Still Traveling to the Wild
Caught by the "hidden" risk factors for stroke, one survivor still travels to the wild.
A bookish writer and physical education washout, I was an unlikely adventure traveler until, at 38, I married Jack and followed him into remote corners from Mongolian steppes to the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Although I wasn't a natural athlete, I was fit and healthy with no obvious risk factors.
But in 2002, when I was only 48 years old, I was slammed, out of the blue, by a stroke. The cause was a convergence of "hidden" risk factors every woman should know about: risks like migraine, estrogen, miscarriage, common clotting disorders and autoimmune disease.
In an instant, I could no longer remember my address or how to dial 911. I couldn't hold a fork, write my name, or tie my shoes.
I felt like I'd wandered onto the lot of a sci-fi movie when I learned that the most serious contributor to my stroke was something I'd never heard ofthe autoimmune clotting disorder called Antiphospholipid Syndrome (APS).
Even with a damaged brain and the constraints imposed by the blood-thinning life, I never considered giving up travel, and I still venture to remote regions from Burma to Vietnam, India and Uzbekistan. I'll be traveling to Bali and, I hope, Borneo, this fall.
When I'm not traveling, I'm writing with a passion to alert other women to the hidden risk factors for stroke. I've published several articles about the "hidden risk factors," and my long road to healing and return to adventure travels chronicled in my memoir, A Stroke of Bad Luck and the Potholed Road to Recovery, now in final stages of completion. My website www.JunglePants.com, launched in 2010 and offers tips and stories about my ups and downs as an adventure traveler with health limitations. Beginning this summer, I'll be blogging on stroke and autoimmune disease.
Read more about women and stroke.