Over 10 years ago, I got a diagnosis that would change my life. I was told that I had Episodic Ataxia Type 2: A rare degenerative Neurological condition. I was misdiagnosed with epilepsy for most of my life, so with this new diagnosis, I was overcome with so many emotions. It was a mix of excitement, fear, and surprisingly happiness, but above all else, I was afraid of what this would mean for my future.
After being diagnosed, I spent a lot of time speaking to my doctor and conducting my own research. I learned that there are hundreds of types of Ataxias, all ranging in severity, and I am one of the lucky ones. Episodic Ataxia Type 2 is rare, and my symptoms aren't too severe, at least not yet. Anyone who meets me won't know I have a disability unless I tell them, which can be a blessing in disguise.
I say that because many of my symptoms mimic those of being drunk, such as stumbling, falling, and incoordination. When someone sees me stumble and fall, they automatically assume the worst. Still, it can be nice when people don't see I have a disability.
On the bright side…
If I am ever cast in a movie, I won't need anyone to do my stunts for me. I can fall off anything without even trying. I even have the ability to trip over air. I know, I am craaaaaazy talented.
Oh, and my symptoms don't stop there. I am also a victim of violent head tremors and migraines that feel like I am being hit on the head numerous times with a hammer (fun stuff!).
I have spent a good part of my life fighting what we now know to be Ataxia. I was determined not to let it ravage and take over my body. I had dreams I wanted to pursue despite the doctors telling me independence wasn't going to be easy for me and may not even be possible. Luckily, I had a support network of family and friends who believed in me. Who pushed me way beyond my limits, and because of them, I have been able to live alone, travel the world, and even move abroad!
Over the years, I have learned so much about myself and what I am capable of. I started this blog because I was passionate about travel and wanted to help those with and without limitations travel as well. Traveling with a hidden disability has been challenging, to say the least, but I am a firm believer that those challenges and lessons I have learned along the way have made me who I am today.
Now, without further ado, here are 9 lessons I have learned traveling with a hidden disability.