Addiction trumps disability

I have a travel addiction.  I was lucky enough to have traveled the United States extensively by the time I turned 17, due to numerous school vacation road trips up and down the West Coast and all over the four corner States.  The summer after I turned 16, my mother took a few months off work and chaperoned three kids across the country so we could experience the wonder of America firsthand. It’s pretty ballsy to pack three kids into a motor home and head out on the road.  Especially when the only other driver is a 16-year-old .  So I partially blame my mother on my wanderlust and general daring to explore new places. I somehow think she would be both proud of that, and a little annoyed since I know she’s not always comfortable with my travel choices.

So really, I’ve loved travel my whole life.  Even the road trips around my hometown of Los Angeles, with my legs sticking to the hot vinyl backseat of the car, having fistfights with my little brother.  It’s not just the destinations I love, but also sometimes just the act of getting there, of being in motion.  Planes, trains, ferries, camels.  I’m not picky when it comes to modes of transportation. Of course when it comes to real travel, that has also included walking, hiking and biking.  I have to say that in the past three years I have learned a lot about the value of being able to walk, and I have realized how much I have taken walking for granted.

I am happy to say that after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, I sought a second opinion with a specialist.  And believe it or not, I was re-diagnosed and my new doctor said I do not have multiple sclerosis.  I do still have the underlying, sucktastic neurological condition known as transverse myelitis.  It’s rare, and my symptoms vary between barely there and debilitating depending on the week.  But I’m slowly learning how to increase the former and lessen the latter, with decent success so far. And I’m starting to learn the triggers that make me slide into fatigue or discomfort.

The mobility constraints, especially the numbness and tingling in my feet when I walk and the changes to my balance, have changed how I approach just about all aspects of travel. Now I try to go off the beaten path, but I also try to get there in as much comfort as I can reasonably afford.

So I’ve had to get creative.

How creative?  Well, for years I worked part-time in the travel sales field in order to qualify for agent rates. It was incredibly illuminating, but also quite stressful.  While I found the job fun, because I basically got paid for my hobby, I also found it to be a huge amount of pressure to ensure clients get to their destinations safely and as hiccup-free as possible.  In the end, I decided to try a different tack.

Which has lead me to the addictive world of points collecting.  I’m not savvy (or compulsive) enough to call myself a ‘travel hacker’ (and I don’t really like the term anyway).  But I do scour forums like FlyerTalk and Milepoint, and subscribe to a host of frequent traveler blogs. This helps me determine what frequent stay or flight promos will get me the most bang for my buck.  I live in Canada, so the Rewards Canada website is one of the best compendiums of travel deals.  Collecting points has become a major new twist in enabling my travel addiction, as now I have reasons to stay at hotels close by, in order to get free travel in more expensive locales, and in more comfortable rooms than I would be able to afford otherwise.  And comfort is everything when you have fatigue, neuropathy, or some other ailment.  Working points deals has really given me a new lease on my wandering life, since I can now afford to travel in comfort.

I’ve decided to dust this old website off and start writing again. I’ve thought about writing new entries for a while now, but it wasn’t until recently when I read Geraldine, author of Everywhereist.com, write about her brain tumor diagnosis that I realized I should really get off my ass.  I mean she had a brain tumor and surgery.  I just have some lame spinal cord lesions.  So here goes nothing.  Let the blogging begin.

Oh, and let me say that I am so relieved that I don’t have to shoot myself with needles, and this horrible condition will not degrade further (most likely).  And that I don’t have to figure out how to travel with the damn things.  I’m so lucky.

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