Spare Passenger


I have beautiful and magical memories of traveling.

I vividly remember road trips that I would take with my maternal grandparents from Florida to Connecticut (where most of my mother’s family resides).  We would wake up way before the sun and I would drowsily climb into the back of their blue and white striped van.  The first hours of the trip I would intermittently wake up, ask which state we were in, and happily fall back asleep.  The car has always been one of my favorite places to doze. (My theory is, that to my slightly neurotic mind, sleeping while en route to a destination is the ultimate in multitasking. :)) When I became fully alert, I would marvel at the difference in scenery… from the landscape, to the unfamiliar stores.

The first time I was on a plane I was around eighteen-months-old and mom and I flew to California from Missouri to visit my uncle.  There were many trips on air crafts after my inaugural experience.  From domestic excursions, to international adventures.

The smells, the people, the exposure to fantastic cultures… it all inspired my creativity-fulled mind.

However, as the years passed, and as my chronic “companion” made its presence known, the ease of travel was replaced by anxieties.

Will I get sick?  Will I feel well enough to have a good time?  Will I ruin the trip for others with my individual needs?  Will this trip lead my physical well-being on a course of deterioration?

After my health was pushed to the edge during my honeymoon to Hawaii last year… a quiet, but profound, voice started to whisper in the back of my mind, “Traveling just isn’t for someone like you.”

I kept the voice quiet and pushed on with the only attitude that I believe makes a beautiful life, a positive one.

Initially, for our year anniversary my husband and I wanted to take a trip to Europe.  After being in the hospital in April (which was the ending of the flare that started on the previously mentioned honeymoon), we decided that we should wait until my health stabilized before going on a major journey.

We took advantage of a discount found online and booked a trip to North Carolina (not too far away) to a bed and breakfast (more comfortable than a hotel).

My health had been a bit wobbly, but I had enjoyed two weeks of beautiful normalcy prior to leaving this past Saturday morning.

When I awoke before the sun, I didn’t have the same feeling of comfort as I did traveling with my grandparents as a child.  I felt it in my gut- we would have three passengers on this trip.

Saturday evening as my amazing husband and I sipped on wine at a vineyard, while reveling the perfect weather, I secretly suffered in pain.

Afterwards at dinner, I could barely eat.  It was like a balloon was fully inflated in my stomach.

My symptoms got worse, and although I pride myself in pushing through with a smile on my face… my husband knows me too well.

Sunday we ventured to Charlotte, I slept in the car on the way there, battling the worst indigestion I had ever endured and a headache that found residence between my eyes.

Back at the inn, I made use of the antique sofa in the restroom to get a few moments to center before I listlessly accompanied the most understanding and wonderful husband (ever) to a Thai restaurant where fear of eating and lack of appetite made for even more obvious clues of my phony wellness.

As we prepared to travel back to Florida yesterday morning, I acknowledged the voice in the back of my mind.

However, I refuse to let that voice dictate my life.  I can’t.

I sit here now on our couch, my spirit and energy has admittedly taken a huge hit… but this is part of my journey.  Writing this helps me to purge and turn my tears into happy ones.  I am so thankful for all that I have, and I hope that perhaps one person will read this and know that we all have our own baggage.  It reminds me of one of my favorite quotes by Lena Horne,

“It’s not the load that breaks you down, it’s the way you carry it.”

The amount of memories made on our first anniversary adventure were priceless, and my “spare passenger” has taught me that maybe someone like me is pretty damn tough.

27 responses »

  1. How very beautiful and inspiring your words are, Brandi. I always think that when I come here. That I would like to emulate you in so many ways, because there are just some days when anxiety defeats me, too, and I would like to take a chapter out of your book.

    And you look gorgeous and so relaxed in this photo… so clearly you know how to quiet some of those inner voices :)

    • You have no idea how much I appreciate you and what you wrote. It really helps me see the big picture for my own struggles… that I could perhaps help you with yours. :)

      Awe, I was sooooo trying to put on a brave face in that beautiful place with my awesome husband. :)

  2. A positive outlook will take you so far. Sorry to hear that the trip wasn’t the best but I am sure there are better trips in your future.

    • I stopped by your blog. :) Wow, reading your “about me” about raising your daughter… I just got goosebumps thinking of being a mom someday. I know it will be as beautiful as you describe. Loved your recent post about words as well… :)

      Yes, better trips and more lessons to come. :)

      Thank you so much for stopping by!


  3. I’m so sorry traveling is so difficult for you. I had a slight taste of that this past March when I flew to Florida from Missouri without eating anything all day. I had gallbladder surgery a couple of months prior, and digestively, things can be unexpected and sudden! Your spirit is admirable! Stopped by from SITS. Have a great day.

  4. I love your imagery of travel from your childhood. Too bad you have to take that annoying passenger with you everywhere. My brother in law had Crohn’s disease so I have some knowledge of it. Doesn’t sound like much fun. Hope you are enjoying your SITS day!

  5. I’m so sorry your ‘friend’ has stolen the sheer wonder of travel from your experiences. With your awesome attitude, it clearly won’t ever beat you. But I hope you are also able to regain the fun of the journey. Happy SITS day!

  6. I feel for you! I have suffered from stomach issues off and on in my life, although not at your level of pain. I have to share some info with you and I hope it helps and please forgive me if I seem to forward, but I have been in the business of health online since 1998. Jordan Rubin cured himself of CD and I know Paul Nison (another health expert) did as well. Regarding Jordan: “His health was excellent during his childhood, but when he was 19 years old and attending Florida State University, he experienced nausea, digestive distress, and an alarming weight loss of more than 80 pounds. Eventually, he was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease, a chronic digestive illness that affects the immune system. Wheelchair-bound and 104 pounds, one doctor’s grim diagnosis was that it was “the worst case of Crohn’s” he had ever seen and he did not expect Jordan to live.” Read about him, he has written many books and founded a health company that sells products that could help you. I am not associated with Jordan or his company in any way, I just wanted to pass on this info. Lovely post, stopping over from SITS! :-)

  7. Feeling the inadequacy of describing Crohn’s as the third passenger…it’s perfect but not enough I fear. I don’t have a better idea though. Love your desire to still travel and I know that this post barely describes how you were feeling. Wishing you health and days when you can travel without fear. I pray that this blog brings you a community and a sense of purpose.

  8. what lovely writing on a not-so lovely experience! I love how you describe road trips with you grandparents- brought me back to the car trips of my youth.
    Bravo for not letting the voice dictate your life. Hope your next trip is better! Visiting from SITS.

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