A crutch towards insight

Crutches are designed to be aides in movement. A tool of mobility for those unable to walk otherwise. The broken leg, the sprained ankle. Or in my case, the stress fracture. But these silver, ugly crutches of mine are also a beautiful aide for opening my mind to new insights.

I have taken a month’s vacation from blogging and I return refocused, although fresh off an ironic experience. I have learned how to accept and live with a chronic medical condition, with the daily inconveniences of chronic pain. But the last couple weeks have been an unexpected lesson in just how blessed I really am.

In short, I have discovered the world of acute pain and disability, however brief an encounter. Two weeks ago I woke up to a swollen, painful foot and immediately assumed it was related to my fibromyalgia. Big mistake. A couple of days and an x-ray later, I was facing a stress fracture, with five weeks until my hiking trip in Greenland and Iceland.

I surged with an overwhelming desire to panic.

Strange – years of facing and struggling with fibromyalgia’s daily challenges now only inspires an attitude of melancholy or resigned acceptance. But a simple, completely curable stress fracture looms as an insurmountable obstacle.

Someone serve me a helping of perspective!

As of today, I am crutches free, thank goodness! My foot is no longer swollen and mending well. My doctor assures me I can board the plane for Iceland in three weeks with no fears. The relief is like a violent Midwest summer storm front crashing through the humidity and heat to leave blissful cool  in its wake.

I’ve also gained insight into my own fibromyalgia. I’m blessed, even with this frustrating, never-ending, relentless chronic life. It could always be worse. I could be severely disabled, wrestling with crutches and tripping out-of-doors for the rest of my life. Or stuck in a wheelchair, unable to traverse the mountains or stroll in the Pacific surf that I love so much. My life could be even more limited.

Instead, in a few short weeks I will be hiking the wilds of Greenland, gazing over glaciers in remote corners of the world, one of a privileged few. I will be kayaking the remote fjords of Iceland and gazing upon active volcanoes with power enough to halt Europe’s air traffic with a fine coating of ash. Fibromyalgia may be a daily struggle for me, but it hasn’t stopped me yet from seeing the world. A serious foot injury, on the other hand, would have left me stranded in my hostel room, only able to see the wild yonder from a distance.

I am grateful at how blessed I really am.


About chronictraveler

Chronic Traveler starts as a dream, one that I thought I had lost, but that has slowly changed into a mission to realize and live that dream every day. In December 2007 I became seriously ill and the doctors did not know what was causing my illness. I had to stop teaching as my life tumbled into a never-ending nightmare of doctors, hospitals and tests. Finally, in May 2008 I was diagnosed with a chronic condition - fibromyalgia. I was only 26 years old at the time. I have had to give up teaching, and now work part-time at a performing arts center as I learn how to manage my condition and improve my quality of life. What helped me through the months of uncertainty and sickness, and continues to inspire me, was a new focus on what truly mattered to me: family, friends, gardening, the arts, and especially travel. I have always fed my soul by traveling, ever since I first stepped off the plane at age 16 in Kathmandu, Nepal to help with an orphanage's building project. Meeting new people and experiencing how they live and how they view the world infuses my life with a richness I was so afraid I would lose when the doctor first said, "You have fibromyalgia". This blog is my story, as I begin to forge a new path. I am embracing my life as it is, with the fibromyalgia pain and fatigue, and learning to do what I love regardless. It may mean I have to go slower and take more naps or breaks! But I am determined to learn how to travel and experience the world, and hopefully what I learn will help others like me who believe their medical condition stands in the way of their travel dreams.
This entry was posted in General Travel, Greenland, Iceland, Living with Fibromyalgia, Staying Healthy and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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