everydaysparks

Stuff I see, which you might not.

Camino Days 17 & 18 – This was NOT in the guide book

on September 7, 2013

I had hoped that the previous post would be the first and last tale of illness on the Camino. Fortunately (I guess), this part of the Way is very boring scenery – long, flat plains and endless fields – so this illness is a bit of a focus! I woke on Day 17 with even more bites on me – I will spare you the graphic details, but they were horrific: clearly, whatever is biting me does not agree with my system. There were now around 15 angry bites on my feet, 8 on each elbow and one each on my face and neck. Imagine a normal mosquito bite, now multiply the size by five, the puffiness by 1000 and the redness by 10000 and the itchiness by one bzillion. And that is what I am riddled with, my friends. Oh, and just for extra points, some of the bites have become hideous blistered messes as I have walked on – no foot modeling in my future, dammit.
The swollen left foot was at least a little better after the painful ice & boiled water technique, followed by the chopped potato bandage overnight (thanks to the incredible Bev, the 66 year old hockey player/tax accountant/yoga instructor/natural therapies whiz from Queensland, walking the camino after winning Hockey gold at the World Masters in Turin).
But, advice from my medical consultant on the other side of the world (shout out to my brother Tony, responding to photos and messages with excellent real-time support and guidance) was to rest up. So we only walked around 12km to the town of Sahagun (officially halfway to Santiago) after stopping for coffee at a German cafe/albergue along the way. We arrived very early – around 10.30am – and it was a good day for walking, with the temperature and cloud cover all looking great. Shane walked on, figuring that we’ll meet again when he needs a shorter day himself down the track, so our group was back to six.
The day actually passed quickly in the quiet town and I was glad to be able to rest and ice my foot. A delicious banana from the local supermarket served a dual purpose as I used its skin in a bandage to reduce the swelling even further.
Day 18 saw my foot a lot less swollen, which was great. But I had about a dozen new giant bites on my hands, leg and neck. My foot felt the best it had in days though, so I was well able to hike the 31km to Reliegos with the gang. The weather was great – a bit cooler and overcast for most of our walk and we arrived in time to choose a nice albergue. One of the key criteria was a kitchen so that we could boil all of my clothes, like witches of old, in case they were hiding any bugs. Steph and Susana led the cooking and the water was certainly an interesting colour after we were done.
As the afternoon progressed, I was starting to feel a bit sickly and my feet were getting redder and itching and there were a few worrying marks appearing. So Steph and Susana took me to the hospital where I was seen straight away. God bless Susana’s fluent Spanish, which translated the clucking and tsk-ing of the doctor and nurse as they issued terse instructions. They bandaged some of my bites, popped some of the creepy bite-blisters and then whacked two painful injections in my butt. With some antibiotics and cortisone coursing through me and a script for more from the pharmacy, along with insect repellant, I am hopeful that tomorrow will be a better day.
The lovely staff were very direct – I was crying with Susana and the lady apparently asked, ‘Why is she crying?’ as if to suggest I was a bit too silly for her. But then when she finished the injections and gave me a whack, I turned around to check if she’d done one or both already. When she gestured that it was two, I said ‘awesome, high five!’ as I was so relieved. She indulged me in an awkward high five, bless her. And then they didn’t charge me anything – so so nice and a world apart from the last doctor. They said I could definitely keep walking as long as I looked after everything, so onwards and upwards tomorrow. Thanks so much for your words of support and encouragement here, on Facebook and by messages – it really has meant a lot to me and I’m very grateful. And, of course, MVP awards to my angels Susana and Steph for looking after me so well. Bitten, but blessed, so I am.

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5 responses to “Camino Days 17 & 18 – This was NOT in the guide book

  1. You poor, poor possum. More vibes coming your way, S. 🙂

  2. Ross says:

    Success is sweet: the sweeter if long delayed and attained through manifold struggles and defeats. – A. Branson Alcott

    Press on Sparks.

  3. Noela K says:

    Trust you have at last received the best antidote for all your pain! And what a remarkable group
    of friends you have found….and vice versa of course!! Keep smiling.

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