I want to thank all of you who followed my adventure to see the Northern Lights and the many nice remarks made by many of you. My mind will be forever,wandering around all the places I went, the people I met, the fun I had, the experiences and, most of all, all the aurorae I was finally able to see with my own eyes. And, I want to thank my traveling companions during the Finland part of my trip. Y’all were such a big part of the success and enjoyment and it is wonderful to still be in contact with many of you.
I would also like to congratulate ME!!! I have wanted to see The Lights for so long and, as the years passed by, thought it would probably not happen. When this opportunity arose, I had to think long and hard whether or not to go. I have decided to share with you what was influencing my decision.
The first consideration was my age. During much of my life, probably due to good genes, I have looked younger than I am. I really wasn’t going to say anything about it during my trip, but it was clear I was not as agile, etc of most of the others. The word eventually got out that this year will be my 70th “circle around the sun”!! Regardless of my athletic career many years ago, age does catch up with you in various ways. Not everyone on the trip knows my age, so it will now be a surprise to them. I decided that it was probably now or never, so checked that off.
While I have some of the usual problems of being a “senior citizen”, I do have one health problem I have been dealing with for many decades. It is not visible, so I rarely talk about it, but it has affected me in various ways. In the mid-80’s, I was diagnosed with Polymiocitis. I have had it longer than that but it took a long time get the diagnosis. Essentially, it is an autoimmune disease. My body sees all the muscles in my body as foreign tissue and is constantly trying to reject them. It includes organs that are made of muscles and well as skeletal muscle. The effect is pain, mainly caused by inflammation of the muscle tissues, muscle weakness, manifested most obviously in my legs, but elsewhere, as well. I tried to strengthen my muscles, as some of you saw in my Facebook updates, but over time, I could see a very slow progression, which really wasn’t amounting to much. I have been treated for this ever since diagnosis with many different drugs and it took a long time to get it under control. Ever since, the pain has become managed but the weakness continues. I have really been cruising for many years now. For this reason, I decided that I will not let it stop me from going. It has really not stopped me from doing most things and I have traveled a lot internationally. So, again, I put it aside. Well, this trip ended up being more demanding than any I have taken before. The traveling alone was a challenge like none others. While I was in Finland, my symptoms reappeared. That has never happened during any traveling before, so I had no reason to believe it would happen this time. I adjusted my medication and took OTC pain relievers and just dealt with it. While my companions had no idea of this, they were very helpful just in dealing with this old lady, and I am forever grateful. Had I not been feeling well while planning this trip, I never would have gone. I now have it pretty much under control again. I already had a standing appointment with my Rheumatologist yesterday and he agreed with what I did while I was gone and we will gradually reduce my medication back to a comfortable level. By the way, this is not a fatal disease. I plan on hanging around for as long as I can, but won’t be going on any trip this challenging again.
My third concern was being on my own once the Finland part was over. I have traveled quite a bit internationally but with groups. That still gave me the confidence to think I could do it. And I did. Most of the people I met spoke English, but many signs, etc, were not in English. I am very good at asking questions and asking for help, so that all worked out. I continued to check in on Facebook so y’all would at least know where my last location was!!! Ha…..
I had the experience of my life and am so glad I did it. It was also a very difficult adventure, as it turned out, but, again, many of my Finland companions and many people who helped me along the way all contributed to it. As I said above, I am very proud to have taken on this challenge. I just thought, now that it is behind me, I would share with y’all some “behind the scenes” information that had an impact both, during the planning phase and during my two and half weeks abroad.
I am still working on gather photos, etc, and will let y’all know when all that is ready. Thanks for coming along with me.
Love to all, Patti