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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Bretaye, Switzerland

November 3-4, 2018

Kidney Stone Watch:  The day after returning to Switzerland from Turkey I went to a Swiss hospital to figure out what is going on. After running some tests, they say my kidneys are functioning well, there was a small infection, but no blockage. They ordered an CAT scan. I got back the results from that scan and the stone was still inside about 70% of the way down my ureter. I spoke with the urologist and he said that the only option left was for us to blast the stone apart with surgery.

We spoke with our travel insurance and because the stone was deemed “finished” in Spain by a doctor, they wouldn’t pay for the surgery in Switzerland. The only option would be to pass it naturally or for us all to go back to Canada to have the surgery. I argued that it wasn’t “finished” but once a hospital discharges you, then it’s marked complete. You can’t go back to the hospital for the same thing twice.

Now we were waiting to find out how much the surgery was going to be. Luc had a wonderful idea: In Switzerland it is mandatory to get insurance. So we opted for insurance for me so if I needed the surgery, I would be covered with the Swiss insurance. No need to go back to Canada (although I was a little excited about that).

Bretaye, Switzerland

Our wonderful friends have a Swiss Chalet high in the mountains of Switzerland called Bretaye. We went to this little chalet 8 years ago when Vivi was 10 months old with Jaedyn. Bretaye is a tiny little village that only approved cars can go to. The houses are all the same make and style and you just feel so back to nature and back to yourself up there.

I have such warm and fond memories of this place. We celebrated Luc and Jaedyn’s birthday up there and ate the most amazing raclette. We did a hike up to the top of the mountain to take in the breath taking views.

This time things were a bit different emotionally for me but it was such an amazing place to return to with such special friends.

The week leading up to our trip was probably one of the worst weeks I’ve had in a long time. It had been an emotional roller coaster with pain and uncomfortableness in my lower abdomen and bladder. Luc and I were really not doing well relationship wise, and Vivi really wanted to go home.

But once I got to the mountain and took in the breathtaking views, it helped to wash away all the bad feelings. We ate a most delicious raclette again around the fire and then took to outside to take in the crisp mountain air and the sparkling stunning stars (no light pollution).

Violette played with the kids in the family and it’s so nice to watch her playing and speaking in French with other kids.

That morning the adults (minus me) headed up to the top of the mountain. I decided to take some time for myself and look after myself by doing some meditation and writing.

We had a delicious breakfast outside on the table and then packed up and me and the ladies walked down while Luc and the fellas drove to get the car. The walk was absolutely breathtaking. If there’s anything you can say about Switzerland – it’s one of the most beautiful places on earth.

So many thanks to our friends for taking us up here again. This place holds a special place in my heart and I can’t thank them enough for sharing their space with them.

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Road Trip: Switzerland, Germany, France, Austria

October 9-15, 2018

Kidney Stone Watch: 
What I know now is that the kidney stone has not left the building as much as we had thought in Spain. The night before this epic journey, the discomfort comes back and I wonder if we should actually be leaving or if I should be visiting a hospital in Switzerland. The turn around time from finishing the Camino to leaving is exactly one week so there is little time to work it out. While we’re on this trip, the pain and discomfort come and go. It’s not agonizing but it’s enough to wonder what the heck is going on.

Gruyere, Switzerland

We started off our 14 day road trip at the car rental place in Lausanne. The fellow there was in a very good mood and was very happy to meet us. I began the conversation like I begin most conversations “Do you speak English?” He answered back “Do you speak French?”. Here’s the thing: in certain situations, I really enjoy speaking French because I can speak French. In other situations where things become a little more complication in the dialogue (think hospitals, car rental, places that require more specific words) I break down and can’t understand and spend the next 20+ minutes asking Luc “what did he say?” so what I’ve found works well is knowing what situation we will be entering BEFORE I get to it so we can start off with English expectations.

I said “yes I do but if you speak English I would perfer to talk in this language.” he said “But you must practice your French”. I said “not today”. At least I think that’s how it went. Luc thinks he liked my English accent and just wanted to hear more of it.

As the dialogue went on (in English) up came the question of who will be driving. “Me” I said emphatically. Luc looked at me with rather disdain and said “but you don’t know how to drive here.” Last I checked the steering wheel was on the left side, and we drove on the right side of the road so I’m pretty sure I do.

You see, Luc drove the WHOLE time (3 weeks in France). And France is a scary fucking place to drive so it was fine. But this time, it was my turn. I guess he had a look of terror on his face so the guy said “I’ll let you, sir, drive too, for free.” Cha-ching, just saved ourselves $100.

It was the cutest little black Mini Cooper I’ve ever driven. Super vippy and tiny. Luc drove his parents car back to his house and me the sports car.

We hopped on the freeway and drove to Gruyere! Land of cheese! We walked through a small tour of how Gruyere cheese is made (second time for me/first time for Vivi) and then we sat down to eat a delicious lunch. I had a Rosti Pizza. Essentially the base is potato and then there are tomato sauce, mushrooms and gruyere cheese. It was heaven.

A short drive away is the Cailler headquarters in Broc Fribourg. Here we did a chocolate tour (second time for me/first time for Vivi) and at the end of the tour you can sample all the chocolate you want. Devine.

After that we continued on to Thun to visit some friends. Thun is small but not small enough to have the same address twice so of course we had to visit the wrong address first (clear across town) before we got to them.

It was a wonderful reunion. It had been 8 years since we saw them and we hadn’t met their youngest son yet. Their daughter was about the same age as Vivi. Only problem was that she didn’t speak English and Vivi didn’t speak Swiss-German. They still managed to get along well playing which was very cute. Who needs a common language except play! (Side note: these two are now pen pals!)

We consumed some lovely gin that Luc had bought in Spain and we had the most delicious raclette. YUM! Hans was the best man at our wedding so he plays a pretty special place in our hearts. I was a bit disappointed he wasn’t still sporting the same mohawk as on our wedding day but I absolutely love his humour. His wife is a fan of red and white polka dots and I had forgotten this little tid bit but it was so fun to be back in her home.

We stayed one night and then next day frolicked by the crystal blue lake and took a mini train! We said out goodbyes and headed off to Zurich!

Europapark, Germany

Here we were meeting with Luc’s sister, Elise and Moreno, her boyfriend.

The next day we drove to Europapark (after getting in the biggest traffic jam) in Germany!

Europapark was pretty cool. A lot like Disneyland with roller coasters, places to eat, different exhibits for the younger ones, and colours everywhere! It’s split into countries so you visit countries that have different themes.

Something that I found out rather quickly is that Moreno and I love rollercoasters, the brother and sister were a little less emphatic. They still went but I feel like it took them a bit longer to recover after.

All day long Luc had wanted to go on a wet roller coaster but I had read that it was better to go there at the end of the day so if you get wet, you can go back to your hotel and get dry. So all day long (it was hot) he was asking, and all day long I was saying “let’s wait till the end”. So we waited and it was cold. Moreno and Elise went in the front and they got absolutely soaked (mostly Moreno). I was like “ok let’s go back to the airbnb and get changed” but it was agreed upon that we would eat first. Sorry Moreno.

I was so proud of Vivi and how well she did on the roller coasters. It wasn’t until the wooden one that she got really scared and cried. I hope I haven’t scared her for life now.

We had a delicious meal and retired to the airbnb for card games.

Colmar, France and Stuttgart, Germany

The next morning we headed to Colmar. A small town on the border of France and Germany with the quaintest buildings and flowers everywhere. We drank Guwertraminer wine and ate something delicious. We wandered around town and then said our temporary goodbyes.

We drove back to Stuttgart, Germany on the Autobahn (slow down people! Speed kills!) to visit Luc’s god mother and her husband for two nights.

We spent the time there visiting the city of Stuttgart and the Mercedes museum which I was surprisingly impressed with. I loved looking at the first cars ever made and the history of the automobile throughout the ages. It’s truly incredible how quickly the automobile has advanced in such a short period of time.

Two vivid (colourful) memories I have:

  1. Running in the morning with Luc through the beautiful fall colours in the forest.
  2. Talking and connecting to my friend Sheila back home, watching the most incredible sunset.

Austria

On our way to Austria we stopped in at the famous (and bizzare) castle, Neuschwanstein (pictured above). A picturesqe castle built suprisingly recently (1886) but fashioned in Castle-esque period design.

It’s pretty incredible how your mood can impact your memories. I remember that Luc and I were having an epic fight and so all of my memories have been dampened by these feelings. I wish I could go back into history and change this and only remember the good moments but it was epic.

After meandering around the castle and grounds we headed back into the car and into Austria.

I remember two things about Austria:

  1. The hotel we stay at was sooooooo cool. (My Tyrol)
  2. Swarovski Kristallwelten Museum

The hotel was a beautiful hotel deep in a valley with gorgeous views all around. The hotel was the most modern hotel I’ve been to with a beautiful naked sauna area, pool, theatre, kids/games area, and climbing wall. It awakened your senses.

I persuaded Luc to stay two nights as we really needed a place of our own. to call home, for a couple of days.

While we were there we did a small walk in the forest and ventured to the Swarovski Museum.

This museum is more like an amazing work of art and beauty. Crystals everywhere, beautiful colours and sounds. It was easy to spend over 3 hours there and feel like you wanted to just chill the rest of the day. There’s a crazy amazing kids area there (think Kids Zone of McDonalds but 4 floors and so intense that a parent has to join you.)

There was also a labyrinth that you could get lost in. We enjoyed running around there and hiding on each other.

We returned home, had one more amazing night in our hotel and the saunas and headed back to Zurich to return the car and visit with Luc’s sister before departing for Turkey!

Zurich, Switzerland

We spent the day cruising around Zurich and checking out the lakeside and parks with Elise. It was a fun day exploring and enjoying!

Off to Istanbul, Turkey!

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