Help Jodi Find Her Feet

$43,042 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 561 people in 10 months
Created October 6, 2017
This is Jodi Ettenberg.

(She’s the one on the right.)

Jodi is a Canadian ex-lawyer turned travel-helper. On her award-winning website Legal Nomads it also says she “tells stories through food,” and her many bylines and mentions in the world’s top online publications (The New York Times , National Geographic , the BBC , The Guardian ) will absolutely back this up.

But for the people whose lives she’s touched, “travel-helper” is equally accurate.

Ever since abandoning the legal world after a life-changing jaunt along the Trans-Siberian Railway, Jodi has been helping people.



Politely (she’s Canadian).

She’s helped people all over the world to explore the world around them, not with fear and suspicion, but with open-minded curiosity and compassion.

She’s helped a whole generation of digital travel writers and publishers find their feet in an ever-changing landscape, spending colossal amounts of her time offering advice freely and championing quality writing and storytelling wherever she finds it.

She has poured vast amounts of energy and all her formidable communicative skills into her site, Legal Nomads, creating a portal that celebrates cuisines and cultures around the planet in a level of detail you’ll rarely find outside professional travel guides - and her posts are permanently available for free, for anyone to read and use. (Check out the best of them here .)

She’s published a book on street food and runs tours in different countries, teaching tourists how to enjoy the best food while supporting local businesses. As a celiac disease sufferer, she has also dedicated herself to educating everyone about the truth behind the myths about this condition, and now helps fellow celiacs pick the right foods with a series of exhaustively-researched gluten-free restaurant cards she sells through her site.

Again and again, you’ll find her helping people - because she believes it’s the right thing to do. That’s just who she is. And that’s why she’s so loved by everyone who meets her.

Now it’s Jodi that needs the help.

And since she’s too Jodi-like to ask for it, we, her friends and fans, the people whom she’s been helping these past nine years, we’re asking on her behalf. (No need to write in, Jodi - we’ve got this.)

Here’s what happened, and why it’s proving so catastrophic for her life right now.

In late August of this year, after a long, debilitating six months of increasingly ill health, Jodi went to the hospital to get checked out. (Her immune system had previously been compromised by dengue , and doctors she’d seen were stumped about why she hadn’t made a full recovery.) As part of the investigation, the hospital gave her two (!) spinal taps.

When Jodi returned to the New York apartment she was staying in, she found she’d been burgled. Her laptop, her camera, and all her precious digital archives recording her work around the world - all gone.

Unfortunately, what came next was even worse.

In rushing round the apartment in a state of overwhelming distress and filling out the required police reports late into the night, Jodi put pressure on her body that it wasn’t meant to bear.

This is exactly as bad as it sounds.

Your spine is filled with something called cerebrospinal fluid, and it circulates all the way up to your brain, cushioning it. Less cushion? A whole world of agony awaits.

CSF leaks are notoriously slow to heal - and utterly debilitating until they do. Since the leak, Jodi has been suffering from excruciating headaches. She can’t sit upright for more than a few minutes before the pounding starts in her temples. She spends all day laying down, and in horrible pain.

Consequently, everything has stopped for her . She can’t return to her current home in Oaxaca, Mexico. She can’t write, apart from typing into her phone. She can’t run tours. She can’t attend meetings. She can’t do any of the jobs she’s done to pay her way through the world these last 8 years - and as her friends, we want to make sure she can make ends meet for the time being.

Jodi needs our help to keep going, until she can get back on her feet and return to what she does best - helping others.

That’s what this GoFundMe is for.

With the funds this campaign will raise, you’ll be helping with Jodi’s medical, business, and living expenses. This way, she can concentrate on healing and on getting her life back together. You’ll be creating a safety net for her as she struggles through these next difficult months.

Jodi’s loyal, caring community of readers and friends have been hassling her to launch a Go Fund Me over the last six weeks - but she refused, saying that she prefers not to ask too much of them. (Way too Jodi-like for her own good.)

So we decided that if she won’t do it, we’re going to do it for her.

Please consider donating money - or maybe purchasing one of Jodi’s beautiful hand-drawn food maps from her site: https://shop.legalnomads.com/

To echo Jodi’s motto for the last decade - every little bit helps.

Let’s help get this legal nomad back on her feet.

Thank you.

- Mike Sowden (travel writer at Fevered Mutterings ), and the many, many friends of Jodi.
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Hi everyone, a short update from Jodi:

I usually write a personal post on my “travel anniversary,” the date I left New York to start my one year trip around the world that turned into a new career. Given the circumstances of the past year, this post was more intense than usual, but very cathartic to write. I wanted to share it here as this campaign has helped me get the treatment I needed, and ensured that I could stay around Duke to continue with the blood patching procedures over the course of the 2.5 months it took to get me sealed. It also goes into more details about the events around the spinal tap, and how I’ve managed to (slowly) start walking again.

The post is here: https://www.legalnomads.com/spinal-tap/

Thank you for all the notes left on this campaign page and the ones sent to me directly. While I have not been able to respond to all of them, I read each and every one and am so grateful for your support.

I hope everyone is having a good 2018 so far,
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Hi everyone! Time for another update from Jodi.

Before we get to that, I just wanted to, again, express how thankful I am/we are that she has such a wonderful network of people rooting for her, supporting her and thinking of her around the world.

Unfortunately, her journey is far from over but at least she's with the right people now and has access to all the tools and doctors she could possibly need thanks to the donations and support from all of you. So, I [we] thank you.

Here's Jodi's message:

Hi everyone. Unfortunately I seem to be in the “challenging case” category – always an overachiever, I know. The third patch was better than the first two, and lasted for a full 2 weeks before it failed. This was very different to the first and second rounds, and the doctor feels like he was able to pinpoint the location of the leak with his targeted patching as my headache and other symptoms went away for those 14 days. So far I’ve had 3 rounds with 16 targeted blood and glue patches, and each round has eased my symptoms somewhat -- but I’m still leaking.

I am lucky that I built an unconventional life as it allowed me to stay near the hospital and pursue additional treatments with less hassle of going back and forth. My best friend came out to take over from my parents, who understandably had to get back to their lives in
Montreal. She’s also a travel writer, so with wifi she was able to work while helping me recover between rounds of patching.

Doctors have scheduled me for round 4 on Friday, and I wanted to send an update for two reasons: First, because I am so very grateful for this campaign. I worked hard to save over the years of travel, but tackling medical expenses for a life-changing problem certainly wasn’t in my plan. You’ve helped ensure I can get the best care possible. And secondly, to ask you to please send me all your warm fuzzies on Friday morning for the next round of treatments.

It’s been a very challenging time, and a devastating turn of events. We all know life can change in an instant, but to go from total freedom after 10 years of travel around the world, to not being able to bend down if I drop something on the floor…it’s almost bewildering. Through it all, I am lucky to have so much support from all around the world. I likened it to lights on a map, flickering as you send your love from afar.

Thank you and here’s to a better 2018,
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Hi everyone, Happy New Year and thank you for your continued support for Jodi's battle.

She sent me this update a few days ago and wanted to pass it along to everyone:

"Thank you to everyone who has donated. I wanted to post a small update, as 2018 approaches. I am still at the treatment centre as the first two blood and glue patches were not successful. They will be trying again in early 2018.

I am hoping that third time is the charm. Wishing everyone a good holiday season, and thanks for all the support from afar. " -Jodi

Please continue to keep her in your thoughts and prayers and hopefully 2018 will bring her more hope and more healing.
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Hi everyone, we have an update from Jodi. Thank you for all of your continued support. Please keep Jodi in your thoughts and prayers and continue to send good vibes her way. :)

From Jodi:

Hi everyone. I’m sorry for not updating. This is a surreal and difficult time and I’m struggling to know what to say. I look at photos from Oaxaca and feel a mixture of grief and disbelief.

The bad news is that things have been getting worse. The good news is that I’ve been accepted for treatment in the USA in early December, though it is no guarantee of a quick fix. I’ve been warned that given these symptoms and the multiple punctures done, it may need something more invasive than a blood patch.

Your contributions to the go fund me have been greatly appreciated and will help me and my family get to the USA, and get treated.

You know, I was so optimistic at the beginning of this. I didn’t want the GFM because I was worried that I would heal up and not need it and feel very guilty. But in the end, it’s become a lifeline, as has your support.

I’ve met people with chronic leaks and complications for years and years, sometimes ongoing after decades, who still find it within themselves to fight and be spokespeople for this complicated problem. They are role models for me, and I aspire to their levels of help. For now, it’s been a truly scary ride, and not knowing if there’s a fix yet is part of what makes it so hard.

Again, thanks for all your support.
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$43,042 of $10,000 goal

Raised by 561 people in 10 months
Created October 6, 2017
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