Last Friday evening I collapsed in my bathroom as I was about to take a shower.
Just like that: I twisted slightly to one side and fell straight down like one of those controlled demolitions, leaving me housebound for over a week. The problem seems to be a slipped disc in my back that is pressing on the nerves running down my left leg. If I sit for too long my leg weakens and I am unable to get up without assistance, or a great deal of pain.
Having now spent the majority of the week lying in bed quaffing painkillers whilst flicking through issues of Lonely Planet, India, I’m suffering from chronic Wanderlust like never before!
As I slowly get back to normal, this week—more than any other—has been a timely reminder of things that are easy to take for granted:
I am lucky
I hear a number of travel bloggers react indignantly when people comment on how lucky they are to travel all the time and I agree that travelling is a lifestyle choice which takes a tremendous amount of dedication, work, time and effort.
But, good health is not a lifestyle choice.
Amongst my friends and acquaintances I know people suffering with acute back pain, not just for a week but every single day of their lives. I have friends with colitis, cancer, and ME. I have family members with paralysis. For them travel would not just be uncomfortable, it would be practically impossible.
With regular physiotherapy, I expect that my back pain will be gone in a few weeks – hopefully in time for me to enjoy my trip to Sri Lanka at Christmas. This time, I am lucky that it is nothing more serious.
Good health is not a guarantee
We’re all getting older, there’s no stopping that train. I have no idea what challenges aging will bring me: maybe my knees will be the first to cave, or my hips, possibly my back will go again. My asthma could return or I could get any number of new illnesses.
It is time to reassess my lifestyle choices before it’s too late. My back would be stronger if it didn’t have to support those few extra kilos that have crept up on me over the last few years. My kidneys would not have to work so hard if they were not always so dehydrated. My heart might appreciate a bit more exercise once in a while. It has occurred to me that using a backpack when I travel might not be sensible – I couldn’t even lift one right now.
I’m not saying that this epiphany will send me running to the nearest yoga meditation centre, but small choices make big differences. That’s why I ordered a fruit salad instead of cupcakes yesterday, and in a week (when I can put the costume on) I will try to swim daily.
Don’t Wait. Do the things you want to do NOW
I spend hours on my computer researching the next country I want to visit, but I have not yet tried the amazing food at the temple up the road, or visited the beach less than 10 minutes from my apartment. I’m always ‘too tired’ and think ‘next weekend’, ‘when I have more time, or more energy’.
There is a motivational saying that goes along the lines of ‘You’ll never be as young as you are right now’, and at 35 I am already starting to feel my age. My back ailment this week makes me feel double my age. I can hear my body creaking and groaning when I move.
It is not entirely about age, of course, but health deteriorates as you get older. If you want to get things done then you have to do them before your health prevents you from ever doing them.
Have you ever had a health issue that made you reassess your priorities? I’d love to hear about it in the comments below.