The Traveling Life Is Great, But There’s No Place Like Home

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Since her 2009 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Dr. Lisa Doggett has come to realize MS is no excuse to avoid challenges. Instead, it has propelled her to run two marathons, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and complete a 168-mile bike ride to raise awareness for MS. She is currently working on a memoir about her journey from doctor to patient. 

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I’m homeward bound after spending much of the summer in transit. In the last two and a half months I have been to New England, Puerto Rico, Southern California, Costa Rica, and Alaska/Seattle. Now I’m done – at least for a while. I’m grateful for the opportunity to travel, to learn and explore. It’s been an amazing summer, and, despite the headline, I’m not really delighted it’s almost over. But I’m thrilled to be heading back to Texas at last, regardless of the heat, piles of mail, and the endless tasks that await.

Here are the many advantages to being home:

1) Consistency – Staying up until 2:00, sleeping all morning. Or falling asleep at 8:30 and getting up at 5:00. Traveling by foot, boat, bus, minivan, plane. It’s all part of the adventure. Yet I am looking forward to the routine that I left behind when I started my adventurous summer.

2) Familiarity – Red Alert: GoogleMaps is not always right. It has taken me to an empty field instead of an office building or hospital more than once. Yesterday, the map distinctly indicated that we should turn right while the voice, with great authority and assurance, said, “Turn left.” Even with good directions, I regularly get lost.  I am now looking forward to driving without a map. (I also know my way around the neighborhood grocery store and how to work the washing machine at home – Hallelujah!)

3) Proximity – On day two of our Alaska trip, we ended up in the Emergency Room. My husband, Don, developed severe neck pain unresponsive to conventional treatment. He was fortunate to receive excellent care in the ER, but I always worry about what will happen if my MS flares up or another health crisis strikes while I’m away. At home, if I or anyone in my family needs medical care, we can get it.

4) Alone time – I have rarely even slept in a room without my kids this summer. I’ve been lucky to take a shower without visits from multiple family members who are sharing the same bathroom. Indigenous Alaskan families used to spend months together: dozens of people shared a single large room, accessible only by underground tunnel, in near-total darkness, all winter. I will just say my family would not thrive in that environment.

5) Exercise options – “Next up, triceps dips!” I pretty much hate my last-resort 21-minute workout routine (I do the 21 Minute Cardio Blast with a few modifications) that I have been doing more than anything else to stay fit this summer. It does the job, but oh, how I dread it! Often our hotels or home-stays have lacked fitness rooms, and a foot injury has kept me from running. I have done the 21-minute workout on dirty tile floors, scrunched in between two beds, and on the grass outside our Airbnb. Now I will have a gym, swimming pools, spin class, and my trusty Stairmaster. Anything but the 21-minute workout!

6) Miscellaneous — Temperature control (of house and water), regular Internet access, seeing friends/family/pets who did not come along on the trip, ability to wash and dry my clothes regularly, a kitchen where I can prepare my own food, my own bed…

Even if you didn’t travel this summer, rejoice in being home!

 

DR. LISA DOGGETT is working on a memoir about her journey from doctor to patient with multiple sclerosis. She is a family physician in Austin and co-founder of Texas Physicians for Social Responsibility, where she currently serves as vice-president. Since her 2009 diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, Dr. Doggett has recovered from the initial shock, realizing that MS is no excuse to avoid new challenges. Instead, it has propelled her to run two marathons, hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, and travel with her kids to China. She was named a finalist for the 2016 Writers' League of Texas Manuscript Contest. In the fall of 2017, she was selected as a finalist in the Yellow Bird Editors first page contest (memoir category). Dr. Doggett graduated from Baylor College of Medicine and the University of Texas School of Public Health. She completed her medical residency in family practice at the University of Cincinnati. Visit http://www.lisadoggett.com

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