Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Finding Freedom and Health, once again!


I HATE this photo of me… yet I keep it handy and look at it often. Taken a year after my husband died, it reminds me of a place I never want to go again.  (2002)


Ah, so much better.

Below is a conversation I have been having with a Facebook friend.  I thought it was important to share and hope that it might help others.

Friend: You are such an inspiration to me. May I ask about what kind of medical problems you have? I notice you have asthma? Do you have to use O2 on occasion? I have really bad arthritis but also a low immune system due to a liver transplant. With all of that I am more determined to fulfill my dream and become a vandweller.

Swankie Wheels: I have suffered from COPD, Asthma, sinus infections, etc. and so forth most of my life until I began living outside. About five years ago I began to feel that if I came down with bronchitis again, I would die.  I would have dreams/nightmares about it.

Today I am off all meds, except an occasional antacid, or headache pill. I used to get several migraines a week, but rarely get any now. I would say my health is better than it has ever been. About 3 years ago I was given sleep study tests and they wanted me to go on Cpap machine due to sleep apnea and take regular breathing treatments. I tried it awhile, but gave it up. It seemed to make me worse. Back then, I never would have believed my current health situation was possible.

Friend:  Good for you! I think that is fantastic. Doctors do not always get it right but I think that’s cause they do worse case scenario for everything and think pills will make you better. I have a occupational therapist who is all doom and gloom and really discourages me but I have told him I can do it and I have been proving that. Working on getting stronger with swimming etc. I think Bob Wells ( was right when he said something about how living in sticks and bricks contributes to our depression and makes us sick. I know I will have a challenge right now if I start out soon as I still have to take several shots and medications that will end in a few weeks which is when I think I will have my vehicle ready to go. But I just know if I feed my spirit the rest will follow. You and Bob Wells just reinforce that feeling I have had for a long time.

Swankie Wheels: I think you are absolutely right. I don't blame doctors. They look at a welfare mom who has a low income, low education level and is just trying to survive... they can't themselves even image a life of freedom for her. I am still scanning old medical records... and am just flabbergasted by the state of my health 15-20 years ago. It was a very slow process for me. I did not head out five years ago with the plan of being drug free and very healthy. My only thought was to FLEE.

But even years before that, I kept telling myself once I could afford the technology to be mobile and stay connected and do my computer related projects, I would hit the road. It was only a very long distant dream. Little did I know, I'd go through so much before it became my reality, i.e.,  falling in love, getting married, becoming a widow, having knee replacement surgeries, totaling my van, having shoulder repair surgeries... and then finally having an insurance settlement that let me get my current van and a final surgery to fully regain the use of my left leg. There was a nerve being impinged and I'd walk down an isle of a store, and my left leg would go totally numb... and someone would have to go get me an electric cart. All that now seems like another lifetime, another person in fact, yet it was me and it all happened within the past 13 years.

I am also a swimmer, something I had to give up due to my bad knees and hands going numb from Carpal Tunnels problems. I'd really like to get back into a swim routine, if I had the stability of a real pool at hand all the time. My personal best was 2 miles in 45 min. Wouldn't that be a hoot to be able to do that again – another item for my Bucket List?.

What I really can't believe is how different I feel now with all those drugs flushed out of my system. That was not even on my list of goals.  I think the few remaining ones I had (which doctors had told me I could never go off of - or I'd have killer heartburn back, and be peeing myself again all the time) were having a very negative effect on my body.

The bladder medicine was keeping the bladder relaxed so I didn't have urge to pee every time I moved... but the relaxed bladder meant it would stretch way beyond normal causing great pain in my belly... that is gone now since I stopped that med. The heartburn med... was the last I stopped... and I have taken it twice, when I began to get heartburn, but I think if I am careful to eat only the RIGHT foods, I won't need to do that anymore. But that is still an unknown. I believe I can remain off of it also.

And I am not sure yet, it’s been only a week since I stopped the last med, but I think I have more energy, am thinking clearer, etc.

Maybe all this info will help others.  I hope so.  HOPE… never give up.

Friend: I think it is important to let people know they have options and can be free. I think the pool therapy is really helping me too. The place where I go is very pleasing, you can choose the music, there is rarely more than two people in the pool unless there is a class and what I do is go back an forth from the hot tub to the pool so I get cool and hot. Gets my circulation going. And Oh yeah, I understand the wanting to flee, I am SO feeling that way myself.

Swankie: Born Free?  Not so much, but LIVE FREE!  Flee and be Free????   Kinda catchy, no?  Bob Wells mentions me on his blog.


Paddling with Alligators in Florida

Read more of Bob Wells thoughts and ideas on his website -

Who is Swankie?

My photo
Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007, I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles? Maybe. Still healing from shoulder and trying to decide.