Beyond living to survive – living for the love of life
Regular readers of my blog posts will know that I have gradually been creating a new life for myself after a few very debilitating years. Although from a physical perspective I am no longer living just to survive, I have become aware that it is easy for the mind to stay in survival mode even though my circumstances no longer call for it. It occurs to me that the shift towards living ‘for the love of life’ must be an active one and that deliberately placing myself in new and challenging situations is vital to my growth and healing in both a physical and emotional sense.
To push my comfort zone, I travelled to Malaysia for 3 weeks
For my latest step out of my ever-changing comfort zone, I decided to take a 13 hour flight to Malaysia. Yes, my 3 week adventure around through this tropical land was as amazing as it sounds. This is of course a blog about living with an ostomy but - apart from the long, tedious and uncomfortable flight (I’d definitely do a stopover next time because my bum became numb) - my health in Malaysia was better than it ever is here at home. I’m thinking maybe it was due to a combination of the climate, the food and the lack of stress. Who knows? In the interest of full disclosure, I made two health-related adjustments whilst travelling: I drank more water than usual and I used the HydroFrame® Mini to keep my stoma pouch secure (the adhesive at the edge of my pouch would otherwise become ineffective) in the hot and humid conditions.
So let me tell you about a few of the highlights of my travels...
As with most people on holiday, I experienced a notable drop in inhibitions and, for me, this meant that I enjoyed a wide variety of new and exciting food. I’ve gone from someone who was scared to eat anything at all to someone who will happily eat the street food of Kuala Lumpur. I thought that, as a vegetarian, I would struggle but honestly I tried all sorts. My favourite meals were char kway teow (flat noodles), roti Chennai (roti and daal with pumkin), deep fried seaweed and every type of tofu dish you could think of. And, would you believe it, my digestive system seemed to love it!
Humbled by the incredible experiences I am now living to enjoy
My favourite moment came when I got on a tiny wooden boat in the dead of the night to try and find some fireflies. I’d been promised a magical experience but wasn’t truly convinced until I saw my very first one. It was at this point that I couldn’t help but cry. Not only because of the magnificent beauty of this tiny little creature but also because I was in disbelief that a moment as serene as this could be part of my life experience. The stillness of floating on water in the middle of nowhere compared to the chaos of ill health was a difference too big for my limited mind to comprehend. Once again, I felt humbled.
A photograph that will always remind me: I am a survivor
Choosing a picture to go with this blog was a really difficult task. Temples, caves, beaches, skyscrapers, selfies, wildlife – there are far too many snapshots to choose from. The picture I’ve chosen is of my family and I having lunch in Little India where I discovered the delicious South Indian dessert, payasam (vermicelli cooked in milk with tumeric and saffron). This photo will continuously remind me to shed the mentality of a girl who lived on Fortisip and imbibe the energy of the survivor who flew to the other side of the world to enjoy a drink straight from a coconut and a meal served on a bamboo leaf.