It’s Been Quite a While…

Apologies are in order I guess. I haven’t posted for close on a month now. I have been in hospital since the 9th of March undergoing tests. Nothing of a serious nature I may add. Since I was a child, I have had epilepsy and it has been more or less controlled with medication. However, the last two years has seen it getting progressively worse, to the point where my quality of life has been diminished. I wanted to get to the source of the problem. So, I asked to be admitted to the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit in Dublin’s Beaumont Hospital. It is a state of the art 4-bed facility with round-the-clock care. The aim while there is to provoke or induce seizures by reducing medication and depriving sleep while being video-monitored. Twenty days later, enough information was gathered and I was discharged yesterday with a plan, hopefully making life a bit easier for me. I can’t thank the technicians and nurses enough for their dedication and care.

The Camino was as far from my mind as it could be, but can now focus on my upcoming return to Spain in September, ¡gracias a Dios! I am already looking for yellow arrows!

The Camino de Santiago & Medication

I keep meaning to write about this particular topic but somehow feel that it might not be relevant for the Camino de Santiago. However, we live in a day and age where a good proportion of people are taking medication for one or another condition. For me, it matters, as I take prescription medication on a daily basis and I don’t think I would be about to operate without them. Since my first Camino in 2011, I have been packing my medication while, at the same time, trying to save space in my backpack. The blister packs are large and I’m glad I haven’t walked the full Camino as I’m not sure that carrying a full month’s supply would be possible!!

So there are number of pieces of advice I can give if you do take medication on a daily basis and are planning to travel:

  • Carry a copy of your doctor’s prescription with you in case you either need more or are stopped at customs. Just in case.
  • Make sure that prescription medications are in their original containers with the prescribing pharmacists label on it. Once you are on the Camino, you can dispose of the boxes safely and put the tablet strips (or whatever) in resealable bags. Ziplock bags are perfect.
  • It would be no harm to tell your doctor that you will be spending a month in Spain in a hot climate.
  • Carry enough for the period of your trip with an extra day or so in case of delays.
  • Put them in a checked in bag, rather than in carry on bags.
  • For sharp objects such as diabetes medications, I would get a letter from your doctor to advise these are life saving medications.
  • Another way to save space would be popping your tablets from the blister packs and put them in a small plastic bottle with a screw cap. Then take the sticker off from the original packet and stick it on my plastic bottle. Unfortunately, my meds are big and bulky that this option is a no-go for me.
foreign-hospitals-and-clinics-1-bloomberg.co-m
A pharmacy sign based in the Basque region of Spain

Spanish pharmacies (farmacia) are one of the many places that pilgrims frequent and the assistants there are very helpful. They are impossible to miss in towns with their flashing green crosses, displaying the time.

I hope the above helps you in any way, but if you have any tips to help others who carry meds and are looking to save space, please post them in the comments.

 

Fitbit fanatic – guilty as charged.

Fitbit!

One of the many many “activity tracking wristbands” that measure your lifestyle from how many steps you walk in a given day; how many calories you lose to how many hours you sleep. Nike, Garmin, Jawbone and Microsoft all have products, and prices range from €50 right up to €250 depending on what features you are looking for.

simple.b-cssdisabled-png.h825b270eef65f5acc229a4cf487d8cc7I have been a Fitbit fanatic since the middle of 2014 when I bought a Fitbit Flex and I haven’t looked back. Yes, there may be other features on other brands that differ but the Flex (for me, anyway) was great for starting out. I am such a stat geek that this pulled me hook, line and sinker. I liked the thought of having a record of each of my walks stored and the tracker had a number of smartphone apps to choose from also. You can also set goals for yourself. I try to walk 50km per week. I try to use any excuse to get away from my desk in the office and watch my steps increase. However, the Flex has it’s downsides. It can come off your wrist with any amount of force and I have previously bought two replacement bands.

So, I used my upcoming birthday as an excuse to buyfitbit-charge-hr-heart-rate-and-activity-wristband-blk-large-fb405bkl-iset the Fitbit Charge, the Flex’s sturdier, more steadfast but more expensive brother. But I love it! I own it over a week now and it has given me even more motivation to get out and beat my goals. On it’s main screen, you are provided with the time, your steps total for the day, kms walked for the day, calories lost and the amount of floors climbed. While this shouldn’t be used as a replacement for a watch, I don’t need to wear one.

So, do you wear an activity band? How do you find it? Also, if you own a Fitbit, you can find me here!

There should be a Health warning attached…

So I’ve been home nearly 3 weeks and I’ve just about returned to normality..whatever that is!

This year’s time in Spain has been different in many ways. I walked for a longer time, the people I met were different, and I met more people. When I arrived home last year, I took a few days off work to get rid of a flu and went back to work like the previous 10 days or so didn’t happen. This time around, even though I was away for two weeks, it became routine for me to check my email, Facebook and various forums to read about peoples’ times on the Camino. I also ventured to this WordPress blog to read how some of my fellow followers were getting on. And when I finished the above…….

……….I checked my email, Facebook, forums, blogs etc etc,…you get the gist! So, it became difficult to concentrate on the things that I should normally be concentrating on. Work played 2nd fiddle. I had developed a new obsession, a new way of looking at things, whether it is healthy or not is another story. Spain is all I talked about and all my friends and family got to hear of.

And apparently this is normal!!

2013-06-06 08.32.40

Yep…I met people and walked with them for 8 or 9 days…20-30km a day. We ate, drank and sang together..not forgetting, walking too. There are things we talked about that I would find hard discussing at home, even with family members. I mean..there was a great respect for everyone there and it was very easy to be comfortable with who you meet. I barely knew some people’s names; language barriers weren’t a problem and what my new found friends did in their “normal” lives meant nothing to me.

So when I arrived back in Ireland, it was only natural to want to get up early, put on a pack and walk 20km on a dusty senda. Instead, it was a case of getting a train to work and speaking to people who have no idea what the Camino is and what it can do to you. It is frustrating at times.

It really a life changing experience. There is no question of that. Like it or hate it, you will change in some shape or form. The other people I walked with feel exactly the same. There should really be a health warning on this damn thing!

So to those who know me, please understand…I’ve been hit by a bug and it will be hard to shake off.