The good, the bad, and the Balkans

NE Minneapolis, 2012

I can’t believe it’s July already; so many things have been happening – good and bad, as usual. I’ll get the bad out of the way first, I suppose. With great frustration, I’m back on prednisone again because my right foot (toes, ball of my foot) has been flaring up pretty bad for the last 2-3 weeks. It’s definitely swollen and my toes hurt and are tender to the touch. My right ankle has also been worse, so basically I just want to chop off my entire right foot starting at the ankle. For the past month I’ve been working so hard on improving my diet and tracking calories in order to lose weight, and being back on prednisone is making this even more of an uphill battle. I’m simultaneously really angry and depressed about it. And about the fact that I don’t seem to have lost one single pound yet, despite drastic calorie cutting and an increase in my bike riding. I don’t know what to do except keep on with it and try to have patience. I did make an appointment to see an endocrinologist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center’s Weight Management Clinic. I have to wait FOREVER to get in to see the doctor though. But once I get in for my appointment I really hope someone can help me. Doing all of this work with no results is really disheartening. I think my metabolism is dead.

Anyway, onto the good and exciting news. I am leaving for a trip to EUROPE on July 17th for three weeks! This seems barely believable to me and I don’t think it will sink in until I’m on the plane and actually land in Dublin. The plan is: Minneapolis to Dublin, stay two nights in Dublin with my friend who lives there, then the two of us are flying to Dubrovnik, Croatia together. In Dubrovnik we’ll meet another Irish friend of ours and the three of us will spend a week traveling in the Balkans. I’ve never been there before so I’m really excited and interested to see what it’s like. After the Balkans trip the three of us are flying back to Berlin and staying there a week or so, visiting friends, and because my one Irish friend lives there. Then I will fly back to Dublin for another two nights and then back home. It’s been five years since I’ve been abroad and have seen my friends. I can’t wait to see them and I keep fantasizing about our reunion moment in my head. It will be as if no time has passed, I’m guessing. The hard part of all of this will be having to leave them again.

I have been really stressed about money since I’m (mostly) still unemployed, except for some very part time data entry work I do for my friend and I’ve started serving legal papers for him again too. But, I will worry about the bills when I get back home. Life is truly short and unpredictable and I know that I need to do these kinds of things while I still can. I hate feeling like I have to apologize for taking big trips or doing other things that are important to me, but maybe not financially so responsible. People have questioned, Why are you doing that? How can you afford that? First off, it’s none of their business about how I can afford it. And I don’t like being questioned or judged about something that I love and brings me a lot of happiness, energy, and motivation in life. Being with friends who mean the world to me and feeding my soul with the adventure and inspiration that travel brings, are worth way more to me than stockpiling money to spend on superficial material things. So yeah, it’s worth it. I just really hope that my foot and ankle will get better.

The big Balkans trip is the main thing occupying me at the moment, but I’ve been busy doing a lot of other things – mostly volunteering for Cycles for Change. Recently I finished taking photos for their Bike Library orientations and now I’m assisting with their Learn to Ride program. The Learn to Ride program offers free classes to Bike Library participants who need help learning how to ride a bicycle (or help improving their bike riding skills). Most of the participants are adults, usually recent immigrants from developing countries, and more often than not are women. It’s a kind of surreal yet exciting experience teaching someone how to ride a bike, and I love how passionate and determined the students are to succeed at it. I can’t help but think back to when I first learned how to ride my bike as a child and how happy and proud I felt when I could finally do it. I feel really humbled and grateful to be able to help others experience that as well. It’s a great program and I can’t say enough good things about it!

Some of my photos are on their site here, if you’re interested:

In summary, I’ve been really busy. I’m constantly trying to keep my head above water with my RA and health stuff, job applications, debt, working side jobs, photography and writing projects, bike rides, diet management, etc. The list never ends! But luckily for you I will end this messy, rambling post finally. And I’ll try to write at least one more post before I leave for Dublin.

Happy weekend! And stay cool (this heat and humidity has been killing my feet and ankles)!


4 thoughts on “The good, the bad, and the Balkans

  1. You are very courageous for doing all the things that you do with your condition. I hope you can get something that will help you lose some weight as it appears to be a big stumbling block. Your energy speaks through this post even if you have arthritis. I am encouraged by the way you seem to be handling your issue. Sometimes we lock ourselves up and cry but this does not help.

    Thanks you fro this post.

  2. Hi Susana,

    Thank you for your comment – I appreciate it! I agree. I think it’s much better to keep trying to do things in life, despite the pain and struggles. The alternative is no way to live, I think.

    Thanks for reading my blog and commenting!


  3. Courage is so important when dealing with all the challenges of RA. Like you I have been doing the prednisone dance and it continues to play havoc with my weight. But your right to take good care of yourself emotionally and lessen the day to day stress in your life as much as possible. Yes! A trip! Great decision and leave any guilt or negativity with the trash so it won’t be there when you return. Enjoy your trip and keep living with your positive energy.

  4. Thank you for your comment and your support – I really appreciate it! You’re right – I shouldn’t feel any negativity or guilt about taking this trip. And I am very grateful for the chance to do it and to see my friends again.


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