Today was a first for me on the Camino. I didn’t walk the full distance today. The last 8km were by taxi. I didn’t want to do it, but I had no choice.
The morning started as all mornings do. I stretched and that eased the pain in my back. This made me feel better because the tenderness reminded me of the back pain I had with a kidney infection several years ago. Between that and some other symptoms, I was starting to wonder if this was more than just sore muscles. But I convinced myself because the stretching helped that it is was just muscular.
Everything was packed and ready to go a little after 7am. I took off in the dark and as it became lighter a fog moved in and became thicker.
Given the somewhat unremarkable scenery, the fog made the walk quite beautiful. It also gave me additional cover if I needed to duck behind a tree. I had some dysentery problems the night before that seemed to be lingering on.
Positive signs boosted my spirits and I knew it was another short 20k day so I was optimistic.
I stopped in the first town I came to for breakfast but thought better of having coffee and instead had a banana and an Aquarius. Several bathroom runs later I took off for the next town another 3km away.
The transformation in my health over those 3km was stunning. I was overcome with nausea, I developed chills and my entire body started aching. By the time I reached Terradillos de los Templarios I wasn’t sure I could go on. But I didn’t see a bar or anywhere I could go to sit so I decided to walk on to the next town.
Lucky for me, Kari came around the corner and saw I wasn’t doing well. She said she would walk with me the 3km to the next town and make sure I got into a taxi.
I have been a purist about my Camino. I have wanted to walk every single step. So, I knew I was feeling bad when I no longer had that conviction. As we walked I only felt worse and worse. Poor Kari had to listen to me moan and groan while always keeping an eye out for a good tree for me to duck behind if necessary.
I thought I saw the rooftops of houses in a town and was really relieved, but it turned out to be solar panels. It is the first time I have seen solar panels in Spain. We kept walking and to keep my mind off of how I felt I kept thinking of how I would asked someone to call me a cab. I could do it in French but all I could come up with was Necessito Taxi por favor in Spanish.
At the first bar in town, we stopped and my “necessito taxi” worked. Within 10 minutes of the bar keeper calling, my ride was there.
One of the German women I had been seeing over the past several days told me I needed to ask what it would cost before I got in the cab. This country bumpkin just doesn’t think that way and I appreciated her tipping me off.
The short 9k into Sahagun took less than 10 minutes. We went past hordes of pilgrims slowly making their way into the city. I didn’t care. I knew I was doing the right thing.
The place I was staying let me check into my room early when it was obvious I was not well. They gave me a map to the local clinic and carried my pack up the two flights of stairs. It is amazing how much these simple gestures of humanity can mean when you feel like I did.
I was too tired to do anything but sleep so I took a nap and when I woke up three hours later dragged myself to the clinic.
Thank goodness for Google Translate. I was asked for my passport and insurance card. When I showed her my insurance info on my phone (I purchased travel insurance just for this purpose) the intake person would have none of it. It had to be a physical card. I didn’t get that from my travel insurance. She sent me to a “special” waiting room which I believe probably was the free clinic.
I took the time waiting to write out, in Google Translate, my symptoms and timing of events. The woman who saw me was perhaps a doctor or nurse practitioner, I am not sure. She sat behind a desk and we communicated phone to phone. She didn’t think I had a kidney infection because I was lacking some symptoms. I have had one kidney infection in my life and what I was feeling now was consistent with that experience.
The Dr. thought that I had some type of gastrointestinal virus that is “going around.” She was going to give me something to help rebuilt my “flora” and send me on my way. But instead something else happened. For the first time ever, I was assertive with a doctor and asked her to test me for the kidney infection. She rolled her eyes, gave me a cup and told me to go pee in it.
Lo and behold, there was blood in my urine. And, with that, her demeanor changed. She prescribed an antibiotic and Ibuprofen and still the packets of stuff to help the “flora.” She said I may or may not be well enough to walk tomorrow, but probably the next day. I got the prescription filled on my way back to the Hostal and slept the rest of the afternoon. Upon waking I was already feeling better, no doubt thanks to the 600mg ibuprofen (that I had sworn off after last year’s Camino, but didn’t want to defy Dr’s orders).
So, now you know most of the gory details. I ended up reserving another night where I am staying and canceling the reservation I had for Tuesday night. Last year’s pilgrim Robin would have started walking from here on Wednesday. However, this year I have made several reservations for the coming nights and I want to keep with my original schedule so I can still walk to Finisterre. So later today when I decide that I can continue tomorrow I will determine whether to skip ahead to Leon missing two stages or get a taxi to the start of the stage before Leon and walk into the city on Thursday as planned.
When I was sitting at the bar in Calzadilla de la Cueza in Sunday I saw a sign with the number for a taxi. Had I snapped a picture of it, I would have been able to call sooner for a cab rather than waiting until I walked into the next town. From now on when I see a number for a taxi I will snap a photo of it. Likely, I will not need it, but you never know. And, if not for me, it could be for another pilgrim in distress.
I never imagined getting sick on the Camino in this way. I guess I was somewhat prepared having a small supply of Imodium and antibiotics that I brought from home, but it was always an injury that concerned me the most.
It is amazing the impact small gestures of kindness can have. Kari insisting she walk with me was exactly what I needed at that moment. The concern of the hotel owner has been amazing. He is just so sweet.
I am filled with gratitude and looking forward to a full recovery by tomorrow.