Leaving Santiago de Compostela 2016, injured…
“And, when you can’t go back, you have to worry only about the best way of moving forward.” ― Paulo Coelho, The Alchemist
The challenges of getting from the far-west of Spain to New Zealand with a leg in a split caste was minimal compared to the rumble with the Travel Insurance company.
Before setting off on our Camino Portuguese adventure, the words travel insurance seemed to randomly pop-up in my mind. I’d pushed them out. Only to have them pop back in the next day. Eventually, I rung my Travel Insurance retailer, talked about my forthcoming trip. I asked about my plan. I was assured that I was covered. Yet that annoyingly uneasy feeling was hard to turn off.
After the hospital visit to Vigo, lying on a bed in a remote village in Spain, I rang the Travel Insurer. I was told my insurance hadn’t been activated. Plus they didn’t deal with injuries. I would need to contact the Travel Insurers outsourced medical cum service centre. I wasn’t concerned about the hospital orders to stay in one place for five days to ensure that I would not require an operation. Nor, that I would need a Specialist report to be allowed to fly. It was the daily self-injection of a blood-thinning serum that was freaking me out; I needed some guidance and reassurance.
It took five days to activate my insurance and organise our evacuation from Santiago de Compostela. Stressful times. The ensuing medical outsourced service centre conversations rarely moved out of the non-humanitarian zone. Without a smartphone, it would have seemed an impossible task to supply all the necessary documentation. Without the assistance of both my sister and my Banks Customer Care Officer, the retailer of the Travel Insurance, the ensuing rumble would have felt like an avalanche.
Once again, I urge everyone to bring a smartphone with them on Camino. John Brierley suggests that you leave them at home and live in the moment. And you can do that; just leave your smartphone at the bottom of your pack, treat them as part of your emergency kit.
My road back – take 2…
“With courage, you will dare to take risks, have the strength to be compassionate and the wisdom to be humble. Courage is the foundation of integrity.” – Keshavan Nair
In 2016 I had two cortisone injections in my left hip, the first was a trial run, to judge its effectiveness of reducing inflammation and allowing me to walk beyond the bus stop. It worked, so I had the second one seven days before I started our Camino Portuguese journey. The inflammation from the osteoarthritis in my left hip was kept at bay by limiting my walking day to 15kms. Thankfully the cortisone bought respite from the relentless gnawing osteoarthritis pain. This time-out of the pain zone allowed me to feel fit, healthy and enjoy walking again.
In my post Called back to the Camino, I talk about my first recovery program. Maybe it was all the walking, or perhaps it was the fall in Portugal that accelerated the osteoarthritis in my left hip. By the time my left leg was finally freed from encasement, some three months later, that program was a distant memory. I had entered survival mode. Weekly acupuncture, fortnightly Pilates and despite it being summer, daily heat pads the new routine. The biggest unknown each morning was getting to the bus stop, 250 metres from my house. Often halfway into the walk, my left hip would cease, a few stretches and a prayer the only way I made it onto the bus. Although I still had to get off the bus; another new daily challenge. A few months later, it transpired that my left hip was down to bone on bone. The anti-inflammatory drugs soon ceased to be an option. I was self-employed, my contract due to finish, finding a new gig in my downward spiralling state of wellbeing was going to be a big ask. I made an appointment with my Doctor to talk about hip replacements, and ask her to help me find a specialist to do the operation.
Part 3 – the Way continues to call…