Sorry for the prolonged silence. I was hoping that if I left it a few days I might have some positive news.
So, to recap, on Wednesday my right leg gave out part way through the stage. I battled pain and inability to walk through sheer determination and a good deal of stupidity. But in reality there wasn’t really much option. On a national holiday (Mayday) and passing through only villages with one or two inhabitants, my only options were to flag down one of the very few passing cars or magic a taxi number from somewhere.
Once I stopped walking I just couldn’t put any weight on my leg, even with the help of my walking poles. Luckily we stopped in a larger village where an extremely kind man immediately offered to drive us back to where we had started that morning, the only town in the area of size and with an emergency department. The doctor there upon examination decided that it was a hip problem and gave me an injection of Metamizole (which is banned in the UK and other northern European countries as it has been known to cause death, although apparently harmless to Spanish). I was told to rest for a day or two before starting to walk again.
We returned to the Hostal Moreno and I somehow managed to walk the long corridor to our allocated room. I needed to visit the bathroom during the night and it took me about fifteen minutes to walk a few metres. I returned to bed on my hands and knees. In the morning there was no improvement and I accepted my partner’s offer to drive the 700 kms to collect me.
I only left my bed to visit the bathroom and on subsequent trips I knelt on a blanket and pulled myself along with my hands. By the time I departed, that must have been the cleanest stretch of floor and the dirtiest blanket in the hostal. It was also the most undignified thing I have ever done whilst sober! But it worked.
Nina was my guardian angel. Shopping for goodies, bringing me an occasional glass of wine, keeping my spirits up and just being there.
David duly arrived on Thursday evening and we left on Friday morning. An eight hour journey where I didn’t dare drink more than a few sips of water because there was no way that I could use a public toilet en route. Luckily I have a cast iron bladder and didn’t suffer.
We passed signs for so many places that I had walked through on this and other caminos…Cuenca, Madrid, Segovia, Córdoba, Almería, Granada, Málaga. We rushed past the spectacular landscape that I had experienced at a much more leisurely pace. David took a couple of coffee breaks whilst I stayed in the car, but he brought me a good selection of snacks for the journey. I did just stand, hanging onto the car door during one break, just to give my backside a change of scenery!
We drove immediately to the emergency department of the hospital nearest to home, where I received the best possible service, taken from the car in a wheelchair, passing through the triage system before I even had the chance to use the loo, seen by a doctor within fifteen minutes, then whizzed off to the x-ray department, administered another injection to my posterior and after about a half hour wait a return visit to the doctor. This time I was told that I was suffering from an inflamed ligament / tendonitis with no fracture to the hip. This made much more sense to me as I couldn’t see how an issue with my hip could come on so suddenly. I was in and out of the hospital within 1.5 hours, made a quick stop down the road to buy some crutches and was then on the last leg home. Just a quick stop to collect Roly, our dog, from our friends who had happily agreed to look after him for the night, and then finally sitting in my own chair.
Yesterday (Saturday) I couldn’t detect any improvement at all, but today there is a slight change in the right direction. And so I am confident that within a few days I will be moving around more easily.
An inflamed ligament doesn’t sound as though it should have caused me such a problem, but I think I have a fairly high pain threshold, and I don’t think I have been making a fuss about nothing.
So my camino is over for this year. Nina decided to catch a bus to Burgos and then to León and she is now walking along the Camino Frances. We had a very emotional parting. I could not have hoped for a better walking partner and friend. She is a wise and caring woman with a great sense of fun. I am sure I will be privileged to walk with her again before too long.
David is quite pleased to have me home early, Roly made a big fuss of me for about five minutes and I have hardly seen him since (he chooses to be an outside dog), but the cat has jumped on my lap at every opportunity (and as I am spending 90% of my time sitting of lying, there is a lot of opportunity!)
Rather than be too upset about cutting my camino short, I appreciate that I have walked six prior caminos with no issues other than the odd blister. How lucky is that? And I am truly appreciative of the care and loyalty from Nina and David, and although it was a long journey home, how much more difficult it would have been if I had to return to another country, or if I had been walking alone. I am one lucky and grateful pilgrim.
Thanks to everyone who has expressed concern, either through the blog or via private message. I so appreciate your care. And also for the many messages of support I received along the way. I love to read your comments even though I don’t have time to respond directly.
THANK YOU to one and all.
Edit: after getting around on crutches for a few weeks, I felt progress with my hip was not as it should be. Long story short, I organised an MRI and was aghast to be told that I had a stress fracture through the right femoral head (ball joint of hip). Apparently such a fine fracture with no displacement of bone does not show on an x-ray.