Why We Travel When Andy has Parkinson’s

In our 19th year living with Parkinson’s, traveling together continues to be both hard and fun. We face challenges and also experience success.

Making the effort to travel is one way we’ve chosen to mitigate the effect of our losses and to create new possibility.

I have found that traveling with my husband, who has lived with Parkinson’s disease for 18 years, is important to us. When planning our trips, I have to evaluate his current symptoms and think up ways to make our trip work while dealing with the reality of those symptoms.

We have successfully traveled together many times. Our trips include long drives and camping, visiting and staying with family and friends, overseas plane trips, Airbnb’s, Home Exchanges, hotels, taxis, trekking, and being in countries where we don’t speak the language. We have had many positive experiences, regarding travel, even with the many difficulties that arise from living with Parkinson’s.

 Parkinson’s causes loss. Every aspect of Andy that had developed up to age up to 59, his expertise, talents, gifts, roles, pleasures and ways of offering service have been negatively impacted by this disease. Some things have only been diminished while others have entirely disappeared from his life.

His family and friends also feel these losses and it’s an all around sorry situation and hard to live with.

Andy can no longer be the athlete he once was, but when we travel for the purpose of physical activity- as in our camping and rowing trips to Catalina Island- he can access the athlete of his present state.

He can no longer be the father he used to be, but on a trip to Scotland, driving to magical lochs and villages on the Atlantic ocean with me and our grown kids, he had our full attention as he ruminated with knowledge about the landscape we were in.

Andy cannot be a teacher in a classroom, or design and install functional metal architectural art, or make bronze jewelry and sell it at art fairs. But when we traveled to an orphanage in India, he could and did design and build a 120 foot suspension bridge. He led a team of men, and connected two pieces of land together, that allowed for more food to be grown. As a volunteer he felt the satisfaction of using his gifts, working and being of service.

The list goes on and on.

In our 19th year living with Parkinson’s, traveling together continues to be both hard and fun. We have faced challenges and also experienced success. There were times when we both wondered why we bothered, especially when we were exhausted and stiff from driving all day. But then we arrived at our friend’s home and her eyes teared up because we had not seen each other since before the pandemic. We arrived at my mom’s home early and caught her on the phone with a friend and overheard her exclaiming how excited she was for our visit. One time, we stayed in a national park rain forest and got caught in a downpour and fully enjoyed the magic of that place while remaining warm and dry in our rain gear.

Times like these make it all worth it.

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