About me

Allow me to introduce myself; my name is Claire.  I am 26 years old and am about to embark on a journey that some may consider to be a little crazy considering all the barriers I potentially have to face.  Here’s a bit of background;

I have been unwell for most of my life.  A host of different issues including:  endometriosis, hyper-mobile joints, chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic sinusitis and depression have had a huge impact on my life and my ability to live it.  My story is unusual I suppose but not ‘glamorous’.  I have never really been at risk of dying from anything I have had and the conditions I have suffered from are not that widely known but I believe the severity of a condition should be measured by the impact it has on a person’s ability to conduct their activities of daily living and general happiness not on how scary it sounds or how many people have heard of it.

After 7 years of living with what my doctors believed was Chronic Fatigue Syndrome I have finally had 2 more accurate diagnoses; IgG subclass deficiency and Recurrent Vasovagal Syncope.  Basically meaning that the first one stops my body from being able to protect itself or rid itself of respiratory infections (mainly sinus infections) and the second one means when I get sick my body can not maintain my blood pressure (particularly when I stand up) – resulting in fatigue, fainting and impaired healing etc so I get sick and can’t fight it off and get low blood pressure and so it goes around and around.  It’s possible these have been going on for years undetected.  That I have had an immune deficiency since I was 8 years old and the surgery, the hospital visits and all the antibiotics might not have been necessary if it was detected earlier.  It’s possible that I have never actually had chronic fatigue syndrome, that it has always been related to my blood pressure and my body not being able to fight off recurrent infections.  So yay, and damn it all at the same time!  For a little bit more info about all this and how it has affected me over the years, if you’re curious – the meaning of it all.

Despite everything I have been able to accomplish a lot, even though some days (for example when I cannot even do my grocery shopping) it feels like I haven’t.  And that was where I was when I read ‘The year we seized the day’; a travel narrative co-authored by Elizabeth Best and Colin Bowles about their journey to complete the Camino de Santiago, an 800km pilgrim trail from the Pyrenees in France to Santiago de Compostela in Spain.  I could not help but identify with Eli, like myself she has faced some huge physical and mental challenges in her life but she made it through to the end.

After reading the book and thinking about it a bit I began to realise how frustrated I was getting with the world around me.  How everyone was so worried about money or when to have kids etc.  Problems that seemed so trivial to me in comparison to not being able to leave the house for days on end.  I know they don’t feel trivial at the time, you don’t need to be constantly unwell to feel like you’re drowning in problems that you can’t see a way through; it’s all subjective.  When you see it from my perspective – yes, it’s annoying for you that you’re sick for the whatever number time this year but I have a chronic illness and haven’t been completely well for a whole year in my memory.

So after years of being held back by my uncooperative body I have decided that something has to change.  I have to change perspective, gain perspective, find something or maybe just find myself.  I need to do something to prove to myself that I’m not useless, that I can achieve something miraculous and worthwhile for nobody else but myself.  And, most importantly, by myself, where nobody can be better at it than me and make my best efforts seem like nothing at all. I am going to walk the Camino.  Well, part of it anyway.  I have had to adapt my plans twice so far thanks to a couple of reality checks.  I originally wanted to walk half of it, and then a quarter but it seems fate (and my body) has other ideas.  Now my plans are fixed and there’s no going back – I am going to do this, and I’m writing a Blog about it at the same time.  Yes, me, Claire with the dodgy joints and low blood pressure and immune problems and chronic fatigue, will walk 100km+ of an ancient pilgrim trail across Spain (with the support of my mascot Ding)…  Help! (I mean, woohoo!)

4 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Julie Kirkpatrick
    May 12, 2011 @ 12:47:46

    I know what you are talking about and you can do it.

    Reply

  2. che koala
    Apr 09, 2011 @ 11:14:35

    Hey claire,
    Maybe you don’t agree, but to this reader sounds like you’ve done heaps amid the challenges and frustrations the body has thrown at you.

    Buen buen camino – very excited for you

    take care

    Reply

    • Claire
      Apr 09, 2011 @ 12:09:51

      Thanks!
      I know I am lucky to have been able to do the things I have done and I put a lot of that down to my attitude – I can’t let it get the better of me (well, not often anyway).
      Some days when life throws something else your way (as I’m sure you’d understand) it’s like; seriously? I hardly finished getting over the last speed bump and now this?! On those days it can be hard to see past all the disappointment to what you have done but hey, I believe everyone’s entitled to get pissed off every now and then and do something a little different, a little crazy – there’s no use complaining if you’re not prepared to try (then you’re entitled to whinge all you want) 🙂
      Loved reading your blog and I’ll be sure to update mine while I’m walking
      Claire

      Reply

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