Here we are, Jeff Shelton and I, in Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
On the surface, we did all the typical gringo activities:
· boating through an estuary with 15 foot crocodiles
· hiking through a jungle to a volcano’s summit
· white water rafting the el tenorio
· Feeding sloths and butterflies at a wildlife sanctuary
· zooming through the world’s longest zipline
· attending a local rodeo
· eating our way through Guanacasta Province
Behind the smiling selfies and nature shots, Cystic Fibrosis was rather pissed off.
The mornings began between 5 am through 7 am, with a violent coughing attack that woke us both up. The mucous sprang from my chest, demanding immediate attention.
The oral antibiotics I was put on right before the trip, I opted to discontinue them that morning, due to severe allergic reactions to sunlight (Costa Rica is a rather sunny part of the world and my body wasn’t keen on the rashes and dizziness).
Opting out was a dangerous call, but I’ve been managing my health for 30 years and I know the risks enough to know when I’m being negligent vs. when I’m living my life. A few days without them, my lung infection will surely spiral out of control, but I won’t have to worry about a possible Costa Rican trip to the pharmacia or hospital where they may not speak English, or may not even know what Cystic Fibrosis is because of a serious allergic reaction.
Prior to leaving our hotel every morning, I did my nebulizations to open my airways in an attempt to help me breathe throughout the day. We then took a short drive to my favorite local restaurante , Café Tico. I normally avoid Trip Advisor places, opting for what the locals do, but there’s a reason this gem is rated #1.
I order my triple American con leche y un poquito azucar (triple espresso with milk and very little sugar), check my blood sugars, pop 7 enzymes, 2 orkambis, and wait for my croissant con queso y huevos (cheese and eggs) to arrive.
By 9 am it is 85 degrees and my skin is craving a slathering of sunscreen.
By 10 am, Jeff and I are swimming out into the ocean where the salty air is tickling my lungs and turning into a nebulization treatment in itself. I freak out every time something touches my toes, swearing it’s a fiddler crab coming to get me (reminiscint of my Georgia marsh-land years).
By 11, I’m starving and about ready to have a diabetic low, so we race to El Chiringuito, where the pretend security guards coax you into a tip to watch your vehicle. Usually a couple bucks will do for peace of mind, as locals share that opting out of tipping them will surely result in your car getting broken into or keyed.
El Chiringuito captured my heart instantly. In fact, over the course of the entire trip, we went there three times!
We sit in the shade, in reclining outdoor chairs, and watch the ocean waves kiss the shores, as they’ve done since the dawn of time. Ahead, howler monkeys dance through the trees, giant iguanas sunbathe, and birds sing to other birds in an attempt to find a lover on their branch of paradise.
The menu is full of unique flavor combinations: think octopus and polenta. Jeff and I indulge in a plethora of tapas and what is arguably the best bloody mary, while we reflect on what is sure to come in the next few weeks.
We have 5 more days before we return to San Diego, where I will do a pulmonary function test, and see how dire the situation with my lungs really is. Is it in my head? Did I make the right choice?
Can I recover on IV antibiotics?
Prior to leaving for this trip, I had less than 60% lung function…where am I now?
I will call the hospital and have a bed waiting for me.
To be fair, I haven’t spent much time in the hospital since Orkambi came out, but I’d be lying if I said that it was easy to “check out” of one lifestyle to “check in” to another. I don’t think it matters if you’re in Costa Rica, or the 2nd floor of the hospital ward, it’s important to recognize that no matter where you travel to – you’re meant to be in exactly that place.
It’s no coincidence that in a world of infinite possibilities, you are where you are. When you are being you, at your truest and most authentic self, you are exactly where you are meant to be. Your choices led you there. There’s a peace to knowing it doesn’t matter if you can recline in a chair on the beach or recline in a bed in the hospital, you have the choice to interpret the surroundings. The ultimate paradise is in what you focus on, not what happens to you. In a way, you are your surroundings.
I look around at the magic that is now, the way nature wraps around us and the way my hand wraps around my spicy concoction and think to myself that we’re all just wrapping ourselves up in our lives and maybe the real beauty of travel is that for a moment, we wrap ourselves up in something that only seems different but isn’t entirely so. We want excitement, we want new experiences, but if that were the case, why do we travel across the world to drink the same drink we would order back home?
“Well, babe, what do you want to do for the rest of the trip?” Jeff asks.
Lamenting on my paradox of declining lung function and searching for new experiences, I think about all San Diego doesn’t have to offer. It hits me. We don’t have volcanos.
“Let’s book an excursion and hike a volcano.” I declare.
“But… is that safe?” He questions referencing my increased sputum production.
The real fear, is living a life of security and safety, rather than living a life all in.
The real fear, is never trying because of fear of dying.
The real fear, is traveling to another part of the world, to do what I would do in San Diego because I don’t have all the right answers.
It doesn’t matter if we’re writing blogs, scaling our companies, traveling, or checking into a hospital… if we embrace the unknown, forget our fears, push our limits, and get comfortable with having none of the answers… maybe perhaps maybe…we will discover that wherever we are now, is paradise.
Love and hugs,
Want Even More?
1. I AM ____: The Untold Story of Success is my best-selling book that went viral in 2016; it takes real-life stories of successful influencers during their darkest times and puts it against the backstory of dealing with the terminal illness, Cystic Fibrosis.
2. Life. ALL IN. is a free 15 week email course that comes with a guidebook that teaches you how to uncover what you truly want in life, how to build the habits to get it, and how to love others during your journey
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