The Jura (celebration of St. Martin) and the completion of the kidney stone

November 10-11, 2018

Kidney Stone Watch: 
We got back from Bretaye and ramped up to leave the following weekend for a family gathering in the Jura. I was starting to feel even more nervous about heading somewhere that wasn’t close to a hospital and spending a bunch of time with Luc’s family not feeling great.

On Tuesday, I got some herbal remedies for the stone: olive oil to drink, lemons to help break it apart, there was a spray that I needed to take 6 times a day, some pills to help with my kidney function and apple cider vinegar. I also started doing visualizations of the stone passing.

On Wednesday, my sister-in-law did some massage and reiki on my abdomen to see if that would help move the stone.

On the Thursday night, I woke up at 2am in a lot of pain. I tried breathing through it, but after 2 hours of wriggling and breathing in agony I woke up Luc and said we needed to go to the hospital to get some drugs.

We got to the hospital and pretty quickly they had me in a bed and hooked up to morphine. I felt immediately better. I had hoped that this would be the emergency that would have me have the surgery for the kidney stone blasting. I needed it to be an emergency or they were just going to wait for the surgery date to come up (could be between then (Mid-November) and February. But it wasn’t deemed an emergency.

They gave me many many drugs to help with the pain if it came back. This was incredibly relieving as I had been having daily pain and feeling uncomfortable for two weeks now and it was really making me feel so exhausted with life and where I was. To finally have some good drugs (not morphine but like morphine) was really like I could take on this for a while longer.

We set off on Saturday for the Jura.

We met up with the family at the hotel, dropped the stuff in the rooms, and set off in two different directions. Half the family went to a kids destination with dinosaurs and I took off to a distillery. We had a great time learning about how the Damassine (liquor made with plums) is made in that part of the country. Then we got to sample some delicious liquors!

That night we all had dinner together and celebrated the birthdays that were around those days and ate a lot of cake and drank some wonderful wine. I headed back early to the hotel as I wasn’t feeling well and really tired and took the most wonderful bath.

The next morning we had a delicious breakfast and then walked around town with some of the family.

Then we headed off to the piece de resistance, Le Fete de St. Martin. This is a weekend where they celebrate a saint by eating all different kinds of pig.

We started the feast at 12pm and didn’t leave until 5pm. 15 courses of mostly pig: pig jelly, pig soup, roast pig, pig with carrots… pig pig pig. I’m not a big fan of pork at the best of times so I politely declined a few of the dishes. And yes, I didn’t even try some of the dishes because no, you don’t even need to try. If you sense some bitterness here, you’re not wrong.

Besides the over abundance of pig eating, it was a wonderful time spent reconnecting with Luc’s cousins, aunts and uncles out on a farm in the country. It’s always hard saying goodbye as it’s really not known when you will see some of them again but we were so grateful to be able to spend this time with them and so thankful to those people who organized it all.

That night we drove back to Jouxtens.

Kidney stone completion

The next morning, I woke up and filtered my pee into a pot as I have been for what felt like weeks and when I looked into the bottom I SAW SOMETHING. My eyes literally bugged out of my head. I started to scream “Luc, oh my god, come here right now!” he came down and looked in the pot. Three pieces of stone. One massive and two tiny. I didn’t even feel it come out.

The relief I felt was like nothing I’ve ever felt – maybe having a baby was better but not by much. Elation, joy, relief, peace, happiness, finality, and beginning my life again. It was over. The pain, the suffering, the wondering, the confusion, the anxiety, the depression, the sadness. Over.

I had walked 800Km, been to Germany, Austria, France, Turkey, Bretaye and the Jura with that stone. It’s unbelievable what I did with that stone looking back. That stone taught me a lot about myself. I can keep going. I can feel all the emotions. I have resiliency. I can ask for support when I need it. It’s ok to feel like you can’t do it one more day and then get up again and do it one more day.

I think it was everything that I did the previous week (taking all the herbal remedies, the massage and reiki and eating all that pig) that helped me pass it. I also think that me giving it over to the universe to say, “ok, you’re in the drivers seat here… what’s going to happen? Are we going to pass this on our own, or are we going to wait for surgery?” for the universe to finally deliver the stone.

Now I can continue on my journey.

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Day 41: O Pedrouzo to Santiago de Compostela

20km LAST DAY. As a lot of you probably saw from the Facebook live video, We made it to Santiago!!!! I’m overjoyed that this part of the journey is complete. Although I read something yesterday that said “this is not the end, only the beginning”. I get shivers and a little emotional when I think about that. I’m going to blast us back to 6:30am when I woke up. It was a rough sleep: felt sick, room was hot and I had to pee 14 times (ok not that many). Then I got up and with my head lamp I noticed the tell tale sign of bed bugs… small brown spots on the sheets. Not sure if it’s their poop or my blood. Then I looked a bit more and there was a bug on my bed. “Fuck” I said out loud and told Luc to get out of bed cuz there was bed bugs. The woman beside heard me and she got up too. Up and out of the albergue. Well we said we wanted one more authentic pilgrim experience. We got it. No bites started to present on me until we got to the hotel that night and now it’s become the biggest smorgasbord I’ve had the whole Camino (we think over 100 bites). My whole right side is ravaged and some of them have even turned into blisters. Never had that. I’ve been using tea tree oil which really helps and I have some antihistamine pills left over. But it’s not enough. Luc, of course, is unscathed. Probably because they were like “hey there’s this sweet red head down here no need to go up top”. I’m surprised too since I slept so poorly, how and when did they attack? Anyway, one last gift from the Camino. I walked with my backpack again starting in the dark. Night hiking is really kinda different. It takes on a different kind of appeal being close to the stars and the moon. There were a lot of people today. I might have made some dominating hand gestures to a woman who looked like she was going to try to get in front of me for the bathroom. I spent a lot of time looking inward, I had a lot of pain in my feet today. Searching for how I was feeling knowing that I was literally moving closer and closer to the finale. There was peace. Later on in the night Luc asked me some questions like “who was I the most grateful for?” And “what was the most memorable experience?”

And every time I had this feeling of contentment and joy wash over me when I think back to all the amazing experiences I’ve had. It’s not about the destination, it’s about the journey. Although I remember back when I was sitting in my hospital room all alone wondering “will I make it to Santiago? Or will I go back to Switzerland or even Canada?” And so the tears washed over me when I finally got infront of the magnificent cathedral that I made it. I did it. I fucking did it. So while it is about the journey, the destination is also important to me especially since I really had no idea if I was going to make it. We stood in line to get our official document for about 45mins. Then headed back to the cathedral. And then over to our hotel room. Showered and headed off to wash and dry our stuff in a laundromat while we drank beer (see photo). Returned to the room and then headed out to check out the shops. I wanted to see the inside of the cathedral so at 10 past 8pm we walked inside and mass was on and what I thought I had missed, came true. They swing the botafugio And not 5 mins after being in the crowded cathedral did they swing it. I can hardly believe my luck. The universe provided exactly what I needed. How special a moment to see this. I’ll provide the video separately. We had a wonderful dinner with a beautiful bottle of red Rioja wine special for completing our Camino. I’ve been thinking about all of you as well who have been following and supporting and cheering me on. I’m so grateful to have so many people in my life who have been there for me along the way. Even if you have been reading but not commenting I can feel your energy and that has helped to move me through this epic journey. When you have the love and support of your friends and family, you really can do anything. So I thank you ?. It almost doesn’t seem enough to say thank you. My mom and aunty for doing this 3 times, being my inspirations and for guiding me in all the different directions. It meant so much to have you both close by every single day.

And I want to say a very special thank you to my husband and best friend. He made it possible for me to go on this journey by helping violette get adjusted to school, Switzerland, new friends, everything. And when I needed him and was crying and moaning from the pain, he listened on the phone and loved and cared for me when I felt so alone. I love you to the moon and back my love. Thank you for coming and being a part of my Camino. ♥️♥️

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Camino: Day 38-40

Day 38 – Puertomarin to Palas Del Rey

4 days left. I CAN NOT BELIEVE ALL THE PEOPLE!! This was a long day filled with some discomfort and pain in my bladder area. Also given the amount of water I was supposed to drink and the effects of the medication, I had to cop a squat almost once every half hour – mostly in the bushes. And I might pass a little judgement here but sooooooo many people (mostly women) leave there toilet paper behind so there’s these places where the forest floor is covered with white paper. Come on people. Pack it out. Put it in a bag and toss it at the end of the day. Anyway, I’ll get off my soap box now. It was a very windy day. Still sunny but since I sent my bag forward I don’t think I packed enough clothes! The weather is definitely changing. We trudged on with the droves of people. Incredibly, we seemed to go up all day long. I was also taking 600mgs if Ibuprofen for the pain so I think my feet benefited from this. Somewhere near the end (3kms left) the pain is getting worse and I just want to get there. The problem is (or maybe it’s a gift?) is that you’re the only one who can walk the steps to get you there. I notice now (since Luc is here I didn’t notice this before) that I go inward and quiet. Finally we get to this cool albergue with beds in the wall. It reminds me of train compartments. Shower and chill for an hour or more and then we head out to buy bottled water and get some dinner. After searching a bit for food we end up at this place and a Danish couple (who we think might be following us ? – they think we’re following them) invite us to sit down with them. Beside us on the other side are two women from holland. We enjoy talking about our countries and joking and connecting. And now new contacts in Denmark ?? who have invited us to stay with them. We super enjoy hanging out with them. I really enjoyed my sleep in the train ? compartment. 

Day 39: Palas Del Rey to Castaneda

I woke up with no pain. We walked in the dark for a while until the sun rose and we grabbed a cafe con lèche. I forgot my poles for the 138,362nd time. It was a pretty up down kind of day. The leaves and walnuts are falling from the trees. The wind was cooooold in the morning. It’s so fascinating how much the temperature has changed in just 100km. But the temp swings are pretty extreme now. It’s 6 degrees in the morning and up to 25 during the day. We met up with Eugene from Poland. We’ve chatted with him a few times but this was the most. We had a great time learning more about each other’s countries. He said that in Melinde we had to stop and eat octopus ?. It’s famous in this land locked town. So we did. I can say I tried it now. Not a big fan. Anyway we walked and walked. The kilomètres crawl by. Doesn’t matter if it’s a short day or a long day, I’m hating life the last 1.5 km and can’t get there fast enough. We arrived at our casa and oh. My. god. Bedroom, bathroom and our own living room for 40€. Living the life of luxury – definitely not a pilgrim. So we decided for tomorrow we would do one more bunk bed night for the last “authentic” experience. We showered, relaxed and napped until dinner. Dinner was over and I went straight to sleep. I’m so thrilled that the pain has left (for now). I’m constantly wondering now if I passed the stone or it’s going to come back or what. The end is so near… I can taste it. It’s bittersweet like the dark chocolate I’m eating right now. Tomorrow O Pedroso

Day 40: Canstaneda to O Pedrouzo

2 days left including today. I had a terrible dream and woke up and couldn’t really sleep after that so I got up and started getting ready for the day. Since we had a private room everything was everywhere. At half 6 I woke up Luc. We walked out into the darkness and alone for once (although not for long as the Camino Norte joined the route today so there was even more people around). Today must have been more flat because we made excellent time and I didn’t hurt too much when we got to the albergue. Today I dressed more warmly with pants, tank, long sleeve shirt and jacket. I’m continually surprised at the rapid change in the temperature since Luc joined on. Today I remembered back to some funny things that happened along the trail…. everything feels like so long ago. The scenery in Galicia is extraordinary. As you can imagine I’m starting to feel the feels of it being over. Every kilometer I’m reminded of how much closer I’m getting to completion. Currently I’m busy processing all that has happened, all that I’ve learned about myself, in the ways in which I’ve grown. Where I want to go next. I feel so incredibly lucky that this happened at the beginning of my year off. For some reason the timing is perfection. Thank you universe. Luc asked me today how do I feel my spiritual journey went. This was difficult to answer and put into words. It’s a great question that has me thinking about what my spiritual journey has included. I will post more in the following days. Tomorrow Santiago de Compostela. (I might be tearing up writing this last sentence.)

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Camino: Day 35-37

Day 35 – Las Herrerias to Fonfria

Today was O Cebreiro. We left in the dark. I was a bit cold and eerie in the dark hiking up the mountain. The moon was bright and the stars were clear. We got to the first town and I had the most delicious crepe with hummus and tomatoes. Wow! I couldn’t get over it. Then it was light out and up up up! It was beautiful walking through the countryside and up the mountain. Everything is green with sweeping vistas. So incredible. We walked into O Cebreiro where there was a lot of tourists. It was cute but I was happy we weren’t staying here for the night. Then up some more (I swear I thought the up was done when I got to O Cebreiro but nooooooooo……) the day was wonderful. Up and around these beautiful vistas. I so enjoyed being with Luc and listening to his stories. I also thoroughly enjoyed making new memories with him. I know how much he appreciates going to new places and experiencing new things. I’m honored I get to do this with him. And now we’re in Galicia. The food, views and trail are much better in Galicia. Then there was this HELL hill. Omg. Right before some place called A Puerto (which was not a door or a port). Then into Fonfria to an albergue where we got a bottom double bunk (I’ve only seen these in Australia). We had an amazing dinner with a lot of people and the food and the wine kept coming. Lots of connection and sharing. I so enjoy listening to Luc speak all the languages he knows, even if I don’t understand them. I knew he would love this place – everything about it. I had a terrible sleep. But they say “all you need to do is walk the next day so who needs sleep?” ? the best part about tomorrow is we’ve rented a private room so I can sleep without 30 other strangers. 

Day 36 – Fonfria to San Mamed

We started out around 6:40am. Still dark. We could hear a dog barking for at least a km away. We turned off the headlamp and enjoyed the moon light to guide our steps. Eventually the sun began to rise and it was a beautiful sun rise full of warm colors. Galicia is incredibly beautiful. I couldn’t stop oooohing and ahhhhing at alll the beauty. More up and a lot of down. The down is just murder on my metatarsals. Then we came upon this little oasis in a small village. Fruit, juice, coffee, cookies, nuts, while people played guitar. Beautiful quotes written everywhere and a calming energy. The guy that ran it came from Australia ?? he had been there for 4 years. We pressed on hoping the wild boar, wolves and bears didn’t jump us. Ok it’s a bit of a joke but true that they live in the forest. I will tread more aware when I’m hiking through the forests in Spain in the dark. We rented a private room with bath in this great albergue. We did laundry, chatted with Vivi and relaxed before dinner. We planned the next two days and where we’re staying. We’ve got 5 days to go. I can’t believe it’s less than a week until we’re finished. Tonight we went around the table, introduced ourselves and said what we were grateful for. I was surprised when a young girl who looked familiar, said she was grateful for me. She said 3 weeks ago me and Sherri and Leena invited her to the top of the mountain where the statues are and will mills for sunrise. She said since then, she’s tried to be near the top of mountains for sunrise as she enjoyed it so much with us and she’s passed this onto other people she’s met. It was so moving to hear the positive impact that this small gesture has had on her and others. Every day I’m met by people who share themselves with me and I gain something from them. Tonight I was touched by a beautiful soul and so happy our paths crossed again here and now after 3 weeks and the last time seeing her up on a mountain.

Day 37 – San Mamed to Puertomarin

Wow what a day. Furthest distance I’ve walked in one day. We started in the dark and had our first coffee in Sarria. And then some friends I haven’t seen since the meseta walked by. I love it when that happens. Wow. The amount of newbies on the trail. I’ve got some feelings about that. Luc and I spent a lot of time talking about all the new people who joined today and who send their packs forward. Weirdly, even though we were looking for it, I missed the 100km marker (sigh and foot stomp) but got the 99km marker. I have less than 100km to go!! We walked and walked and walked. I’ve been having some pain in my metatarsal on the right foot. Walking on pavement starts to really irritate it. After a little cry going down a massive hill, and then over a bridge and up so many steps and a few more hills, we made it to the albergue where we had another private room booked. And thank goodness because I started to feel some pain in my bladder area. I started thinking maybe I had a UTI. I discussed with Luc if I should go to a doctor. Eventually, Luc asked the albergue owner if there was a doctor we could visit. She said in the next town was a clinic. So we took a taxi to the clinic at about 5pm. I’m so thankful Luc is here. He was able to speak and understand what the doctors and nurses were saying. They think that the kidney stone might still be in but moved down. I’m still not drinking enough water ?. So Luc is on me now to drink more water and evidently I need to drink bottled water from here on out in Spain. I got a shot in my ass for the pain and was sent back home in the same taxi ?. Luc was a sweetie and bought a pizza for us to eat in our room. I’ve been laying in my bed the rest of the night with some pain and discomfort. I’m ready to be done this walk. 4 More days until Santiago. 6 more days until we’re back in Switzerland ?? 

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Camino: Day 26-28

Day 26 – Leon (Day 3)

Omg I’m not sure if I should cry or laugh. Maybe both. Coffee (for someone with a kidney stone???) and 10 cookies with peach jam for breakfast at almost 10am (supposed to be served at 9 and I had to ask at 9:40 if I was going to get something). Also, a few other observations: no toilet roll holder in the bathroom, no soap to wash your hands IN A HOSPITAL??, they were going to give me morphine last night even though I was feeling no pain (thank god I asked).

Very uneventful day. Resting and being with where I am. I’ve been practicing just being in the moment. Knowing that the next information I get I can make choices from there and that place. I was completely at peace going home and ending early or continuing. Even the thought of going back to Canada I was at peace with. At 4pm I was taken to the master blaster (lithotripsy procedure). The urologist could see my kidney but was having a hard time seeing the stone. So 2 more X-rays and he still couldn’t see the stone. He asked if I would like to have a dye procedure where they shoot dye into you and can locate the stone easier with the X-ray. Yes why not! Was my answer. So 2 hours after that I was back on the X-ray table being pumped with iodine. 2 X-rays later and the stone is nowhere to be found. The doc said it’s not unheard of to pass a stone and not feel it but he’s fairly certain I should have felt that pass today. Anyway, I’ve got a clean bill of health and the doc said I can continue my Camino! Hooray! Since I missed the deadline to cancel the hospital bed I’m here again tonight but that’s ok cuz there’s no bed bugs, I’m all alone (no snorers), and I have my own bathroom and pjs! Bonus they’ve given my stuff to stop the itch from the bed bugs too! Tomorrow I’ll be discharged and I’m not sure if I’ll take off late morning or wait to see if some friends make it to Leon. I’d like to see them. I’m absolutely thrilled!! Taking it hour by hour has been a practice and a challenge but I know I’ve grown from this experience in so many ways. Thank you all for supporting me along the way. ♥️

Day 27 – Leon (Day 4)

I can hardly write this update cuz you’re not going to believe what happened today. I was discharges from the hospital around 10am. This first photo is Samantha. The last photo is Juan. I went back to the albergue and started organizing my stuff. I wanted to get my clothes in a washer and dryer to ensure there were no bed bugs in them. I let Juan know so he gave me some bed bug spray and I sprayed my pack and put it in a black garbage bag on my balcony. Then I grabbed my clothes to wash and I took off. 1 hour later and I’m back. But wait: where’s my pack in the bag on the balcony? So I ask Juan and his partner. They haven’t seen it. We look everywhere. I say: “any possible way you threw it out because it was in a black garbage bag?” “No no no.” Ok. So Juan has a camera that we can look back on the footage and see who came into my room. I spend 3.5 hours going through the footage (don’t ask why it took so long). Finally, I find the clip where Juan’s partner walks into my room and takes the bag out and into the hallway. Juan and I go to the dumpsters and the garbage has been hauled away. I had emptied the bag (mostly) as I was spraying it so I lost minimal stuff. And there is an outdoor store only 2 mins walking away that carries the exact same bag that I had. And Juan paid for the bag. His partner has apologized. I believe he just didn’t put two and two together. Practicing forgiveness. If there ever was a day of highs and lows this would be it. I enjoyed a nice dinner with Linda and Otto (so thrilled to see them again). I’m walking again tomorrow – finally back on the road. I can’t even express how I’m feeling about all this stuff happening. I’m trying to rise above, and sometimes it’s all I can do not to cry ?

Day 28 – Leon to San Martín Del Camino

I have left Leon. I repeat: I have left Leon! 6 days (I think) in this town and I’m happy to be heading out. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a beautiful town. But I’ve done my time there and it’s time to move on. Man! Can they party in that town. Doesn’t matter what day it is but people are up to the break of dawn hooting and hollering. I’m not exaggerating. So I headed out at 7:15 to catch a bus to skip the industrial part of Leon. About 6km. I’m pretty sure i was the only pilgrim in a bus full or Spaniards. I got out and looked for the yellow arrow. It wasn’t far thank goodness. Then I started walking. And it felt soooo good to walk. It’s been about 10 days since I walked. I felt strong, alive, well. I was walking away from everything that had happened and taking everything I learned with me forward. I met Pedro walking. That was nice to talk to someone only for about 20 mins. I gave away two oranges ? at a coffee stop. About 13km in I stopped for a bathroom break. I noticed some discoloration. I also started to notice some discomfort in my kidney. I decided to cut my day short and head to this wonderful albergue in San Martin del Camino. I spoke with Samantha who spoke with a doctor and they said it’s normal for some discoloration and discomfort afterwards and to see a doctor in a few days if it persists. Phew! I spent the afternoon in the hammock, resting, talking to friends and family. Around 6:30pm I spoke with Davis who can barely speak English and me Spanish. We had a great time trying both languages, making sound effects and hand gestures. Then dinner. Big table of people who seem to have the same end date as me now which could mean I run into them a lot – bonus!! There was one comedian at the table (Italian) names michael. Him and a French guy picked up two guitars and started hammering out Cat Stephens, led zeplin, etc… it turned into a sing along. Super fun. Too bad I can’t post the video And then the most amazing sunset. All in all it was a wonderful day. Just what I needed to get back on the road again. I will be catching a bus to Astorga tomorrow to rest the kidney some more. Gonna eat chocolate Yo!! 

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