“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.”
I like to think that quote defines how I feel about traveling. I realized my true passion for traveling at just 21, studying abroad in the northern Dolomite mountains of Italy. Being immersed in the culture and learning to live while I was so far away from everything I knew was by far one of the best life lessons I’ve had the opportunity to experience. That love of the unknown continued, when I was lucky enough to be assigned to projects at work that took me to South Africa, Peru and Canada (ok, that last one is not so exotic, but I don’t discriminate against new adventures!). That’s about the time that my celiac story begins.
I feel very strongly that you have to try everything at least once before you can tell me “I don’t like [insert foreign food here].” True to form, I had been trying the local cuisine on every trip and generally not eating as healthy as I would at home. After countless nights of getting sick from a meal, I was finally convinced that it was time to see a doctor and find out what was wrong. My gallbladder had been removed four years earlier, and any post-meal discomfort I felt I had mentally written off as side effects from that procedure.
My first trip to the doctor felt like something from a movie, they drew blood and were actually fairly convinced right away that my symptoms were from celiac. My lack of a gallbladder quickly ruled out other similar ailments. I was referred to a Gastroenterologist, and told to cut gluten from my diet. Great! That sounds simple enough…and I walked out. I only made it as far as the waiting room before I turned around and ran back to the doctor, “I’m sorry, what is celiac disease? And what is gluten?” It was an incredibly difficult and long adjustment, but three years later and I’m feeling so much better. I have to admit, I all but stopped traveling after finding out and felt like something was missing from my life. Thanks to the honeymoon of a lifetime, I’ve realized that although it can be challenging at times, I can still enjoy the world just beyond the edge of my comfort zone!
Quote by Neale Donald Walsch.