Those that know me well have heard me continuously moan about this but the majority of these people are not vanlifers, least of all full time vanlifers. It has been on my mind that living full time in a van comes with a danger that in 2020 came and bit me on the… well just about everywhere! And I am now living with the consequences.
Full time Vanlife isn’t for everyone but it’s an awesome fit for those who want to live life out of the box and break away from some of life’s restrictions. For others vanlife could be a forced option due to financial situations and housing problems. Well for me it was the latter of the two, and in my head I invented vanlife. Having little option forced me to move into my 8 seater caravelle and make it a little home for a while until I found my feet. Little did I know I would find peace and tranquility being parked up in the wild. I learnt to enjoy my own company once again and rediscovered myself.
As more and more options unfolded I decided that I didn’t want to part with my home on wheels. I may not have been living the instagram picture but I loved having my own space. A man cave on wheels!
Now for the doom and gloom!
Enjoying your own space can be dangerous! In January 2020 I became ill in the back of my converted ambulance. Breathing problems, coughing up gloop and extreme fatigue. After a few days of texting Sophie saying I’m ok but I have lost my voice so I couldn’t talk or visit, I did realise I had never been this ill before but I was locked away in my bed in my van. I can sleep it off and power through it.
After a week I was bad! Really really bad! So I called the UK medical helpline 111. “Call an ambulance!” they insisted. But I didn’t live anywhere! In Fact I lived in an ambulance! I couldn’t call an ambulance out to an ambulance! I decided I would ask my brother to pick me up and take me to A&E.
The junior doctor I saw said I would be fine after a course of antibiotics so it was back to the van with some meds. I was not ok! The week that followed was dark! I was drifting in and out of consciousness, often unable to sit up to reach water and I was sending the occasional message to Sophie saying I’m fine! At times I felt suffocated by the darkness looming over me and it was hard to breath and I was constantly coughing up gloop.
After this week (2 weeks of hell) I was slowly recovering and able to get back on my feet.
After week 3 I felt much better and decided I wanted to get out and about so I booked in with a doctor. After the consultation with the GP she told me my oxygen levels were incredibly low and I needed to go to hospital. Being a stubborn vanlifer I said no and pretty much ran away!
After week 4 I was returning to my normal self or so I thought! A new way of dealing with life was about to unfold!
What was wrong with me?
Pneumonia, probably COVID but the big issue was my lack of seeking help, professional help as well as help from loved ones thus causing further damage to my health. Being so stubborn and thinking I can deal with it myself could have left me dead. Pretty sure those black dark shapes looming over me was the end getting closer.
The following years after this trauma were not the end either. I have been left with widespread body pains, chronic fatigue and disability in various body parts. This all seems to come and go and the pains and disabilities vary in strength and the location of my body. I have lost 2 jobs due to intense pains and lack of actually being a decent worker.
I have been in and out of hospital multiple times a year and I have been scanned literally from head to toe and the final conclusion is that I have a condition called Fibromyalgia and ME. Apparently the trauma I went through made my brain develop and release a chemical into my body that affects my nervous system. Irreversible apparently but lets see!
Doctors and consultants have told me it’s now a case of learning to live with it and not to work, not to exercise and to live on pills that take me to happy land. This can NOT be my life from now on! I have tried a variety of holistic treatments but I am yet to find anything that has any lasting effect.
Recently I have been receiving a lot of pain in my hands which is making a lot of daily tasks quite challenging and even cooking is proving hard to do!! My main hobby and passion!! I also have constant pain in my chest that often buckles me to the ground! This is why I have been inactive on social media a lot recently. I will find a way of dealing with it and having a positive mind is the way forward.
This has all changed my outlook on how I spend time alone in the van and also just how much time I can actually even look after myself alone.
Health and support
As a qualified nutritionist and personal trainer I am pushing myself into a healthier lifestyle. This has been hard because I put my hands up and admit I went through some horrible depressive mood swings where crap food and alcohol seemed to be worthwhile as well as hiding away from everyone.
Right now I am on it and I feel I could do with some motivation from all the amazing and lovely people in the vanlife community so I will be posting some content about keeping fit and making healthier lifestyle changes that promote vanlife living.
Please share your thoughts, views and comments below so I know what direction to take this.
Vanlifers could be in danger!
My main reason for sharing this is that I feel deeply concerned that there are other people living in vans with a similar mind that I “had” or worse still some people who may not have people to call for help.
We live in vans because we are either out having an amazing time travelling the world or we are at home in our vans enjoying freedom and our own space.
Please please please, if you get ill or feel unwell, make sure you check in regularly with friends, even social media friends or go seek medical help before it gets to a level where permanent damage can occur.
Liam the terrible set up a great group for supporting one another, here is the link:
MeShell from AmeriManx Travels has also created a support group on Facebook:
A healthy lifestyle will only promote your vanlife experience!