My much anticipated 'I have RA, but RA doesn't have me!' trip is just about finally here.
Tomorrow, assuming that American Airlines has its act together (oh god, PLEASE!), I'll wake up in New York City and fall asleep in Lima, Peru, on the first night of a three week jaunt with two friends through South America.
The trip is pretty ambitious; we are hitting Lima, Cuzco, Machu Picchu (taking the train, though, not hiking), the Amazon, Lake Titicaca (which, so far, still manages to make most grown people I know smirk and snicker), a few stops in Bolivia, Iguazu Falls and Buenos Aires, all within 20 days. I'm a little daunted, but I can't wait!
In my normal life, one would probably not (OK, never) classify me as 'the outdoor, sporty' type. I'm a pretty tried and true city girl much more likely to be found at a cafe in heels sipping a kir royale than on a mountain in a 3 in 1 parka and hiking shoes. Yet, when I travel, some adventurous, intrepid part of me comes bounding out, and I'm willing to slum it, hike it, climb it, skip washing it and generally tough it out (even if I don't do any of these things well) if it means I get to see some part of the world that I have never seen before. And, figuring I can at least dress the part, I have now been outfitted with specialty socks, pants, parka, shoes, long underwear and, what's more, shorts, an article of clothing I did not heretofore wear past the age of 17 as they are repulsive on my thighs. I may not be a real backpacker, but I'll sure look like one!
One thing I won't be taking with me are my shots. In one of my first posts, I wrote about the challenge of keeping these suckers cold while traveling, but after seeing my rheumatologist a few weeks ago, I won't have to bother. Since I'll be encountering lots of new and interesting species while in the Amazon, she wants me to go off my shots so that my immune system will be at full speed when I get there and after. Instead, I've got a bottle of prednisone that I will take ONLY if I need to. I'm also taking an entire pharmacy of other drugs (all legal) with me, including some antibiotics, migraine meds, malaria pills and other fun things 'just in case.'
Is all of this extra hassle and worry kind of a drag? Yes. Do I wish that I could dash off to exotic places in the world without having to worry about how my body will react like I used to do? Yes. Am I now only going to travel to sanitized, safe and easy parts of the world just because I have RA? Hell NO! That would be letting the RA win, and that's just not the kind of gal I am.
From the beginning, this trip has been my way of saying 'f*** you' to my RA. It may change everything in my life, but it's not going to change who I am as long as I can help it. While I'm in South America, I will hit the one year anniversary of when my symptoms began, and I can't think of a better way to meet that milestone than by seeing a whole new part of the world and remembering that all of my struggles, hard as they may be, are just one little part of it.
So, off I go! Wish me luck, and I'll do my best to check in as I can along the way. I will definitely be writing all about it once I get back at the end of August, so check back to find out how it all turns out.
Till then, hasta la vista!