Top
HEY YOU!

Why I Decided To Travel In Spite Of IBD and Chronic Illness

You may want to take a seat, maybe grab a lil juice box because I’m not sure but I think this may be a long one.

For a very long time, I was very sick. In fact I honestly cannot remember a time when I wasn’t sick. I often see other people with chronic conditions saying things like “try to remember better days” or “think of a time before your diagnosis.” – For people like me, that statement isn’t applicable.

Travel with Crohn's, Ulcerative Colitis, Chronic Illness

Because I was Diagnosed at 17, I have no idea who I was before. At 17 you’re still figuring yourself out. You’re still Becoming the Person You’re Meant To BeYou know nothing about life and you barely know yourself. Although I was diagnosed at 17, I started experiencing symptoms long before this. IBD has truly impacted my life for as long as I can remember. It’s not my excuse. It’s just my life.

After high school I needed to work. I needed insurance and My Mother was Ill. She couldn’t take care of me. I had to take care of myself. Between medications, scheduled (and random) appointments, emergency room visits, hospital stays and treatment plans, I had no time to think about travel. I didn’t have time to think about much of anything other than surviving. Not living, just surviving.

For a while my condition took the majority of my time and energy (or lack there of). I never knew what I wanted because I never really had time to consider it. I never asked myself “what do I hope to get out of life?” – This question was a hard one as I never expected to live this long. I’m only 26, but I really couldn’t see myself as an adult. – Especially as a semi-healthy adult!? Never. – Before my surgeries I had no life at all. My condition was my life. During my surgeries it seemed as if the time I’d always imagined was here. I didn’t know exactly when it would happen, but I didn’t think I would live to see another year on this Earth. Physically it felt like my body was shutting down. Mentally I was in a panic.

Ulcerative Colitis - J-pouch Surgery

But I was wrong.

What is Inflammatory Bowel DiseaseI didn’t die. I got better. It hurt bad, but since my surgeries in 2015 I’ve felt better than I’ve ever felt in my life! 

In spite of everything I’d been through with my conditions, surgeries, ect. I was still pre-occupied. I had every excuse in the world not to experience life. I was in a committed relationship. I had a full time job with other obligations on the side. There was the occasional mandatory overtime. I won’t say I wasn’t doing anything I wanted, but I for sure wasn’t able to do everything.

In early 2018 I left corporate America. I wrote a post about it, I’ll probably publish that soon (so be sure to subscribe for updates), but long story short, I was miserable. I spent years being miserable. Working for companies that considered me another number. While I was grateful for the company I was with for almost 4 years (selling Medicare supplemental insurance plans), most companies made me jump through hoopes just to get a day off. I practically had to beg one manager to allow me to get a biopsy without giving me an occurrence. Needless to say, I grew tired. – But I go into more detail about that in my upcoming post.

The point of this is simple: I chose to travel because I realized that while I finally had the opportunity to live, I wasn’t taking full advantage of it. I was still simply surviving, only a different version (of it). Instead of spending my time in hospital rooms, it was now cubicles. Instead of scheduling treatments, I was scheduling meetings. It wasn’t terrible, but it certainly wasn’t the life I wanted.

I put my all into my relationship and the little of me left was drained by corporate America. It was drained by pointless quotas, time consuming meetings, unqualified leaders and my personal favorite: having to work extra hard to prove that I (a black women) am just as deserving and hard working as my colleagues.

So no, I didn’t quit on corporate. I quit being safe. I decided to travel because I made the decision to live. 

Hospitals to Hostels: Travel Blog

It wasn’t a hard decision to make to be honest. After my relationship ended and I made the move away from corporate, it only seemed right. It appeared the only thing I was missing in my life was the satisfaction of my wander lust and desire for more. I had a desire to learn, but it wasn’t satisfied by my online courses at JWU. It wasn’t satisfied by the Charlotte streets. I needed to learn from experience. I needed to learn by putting myself in spontaneous, insane situations I’d never otherwise know unless I left home.

So there you have it. I travel because my heart no longer has a permeant address, but a longing for places far away.

There’s so much more coming so I figured this would be a perfect time to introduce this new idea I’ve been considering: Hospitals to Hostels

– This is my new travel / adventure series where I share vlogs from my recent and upcoming trips. I’ll post blogs and vlogs so be sure you’re subscribed to my blog and YouTube channel so you don’t miss out!

 

As always, I truly appreciate your support. Thank you so much for reading this through the end.

Comments

  1. This gives me hope! I have been feeling so low about myself and my disease and while I have been able to travel, I had a flare recently and have to pay medical bills (with the help of my husband) along with recovering…we wanted to travel somewhere this yeah but I doubt it’s going to happen. But we will make it work next year!

    • Im so glad you were able to pay some of those medical bill Hannah! I’m so you’ve been going through this though. At the end of the day I certainly think you and your husband made the right decision by prioritizing. Your time will come, I’m sure! Hopefully this time next year you and your husband will be in route

  2. I love this idea!! I really relate to your spirit! Having chronic illness truly can change us in so many ways for the better and changes the way to see the world — cheers to new adventures!

  3. Can’t wait for your new series! 😀 Also, I understand the being sick from young part – I was on so much steroids til this day I have no idea which was steroids and which was puberty :/ Keep travelling and looking forward to reading about your adventures!

Let's have a conversation! Leave a comment!

What They're Saying

"Shawn. I see what you're doing in the IBD community. You're doing phenomenal things! Prayers for your personal journey as well as I know it can't be easy."

Felicia Robertson, MD June 23 2017
2017-09-08T14:16:02+00:00
"Shawn. I see what you're doing in the IBD community. You're doing phenomenal things! Prayers for your personal journey as well as I know it can't be easy." Felicia Robertson, MD June 23 2017

"You're the best! So glad you joined (the Patient Advisory Council of ImproveCareNow) and I hope we can get to know eachother better! Looking at your blog girl it's amazing. You're a beautiful writer and fighter."

 

Natalie B, PAC ImproveCareNow, April 29 2017
2017-09-08T14:21:19+00:00
"You're the best! So glad you joined (the Patient Advisory Council of ImproveCareNow) and I hope we can get to know eachother better! Looking at your blog girl it's amazing. You're a beautiful writer and fighter."   Natalie B, PAC ImproveCareNow, April 29 2017

"Chronically Strong is an absolutely beautiful blog filled with information about Ulcerative Colitis, Chronic Bowel Disease and Mental Health just to name a few. (Shawntel) has excellent healthy eating tips as well as a focus on overall wellness and nutrition, and recipes."

Leanne, Blogger, Aug. 2 2017
2017-09-08T14:26:29+00:00
"Chronically Strong is an absolutely beautiful blog filled with information about Ulcerative Colitis, Chronic Bowel Disease and Mental Health just to name a few. (Shawntel) has excellent healthy eating tips as well as a focus on overall wellness and nutrition, and recipes." Leanne, Blogger, Aug. 2 2017

" I've never found you to be anything but inspiring. Your honesty is refreshing and I like when people keep it real. Makes me feel it's ok to be human."

 

Sara R, Sep. 12 2017
2017-09-12T22:05:16+00:00
" I've never found you to be anything but inspiring. Your honesty is refreshing and I like when people keep it real. Makes me feel it's ok to be human."   Sara R, Sep. 12 2017

Though mostly about IBD, this blog covers a wide array of issues.  Shawn covers complex issues, like how her identity as an African American intersects with her IBD.  I am taken aback by the depth of each post! Whether you’re a blogger or an IBDer, her posts are sure to offer tons of inspiration.

 

Collin, Jan. 9, 2019
2019-01-09T22:11:58+00:00
Though mostly about IBD, this blog covers a wide array of issues.  Shawn covers complex issues, like how her identity as an African American intersects with her IBD.  I am taken aback by the depth of each post! Whether you’re a blogger or an IBDer, her posts are sure to offer tons of inspiration.   Collin, Jan. 9, 2019