It has been nearly a year since I last posted, and I did not anticipate posting again. I figured it was done, bound for the annals of internet archives, lost into coding abyss. In fact, I reduced my payment plan to the cheapest ad-free one that would still keep it active. See? I had detached.
But I digress.
My last post talked about my cautious optimism for 2021 and the changes to come. I am thankful for my caution, for it was a difficult year.
To recap, I contracted COVID-19 in November 2020 and started Grad School in January 2021.
By March 2021, I developed a headache that would not go away until, well, never. It came and it stayed. The chronic migraines are due to a combination of genetic predisposition and COVID long-hauler neurological aftereffects. Several doctors and specialists later, and I am fortunate enough to be working with a neurologist from the Mayo Clinic. I’m in good hands. But I still have migraines all the time, and I still have a persistent headache. I’ve been to the ER a couple of times, had a few infusions, and have been poked with far too many needles for my trypanophobia-self (google it, it’s a fun fear).
When I say I have a persistent headache, let me explain. It means I have had this headache since March of 2021 and I have not had a full 24 hours without it.
Because it is my invisible mind passenger, I decided to name it. You know, for sanity. I named it Mo. (Cause I don’t want no mo’.)
Mo has been with me a long time now.
But why am I telling you all of this on a travel blog?
Well, here’s the rub. I thought long and hard about starting a second blog about all of this. I could keep this one inactive and historically intact about our travels and start up a new one about my journey to recovery or whatever the heck this is. Or I could keep it on the same existing blog, lose subscribers who don’t care about this part of my life, gain some who might want to read it, and move forward, and go from there.
But let’s be real. It seemed wasteful to start a new one (READ: it is my meager nonprofit-job-grad-school-student-budget that made the decision for me. Can’t afford two blogs? Combine them).
Back to the fun stuff.
For the last almost a year, I’ve been in a half-state, somewhere between alive and dead. A functioning body wrought with pain. Controlled by an invisible being inside my brain pulling the strings. I had no end in sight and limited hope that there would be an end. My strength, resolve, passion, and will were growing thin.
The new year took me by surprise. How was it 2022 already? Where had the year gone?
I started a new medication on Monday, with a four-page list of terrifying side effects. The first couple of days did not bode well. I did not sleep, in a state of paralysis between asleep and awake, haunted by night terrors and horrifying images, with a pressure in my eyes, a hopelessness in my heart, and an irritability that did not just threaten to boil over – but did.
I stuck with it in the hopes that my body would adjust.
Yesterday was the first day I started to feel some semblance of normal, and I was confused by it. I was six days into not having to take my harder migraine meds — a first since this all began. My mind was clear. I had ambition.
I cleaned out all my cupboards, which had been an overflowing mess for months. I rearranged my mountain of tupperware containers and organized my new food storage containers — mundane projects which had, before now, taken a back burner and simply served to taunt me with my own incapability.
It was my fourth day of working out. After many months of inactivity due to inability, illness, and pain, I’d gained weight. And not a little, more than anything I’d gained in my life. There were weeks at a time when I could hardly move.
Simply getting out of bed to go for a walk has been hard and here I was on day four of getting up early to intentionally workout.
I started to wonder, is this who I was without Mo? Was I about to find myself again? (Forgive the existentialism, I am writing this at 4 in the morning.)
There’s a large front coming in tonight. A drastic change in weather bringing warmer temps tomorrow. Even if I do need to take my stronger migraine meds, the fact that I’ve had a solid week without them says something major.
I’m cautiously hopeful.
Last year during our anniversary hiking trip, I experienced one of the most difficult hiking moments of my life. There was a time when I did not think I could take one step further. I was disheartened and embarrassed because I wasn’t carrying that much weight in my pack and I hadn’t hiked that far yet. How was I ever going to hike any of the longer trails on my list?
I have this image of my future life, an image I thought I had lost. Feeling a few days of reprieve has given me hope for that future.
Someone the other day asked me somewhat derisively, “Oh, you’ve done the whole van life thing, what for like six months or something?”
Yeah…something like that. Three years in a motorhome and we sold our house and transplanted our lives and changed careers. But yeah, something like that.
She asked jokingly if we’d do it again, as if she already knew our answer would be no.
My enthusiastic “in a heartbeat” surprised her.
I told her I hope it isn’t the last time. And I truly hope it isn’t. Though next time, maybe we’ll go by boat.
Angela and her husband Andy, along with their pets, traveled the country for three years in their motorhome, dubbed “The Wandering Dolphin.” They returned to their home state of Minnesota in 2018. Angela now works as a Development and Communications Director for a nonprofit and is attending grad school for a Master’s in Nonprofit Management.