Some Very Sad News

December 1, 2017

After five months on the road, our world trip may come to an abrupt end. Roman has been struggling with a stomach bug ever since we flew into Vietnam three weeks ago. It has gotten better, then worse again, then better again, and now…worse again. When we first arrived in Hanoi, we figured he’d caught the infamous travellers’ diarrhea which most tourists face in Southeast Asia. I felt ill too, but a few days later I had normalized whereas Roman’s troubles continued. Once we reached Hoi An, Roman took some antibiotics, and he recovered right away. We thought we were in the clear, but a few days later he was sick again. We went to the doctor in Danang (a large city near the town of Hoi An), and got blood work done and a new set of prescriptions. Again, Roman felt better, and all was well.

We arrived in Ho Chi Minh City this morning by sleeper train from Hoi An. I remember speaking to my mother on the phone after getting off the train, and we talked about how well the trip was going, and about our December plans in Thailand. A few hours later, we were sitting in a café eating lunch when Roman suddenly felt faint. Luckily the doctor was just a few minutes away – we went to the same private clinic in Ho Chi Minh that we’d gone to in Danang, so they were able to pull the information from our previous visit. After hours at the clinic and more tests, it looks like Roman has a parasite. He has gotten more, new medicine and he may need ongoing care to make sure he is completely healthy… which we can’t do effectively on the road.

The magnitude of the diagnosis didn’t sink in immediately. We planned to take the medication and get checked again in ten days’ time. We went food shopping and filled our lovely airbnb with groceries for the week. But as the evening wore on and we talked with family back home, we realized the responsible thing to do is to leave Southeast Asia, and to cancel our plans in Thailand and Malaysia. We will likely head back to Calgary to make sure Roman gets the healthcare he needs.

This is sad news. It is so sudden. The suddenness of is the most difficult part to wrap my head around. Just this morning we were telling the kids about Angkor Wat, and tonight we are looking at flights back home.

When we left on our year-long adventure, our family raised a lot of questions about our plans; there were a lot of “What ifs” – What if you hate it? What if the kids drive you crazy? What if there’s a terrorist attack? What if you don’t like the food? What if you get kidnapped? What if there’s a nuclear war? What if you get malaria? What if someone steals your passport? What if the kids fall behind in school? What if there’s a deadly earthquake? What if…

There are a lot of reasons not to travel. There are a lot of things to fear when you go to faraway places, from natural disasters to political unrest to crazy-making children and strange parasites. But there are so many things to fear in every facet of our lives. If we are driven by fear and limited by the What Ifs, we begin to stifle the possibilities.

In response to the fears (the fears of our family, and to our own misgivings) we always said that we would take reasonable precautions, and that we would not hesitate to return home if something went wrong. Something has gone wrong, and so we are returning earlier than expected.

It’s disappointing to return early, but it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.


  1. Comment by Louise

    Louise Reply December 1, 2017 at 3:02 pm

    Oh, I’m so sorry to hear this. But you are making the best decision you can in this situation. And we will be happy to have you back in Canada!!

  2. Comment by Mark

    Mark Reply December 1, 2017 at 4:19 pm

    Guys, don’t despair! Come home, live with us for a while, get bored and anxious and go on a road again. We’ll happily give you a ride to your next planned Destination (can I suggest Morocco or Portugal for a start?). Don’t worry too much about parasites – I had a nasty one while in Africa – not much joy at all, but we will smile at the end.
    P.S. Come back, we miss you more than we say and your return is really nice silver lining to a bad circumstance.

  3. Comment by Carolyn

    Carolyn Reply December 1, 2017 at 9:53 pm

    Oh I am so sad to hear about this Roman and family! I’m sure this was not something you imagined would happen. But health first always…please take good care and sending you all love.

    You are so right – you have had such an amazing time and even if you have to come home early you have done and seen so much. I’m in awe. xoxo

  4. Comment by Josh

    Josh Reply December 4, 2017 at 1:08 am

    Yea come home but instead of staying at Marks stay at my place 🙂 be safe feel better and look after yourself as best as possible. I’ll call you in a sec.

    Ps I loved the blogs

  5. Comment by Erica

    Erica Reply December 5, 2017 at 6:22 am

    I am sorry to hear that your trip had to end so abruptly. However, your adventures will be with you for a lifetime, and none of you are old. There is no reason you cannot do this again! Heck, I thought my travel days were over – look at me now!

    Safe journey home and I hope to be able to see you when I am in Calgary this month.

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