Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Traveling, Bucket Lists and You

Bucket Lists came up in a recent topic on my CHD support group and many of the members listed travel being the top desire. Then another topic was created, asking about traveling and the original poster asked us where we'd all been. Despite seeing "travel" as a bucket list item so many members replied with many, MANY places they had traveled to - shaming my own travels in variety.

I've written a pretty damn good post about travelling already but just recently I got it into my head to really pull out the stops for my upcoming 30th birthday and throw together a getaway vacation. I made a new friend online who invited me to her home outside of Cork City Ireland (aka my favorite place in the world) and another couple of friends in the city center, bought on a plane ticket on Monday, got my pacemaker taken care of on Tuesday and am now just tying up loose ends so I have no impending deadlines to worry about during my travels.

I'm going to add on to my list from my old post another lesson I've learned since 2010:

PACEMAKER - This time I was smart and got my sleep mode taken off of my pacemaker because I experienced some difficulties getting my energy stability up when I was in Ireland, a country that is 8 hours ahead of me. TEAM RACHAEL! was not thrilled with my last-minute whirlwind of planning, but they made due because I am a rockstar with VIP status.

Money is not something I freely talk about, but I would like to encourage those of you who have either yet to venture away from home or those of you looking to add more stamps to your passport to consider the following resources for budget traveling: - This is the website that started this getaway venture of mine. A fellow blogger, Corinne of Frock and Roll, mentioned on her blog and set my plans in motion. It is a wonderful resource for people looking to really immerse themselves with the locals. It works as such: someone needs help with something, you provide such help, they give you room/board. Help can be anything from chores around the house, specific projects like painting/roofing/mechanics/gardening, pitching in with children and/or animals, language exchange or what have you. People rarely ask for more than 4 hours of the day, leaving you plenty of time to soak in the scenery and take day trips. Lots of people are flexible too so if you want to take off for a few days in exchange for a couple of traditional 8 hour days you could probably negotiate. Everything is possible. - Meet locals while you crash on their couch (or spare room or whatever they have to offer) This is usually for short-term stays, although if you and your host really hit it off who knows. Very good to use to make friends as you make your way through a country or an entire continent. Just be sure to read everyone's profile to make sure you'd make a great match!

Many people living with a chronic illness might be frightened to travel - be it fear induced by a parent, medical professional or their own volition - and don't get me wrong, having an healthy dose of caution is just fine - but you cannot let fear cripple you and keep you from traveling.

As many of you know, I was godawful fucking ill not 3 months ago. I could not even conceive of getting on a plane to go 5,000 miles away from my bed - especially alone! 3 or 4 weeks ago my friend Corrine posted about helpx and now here I am - packing my bags getting ready for another adventure in Ireland, which I visited in 2010. Now, would I have gone to a county I'd never been to previously for my first helpx/couchsurfing experience so quickly after being ill? Maybe, but not likely unless I had a travel buddy or friends at the destination.
The fact is I wanted to do something for me - not just for my 30th birthday but to rejoice in another victory against poor health. It tried to get me but I kicked its ass once again. Time for a fucking pint.

As soon as you find yourself with time on your hands to seize the day, SEIZE IT. Even if, no - especially if you get caught in a whirlwind of "other things" you need to force yourself to make time to travel. If it is that important to you, you will put in the effort. I'll tell you one thing being disabled as afforded me: time. Precious time that not many other people possess because they're working full-time or dealing with family. I've not yet a family of my own to be responsible for - so the perfect time for me to runaway and have adventures is now. Now is my time.

It's no use looking over my shoulder and living with the regret that I did not travel more in my youth - I made a choice to try my best to carve out a career for myself and hey, I learned some things along the way. Time to look forward, pack my bags and take a giant step toward adventure.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Breathing Deeply

I never really share the private information of anyone but myself because uh, hello, that's fucking rude. However, yesterday I felt comfortable sharing the news that one of my heart friends underwent a successful heart & liver transplant. I've been receiving updates from her family and relaying them to other interested parties simply because we are Family and no matter how much we bicker or call each other bastards, we care about one another.
My friend is currently in ICU and it's now just time to play the waiting game to see how her body is going to take her new organs.
It's not unlike introducing a newly adopted animal to the treasured pet you've had your whole life because 2 of its litter-mate companions passed away :( So you have to see if that new adopted pet - who isn't a puppy but still has lots of spring in his step and love to give - is going to be welcomed in by the old pet or going to be frequently attacked and pissed on.
Something like that.

Anyway. We're humans, selfish by nature, and when something huge like this happens to one of our own we cannot help but place ourselves in that situation and wonder what would happen. My friend had quite a bit of time to mentally and emotionally come to terms with this surgery (not to undermine the stress factor in any way but it wasn't a SURPRISE! surgery) and when she told me about it last summer I instantly thought I could not do it; I could not go through that.

How fucking stressful - to be on a waiting list, essentially to be sitting around waiting for someone to die so that I might live? My friend and I talked extensively about the awkwardness of being in such a position.
"Hey, it's not like I want anyone to die buuuuuuuuuuuuut if it's gonna happen anyway, may as well put that death to some use!"
You have to address these issues; they're the big, pink polka-dotted elephant in the room. It would be ludicrous not to point this out, not to mention a disservice to the individual who bothered to mark their donor cards.

So there's that - the pressure of waiting and the shitty position you're put in waiting for someone to die.
Next is the stress of wondering...what happens if I don't receive the needed organ in time? Tick, tick, tick, bitches, that ain't a pretty sound; your internal clock ticking away every precious second, the heart ready to quietly shut down like a imploding time bomb.

Then there is the entire rainbow of anxiety one goes through when the time for surgery does arrive. You're relieved - momentarily - because now you see a light for yourself. Then it hits you - Oh sweet Jesus now I have to go through another surgery. This might be more familiar territory but that doesn't make it anymore enjoyable. From pre-op to waking up feeling like a convey ran you over to the arduous recovery process, it ain't no cake walk.

There's another waiting game at play, too. The game of rejection - which I described up above. That is a new worry, a new concern. I would be lying if I said I didn't know anyone who died of post-op rejection. However, I would also be lying if I said I didn't know anyone with amazing heart transplant success stories (high five, Princess Carissa)

So, my knee-jerk reaction is NO. Hell to the no. Just let me go; I had a good run. It's be s'well, thanks for all the fish.

In reality though...if this is the route I eventually turn down...I'll probably brave it out as best as I can. Survival is a highly addictive drug and one gets used to clawing the way to a level of quality of life one is comfortable with.

All my love to those of you who have or will go through this. <3