Travel, be prepared for the changes ahead.

7 weeks after arriving home from our adventures in Chile we’re getting ready to pack up our bags for sand, sea and surf once again.

We’re not rich, we don’t have the luxury of huge bank accounts and unlimited vacation days, but we choose to make travel an important part of our lives with our children.

When we visit our friend’s homes I envy their nice couches and fancy cars. Heck, I even dream about one day having clean matching fluffy bath towels and so does my husband but we choose to spend our hard-earned money on travel because that’s who we are.

It’s not about judgement. I don’t judge others for their choices I’m simply just stating mine so when you come to visit you don’t expect nice bath towels.

Lately I’ve ben trying to put a finger on what makes traveling so vital to my core being. It’s actually a hard question to answer because not every trip is relaxing and/or exciting.

What I know is traveling opens my eyes to the struggles of other people in this world some of which have been so shocking they’ve changed my entire perspective on survival, on life. You see, I have witnessed unwavering human strength. It’s quite a remarkable thing.

While volunteer nursing at Kanti Pediatric Hospital in Kathmandu Nepal some 10 years ago now I spent some time on the burn unit. Unfortunately this was the most overcrowded unit in the hospital because many families use open flame and oil for cooking. Children often came in with second or third degree burns. One child, a little boy around 5 years old, was brought in by helicopter from the remote Everest region just before my arrival.

This little fella was lucky to be alive his mother had been holding him when she was hit by lightning, dying instantly, his father carried him for 3 days until he reached help. Over half his body was covered in third degree burns from the lightning strike. When I met him it had been almost a week since his mother had died. During our first encounter he was lying beside his father on an ancient hospital bed; my heart sank a little. I knew his recovery would be a steep uphill battle, maybe insurmountable. Over the next week I watched his father care for him with trepidation he seemed to be floating through actions, holding his breath. There were 2 nurses on the unit and they did all the dressing changes, rationed the morphine, family members were to take care of the rest, feeding, bathing, comforting, etc. When this little fella needed blood I sat at his bedside while his father went to give his and read him a few stories. When the father returned I was right in the middle of pulling the sheet up over his son’s little body, my back turned to the door, all I heard was a small yelp and a thud. When I spun around I saw the father on his knees in the doorway. I instantly thought he was light-headed from having had his blood drawn and went to him. As I bent down to help him up his arms enveloped me and he squeezed so hard it almost took my breath away. I was motionless, frozen and barely able to breath. When the translator came over to assist me learned the father was profusely thanking me for being there with his son, shaking my hand, calling me an angel. The lump in my throat was overtaking my voice and I was struggling trying to tell him his son was only asleep. He thought I was pulling the sheet up over his son’s head. He thought his son had died while he was gone. He was devastated. The translator did not know the child was alive and he was wiping tears from his own eyes when I finally found my voice again, through heavy sobs, I got it out. Asleep. Alive. Not dead. We all crumbled into a flood of tears.

I can remember the hospital room this man and his son lived in for the rest of my time at Kanti down to the very detail when I close my eyes. It’s a thread sewn into heart and mind forever.

Sometimes when things are getting a little hectic around here well, I think you know what I’m going to say. It’s not just about counting our blessings though, every trip changes me a little, sometimes a lot, focusing my ideas, direction, the way I parent, be a friend, a co-worker, a wife. If you knew me 10 years ago you don’t know me now and I’m sure I’ll be different in 10 more years because our old dilapidated couches aren’t that comfortable so I’ll be out there in the world continuing to explore, the world and myself.



Shouting it from the rooftops

I’m a shy person. Soft spoken. I’ve been frequently described as a “soft soul.” I fumble with my words when I’m emotional. It’s OK I like it this way but today I’m feeling empowered and a little bold. I recently posted this on my Facebook status:

I don’t really post about anything controversial on my Facebook but I’m making an exception because I really do feel passionate about this and because I get a lot of questions from friends and family….

You should vaccinate your children and here’s why. We forget about the consequences of the diseases these vaccines protect against.

I had the opportunity to experience this first hand when I spent some time working as a nurse in Kathmandu Nepal at Kanti Pediatric Hospital in 2005. There I nursed a 12yr old girl with tetanus. Her body frequently went into back bending rigid spasms eventually causing a fracture in one of her arms from smashing into the bed rail so hard. I watched her parents work their prayer beads night and day looking at me with fear and anxiety whenever she would moan or cry out in pain. We did everything we could to relieve her suffering.

I also worked with a little fellow 5yrs old affected with polio whom was carried everywhere by his father as he will never be able to walk on his own. His parents, through an interpreter, worried about his life in the future. He was nothing in the Nepalese society, equivalent to garbage, seemingly not useful for anything but begging on the streets. They worried for his future should they die before him, no one would take care of him, help him. These parents would have given their lives to have the opportunity to vaccinate their children. So if you are a parent facing the decision to vaccinate or not I hope you do but if you don’t I will be there for your child to relieve the suffering as much as I can, to insert their IV, help them breathe, prep them for surgery if necessary and I won’t judge you, instead I promise to try and help you figure out how to live with the decision you’ve made because luckily for you, you have the ability to make the decision. I would also like to THANK all those Rotarians out there, here and around the world who recognize the need for vaccination in underdeveloped countries and fight tirelessly to provide access to vaccines around the world.

And I wondered about sharing it here because this is my travel blog but then on my rainy windy drive home with thoughts rattling around my head I decided I wanted to shout it from the rooftops and maybe, just maybe, because I don’t get up on the roof to shout that often, someone will listen. My commitment to vaccination was borne from my adventures traveling and volunteering abroad it’s been a quiet conviction of mine but today I’m letting you all know – I’M SHOUTING IT FROM THE ROOFTOPS – PLEASE VACCINATE YOUR CHILDREN.