Such preparation has included putting my house on the market, rejecting and ultimately accepting an offer, researching and booking reputable movers and storage facilities for my furniture, packing up everything, locating and purchasing the perfect RV for my drive from California to Tennessee, learning how to use all the RV hookups, planning my route and stops, microchipping and vaccinating my cats, saying goodbye to all my local friends in final and bittersweet get-togethers, disconnecting services such as TV and homeowners insurance, forwarding my mail to my dad in Texas (since I don't have a forwarding address yet), and tying up seemingly infinite, miscellaneous loose ends.
It's a lot of stress for anyone; but for a person with chronic illnesses, it presents extra challenges.
Then, a couple weeks ago, I experienced a bona fide freakishness. A bone spontaneously and quickly erupted through the roof of my mouth and I required an emergency dentist appointment to remove it. It was ridiculous. This fang of sorts popped through almost overnight—just to throw a wrench into my schedule, it seemed—and required hammering, breaking, and chiseling with an arsenal of dental tools to be removed. I mean, what the heck was that? Even the dentist seemed baffled: "It may have been an extra tooth you've had all your life that just decided to drop. Or an extra bone." Umm, okay.
Anyway, due to luck—or good graces or supernatural powers, I'm experiencing a surge of good health. With the exception of getting the flu a few weeks ago, I've been feeling healthier than I have in years. I'm nowhere near "normal" or totally healthy, but the frequency and severity of my worst symptoms are reduced. Thank God. I don't know that I could get through this period otherwise, especially on my own.
The excitement surrounding the move that is now just a blink of an eye away may contribute to my sense of all-over goodness. In addition to excitement, I also feel a sense of pride for the first time in a long time. As someone who's been hard on myself for the last two years for being unable to work full-time—somehow feeling like I've let myself and others down—I feel like I'm finally achieving something worthwhile.
Not only am I excited for the sheer adventure of the journey ahead, but I'm optimistic that this is the right move for me in every way that long-term success can be quantified, including but not limited to: health, happiness, financial stability, and love.
Brief tangent: There is something about California men that really turns me off. The straight men here seem to exist on one end of the following spectrum—the pot smoking, broke, unreliable, whiney, flaky, hippie musician type, OR super nerdy, gadget-obsessed, personality-lacking engineers. I've dated both types several times over, and I'm pretty confident my husband isn't here in California. (As for the pompous, chauvinistic, arrogant, shallow, douchebag types that can also be found here, I've strictly avoided them. I'd rather be single for the rest of my life than date one of them!) I know I'll find Mr. Right in Tennessee!
But I digress. As I was saying, I'm feeling super excited and proud of myself, which must be good for my health. Oh, and grateful too, for how everything is turning out. While I'm definitely stressed out, I feel incredibly blessed.
When I look back at how I've evolved as a person over the two years I've kept this blog, I realize I write less about Lyme disease than I used to. This parallels the attention I give the disease in my day-to-day life. When I launched this blog in early 2011, I focused my attention almost exclusively on Lyme and its coinfections. I'd like to continue evolving this blog into something more of a journal of my life. Of course, no matter where I go or what I do, my health will always play a role—whether good or bad. So as I blog about the milestones to come, you'll still hear about the pesky nausea that interfered, or the fatigue that forced me to stay in bed for the day, or whatever it may be. But that will be secondary information to the theme of the post.
So, since my next entry will definitely take place after I hit the road, I'll increase my blogging frequency to provide updates a couple times a week. Specifically I'd like this to become the place where I document my RVing experience and the early days of my life in Knoxville! So be sure to come back (more frequently!) starting about two weeks from now to see what kind of shenanigans I've gotten myself into ;-)
I know I've written about this time and time again, but there is something so indescribably magical about the open road. When I think back to moments in my life when I knew what it meant to be truly happy and embrace the moment, my mind wanders back to childhood road trips through the Ozarks to visit my grandparents where we would stop along the way to slide down layers of natural rock formations and catch tadpoles with our bare hands.
......And the infamous road trip through Mexico that, in spite of wrecking our car and some other drama, was infused with the joys of pet monkeys, blue lagoons, sand-dollar-blanketed beaches, bareback horseback riding, misty rain forests, and cheesy 90s pop songs that had been translated to Spanish—like "Ooh Baby I Love Your Way" ("Ooh Bebe Te Quiero A Ti", anyone?).
......And I'll never forget our drive through Northern Syria's ancient ruins and Crusades-era castles, so magnificent and underrated in their architectural glory, where we road camels and drank tea under a canopy in the hot summer sun.
......Even my cross-country drive from Dallas to San Francisco ten years ago had its share of unexpected bumps in the road when I hit a blizzard in Flagstaff, AZ. As scary as it was for my 21-year-old self, I'll never forget the kindness of a couple of strangers, Barbara and John, RVers stranded beside me on the highway (who I kept in touch with after we parted ways the following morning). They looked after me until the blizzard passed, and we all shared adjoined motel rooms and ate breakfast together before I went on my lone way to California.
It's easy to see why these memories were the brightest times of my life. Some things are just permanently etched into my memory banks.
Is the best yet to come? This is the longest road trip I'll ever take—some 2500 miles—not to mention my first trip in an RV. It will be my first time in Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, and Kansas. Have I mentioned just how excited I am???
Still, there is some awkwardness surrounding some of my peers' curiosity and jealousy over my ability to make this move: How can a chronically ill person handle the drive, and how can I afford it? I don't like to discuss my financial situation publicly, but since I've been asked by plenty how I'm able to afford this, I'll be simple and to the point. I made some investments when I was younger that have paid off. I won't say what I made from selling my house, but just know the market worked in my favor. Plus, I'll be able to save money by living in Tennessee, as opposed to if I had chosen to stay in this incredibly expensive part of California.
It somewhat irks me that people think the above is any of their business, or that anyone thinks I somehow don't deserve this adventure. The way I see it, I want to live life to the fullest while I'm on an upswing in health. Because, honestly, who knows how long I'm going to feel good before I have another crash? Tomorrow is never guaranteed. Next year is never guaranteed. I went through hell for months straight while trying to figure out which treatments didn't make me feel like death on a stick. The way I see it, I do deserve something this wondrous and uplifting in my life.
Most people have been supportive though. I have to say, I do have some cheerleader-esque friends who've been incredible.
Then there's the issue of fear. Just like with any unknowns in life, fear can creep in—what if it's a bust? What if I fail? Most of all, I'm worried about the elevation of some of the areas through which I will be passing. I know from experience in Lake Tahoe, Macchu Picchu, Yosemite, the Smokies, and other places high above sea level, that my body falls apart in that environment. And to be quite honest, I'm terrified that I could fall quite ill in Salt Lake City or Cheyenne. Or as early as Reno.
But the fear isn't enough to make me amend my route. The only other option is to cross the Southern states, and I've done that before. I want to see Nebraska and Wyoming. I'm willing to take that risk.
I can't say I quite understand the mechanics of "altitude sickness". I've read up on the subject, and I'm still confused as to whether it's a lack of oxygen entering the lungs, the air pressure itself, or restricted blood vessels that make me feel so sick. So I'll be packing a bottle of "liquid oxygen", some anti-inflammatories, some natural caffeine, and something else I can't remember off the top of my head. And when I fall ill—which no doubt I will—I hope I can just pull into an RV park, experiment with these remedies, and lay in bed until I acclimate. Otherwise, if I have the strength, I'll high-tail it through those areas until I reach a lower level. I can't say what I'll decide. We'll see.
Thanks, readers, for joining me on my adventure! I'll be in touch in a couple of weeks!