My Huge Updates from a 12 months of Change

Once I began Authorized Nomads as a weblog in 2008, I did so in order that family and friends might comply with me after I give up my job as a lawyer to journey the world for one yr.

In fact, one yr became many—you all know the story by now. When the location started to develop sharply within the years that adopted, I decided to maintain it ad-free and never take any sponsored textual content hyperlinks or advertorial. I didn’t get pleasure from studying websites peppered with adverts—so I handled my group the way in which I needed to be handled.

Years in the past, somebody as soon as advised me that was a really silly concept, that I’d by no means achieve success if I constructed my enterprise with these sorts of guidelines.

Did I go away some huge cash on the desk?


However I needed the Authorized Nomads weblog to be a dwelling tree of my experiences and adventures, with out sacrificing the sorts of studying I needed to concentrate on. So I wrote the way in which I needed to, and shared what I discovered most attention-grabbing on the time.

Whereas I’m fortunate to have an extremely loyal and engaged group of readers, the draw back to this selection has been that the weblog has taken a again seat to different pages and tasks that do usher in earnings. It’s been particularly dormant throughout the previous few years when my capability to work has been extraordinarily restricted.

So after nearly a full yr of not posting on the weblog, I needed to replace you all on what’s been occurring. I notice that what I share under might not be information to these of you who get my Curious About All the pieces e-newsletter, or are Patreon members. However there’s nonetheless an enormous group that obtain neither of these, and it’s excessive time I gave you an replace!

I’m additionally going to be sending out my 2022 present information quickly, specializing in proficient native artisans right here in Ottawa (who additionally ship to the US).

Updates, principally in chronological order, under.

I ended up on the entrance web page of CNN for a weekend

In 2021, CNN commissioned a bit about my spinal CSF leak and the way I went from journey and meals blogger to bedbound. The editor, Karla, noticed an Instagram submit I wrote concerning the work to just accept what’s, and the best way to reframe the current second when life permits you to down.

The piece was very arduous to put in writing, each bodily and emotionally. I’ve mentioned elsewhere that it felt like doing surgical procedure on myself, carving away elements of my story that had been too unwieldy to suit into the transient.

With the assistance of pals who edited my draft earlier than I submitted it to Karla, CNN printed the piece in late January 2022.

I had hoped that the piece would elevate consciousness for this horrible spinal situation that many individuals don’t even know exists. I used to be one of many blissfully unaware, earlier than it occurred to me. I additionally needed to put in writing one thing that fellow sufferers might probably ship to their households and really feel seen by, serving to them clarify how painful and debilitating spinal CSF leak is.

CNN determined to place the piece on the entrance web page for a complete weekend.

I fully misplaced monitor of who learn it as my inbox exploded with feedback and horrible tales of ache from individuals who might relate. It was an amazing, exhilarating week and I really feel honoured that my writing was so extensively learn and shared.

jodi ettenberg cnn front page
Screenshot from CNN’s frontpage, January 31, 2022

I nonetheless obtain messages from individuals who detect the piece and acknowledge their signs on it, sending them down the trail to get handled for spinal CSF leak.

I’m very grateful to Karla for giving me the chance to impact change by way of my story.

Be aware: I obtained many questions on my leak story after sharing it, like why I haven’t gone for surgical procedure, or issues I wanted I knew earlier than I obtained a lumbar puncture. I did a particular version FAQ e-newsletter, and you may see solutions to these questions right here.

The Authorized Nomads group adopted two ‘Authorized Lemurs’

At some point, whereas I used to be within the bathe—the place all good concepts derive—I made a decision that I’d undertake a lemur from the Duke Lemur Middle.

Lemurs are a few of my favorite animals (behind tarsiers after all), and I remorse not visiting them of their house of Madagascar earlier than I grow to be disabled.

Adopting a lemur appeared like a enjoyable distraction from the gaping maw of the information cycle, and I puzzled if any readers would have an interest.

lemur eating rose blossoms
This lemur’s face expresses how I really feel once I take a look at the information. © DLC, 2022

I took to social media with a swiftly made graphic and requested if anybody else can be focused on becoming a member of in. 31 folks mentioned sure, and I despatched $750 in lemur monies to the Duke Lemur Middle.

In return, we adopted a Coquerel’s sifaka and an aye-aye, and obtain quarterly behaviour updates about our lemurs with quite a lot of actually cute images.

Considered one of our lemurs, Pompeia, even had a child this spring.

Duke Lemur Center Pompeia and Cornelia
Cornelia and her mum, Pompeia. © DLC, 2022
Duke Lemur Center Pompeia and Cornelia
I can’t even. © DLC, 2022

Our aye-aye is known as Agatha, and he or she has a really feisty character. Her updates usually contain the inventive ways in which she avoids moving into her enclosure when she’s alleged to. (Under is a special aye-aye, Binx.)

Duke Lemur Center Aye Aye

(For readability, that is solely a symbolic adoption; sadly there will likely be no precise lemurs despatched our means.)

I’ll be re-upping the adoption course of subsequent February, since lots of the Authorized Lemur mother and father have already requested if we might renew once more. If anybody needs to be saved up to date about this eye bleach, please ship me an e mail and I’ll maintain your identify in thoughts for subsequent yr.

I joined the Spinal CSF Leak Basis’s Affected person Advisory Panel for Analysis, and later within the yr, their Board of Administrators

Across the identical time as we adopted some lemurs, the American Spinal CSF Leak Basis introduced its alternatives for a analysis board that’s affected person led, and helps formalize the position of sufferers in transferring analysis ahead.

Analysis is an space of hope for complicated circumstances like me, and I joined the affected person panel for analysis in February 2022, together with a bunch of different sufferers. All of us recognize having the chance to incorporate our voice as analysis research are crafted or performed.

Later this yr, the Basis requested me to hitch their board of administrators, and I accepted. Each the US and Canadian Foundations have been very useful, each for me and for sufferers in North America typically. I’m excited to proceed serving the affected person group, and hopefully proceed to lift consciousness in new methods.

I moved to Ottawa

After a yr in Aylmer, in Quebec’s Gatineau area, I lastly discovered a spot for me in Ottawa. It’s close to water, it’s an 8-minute drive from my brother, and it’s in a constructing that has up to now been very accommodating with respect to my disabilities.

Although I’ve now clawed again a couple of hours a day of ‘uptime’ with my spinal CSF leak, there’s nonetheless lots I can not do.

Jodi Ettenberg
Me on my forty third birthday, in Ottawa

I’ve to restrict lifting something to five kilos and underneath. I can’t bend on the waist, or twist my backbone. Something that raises intrathecal strain an excessive amount of goes to danger blowing open my leak. (As will Covid, by the way in which, so my concern with getting it’s not solely my danger profile for issues with my immune dysfunction, but additionally {that a} coughing match can take away all of this hard-earned independence.)

I do go for walks when my well being permits, however doing so eats into my “standing up” price range—and means I would like to ensure I’m not cooking a meal then (I’ll have a salad as a substitute), and never standing as much as write that day. Since I’m penning this submit, at the moment won’t be a stroll day.

Nonetheless, the sluggish walks I’ve finished had been completely stunning, particularly in Autumn. And after years absolutely in mattress, they really feel like jubilation.

fall trees ottawa ontario
Lovely bushes right here!

As for the condominium: my constructing gave me permission to put in a particular machine on my patio door, because the heavy glass door was not one thing I might open safely. It drills into the highest of the patio door and permits me to press a button to open it. I additionally invested in electrical blinds, and in a tabletop freezer. A good friend gave me his outdated tabletop oven, and each freezer and oven sit facet by facet and in a position to be accessed at any time.

I’ll be writing a submit finally concerning the accessibility modifications that helped make this place doable for me. However I do need to say right here that it feels actually great to have a spot to my very own after so a few years of roaming the world, after which dwelling in different peoples’ homes. 

Oaxaca was meant to be that for me, a house base I beloved that I might eat in and take in the enjoyment of dwelling in such a particular metropolis. There may be peace in having a small house to my very own that I might construct round my limitations, even when I can’t get up for lengthy every day.

I’m grateful for my dad and stepmum, who gave me a beneficiant present to assist furnish the condominium. I had no furnishings once I rented it, and it’s been a problem discovering items which are the suitable top, and never strongly off-gassing. Their present allowed me to hunt for the gadgets that labored greatest with out scrambling.

IKEA, Fb Market, Kijiji (a Canadian Craigslist various) and a good friend who donated his bench cushion sofa to me all got here in useful. 

The general result’s a spot with a number of furnishings storage—bins and drawers and cabinets—in order that I can entry issues however not have them cluttering the counters. As a result of I can’t bend, it means most issues need to be at waist degree. There’s quite a lot of decrease drawers that I can’t get to, however household helps me seize issues if I would like them there.

It’s additionally been very nice to herald among the souvenirs from my travels for the primary time. The picture under is my studying nook, with artwork from my first journey to Asia in 2004, and a papier-mâché woman from my years in Oaxaca.

The duck is new, and pleasant.

apartment ottawa
My studying nook
My standing desk nook, the place the sausage will get made.

I’m principally breaking even, due to my group

Once I turned disabled, I apprehensive about how I’d help myself going ahead. I didn’t need to be a burden on my household, however I might barely sit up not to mention discover a method to earn a dwelling. Although I’m privileged that my household would by no means let me starve, it felt very robust to not be capable of help myself in my 40s

At first, my celiac translation playing cards had been promoting fairly effectively, and appeared like a means that I might at the very least have some passive earnings to pay payments I incurred. 

When Covid hit, nevertheless, nobody traveled any longer — and my gross sales crashed to close zero.

I then began my Patreon membership, upon the urging of this beautiful group who requested for it to assist help my very modified life. (For these unfamiliar, Patreon is a means for readers to pledge month-to-month recurring memberships, in return for Patreon-only advantages.)

Many individuals arrange their memberships with tiers which have completely different entry. The extra you pay, the extra you may have entry to. I made a decision to have comparable advantages throughout all tiers (a “help solely” membership), since I used to be involved my well being would intervene in my capability to present the advantages my Patrons deserved. I needed folks to pledge what they had been snug with. 

Clearly, my tiers are birds. Birds with names.

jodi ettenberg patreon
Screenshot from my Patreon web page

We’ve had Zoom calls with the group, I do movies answering questions (though I’ve obtained lots much less questions of late so much less of these!), I’ve finished some video tutorials on meditation methods, and the Patreon group will get updates about what’s occurring extra often.

I’ve misplaced some Patrons in latest months, all citing monetary points as the rationale. Understandably, as every little thing has grow to be costlier, we minimize the extras the place we have to. General, although, the Patreon offers a reasonably constant earnings stream at at time once I can’t work as I used to.

That implies that I don’t must chase down paid work to make ends meet, and may as a substitute concentrate on elevating consciousness for my situation, and sitting on the Basis’s board of administrators (which is unpaid).

In 2021, my celiac playing cards began promoting once more since journey picked up. Each time I’ve “uptime” out there, I work on updating the present celiac guides I’ve, and on working towards new ones. There are a number of new nations within the works, two of which which are out being beta examined now with celiac readers who will present suggestions.

Taken collectively, and with my meals map gross sales (see under), I’m making ends meet.

Entrepreneurship is usually anxiety-inducing, because you by no means know if one month will fare effectively in comparison with the subsequent. Including to that, I anticipated that when my life modified that my viewers would too. Now not in a position to share enjoyable journey images or meals tales, I puzzled if I’d have anybody studying in any respect.

I’m grateful that a lot of you might be nonetheless right here.

My spinal csf leak is steady sufficient that I’ve delayed going again to Duke

I get emails every week asking why I’m not pushing for surgical procedure, or extra blood patching. I feel that is a kind of very private issues that many individuals don’t perceive. It was a really dramatic final blood patch, and I’ve to be keen to just accept all the dangers for me to return. 

After the CNN piece got here out, I spoke with my physician at Duke and he provided to patch me once more. It is a affordable factor, provided that I used to be sealed for 8 months over the last patch he gave me. However I additionally wanted an epinephrine jab on the desk throughout that very same process, and my immune system has gone into overdrive since.

I used to be additionally advised I’ve a situation I’ve not written a lot about referred to as adhesive arachnoiditis, the place my spinal nerves are clumping collectively inflicting quite a lot of ache.

There are different issues that think about. It’s not a assure that the patch will work, particularly as we will solely use blood since I’m allergic to the glue. Whereas blood-only does work for a lot of, with a connective tissue dysfunction within the combine, fibrin is extra sturdy (pun supposed), which is why they went with it for me within the first place.

So it’s a matter of accepting dangers, however amongst them that I could find yourself internet adverse—not simply that the patch could not work.

This mixture of things, together with my few hours of ‘standing up time’ a day, has led me to push out patching for now.

I’ve hope that the science evolves to help a greater chance for my therapeutic. There are new imaging methods, procedures, and ongoing analysis for this situation. To this point, not a lot has proven to be relevant to my complicated case, however you by no means know.

I do plan to get remedy finally, as a result of signs abound. Once I stand, I nonetheless get the “mind sag” feeling of my backbone being smushed by my mind. I’ve quite a lot of nerve ache and again ache, and neurological points. And I’m grateful that Duke is keen to patch once more.

I’m simply not there but.

The hand drawn maps of meals that I designed have been promoting since 2014. The plan was, and stays, to do ten nations in all.

This yr, I’m lastly releasing the Canadian meals map—it’s solely been 3 years within the making! The delay is all mine, even supposing my artist Ella has had New York Instances bestselling books come out within the interim.

A lot of the meals Canadian consider as ‘our meals’ are colonial dishes. There have been no “ketchup chips” or poutine previous to Columbus, that’s for certain. I needed to incorporate Indigenous dishes as effectively, and I reached out to the specialists in Indigenous meals in Canada each to ensure I used to be together with a cross-section of dishes, but additionally to make sure the spelling was right. I hope it’s a extra inclusive map in consequence.

The store that homes my maps has been stagnant since 2016, once I arrange a now-defunct theme and ignored it ever since besides so as to add new maps on the market.

Regardless of that, folks have purchased maps!

However for this vacation season I hoped to get it turned into a shiner, sleeker store that higher matched the Authorized Nomads redesign.

I did this one myself, as a result of I needed to replace issues as I am going…. So it took me awhile. Behold!

Previous store:

hand drawn maps of food

And, the brand new store:

Yay! Test it out right here. I’m nonetheless fixing some bugs, nevertheless it’s principally finished.

(The Canada map isn’t in there but, however will likely be quickly.)

Phew, I feel that’s every little thing.

Thanks in your help, and for coming alongside on this very uncommon trip.


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