We always expected the completion of our Round The World motorcycle trip to bring a rollercoaster of emotions. How will we adjust to no longer being on the road, will we miss the freedom and exhilaration of the unknown, will we miss the excitement of the road, of making our plans as we go, of discovering new places, of meeting new people? As we were nearing the end of the trip, knowing we could celebrate an achievement we would never have dreamed of before the idea of making such a trip came to us out of the blue about 2 years ago, we knew we were no longer the same people and our outlook on life had changed. We were looking forward to seeing family and friends again, looking forward to reminiscing on some aspects of the trip as we found out the areas that interested people. We did expect to feed off the high of our achievement for a while as we readjusted to a new chapter in our lives. This was not to be!!
Coming back to ‘normal’ life happened for us with a thud. It was a bit brutal to say the least. The biggest change was completely unexpected: an undiagnosed and untreated illness that started hitting Anthony 2 months before the end of the trip and continued for another 2 months. What started as an irritating itch, turned into bursting blisters appearing on his back, backside, under his arms, his fingers and eventually all over his body, except his face. His skin itches all over his body all the time. The most difficult time for him is 15′ after waking up at around 5am and continues for about 6 hours. It eventually calms down and becomes more bearable. To say that this period has been extremely stressful and distressing is no exaggeration. Whenever I think of Anthony’s state, my stomach churns and my heart cries quietly. I try not to worry about his condition too much, as I watch him scratch silently, or I lather his body throughout the day with more anti-itch or steroid cream, find new blisters and cover individual burst blisters with antiseptic ointment. His blisters range from 1cm in diameter to 5cm. Some patches of skin are red raw. His days consist of scratching or napping during the day giving his body some much needed rest… It has been all consuming for the past couple of months. The experts we saw warned us of it most likely being an auto immune disease. Anthony resigned himself to having to manage his condition for the rest of his life. At least the first biopsy determined that his condition was not contagious and we would finally be able to visit family together. Having visited a few doctors, emergency departments, 3 dermatologists, had one inconclusive biopsy done, we pinned our hopes on getting a diagnosis on 2nd November from the Saint-Louis hospital in Paris where the 2nd biopsy was done. This hospital is reputed for being one of the very best for dermatology and hematology in Europe.
We had wondered how we would cope returning to ‘normal life!?!? Ha, we have come down from any high we might have had alright!!! We were in a holding pattern until 2nd November, one month after his 2nd biopsy. The surgeon in Paris warned us that if Anthony’s skin condition worsened, there was a risk that his whole skin could peel off. Not reassuring to say the least!
We are relieved to report we have a diagnosis on Anthony’s skin problem, it is easily cured and it is not an auto immune disease. An enormous relief, which has not quite sunk in yet. But…. we are embarrassed to report that it is contagious and we have potentially passed it onto anyone we have seen and hugged over the past few months. We have scabies – la gale!!! Yes, both of us. Anthony got a bullous impetigo, staphylococcus, from scratching, and continued infecting himself. His blisters masked the original scabies problem. Because my condition only manifested itself with tiny spots or red patches here and there and itching, albeit severe especially at night, I put it down to a gluten intolerance and just put up with it. Ha!! SlowSpeeds indeed!!!!
What a come back to earth!! Our RTW trip seems like a lifetime away, as the past 8 weeks have been all consuming with itching and worry and trying desperately and in vain to get our travel insurance to help us. We finally decided to return home as soon as possible after our 2nd visit to Saint-Louis in Paris. We have left Streak and Storm in storage for now, with all our riding gear and travel equipment for ??? Not sure how long, that will depend on Anthony’s health…
Our time in Europe has not been all bad of course, because we did manage to see our immediate family a few times each. Precious, precious moments. And we were thoroughly spoilt. After a month visiting family, we did feel the need to reconnect with nature and went to Yorkshire and Scotland for a week. It reminded us that one does not have to travel the world to find beauty. It is all around us. (Unfortunately, I only had my old iPhone to capture these sights as my camera batteries decided they would no longer recharge)
We have both taken our scabies treatment, are no longer contagious and are good to go (although itching will take another couple of weeks to subside as our anti bodies continue to fight). We leave Europe on Sunday 8th November, Anthony’s birthday!! We have now said our goodbyes to our family, until next time… Streak and Storm are resting in a climate controlled storage place, until next time… In a couple of days, we will be home, over 2 years since we left. How odd that after driving our hire cars for the past few weeks with my mobile recharging in it, only today, the day we said our final goodbyes before returning to Australia, does my mobile suddenly decide to play Gurrumul Yunupingu’s album – it feels like a sign, it is time, home is calling…!! I suddenly feel homesick, I miss the bush… It will be lovely to be home and catch up with friends.
While traveling around Europe for 2 months, all we had with us was one small on-board wheelie bag each. What is all this stuff that fill our cupboards back home and what were we thinking when we brought all this stuff over with us 2 years ago?! One thing we are certain of, we are no longer attached to ‘things’ and our first priority, after getting our phones and internet reconnected at home, is to declutter.
We have a busy time ahead and an exciting new stage in our lives awaits us …