a little introduction

Hi! My name is Sarah and starting today, I’ll be joining the crowded world of travel blogging. I’ve always traveled a lot throughout my life, but I decided to start up a blog now because, truthfully speaking, I can be a little disorganized. I am absolutely the kind of person to write down the name of a restaurant I love and then lose it. Over time, I realized that I was also losing some of the most treasured memories I have of places I have been, and I don’t think that’s an uncommon experience. Some people combat that with scrapbooks. I’m here writing a travel blog. I want to write down my experiences, take pictures, record beauty — and I want to share all that with anyone else who loves the world as much as I do.

If you’re here reading all this, you’re probably wondering about the name. Is this blog about animals or something? Well… As much as I’ll probably be posting pictures of every stray cat I come across, this is not a zoological travel blog. What it is is a celebration of a life lived with disability. There’s a saying in the medical field: “When you hear the sound of hooves, think horses, not zebras.” The phrase is meant to remind medical students that they’ll be seeing common illnesses a lot more often than rare ones, so the common illnesses should be the ones they think of first. But where does that put the rest of us, the zebras?

A “zebra” is slang for a person who has a rare disease in many communities, and it has been particularly adopted by those who have Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a group of connective tissue disorders. I personally have the hypermobility kind of EDS — in other words, I have to deal with a lot of subluxations, which are kind of like mini dislocations. My bones pop out of joint fairly often, but I can usually get them back in with time, effort, and a lot of painkillers. I also have a pretty bad case of Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, which is less rare than it is rarely diagnosed. Distilled down to its bare bones, it’s a disorder that affects autonomic functions in the body, especially blood flow. For me, it means that my blood is rarely in the right place at the right time. That leads to exhaustion, numbness, fainting, dizzy spells, brain fog, nausea, problems with regulation of body temperature, and brief periods of blindness. Oof.

You can see why I didn’t consider travel for much of my life. It’s certainly a lot harder to do so when you’ve got a lot of physical problems to contend with. But the longer I live, the more I find ways to balance my body and my dreams. I’ve learned a lot of coping mechanisms, and while I still have to compromise sometimes, that doesn’t mean I can’t go out and see as much as I possibly can. I may never be able to climb the steps of the Eiffel Tower, but hey — I can take the elevator up halfway.

Frankly speaking, I don’t intend this to be some kind of inspirational or even educational blog — I just want it to be a little piece of me. I want to explore our world the way I’ve always dreamed of, and I want to do it while being honest about my own physical capabilities. I won’t apologize for what I can and cannot do, and I won’t sit around waiting for some nebulous future where I’ll be “well” enough to do everything. This body and this life are what I’ve got, and I intend to make full use of them.

Please join me on my travels around the world. I promise that if it’s nothing else, it’ll be interesting.

The first stop? Japan.