Major news, fellow trekkers!
You might remember my post a few months ago about the trekking to come in 2017, that I wasn’t sure where I was going to be at the end of the year.
I know now, and I have come to accept it even though I am just as sad and apprehensive about it as I am excited.
I’m very sorry for the entire month of silence except for social media. I was buried in thoughts about my life’s direction, to say the least. I have come to realize what the best thing is for me to do even though I don’t feel completely ready.
It’s official: I am moving back to Canada, my home and native land.
So how did I, a travelholic, who cannot travel full-time so I’ve done the next best thing for nearly 7 years – live abroad – come to this decision?
It’s my health. A horrendous food poisoning episode in late August triggered an uncommon auto-immune muscle disease that’s in the arthritis family. My muscles, not my joints, began aching to the point where standing up and walking on bad days were nearly impossible. The pain was so bad that even with powerful prescription painkillers, I couldn’t sleep. I began treatment in November but even toward the end of December, it wasn’t working, so I’ve had to go for more tests.
Since the first week of February, I’ve been slowly getting better since starting a different, much stronger bout of treatment. I’m much better than I was six months ago, but I’m nowhere near remission. The process of standing up and climbing, especially stairs, are still awful, even on good days. I avoid steps as much as possible, which is really difficult in Russia.
Although Russia is not 100% up-to-date medically, I will be forever grateful to the caring rheumatologist who has been helping me since January. She is not 100% certain in my diagnosis. At first, she was thought it was polymyositis, but she said that some of my blood levels don’t match patients with that disease even though I have all the other symptoms. Now, she thinks I might have dermatomyositis, but I don’t have the typical skin rashes to fit the diagnosis.
Regardless, there is no question that I have idiopathic inflammatory myopathy, and both polymyositis and dermatomyositis are in that family. I wish she could give me a concrete diagnosis, but I am so grateful for her. I can’t imagine not having her help. Because of her, I’m far from my lowest point.
However, since I’m still far from remission, I need to get the best possible care, which I am so fortunate to have access to as a Canadian citizen. Even when I do finally go into remission some day, I’ll never be the same, and I’m still on the road to accepting that. A huge part of that bumpy road is to keep trekking but knowing and accepting my limitations; getting used to my new, normal is so hard to accept.
My flexibility and strength are nowhere what they used to be, but I refuse to let my new normal stop me from enjoying life. So far this year, I’ve made it to Vilnius and Trakai, Lithuania, Germany for the Cologne Carnival, Belgium again (not just for the food), Poland again (to see Krakow and Auschwitz), Spain, Finland, Estonia, Hungary, Austria, Slovakia, St. Petersburg twice more, and more of Russia, including Siberia.
I’ve been promised a work trip to Nizhnii Novgorod next month, and I’m determined to finish my Moscow metro conquest – to photograph every single subway station in Moscow. I’ve only done about half, but I WILL shoot them all before I leave Mother Russia.
I want to take day-trips to see nearby Golden Ring cities, like Sergiev Posad. This weekend, I’m taking a day-trip to a nearby city called Kolomna, the oldest city on the Golden Ring.
This desire to see what’s nearby, both cities and nearby countries, made me realize how much I want to see more of Canada. I don’t know how much trekking I’ll be able to do back in Canada, but I’m very excited to not only see more of Canada, but to revisit places I saw when I was a kid.
Despite this excitement and my health problems, I don’t feel totally ready to leave, although I’m certain that no one is ever truly ready to leave Europe. I’ve come to love my life here, and I discovered the reason why God brought me here.
Ready or not, I’m going back to Canada on September 9th. That’s kinda funny actually; I left Canada for Japan on September 7th, 2010, and landed in Japan on the 8th, so 7, 8, 9. 😀
I will be back in Canada after 7 years of living abroad.
Keep trekking with me!