it can get very 

Kettle on Gas Stove

challenging in some places. I have noticed that in quite a few nations around the world, everything from public transportation to tourist activities is geared only toward agile persons of "average" size and weight, whatever that means locally. This is not at all to discourage anyone from traveling abroad – only to suggest that there are much better experts than myself to address the topics specific to travelers with demanding disabilities.

That said, rest assured that by no stretch of imagination am I a super “healthy” person either.

           

For one, I suffer from excruciating chronic migraines that, on the regular, make me question whether this whole “staying alive” racket is even worth it. I was born with a stupefying number of anomalies in my head: from having only one legally seeing eye (the other one is all scarred up on the inside) to missing a shocking number of permanent teeth (still got the baby ones...). “Hmmm, I have never seen this before!” and “Huh, that's not supposed to do that!” are things I hear from doctors frequently. My reproductive system is a mess of mangled cysts and fibroids – and when I menstruate, I hemorrhage half my weight in blood. In recent years, horrendous gut pain has visited itself upon me, forever changing what I can eat and drink. I've been prone to certain infections (hello UTI's!) and no end of mysterious, painful, debilitating symptoms that make sure I feel “sick” with something or another more often than not.

           

Then, I am also not the most mentally stable person. I've had problems with eating and sleeping. Between my restless temperament and past trauma, I live with my share of “ups and downs” that make daily "normaling" a challenge. Depression, anxiety, PTSD and a variety of unpredictable "cranial flatulance" keep me on my toes and don't let me forget that not-ok-ness is no more distant than my own reflection in the mirror.

           

As you see, I'm not one of those “healthy as a bull” people who go through life having never known real suffering or physical limitations. If you, too, are not one of those mythical creatures who won the genetic lottery, take heart: most health problems don't have to keep you from traveling! In fact, your health may even improve with more favorable climates, heightened activity and a curious mindset that emerge when you set yourself in motion and get a change of scenery through traveling. 

 

Let's not forget that living with health problems teaches us useful skills: knowing one's own limitations and being prepared for “bad days” serves a traveler well!