“Jungle Pants” is a nickname coined by a traveling friend after I inquired: “We won’t need to dress up, will we? ‘Cause all I’m packing is my jungle pants.”

I like it.

Hiking to visit hill tribes in western Burma (Myanmar)

I like that I’m still able to put on those jungle pants and go, after a stroke left me too slow and ditzy for my PR career; after I learned I had a scary (and unpronounceable!) autoimmune disease that turns my blood to sludge. (It’s called Antiphospholipid Syndrome – APS for short.)

On that eerie Wednesday morning in 2002 when my stroke hit, I was lost in a mental whiteout, unable to remember my address, my husband’s name, or how to dial 9-1-1. In the year that followed, I had to relearn the alphabet, how to hold a fork, how to tie my shoes. I had to relearn to type in spite of a therapist who thought I should braid potholders. That year I also had to learn, kicking and screaming, how to be a patient with a serious chronic illness taking scary-high level of blood thinner to prevent another stroke.But, with lots of help from Jack and my travel-buddy girlfriends, I also learned that I could still travel, even – especially! – to the places where bus-tourists fear to tread. The kind of places where you ride yaks across high meadows in Yunnan, China, or dodge snakes in Costa Rican jungles.

Far too young to “retire” after the stroke, I began my search for something constructive to do. I wrote about my experience with stroke and APS, first as an exercise to regain writing skills, then with a passion to spread the word about the “hidden” risk factors for stroke in women. I’ve published several articles in local and national publications including Good Housekeeping magazine and I’m currently working on a memoir.

I’ve always written about my travels, in waggish postcards and emails to friends and cheeky addenda to the photo albums that document the 18 years that Jack and I have traveled together. Now the Junglepants website allows me to share my escapades and challenges, ideas and adventures with you, too.