Oh the places we will go…

I’ve not taken a proper vacation since my dog was diagnosed with diabetes.  I refused to leave her for over two years until this past September, when I traveled to Washington DC for 2 nights for a patient advocacy trip.  I admit that I was a wreck until I had her back in my arms.   I’m lucky enough to have friends willing to take her for a few days. It is a big ask to have someone take care of a blind and hearing impaired dog who takes 16 pills and two shots of insulin daily.  I’ve only seen staycations in my foreseeable future.

A few months back, some fellow dog lovers/friends asked me to join them for a weekend get away with our dogs.  I was so excited! A mini vacation with Georgia and other dogs  sounded like heaven to me! The only issue:  the destination was 4.5 hours away.  If was was flaring, I wouldn’t be able to do it.  I was so nervous because I had such a rough summer with flares. Lucky for me, I was flare free.

Georgia and I headed out and arrived in about 5 hours.  Smooth sailing but I felt tired.  We toured wineries, which was great for me, but difficult for Georgia.  She is blind and struggled to get around.  She also has some sore paws.  It seems her paws get aggravated easily since her diabetes diagnosis, so walking became an issue for her.  Our first stop was a winery at the TIPPY TOP of a mountain.

The drive up “Brokenback Mountain” was a bit hairy, but we were amazed by the views.  Unfortunately for me, and Georgia, there was a lot of walking and stairs.  It wouldn’t have been so bad if I didn’t have to carry my 28+ lb. dog, but I did it.  I’ll admit, my arm was killing me by the end of the night.  Georgia seemed to adapt fairly quickly.  She found her zen in each place we visited.  She is the most resilient creature I have ever known. She is a belly-up-to-the-bar kind of girl who enjoyed all the attention she received and snoozed away when she needed it.


By the end of the first day and a busy schedule, I was beat.  My ankles and hands were swollen and I was in quite a bit of pain.  Georgia took a toll on my right arm. I didn’t want my trip to suffer as a result of overdoing it.  So, I decided to take a page from the Georgia-Grace-Handbook-of-travel and I rested. 72439999_478088043048717_1553417773210664960_nI made sure that I took time to rest each day to keep my batteries on charge instead of empty.  I only did as much as I could handle and I opted out of a few scheduled events to just sit and relax. It was good for me and good for Georgia, too.

We ended up having an amazing time.  Georgia settled in on day two and handled living with 13 other Cavalier King Charles Spaniels with ease.  She is my inspiration to never give up.

Realizing that I can’t do it all, is a hard pill to swallow, but it made the times I could engage even better because I had more energy.  I’m hopeful that my new biologic drug is working.  I still have swelling, but my pain is fairly manageable and my fatigue isn’t horrific.  I had to drive 6.5 hours yesterday and was worried that I would be dragging at work today.  Surprise, surprise….I had a good day.  It was truly a pleasant surprise.

So for those of you who struggle with travel, I get it.  It’s far from easy, but with balance, it can be a great time.  Every day living with autoimmune arthritis is a learning curve.  It’s not the life I envisioned for myself, but it’s the only one that I have got.  I’m going to try to keep making the most out of it.

Thanks to my friends and their amazing dogs for making a our mini trip so enjoyable.


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Kelly holds masters degrees in both Special Education and Speech-Language Pathology. She works full-time as a speech-language pathologist in both a public school setting and as an adjunct faculty member at a university, in Philadelphia, PA. She specializes in both autism and augmentative/alternative communication and took her skills to Uganda, Africa to start a special needs program for disabled children living in an orphanage in 2011. Kelly began experiencing symptoms of autoimmune arthritis in 1984 (while in her teens) but wasn’t officially diagnosed with autoimmune arthritis until 2001. Her first diagnosis was Sjogren’s syndrome. Eventually her diagnosis was changed to sero-negative RA and now Polyarticular Spondlyoarthropathy. She also manages thyroid disease (resulting from Graves Disease), fibromyalgia, renin-deficient hypertension, and disseminated superficial actinic porokeratosis (DSAP) on a daily basis. Kelly connected with other autoimmune arthritis patients via social media in 2008. She began volunteering with the “Buckle Me UP! Movement”, which evolved into the International Autoimmune Arthritis Movement (IAAM) beginning in 2009. Then became a cofounder of IFAA in 2013. She has represented the ACR on Capitol Hill as an Advocate for Arthritis, was a finalist in Wego Health’s Health Activist Hero awards in 2014, and speaks at various healthcare conferences as a patient advocate in the Philadelphia area.

One thought on “Oh the places we will go…

  1. Hey that Georgia is clearly the beauty of that group. I mean when you find such a great looking group of women and dogs a man can only gaze in amazement. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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