Travelling When Your Body Just Won’t

I have compartment syndrome.

It’s a super scary condition where your muscles don’t want to be contained in their muscle holder anymore.

The magical medical practitioners think it happened as a combination of stressing myself out way to much and overworking my already injured body. As a kid I wanted nothing more than to be a prima ballerina. This didn’t pan out as I have exactly 100% the opposite natural body you want for ballet. I have hips, I have a bum, and I hold weight in my stomach. It’s not exactly graceful. But I tried. I loved- still love- to dance. When I was 15 I went to my then family doctor and asked about this weird pop thing my hip was doing. He told me it was nothing and not to bother him with stupid problems. Yeah. I continued to throw myself into performing through dance, intensive theater camps, and started competing in musical theater the next year. My hip didn’t get better. It wasn’t until I was 22 during a rugby practice where a coach heard the noise. At that point I had been playing for a few years with a break to study abroad. My coach looked at me, informed me that wasn’t normal, and gave me the name of a sports specialist who I saw that week. Keep in mind I hadn’t really seen a doctor that wasn’t at the walk in clinic since I was 15. I went and he diagnosed it as snapping hip syndrome in 5 minutes. I walked out with a physio referral and started on that path. I probably wouldn’t have been in that sort of pain for that long if I had been better about resting and not going in to intensely. I was still playing rugby and… man, I love playing rugby. It’s definitely one of the most fun things I’ve ever done. I love the crap out of that sport, I loved the people I was playing with. So play I did.

After my friend passed away I kind of gave up on life. I stopped playing rugby, stopped going to the gym… stopped giving a shit about anything really. I lost my biggest support system and that took its toll. I still have to deal with it every day. Losing someone you were that close to messes you up. My feet started to scream bloody murder whenever I stood up and after much fighting my Mom made me go back to the doctor to get orthotics. I went and mentioned that when I walked a lot my shins hurt SO bad and it hurt to even touch my calves. That’s when I got the compartment syndrome and instructions to keep very lightly active- which at that point I wasn’t, to not google compartment syndrome and, most importantly, to keep my stress levels down. I tend to be a very high stress person so I figured that was impossible, got my orthotics and hoped for the best.

Eventually it all caught up with me and I found myself having to miss a day of work to spend in the hospital because I was absolutely sure my foot was broken but had no idea why. The doctor at emergency checked me out and diagnosed me with plantar fascitis in both my feet. I had no idea what that meant and vowed to wear my orthotics more. He gave me celebrex to take and I was, once again, told to be lightly active, rest, and keep my stress levels down. During all this I managed to do two summers working at summer camps in Italy. I didn’t have the same problems there. Working with kids is pretty stressful so I still can’t figure out why I wasn’t in pain.

By this point my sports specialist had retired, which was terrible because he was the best doctor I’ve ever had. He was direct but caring, and you could tell his focus was completely on his patients. My mother had found a new doctor and my feet were getting much, much worse. I could only walk for about 5 minutes before the pain became unbearable. My mom kind of took matters into her own hands and made an appointment with the doctor and bribed me out of the house with a shopping trip. My anxiety level was high, but I like the new doctor. I’m still on her patient list. She referred me to a pain specialist in the same clinic who wanted to start K Laser. I had four treatments and things were better. I could walk for a half hour after the first one. After the fourth one I went to London and Paris and something weird happened. I walked. I walked for five hours one day and didn’t even feel a hint of a throb. I was enjoying walking. I reported this back to the doctor when I went for my fifth and final treatment. He thinks it might be a climate thing and that I should move to Europe.

Alas, the point of this trip isn’t to talk about all my pain and reinforce the fact that I really, REALLY should live in Europe. Bonjour France, je veux moi? It’s to talk about the how. Since I did spend two summers in Europe with chronic pain while working and whatnot I’ll give my list.

  1. Carry all medications with you in your carry on. Luckily they only lost my luggage on the way home, but damn were those some bad days until it got restored to me.
  2.  Make sure your medication is legal in the country you’re going to. I worry about this all the time even though celebrex is pretty standard.
  3. Talk to your doctor about transitioning through time zones. When I went to Australia I lost a whole day. I tend to keep my Ipod on Vancouver time no matter where I go so that I don’t accidentally wake people up when I call home. Sometimes you end up taking what you take at noon at home at eight pm away, which is reasonable. However, sometimes you end up needing to take it at 2. Figure out the time zones and talk to your doctor.
  4. For the love of all that is and ever was do not start your medication on the trip. Take it for at least two weeks before. Finding that celebrex worked for me was hard. I went through some other pain meds that had side effects that… wouldn’t be what you’d want in a shared bathroom situation. (This also plays into why I hate ensuite bathrooms at hostels, but that’s another post.). You need to know how your body reacts to what you’re taking. For instance, I had to learn the hard way that if you ignore the label and take celebrex without food you will not be a happy camper. I tend to prize celebrex because it worked for me but meds are different for everyone. I’ve even heard of some people having weird side effects from the generic. Do not take this grace period for granted. Seriously. Very, VERY important.
  5. Give yourself permission to feel like shit and hermit for a few days. I’ve been to Genoa many times but I’ve never seen any of it. There’s a hotel there  that’s not far from the train station and whenever I’m there it’s where I stay. It’s clean, not to expensive, the shower water pressure is awesome and their wifi is full on badass. I get an inordinate amount of food, take the longest shower ever and just relax. I’m an introvert with extrovert qualities and I need the recharge time. Even with a cold it’s not fair to do a shared room when you’re sick or injured. Let yourself have that down time and don’t let anybody make you feel bad for it. If you’ve booked a hostel and just need a day to hang around the building and the two blocks around it, that’s fine. Take care of your mental health and your physical health will follow. After my Genoa stays I go wherever I need to after feeling like a renewed person. If I have a bum around the hostel day, usually I feel ready to go and end up having amazing nights.

When you have chronic pain it sucks. Going places sucks. Getting out of bed most days is a marathon… but it’s possible to push through it and have some great experiences.

Just give yourself permission to feel it otherwise I’m sure your head will explode.

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Travelling When Your Body Just Won’t

Why it’s Okay to Believe – Guest Post by Steven Calis

There is, in of us, a yearning. It is hidden perhaps. Buried in ourselves somewhere primal. There is a part of us that, should we allow it, enables us to just for a moment hear the earth calling back to us, pleading our return to her.

My friend Sandy has given me an opportunity to post an article on her proper grown up travel blog and I am very grateful for the opportunity, my only issue was finding a topic coherent enough to warrant writing. So, two or four glasses of red wine under a beautiful night sky in tuscany has inspired me to write and post, should Sandy allow, an article about religion and I’ll find a way to intertwine it with travelly type things to keep the post relevant.

I wonder sometimes, does religion fit in our western world? Is there room for Jesus, Yahweh, Allah, Muhammed and other powerful figures from mankind’s infinite pantheon of God’s and prophets to survive in a western civilization wherein almost everybody has almost the sum total of human knowledge and speculation at the click of a button?

I am an atheist. But I am an atheist that can see the beauty of religion (but not in its crooked, ritualistic and bizarre organised form) and the raw healing power of belief. I can see with my own eyes the strength gained from faith and I see nothing wrong with it.

There is a good chance that a historical jesus did exist (see reza aslan: zealot) and the further one digs into this man’s real life the more genuinely fascinating he becomes, although he is not quite the Che Guevaran type revolutionary some alternative historians will have you believe, nor was he the meek and mild gentle Jew from the bible. I believe he was (as far as the evidence shows us) a man with strong morals, a fierce belief and self determination and an aggressive desire to free his people from roman tyranny. That is a man worthy of history. We don’t have to sift through pages and pages of bloated, historically backwards and awkward scripture to find a man worthy of our respect and admiration.

Why mention this?

I mention this because at some point you may realise the god your parents told you about is missing or cold. The beliefs you held once upon a time are shaken, distorted, faded or just gone and it has left you bitter towards your mosque, synagogue or church. If this is the case then this article is for you. My point today is this; if there is a god, and you agnostically or otherwise can just feel something in the earth or universe then no one can tell you you are wrong, if he/she/it exists then it is an existence in spite of our man made perception of him. Why should the popes god be the same as yours? There is no reason. The various sects of Islam, Judaism, Christianity and countless others both today and in antiquity will have you feel like god, whatever it is, lives in places of worship, awkward pagan rituals, tythes or other age old institutions that just don’t fit with you. If God is this incalculable, unfathomable, omnipotent force of nature then how can anyone claim to know him? You may trust jesus or Muhammeds words, but why ignore the hundreds of prophets that also roamed the early middle east? How can we possibly attribute such wisdom and knowledge to illiterate, poor and uneducated men from the ancient middle easy? or ignore a belief like Buddhism that to more and more westerners every year attracts attention because it’s beliefs in God’s are idealogical, philosophical and leaves room for you to know the god you feel, not the one you fear.

My point is this. The universe and possibly universes are for now beyond us (for now). Reading any book by lawrence krauss, steven hawking, brian cox, richard dawkins or any scientist that strives to bring science to all of us can leave you dumbstruck at the scale of the universe and at the very real and breath taking magic of our existence that goes far beyond the capabilities of fantasy and fiction. one man can not have the answers, if you feel a personal relationship to god then that is yours and no one can take it from you nor is it any less real because you struggle to see your god in dated scripture.

Travelling is wonderful exercise for the mind (I told you I would mention travelly things) and I have learned a great deal by talking, praying and meditating with people from different religions and so I feel it is important to say this; if you are happy, if being a peaceful Muslim, Jew, Christian etc gives you real and satisfying joy then not a damn thing any athiest says matters, however it’s when rusty, ancient teachings hinder the education of our children by stopping them learning about contemporary science that we have a problem.It’s when vague religious texts can cause centuries of blood shed because faith is being used against you as a sword instead of nurtured in you like a flower. but again, that is organised religion and it’s pressures and its the very thing I oppose.

But there is room for a personal god my friends, you feel him right? You just know something is out there? Then no one can tell you are wrong. But let it he be yours, let us avoid forcing our beliefs on others. Let our children find “god” however they please but guided by a solid education of modern beliefs and sciences. If God exists he, by granting us this curious nature, must be able to survive scrutiny.

So, all I want is for you to be you. I want you to bathe yourself in the glory, magic, majesty and joy that comes from being a human being in a seemingly unknowable universe. And if you see the fingerprints of God around you then that’s fine too. Just make sure it is a deity that empowers you, frees you and allows you to love whoever you want to, to learn whatever you need to in an effort to be, at the very least, the best human being you can be.

I am grateful for the opportunity to write something here. I can be reached at Calis_travels@yahoo.com or at my blog www.fatskintandlost.wordPress.com

Thank you so much for reading

Calis the traveller

Why it’s Okay to Believe – Guest Post by Steven Calis

Travel Stuff on Indiegogo and Kickstarter Analyzed

I have a weird obsession with crowdfunding.

Honestly, it’s the best of the internet.

A lot of stuff is for travel. Some of it is very innovative. Some of it.

The price I’ve listed is the lowest price that allows you to get the entire unit of thing. Does that make sense? You know what I mean. Like, when they say, “oh, we’re making a backpack/pillow/jacket/thing that will save all the lives but then if you pledge $10 you’ll get a t shirt!”. No, I want the thing I’m looking at.

The Woollip – $35, ships in September 2016

Okay. This is a good idea. Those neck pillows that go around your neck? Well, they try. Try and fail. However, I’m not sure this is the solution. First off, this relies on the person in front of you having a soul and not reclining, unless you go to the side in which case I feel like it would take up a lot of the neighbours room until you’re super skinny and don’t take up much of an economy seat. Actually, the only people who don’t take up much of an economy seat these days are 4 year olds. The only time I can see this working exceptionally well is when you’re next to a window. Don’t be a space intruder.

The Nomad Travel Blanket – $72, Ships November 2016

These are hella cute. However, at the end of the day it’s a blanket shoved into a pillow. I feel like this is a gift you’d get from that aunt who doesn’t have kids and gets you really expensive, extra adorable things and you love every minute of it.

Dash Minimalist Travel Wallet– $18, November 2016

This is a really nice wallet. I love that it comes in pebble leather because honestly, nothing takes abuse like pebble leather. However, I was always taught not to keep credit cards and a passport together. If that gets stolen aren’t you like super hooped for identity theft? That said, as a female I get what I like to call “purse privilege”. I have a bag that I’ve grown so used to having at all times that has pockets. I can definitely see how this would be a godsend for guys. Even for the containment of passports alone. I wonder if it fits two….

The BullRest– $54, September 2016

I’m very intrigued by this. It does look like it supports the neck a lot better. Also, it looks hella cool. The thing that’s dodging me out is the “one size fits all ergonomic”. I have a short neck, but I have some giraffe-esque friends. How can it be the same? If I could afford to spend $54 on a travel pillow I’d definitely get it to try it out, but now it’s on the Christmas list for my aunt with no kids.

GOQUi – $129, September 2016

I’m into this. I feel like it’s good not just for travel but also life. I’m all about the more charge. Also, I might lose my phone less. I also like that it doesn’t take up an outlet because anyone who’s stayed at a hostel knows those are precious rare jewels. I feel like if I could find a way to attach a long shoulder strap this would become a going out bag.

Travellr Case– $22, September 2016

This is actually a really cool idea. I usually use a ziploc bag but I’m still worried about cutting myself. Also, let’s be real, this looks pretty damn cool. It’s a razor case, I mean how much can I say about it except for, “yeah, I want it.”

Aer Travel Pack– $179, September 2016

It’s an expandable backpack with lots of pockets. It’s a really well designed expandable backpack with lots of pockets, but it’s nothing new.

Libertad Travel Shirts– $97, October 2016

I have a few thoughts on this. First off, it’s a merino shirt. Unless they have a patent on the “super fine spun merino” then this fabric is probably available in other things. Specifically woman’s clothing. If you’re cutting a men’s shirt, it’s really not that hard to develop a pattern for woman too. My girly hips and I are unimpressed.

TravelMore Jetpack– $49, September 2016

I’m just going to say I am so not a daypack person. I’m a big purse person. I feel weird wearing them. I do love the idea of the folding down though. I am a “just in case” packer and so yeah, having one in there in the situations where I have needed one- going to the beach for the day, liquor runs- would be stellar. Basically, if I were a daypack person or I needed a gift for a daypack person, this would be the one I get.

Powearin Modular Jacket – $134, November 2016

I’m not sure if this is the best or dumbest thing I’ve ever seen. I know I’m confused but I don’t know why. Please do yourself a favour and watch the video. There’s some of the most intense jacketing (?) I’ve ever seen.

edit: I’m embedding the video. For reasons that will become obvious. Dude loves his jacket. I’m sorry to everyone I know for making you watch this an obscene amount of times over the next six months. 

 

The Joey Jacket – $145, August 2016

Apparently travel jackets are big business. This one gets points for not confusing me, and they have a hoodie version which I’m a fan of… but it looks like a less stylish version of the baubax jacket. Also, since there doesn’t appear to be gendered styles I’d worry about it fitting over my lady hips.

3in1 Travel Adaptor

I wish they had more pictures of this because I feel like I could get behind it but I need more info.

FLOATTI Suitcase– $360, December 2016

After my quick jaunt to London and Paris a few months back I’ve pretty much sworn off suitcases, but this one gets my attention. First off that bag strap. So simple, so elegant. Why did it take so long? The built in scale is brilliant, as is the tracking system. If any suitcase could grab my attention this is it.

Hiero Band– $10, August 2016

So I bought this one. I’m a big lover of an arm party and since I make a lot of macrame I always have a ton of bracelets on my wrist, might as well make one work for it. The concept is by pointing to the symbol you need it’s easier for people to help you. It’s $10 and hella cool. I’ll still try to learn all the languages but there’s only so many times you can say bathroom wrong before you pee in the street ya know?

Elephant Stripes Travel Packs – $200AUD, October 2016

I actually bought a 45L one on kickstarter a while back. With kickstarter once the campaign closes you can’t still buy them off there, but with indiegogo you can, so thus the link. I’m obsessed with this video of them packing a ridiculous amount into it. I’ve seriously watched it at least a hundred times. Including the six times I watched it while getting the link to that video. Also, and I can’t stress this enough, they’re so cute!

Slicks Modular Backpack– $309, August 2016

See, now we’re talking. This is what I expect in a backpack that claims to be new. I mean, okay, it’s a backpack with packing cells. But making one of those packing cells a suit bag is new and different. I think this is pretty awesome.

I’m quite proud of my ability to spend the day on kickstarter and indiegogo and only maybe spend $10. Also, I’ve learned that apparently we want chargers on everything.

Have you pledged anything? Heard anything about any of these?

 

 

 

Travel Stuff on Indiegogo and Kickstarter Analyzed