Welcome! I’m Cassie, the Breathless Adventurer. Why breathless? I’m glad you asked.
There’s the obvious reason – beautiful scenes that take your breath away. But then there’s me – I get literally breathless. In October 2014, I was diagnosed with Sjogren’s (SHOW-grins) Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder typically characterized by dry eyes and dry mouth. It causes the body’s white blood cells to attack moisture-producing glands. Usually, this just means using eye drops and keeping water close. But in my case, this means that my immune system thinks that my tear ducts, saliva glands and – more importantly – my lungs are germs and need to be vanquished, with extreme prejudice.
Because of the attack on my lungs, I have scar tissue that decreases the amount of oxygen my lungs absorb when I breathe. For about a year and a half, I traveled with Gus, my little oxygen tank. You can imagine the stares I got both on the trail and in everyday life. People just aren’t used to seeing someone under the age of 80 walking around with an oxygen tank tied to her face, trying to keep her canula from smudging her lipstick or getting caught on her earrings. And on the trail? I looked like something that should have been in “Mad Max.”
After some time, my lungs recovered enough and I learned how to manage my breathing enough that I no longer use oxygen. June 27, 2016 was the last time I hiked with oxygen, and it feels so good to be able to walk in the woods without canisters of air strapped to my back!
I love road trips, writing and my mutt, Emme. If I could do anything in the world, I would grab a backpack – and Emme, of course – start exploring and never look back. I’m still a meticulous planner. I mean, my backup plans have backup plans. I try to be spontaneous, pack lighter and eat healthier, but at the end of the day, knowing what I’m about to step in, bringing that extra lipstick and having that piece of chocolate just makes me happy.