Attraversiamo: On Traveling with Chronic Illness

Attraversiamo. In Italian, it means "cross over."

That's exactly what we did last week. My husband and our two girls and I, we crossed over the country.

We traveled from sea to sea; from the northwest to the southeast. We started  in a region of tall, green trees, rain, and coffee and ended in a region of bugs, humidity, and sweet tea.

This journey far surpasses any I have taken in years. It consisted of two cross-country flights, a rental car, two nights of hotel stays, two weeks of beach house stay, and two days of driving.

Even before chronic illness reared its ugly head, traveling was not my strong suit. I do well with home, with the familiar.

Months ago, when we first began planning this trip, I began trying to change my way of thinking. Instead of thinking of worst case scenarios that could happen while traveling, I began to consciously look forward to specific things -- the beautiful pictures I would take, my girls' excitement to see a new place, getting to know my nieces and nephew, and spending time with my husband's family. I allowed myself some new stickers and papercrafting supplies to document our travels. Instead of feeling stressed, I tried to change that feeling to excitement.

It didn't completely change my normal ways of thinking about travel, but it helped.

In the airport, being pushed in a wheelchair to save my hips and knees, I remembered the reason for this journey. Gorgeous piano music in the airport was playing, "It is Well With My Soul."

In the middle of a long day of travel, somewhere in Nevada, I hit the wall. Going on about 1.5 hours of sleep the night before, I was exhausted, hurting, and still had hours to go before I could find a comfortable chair or a place to lie down. I began to cry and felt myself slipping into my old ways of thinking: I'm not good at traveling, I can't do this, I should've stayed home, I want to go home.

I went in the ladies' room and cried for a few minutes in a stall, and then I dried my eyes and reached way deep within for strength and inspiration. I remembered that I am Brave Enough, and we trekked on.

And we made it. Here I am in the land of bugs and sweet tea; on an island with beautiful warm water.

Here I am, crossed over.
I call it a gift -- the opportunity to do this trip. I call it an adventure. And for myself, I call it brave.

Attraversiamo -- how will you "cross over" your fear?


  1. Oh my gosh, I cannot tell you how perfect the timing is on your post. My daughter Amanda moved out to California four years ago and I have not been out to see her once for fear of traveling alone. It's scary business when you live with what we live with.
    Last week I took a leap of faith and bought a ticket. I leave on September 17th, and I am SO nervous. Hearing your story and how you "crossed over" has given me a new strength and a new hope. Thank you,, thank you.

    Brave, indeed.

  2. It's so great that you've found ways to work on changing how you think about travel to make it a positive life experience! And yes, it is very brave! Thank you for sharing the process.

    Being from home is not my favorite thing either. I live in my favorite place in the world, and I rely on my comforts and routine to make it through the fatigue. It takes a lot to go, and I don't always go willingly. I have a specific anti-anxiety mental and physical routine I do my best to implement, with travel and with other stressors, and it does help. Sometimes I have to just accept that I am afraid and I'm doing it anyway. Love you!

  3. So glad u r finding the strength to carry on. It is all we can do sometimes. Dig deep into the source. I am praying for u even as I smiled at ur beautiful smile as u live with constant pain. Grace to u Jen!

  4. Jennifer, I always find your posts so inspiring. Good for you!

  5. My FEARLESS friend ~ I have found myself to have the same affliction. I love home, the security & familiarity of my space & my things. I was afraid to move to the North Coast because it was different & scary; I didn't want to acknowledge Cooper's difficulties for a long time because I thought it meant he wasn't normal; I didn't want to acknowledge the pain of a failed marriage and begin the process of moving on, for fear of being totally alone. Thank you for being a beacon of encouragement for me (and everyone else).

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