Hello Reader, how kind of you to stop by…
It’s been more than 5 lapses round the sun since Stephen Kerr and I returned to our quiet homes after our wildly emotional & physical 5,000 mile bicycle crusade across America. For those that do not know, at the age of 19 without any training or experience, Steve and I left the North East on January 1st on our bicycles in search of whatever came our way. We then traveled to Key West Florida and then to California ultimately competing in the worlds toughest Ironman Triathlon St. George.
5 years…damn. life-change can happen in seconds, let alone 1,825 days. Upon returning home May 10, 2012, I felt as though I had hit the conceivable peak of joy, achievement, confidence, and happiness. Being freshly 20, I foolishly believed I’d reside comfortably in that special place…wrapped up in warm euphoria until my dying days. Life was going to be easy. After conquering such grueling physical and emotional challenges, I felt I unlocked a certain profound freedom. Turns out, I unlocked profound arrogance.
Not even a year being home, a dark mystery pierced its venom-coated fangs deep into my veins. (Mellow dramatic much?) I began noticing that I was tired all the time…and all around, I wasn’t really satisfied. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed my friends, and activities…but life just wasn’t as bright and vibrant anymore. After a month of noticing this ever-present fatigue, it got a bit stronger. I would wake up each morning completely “zombie-mode”…and that feeling would remain throughout the entirety of my day, until my head hit my pillow that evening.
Initially, I suspected some form of sleeping disorder. I set up a sleep study, got my thyroid checked, ferritin levels, all the basics. Sleep study revealed I sleep just fine and all my other blood tests came back negative.
The fatigue and the weight of the world slowly got worse over the next handful of months, UNTIL I woke up one (ironically memorable) morning and everything escalated greatly. I couldn’t think right. I couldn’t concentrate. I felt inebriated. I felt totally disconnected. I felt as though I had no control over myself. I lost all drive and motivation. I lost a lot of confidence. I always possessed an incredibly sharp memory. It was actually something well known about me to those in my family and friend circles. Yet, on this morning, almost all new information could not be retained. Things that happened earlier in the day, by evening, I felt they happened a day or two before. I could no longer recount the activities I took part in. This is possibly the worst of all the symptoms…the extreme short term memory.
For months I visited doctors getting tested by specialists. I visited a neurologist, infectious disease, I had an MRI, & I had about 20 different blood tests. NOTHING. My doctor literally said “I have no idea what this could be. I am beside myself” SOO reassuring! I tried altering my diet entirely to organic and all natural. I continued my workouts and ran 15 miles a week. I tried sleeping even earlier. I tried all I could think of. After a brain scan in New York City, the doctors concluded that depression was not the primary culprit. (I knew that) However, no solution or hope for solace was offered.
I’ve lived with this for more than 3 years now. It’s as much a part of me as anything else. This mysterious chronic illness has hardened me and I’m sad to admit, caused a great deal of cynicism within me.
Would I go back? Would I take it all away if I could? I don’t think so. This experience has made me wiser, less ignorant, and much more empathetic for those that suffer with toxic illogical circumstances. I’m far less critical, and forgiving. I simply don’t have the energy to carry around more burden than I already do.
ENOUGH OF THE HEAVY STUFF, TAYLOR!! Ok, ok…I feel you. That’s a lot. I share only to help you, the reader, understand more fully one of the characters in this upcoming story that is about to be written.
On July 25th 2017, a new adventure rises. Linking arms with 3 of my closest companions, I will embark across Europe in the hopes to open my eyes & heart to what more exists beyond our own all too familiar USA. Europe, HERE WE COME!
Where do I even begin with this guy? With 2 decades of life together under our belts, he’s a brother. Humble, Generous, Patient, and Kind. And insanely good looking. In many ways, this adventure is happening thanks to him. You’ve been by my side my whole life, I’m elated to share this memory with you.
It was inevitable that Taylor and I would end up on an adventure together… I mean, come on, we have the same name. Quite possibly, Taylor is the friend that most truly & purely understands my wanderlust and pursuit of passions. Many people consider him a great friend, and I’m just glad he allows me to be in his life the way he does. Easy going, and up for anything, he’s the kind of guy you need around you to stay sane. Oh, and he’s insanely good looking.
Mike and I first crossed paths just a few weeks before my bicycle trip 5 years ago while we both were walking into Target. It wasn’t for a couple years after that we truly connected as friends, but I feel it was destiny leading to moments such as this. Good-hearted, fun, passionate, and all around sincere, Mike finds the beauty in every angle of life. He has a contagious childlike wonder about him. Oh, and he’s insanely good looking.
I warmly welcome you to join us on our journey.
Taylor Mason Thibodeau