Recently I was thinking back to the days before my ALS diagnosis. I was trying to recall what some of my earliest symptoms may have been. The tripping and falling only began some time in 2010. But I remember that the year before that, I was occasionally concerned about feelings of fatigue and a sort of “heaviness” sensation. I chalked it up to simply being out of shape. But the more I exercised, the worse I felt. Such vague symptoms hardly merited calling the doctor. Nevertheless, whenever we planned outings or trips, I began working out little strategies to cope with my apparent limitations.
Travel is often at the top of the list for people facing a life-shortening medical diagnosis. Since I am kind of a homebody this really was not a priority for me. Instead, I enjoy traveling via TV or vicariously through friends and family.
Over the next few months, several members of our Pattysitters Network – afternoon division – will be traveling. So I am in the process of enlisting subs. Traveling friends and family are heading to various destinations including Illinois, North Dakota, Nova Scotia, and (in the case of daughter number one… Again!) Wales.
Our firstborn is quite the world traveler. I guess she may have caught the travel bug as a child. When our girls were small, we made many road trips thanks to Alan’s employer. At the time he worked for a large hotel chain. One of the perks was that we could stay at these various properties free of charge. Our vacation expenses included gas, food and of course, souvenirs! We had a system for saving money on food. We brought with us groceries such as bread, peanut butter, and jelly for sandwiches, breakfast cereal and milk, and lots of snack items. Our destinations included the Grand Canyon, San Francisco, Santa Barbara, the Muir Woods, Seattle, Victoria, British Columbia, and many other locations. We always made sure to visit state capitals whenever possible. Also, museums, historic sites and anything having to do with science were on our lists of “must see” destinations. I have vivid memories of a railroad museum in Sacramento, the Carnation dairy farm in Washington, and the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona.
(A favorite family story is the time I had made PB&J sandwiches for us all the day we visited Wupatki. The extreme dry and hot wind not only dehydrated our lunch, it launched one or two of our sandwiches out across the desert. We carefully shared what was left… and laughed.)
In high school, daughter number one sang in choir and had the opportunity to travel to Italy on choir tour. This experience served to fuel her desire to see more of the world, I think. While attending a local university, she spent a semester in London. While there, she made trips to Germany, the Czech Republic, and Ireland, as well as various cities in England. A couple of years ago, she accompanied a mutual friend of ours to Wales… and fell in love with the country.
This year marks her third visit. She is studying the Welsh language – a most unusual one! – and hopes to one day attend school there. Having left college years ago in favor of work she is now enrolled locally as a “mature student”. It’s not easy working full-time and going to school. I am very proud of her for this.
One of the joys I have is hearing stories about her travels and seeing pictures. It is the same with others. I don’t have to physically go to all of these various destinations to enjoy them. I can see it all through their eyes!
Television also provides a means of exploring the world. Of course I know it is not the same as actually being there. But this way, not only do I get to sleep in my own bed each night, but Alan is spared the tremendous amount of work that would be necessary to make travel with me possible.
Travel by proxy! It works for me! It’s not for everyone, I know. But that’s how I roll these days! (snicker)
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.
Enjoy the journey.