The Harsh Realities of AWLS

I have not openly discussed this previously, but I’ve been living with a chronic condition for the past several years.  It’s not life-threatening, thank goodness, but it is unfortunately something I’m doomed to live with for the rest of my life. I can largely thank genetics for this one, as I know many family members who have also been symptomatic over the years.

Most of the time, it’s manageable and doesn’t impact my life.  There are flare-ups from time-to-time though that make focusing on everyday tasks much more challenging.

For the past week, I’ve felt the tell-tale symptoms of another attack coming, and it hit me full force this morning; sadly, I cannot afford treatment at this time.

There is only one sure-fire treatment for this particular affliction.  It is guaranteed to work, but it can be prohibitively expensive.  Unfortunately, this treatment is not yet covered by any U.S. health care plan.

Unbelievably, this condition is not yet recognized by modern medicine and there have been very few scholarly articles or research studies done on the long-term effects of living without appropriate treatment.

The condition I’m talking about, of course, is AWLS, or Acute Wanderlust Syndrome.

The hallmark symptom of AWLS is a strong, sometimes nearly uncontrollable desire to travel, to see more of the world.  And, fittingly, such travel is the only treatment that really has any noticeable power to send AWLS into remission.

The attack this morning was short-lived, but it was intense:  As I sat at my breakfast table eating a mundane bowl of cereal, I was suddenly in Bavaria, Germany, my senses bombarded.  In my mind’s eye, my feet traversed the uneven, cobbled streets of a quaint village.  I could smell the unmistakable aroma of delicious, fresh Brötchen coming from the Bäckerei as I returned hearty and friendly “Guten Morgen”s with villagers on their way to do… whatever it is they were on their way to do.


I was rudely snapped back to reality by my phone.  With disbelief, shock and then finally resignation, I was brought to the realization that not only was I not, in fact, in Europe, but that such a trip is out of the question at the moment.

The location experienced during my AWLS attacks is not always Europe; sometimes it is Central America.  Sometimes it’s just a major US city.  Sometimes there is a beach involved (these AWLS beach attacks seem to increase in frequency during the long, Minnesota Winter months.)  The deep sadness that accompanies the end of each attack is fairly consistent.


My heart is telling me to grab my passport and take the first international flight I can find, to spend a month gallivanting around the world. My bank account is telling me to pack a brown-bag lunch and eat it at my desk while I work.

Reluctantly, I will eat my brown-bag lunch again, grateful at least for the window into the wider world that is the internet.

Do you suffer from AWLS too?  How do you deal with your symptoms?


(Author’s note: This post is intended to be humorous;  AWLS is not a real medical condition, and it is absolutely not my intention to make fun of any medical conditions.)

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