Ever since I was small I’ve been fascinated by travel and so far, I have visited 32 countries. My adventures have included spending nearly 4 months travelling around the world on my own. I carried my crutches with me, and my hands supported me through flare ups when my knee was so swollen I couldn’t walk. Before my trip, I asked my rheumatologist – should I go? What if…? He said I could sit at home wondering ‘what if?’, or I could live my life and if I flared, I would cope – just as I do at home. During that trip, in between flares, my hands fastened crampons to my shoes, pulled me on to helicopter and gripped my walking poles as I climbed a glacier in New Zealand. I have a picture of me sitting on that glacier in my bedroom. It is a source of inspiration and pride whenever I see it. When I hiked through rain forests in Australia, my hands reached for the never ending skies and I felt on top of the world. In Thailand, my hands strained to carry huge bags as I shopped in Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. My hands learnt to find my passport in the dark; they typed letters to my family in internet cafes, they recorded my memories in my journal and flicked through guidebooks, choosing where to visit next. My hands have helped me get into my banana costume (fancy dress skiing in Andorra – YES!), painted my face as a zombie for Halloween. They have learnt how to dance to Bangra music at weddings in India, and have erected tents in the foothills of the Annapurna mountains in Nepal. My hands have cooked at Thanksgiving in California, they have chosen antiques in France, they have switched on the microphone at the United Nations, and swirled wine glasses in South Africa. My hands give me pain, but they also bring me life. I love my hands. Now, where am I going to go next?
Jessica is 35 and lives in London, England.She has lived with heumatoid arthritis 16 years ago. Jessica relaxes by spending time with her family and friends, cooking, and planning her next overseas adventure. She is also passionate about photography and diversity issues.