37 In Travel/ Travel Talk

When Coming Home is the Right Thing….

I feel like this post should be harder to write than it is. Perhaps it’s because it’s been a week since we made the call to cut our year-long adventure short… By nine months. Or at least, to cut a decent-sized chunk out of it. We’re coming home. Many of you may know that I had emergency surgery in Bangkok last week and we’ve made the choice to go home for my recovery and to assess our situation now that we’ve had to pay for an emergency surgery. The beauty of this situation, like every other up + down in life, is that I learned a huge lesson.

First, let me tell you the story.

Last Wednesday, I was having abdominal pain, and true to form, I tried to brush it off like it was nothing. Matt, luckily, insisted that I go to the doctor the next day. After some ultrasounds we discovered that I had a 5 cm cyst on my ovary. At first they were afraid that it may have needed emergency surgery because it was cutting off blood flow. Luckily, that wasn’t the case. I was very excited to not need emergency surgery, but I was told to come back in 48 hours and to be on bedrest for those days so we could really track it. 48 hours later, I was feeling great. I went back to the doctor confident that we would be boarding our flight to Bali in a few days. Instead, I was told that in 2 days, my cyst had grown 1.5 cm and needed to come out before it ruptured. As soon as possible.

I was shocked. Luckily, I was in Bangkok and at a really amazing hospital, so I knew that I was in good hands. However, this obviously wasn’t what I was planning, and I was terrified. The idea of having surgery so far from the comforts of home, the people I love and an entire medical team that could explain what was happening was overwhelming. Plus, things were so different having a bit of a language barrier. At one point someone strapped a nebulizer on my face (without telling me what it was or why I was using it) and Matt and I sat and giggled at the situation we found ourselves in. Then, without much warning Matt was being told to leave my side. Before I knew it, I was laying on the operating table while they put the operating room together before they put me under for my surgery. I was laying on the table confused, scared and crying.


However, it wasn’t just stressful for me.

Matt had a long day of waiting for me. While my surgeon and other doctors were essentially fluent in English, much of the staff, understandably, was not. This meant that Matt was in the dark all day long about my procedure and recovery. He was supposed to be with me basically the entire time. Instead they brought him to what would eventually become my hospital room and told him nothing for hours. Frustrated, scared and stressed he kept it all together just in time for someone to let him know I was on my way to the room. Seeing his face was the biggest relief of my life, and I later found out was a huge relief to him as well.

Without a doubt, we knew coming home was right.

Before surgery, they doctor told me my recovery time would be 30 days. No lifting, no exertion he says. That makes it very hard to travel. Plus, there’s more than that. The mental and emotional recovery. This trip has been a bit of a challenge for me. I broke my arm, limiting my activities for a month and then this… I’m tired. We’ve seen and done some really incredible things in absolutely amazing places, but I wanted and needed to recover at home. Luckily, so did Matt. We didn’t want to just be stationary in a foreign country again. We wanted to be able to make the absolute most of this trip, even if that meant taking a chunk of the trip out. Plus, like they say, there’s no place like home for the holidays. I just need to be home to recover.

Lessons learned.

While the decision was easy for me, and as it turned out, for Matt too. I had an extreme sense of guilt for the first few days. The thought that I was the cause of Matt’s trip being cut short weighed on me. I felt like I had ruined everything. For a couple of days, I was really struggling emotionally. Then I learned two things.  One: there are things in life that you can’t predict, and they’re simply no one’s fault. It sucks that first, I broke my arm in October and then needed emergency surgery for this cyst in December. However, it is what it is. You revel in the joy you had in spite of the downs, take the time to get over your sadness, and then move on. Two: choose the right partner. Both in travel and in life. Matt handled the stress and the extra figurative + literal weight of this experience and he handled it with such patience and love. He never complained about having to run out to get supplies and food, to check us out of our hostel after getting me comfy in our new hotel and lugging 4 bags across town to get back to me. He’s my rock and I could not have asked for a better man to share my adventure with.

Plus, it’s not the end.

We’re starting our 29 hour journey to St. Louis in just about 12 hours and we cannot wait to be reunited with family +friends, our dog and the comforts of home! Unfortunately, we’re in a bit of a weird limbo as far as when we’ll head back out. So we have no set plans. However, we have some ideas of fun things to do back in the States, plan to see friends and hopefully explore some new amazing places! So, stay tuned for new posts from Asia (I still have loads to share with you guys) and for updates on the next part of our big trip!

Have you ever had to make the tough call of coming home early? Do you feel at peace about it now?

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  • Reply
    Rochelle | Adventuresfromelle
    December 17, 2017 at 1:51 pm

    Sorry to hear Paige. I think you guys made the right choice. It’s really great that you have a supportive partner too! Matt’s a champ. Safe travel back home & happy holidays. Looking fwd to reading your remaining Thai posts when you get a chance to write!

    • Reply
      Erma Brown
      December 17, 2017 at 3:10 pm

      I’m so glad you sent this post! We have been wanting to tell you & Matt we are praying for a safe trip and it will be good to see the both of you! For what it is worth we think you made the right decision! I hope you get this in time!! We Love You!!

      • Reply
        Paige Wunder
        December 21, 2017 at 6:58 am

        Thanks, grandma! We feel like it was the right choice too and we were so happy to see you Tuesday! Love you!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 6:57 am

      Thank you so much, Rochelle. Now that we’re home, it still feels right. Thank you for the words of encouragement and support and I’m hoping before these posts run out we’ll be back on the road!

  • Reply
    December 17, 2017 at 2:26 pm

    Wow! I cannot believe your luck. I also can’t believe your wonderful attitude. That’s very inspirational to me because when things don’t go as planned, I do not handle it so well! If you find yourself in the DC area, I’m happy to play tour guide for you! I’m wishing you a speedy recovery and a very Merry Christmas with family! Much love going to you both from DC!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:02 am

      Isn’t it crazy?! My surgeon kept telling me how lucky I was because it should’ve ruptured, but I sure didn’t feel lucky. I typically don’t handle it extremely well, but I’m learning and growing. One of my best friends actually lives in DC and I’m hoping to go see her this year, I’d love to meet up! Thank you so much for the love + well-wishes. The blogging community is one of the things I love most about having the blog and I appreciate your kind words more than you’ll ever know. Xx

  • Reply
    Shikha Kothari
    December 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm

    Wish you a very happy holiday season, Paige! Hope you recover in health, as you have recovered in spirit!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:03 am

      Thank you so much, Shikha. I’m feeling better every day.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 3:03 am

    Oh Paige – what a read. I am so pleased to read you are well, out of hospital and fit enough to get flown home! But alas, also sad you’ve had to cut your trip for now!
    BUT thank goodness for medical availability, where you were (and not in the middle of nowhere!!!) and that you can make these GOOD decisions!
    Enjoy being home!
    EVERYTHING happens for a reason. always xx

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:11 am

      I was SO lucky to be in Bangkok. I had an amazing surgeon. We had been in Cambodia just days before this and I would’ve probably had an insane meltdown there.
      We’re enjoying being home so far, which is a relief. Recovery is going really well and I feel good mentally now. Thanks for the sweet, encouraging words!

  • Reply
    Clazz - An Orcadian Abroad
    December 18, 2017 at 11:56 am

    Wow Paige, that must have been hard for you! I think you’ve made the right decision for yourself and I’m glad you didn’t have to go through it alone. There are definitely good things to be said for coming home, and like you say, it’s not the end. Hope you are on the mend soon, and have a great Christmas! 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:15 am

      It was very hard. I’m so glad that I had Matt there with me too. You’re absolutely right that coming home has definite perks and we’re enjoying it very much. It’s so much more comfortable recovering here.

  • Reply
    December 18, 2017 at 6:24 pm

    Sorry to hear of your misfortune. Your blog caught my interest this week. Apparently, you reveal the human side of travel.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:16 am

      Thank you, Usfman. I definitely try to be very, very honest about my travel experiences. It definitely isn’t all sunshine and roses 😉

  • Reply
    December 20, 2017 at 12:12 pm

    Wow sounds like a crazy trip! I’m glad you are feeling better and were taken care of.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 21, 2017 at 7:21 am

      Thank you. It was crazy, but it feels good to be home.

  • Reply
    December 21, 2017 at 7:07 am

    Hey Paige, you and Matt come across as the most loving cum caring couple i have met! It’s amazing the way you have learnt your lessons and seen this side of your partner. This was probably your destiny! Destiny is unpredictable, so are our experiences isn’t it? But as we say in India, in the end, all that matters is a good memory. Had it not been for a bit of turmoil you wont have seen a lot of goodness in the ones’ around you!

  • Reply
    Paige Wunder
    December 21, 2017 at 7:24 am

    Wow, thank you very much. We definitely love each other very much and make a great team together. Destiny certainly is unpredictable, but we were very lucky that destiny put us in a city with some of the best medical care in the region. Thank you so much for your kind and encouraging words. Xx

  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    December 21, 2017 at 9:39 am

    Ugh you poor thing! You’ve been through a whirlwind on this last trip and still have maintained such a positive outlook. Matt sounds like a great teammate to have along! Ovarian cysts hurt like CRAZY! I never had to have the one I experienced surgically removed because it wasn’t as severe, but that thing hurt! So I can’t imagine how much pain you were in! I actually would prefer something like this to happen abroad, even though you make some valid points about being away from comforts – but soley for medical costs reasons! Haha! I am just so over US health care costs and the whole system. But it sounds like a great idea to come home and recover where you’re comfortable! Sending positive vibes your way for a speedy recovery 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2017 at 5:32 am

      Yeah, it was something… Haha. I’m excited to get back out there totally refreshed after I’ve finished recovering. I do agree that for the costs, it was great to be abroad. We have travelers insurance, just waiting to see what they cover, but even if they didn’t cover a penny of it, it’s so much less than it would’ve been back home. We feel you with the health care system. We have health insurance in the US and they’ve covered NOTHING so far. So freakin’ frustrating. Thanks for the positive vibes!

  • Reply
    Nina Ragusa - Where in the World is Nina?
    December 21, 2017 at 10:16 am

    Oh my gosh! I’m glad you’re home and being cared for. Exactly what you say, coming home is the right thing sometimes. It would be best to rest up and heal with friends and fam. I’m glad you caught the cysts when you did though and weren’t in any more pain.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2017 at 5:37 am

      I know. I feel so lucky that Matt made me go to the hospital because we were supposed to fly to Bali that week, and my surgeon said that the pressure from that flight would’ve ruptured the cyst which could’ve potentially been really bad. I was very pleased with the care I received, but it does feel good to be home for a bit as well.

  • Reply
    Vibeke Johannessen
    December 21, 2017 at 10:37 am

    I am so sorry hearing about the cyst and the surgery. I believe your own health comes first. I would have done the same. Did you have travel insurance? It could have always gone worse, some people get really bad accidents. All that has happened to me is parasites and stomach bug.Hope you recover soon 🙂

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      December 22, 2017 at 5:40 am

      Thank you, Vibeke. I agree and my emotional and physical health needed a break, for sure. I do have travel insurance, we’re going through that process now. I love the company I use, so I’m really hoping they cover it! It could have been so much worse, you’re right. Parasites sound stressful too!

  • Reply
    December 23, 2017 at 5:16 pm

    I think this is true for lots of things in life, and not just travel. Sometimes you just get too overwhelmed and just need to get out of the situation and “go home”, whatever that happens to mean at the moment.

    I hope your recovery goes well and there aren’t any complications! So glad you got it taken care of before it turned into something even worse.

  • Reply
    January 4, 2018 at 6:13 am

    Sorry to hear about the medical emergency. Glad to see you and Matt being so positive about the matter, it’s admirable to display such mental strength! Continue to stay strong and adventures are abound whether in a foreign land or a familiar one 🙂

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 1:02 am

    Must have been so scary being that ill in a foreign country. Hope you are on the mend and look forward to seeing your posts on Asia.

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 4:11 am

    I had a similar scenario with an ovarian cyst here at home and that was scary enough. To be away from home in a foreign country and have to deal with surgery would be traumatic. I’m just glad you have such a supportive and understanding partner to hold your hand. I think you’ve made the right decision. And best of all you made it together x

  • Reply
    Mimi & Mitch
    January 7, 2018 at 7:15 am

    You are so lucky that you were in Bangkok as it has many of the best hospitals in Asia. When you are tired after that many injuries, it’s def the right decision to go home and recover in an environment of comfort. You are so blessed as well to have your partner while going through this hard time … can imagine how hard it could’ve been if you were alone.

  • Reply
    Fairuz Ibrahim
    January 7, 2018 at 7:59 am

    To go through what you went through is a journey on its own. While being in a foreign country is great, we all have to put our health first, and I’m glad you did. All the best in 2018!

  • Reply
    vanessa workman
    January 7, 2018 at 10:48 am

    You definitely made the right decision! My partner recently fell off a ladder and broke his leg. Unfortunately we are also living on an island (outside of our home country) with a few limitations. I also have 30 years in the medical field so I was rather shocked at the huge difference in bedside manner, patient nutrition, language issues and total lack of communication offered to me as ‘the spouse’. You were lucky you were at least in Bangkok and were savvy enough to recognize your medical needs. But it must have indeed been scary as heck.

  • Reply
    Marcus and Mel
    January 7, 2018 at 11:29 am

    So sorry that this has happened to you, You did the right thing. It sounds like you have a great supportive partner and he was a rock to you here. Hope you have many brilliant travels in 2018

  • Reply
    January 7, 2018 at 9:26 pm

    It must have been a tough time for you both. Coming home was definitely the best decision you could have made in the circumstances. I hope things get back in shape soon and you’re doing all that you want to do freely.

  • Reply
    Siddhartha Joshi
    January 8, 2018 at 10:00 am

    Really sorry to hear this Paige, but also happy to hear that you were in safe hands and everything went fine with the surgery. This could’ve been so much worse had been been out hiking for a week or something…there is always something to cheer about 🙂

    Wish you a speedy recovery, and hope you hit the road soon again! Get well soon 🙂

  • Reply
    Boarding Call
    January 8, 2018 at 3:17 pm

    wow what an experience – kudos to you and Matt for being so brave in the first place to go through this in a foreign country, on top of already having a broken arm. you absolutely made the right decision, and you are right – many things in life just are not predictable – the only thing you can control is how you react to it. So nice that Matt is such a great partner through all of it. Wish you a quick recovery!

  • Reply
    January 9, 2018 at 5:07 pm

    I’ve never “had” to come home early but I’ve made myself come home early because I got so incredibly homesick, many many years ago. I just wasn’t ready to live overseas but I had set all our dreams on it and so I felt like a massive failure when I forcedc my (very new) husband to return home with me. All our plans just seemed to get left behind and it took me 7 years before I got over my “failure” and travelled again. Sounds like the two of you have become all the more stronger for your experiences. Get well soon.

  • Reply
    January 10, 2018 at 9:45 pm

    I don’t recall having to come home earlier than the plans but in your case it was certainly the right choice. Take care.

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