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.
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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!!

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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.

Wii Fit Injuries

So I may have written previously that I had purchased a Wii Fit, and it has been a welcome addition to the household. Up to a few weeks before writing, I had only been interested in Wii Sports and more specifically, Bowling!! I have become addicted to it, and hope to bring this new found interest to the lanes of the LeisurePlex 🙂 I just wonder if I will score all those strikes and spares? Hmm..doubtful! More recently however, I have jumped headfirst into Wii Fit and what it offers. I started off not taking it too seriously, creating a profile and doing a few of these step up exercises. They are fun and I really didn’t think it would do any harm..hey! I may even lose some weight! It was a case of “Let’s see!”. Days turned into weeks and before long I was taking a more avid interest in the programme, gaining more trust in what it had to say. Hey, it even had a friendly instructor that shows you the steps and gives you a reassuring word of advise if you are piling on the pounds! Anyway to cut a long story short, on Friday, I did an exercise created to tone up the calf muscles at the back of the legs. Somehow I managed to pull a muscle in my back and it has become the bane of the weekend. I’m not sure if it is a good thing that my back hurts but I will see how I feel like in the next few days, otherwise I will get this checked out.
I don’t mind pains and aches in my legs and shoulders, I have had my fair share of them. Kind of takes the enjoyment out of what is a game console! Ouch!

Today’s news

  • So the Lisbon Treaty will be given another chance and be put to the Irish people again. Concessions were provided to Brian Cowen et al so now with these in place, it is inevitable it will be passed. There was a very small chance that little ol’ Ireland could change the wording of such an important treaty (in Europe’s eyes). Would have been nice if the treaty was put to the rest of the European populous.
  • After the tragic murder of Aidan O Kane in the East Wall area of North Dublin, a second man has been charged. Earlier today, the gun used was located close to the scene.
  • Very bad reading but Ireland’s broadband usage is the lowest in Europe. 43% of households have broadband but this figure is increasing.
  • Does Zimbabwe’s president have any sense? Does he really think the people in the African country will believe that the cholera epidemic was caused by Britain. It would take one sick evil person to do something of that scale!

So today I ran a 10k

and it was a great day…
I turned up at 9.30 with already a good crowd around. Some guy in the background mentioned there were 2400 runners so I was surprised with that amount. Here I am dressed up in tracksuit bottoms and a dodgy hoody-top and join the crowd who look professional enough, going through their warm up routines and stretches. I felt so out of place. I don’t usually run, in fact, I NEVER run!! Walking is more my thing.  

The starting whistle is blown and I’m waiting for a reaction. The crowd start to move..do I run or do I walk?? I ran!! That was a big no-no for me before I started. By the time I hit the 1k mark my shins were in bad shape, so I relaxed and walked the rest. The crowd started to spread, there were guys who were doing this for years who were in mood to hang about. There were ladies with prams who only turned out to see the surroundings of the Phoenix Park. I’m afraid I didn’t fit into any of camps! 

To cut to the short anyway, I finished it off in an hour and 20 mins which is far quicker than I expected. I’m happy with the day and fact that I have raised some funds for Aware. And I even got a medal 🙂 that’s one for the lads in work!