Monday, August 4, 2014

The RV Lifestyle - A Chronic Disease Therapy

Everyday, I try to remind myself how fortunate I am.  I'm safe and secure.  I'm not in want of food or shelter.  I'm mobile and can travel.  I have a great supportive family.  But, I also struggle living with an incurable disease that at times causes me a certain amount of suffering.

Four years ago, I got diagnosed with ulcerative colitis.  Its a disease of the large intestine that causes frequent and urgent loose bowel movements, cramping, discomfort, and bloody diarrhea.  Its a disease that has no known cause and has no cure.  About 2/3 of the people with colitis can manage the symptoms with a life long regiment of drugs.  For the other 1/3, things never settle down.  I'm in between these two groups - most of the mainstream drugs haven't worked for me.  But most of the time my symptoms are moderate and at times, if I'm really strict with my diet, things settle down on their own for a short time.

So, by now you may ask - what does this have to do with the RV lifestyle?  Well, recently I was at a checkup with one of my doctors (I see four on a regular basis).  He asked me what I had been doing for the past six months and I told him about all my travel and places I'd been this year.  So far this year, I've traveled over 18,000 miles, been away from home for over 17 weeks, spent the winter in Florida, went to Daytona Speedweek, been out to the Rocky Mountains twice, went to Mexico, and have seen some spectacular country.  He marveled at my all travels and was impressed with all that I'd done given my active colitis symptoms.

J. Dawg at Horse Shoe Bend in June

J. Dawg in Mexico in March

J. Dawg at Daytona in February

I told him that since I'd been diagnosed, I had to give up a lot of what I liked to do and limit some other activities.  Things like playing golf, long distance bike riding, hiking, and mountain climbing.  But, I told him that RV travel was something I could do because everywhere I go, I've got a bathroom just a few feet behind the driver seat of my RV.  He told me he was glad that I found something I could do and enjoy and mitigate the limits that colitis can place on me.

With a chronic disease, it's so easy just to stay home where it's easier to deal with symptoms and discomfort.  But, having a motor home has allowed me to stay active and get out and go places.  Its become my second home. With my colitis, there can be can some days where I need to stay close to a bathroom.  But, with my motor home, I've always got one with me.  When I'm on the road, if an urge hits me, I just pull over.  When camped, there's no late night running to the bathhouse or porta-john.  At an event, my rig's usually close by.  And, if my symptoms flare up for a few days, I can just take a break from the road and rest for a few days in the motor home.

One of the things I've learned from suffering and living with a chronic disease, is that it makes you appreciate more the simple things many take for granted.  A good day when you can get out, move and do something familiar.  Going someplace and seeing a favorite spot or experiencing something new.  Having a day without worry or pain.  It also makes you crave for the feeling of normal.  Traveling in my motor home helps me attain these simple things.

I have several friends in my age range that are still very active, healthy, and vital.  But, I know others that have suffered in silence with ailments.  Some that are afraid to get out and travel or do something new.  And some that think sitting on a bar stool is the best way to cope with a problem.

For me, I'm grateful that I found the RV lifestyle.  Its been a great therapy for helping me deal with a chronic disease.  It's allowed me to get out, stay active, and continue to live my dreams.

J. Dawg in Colorado in June

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