Yesterday I took a taxi to the Universidad de Leon Hospital and limped into the ER to have a medical professional look at my foot. It was a fascinating window into the Spanish medical system. They don’t take your blood pressure or weigh you or make you fill out any forms. They have a “concierge” guy at the door of the ER who directs you where to go, and a very no nonsense triage guy. It’s so much quieter than an American ER, no TV or paging, and the lighting was subdued, not hospital bright.
I can’t believe I did it all in Spanish! Because no one at the hospital spoke English. The female doctor spoke a little. Had an X-ray done, and also tried to pay. I’m supposed to give the documentation to Kaiser.
Her diagnosis was Plantar Fasciatis. She said I should not try to continue the Camino.
The treatment is RICE: rest, ice, elevation, compression and anti-inflammatory drugs.
My Camino friends from Chicago arrived at the hotel in the afternoon, and we sat in their room and I heard about their days of walking and how tired they were. As we talked, I realized that, for me, walking the Camino was over. I could follow along by bus, but that wasn’t really a pilgrimage. I found so much joy in the walking, and talking on the path, and watching for the yellow arrows, and coming into tiny villages—the whole experience.
It made me sad to come to grips with my situation, even though I knew I wasn’t alone. Many people in our “class of Orisson” were going home with injuries.
So I went upstairs and prayed about what to do, and cried. I had to have a destination for the morning. Astorga or Santiago by bus? Madrid and then SFO? Hang out somewhere for 3 weeks? I talked to Hale on Skype. Coming home seemed like the right decision. I called Delta on Skype and was able to change my ticket.
I met Gina and Caroline in the bar and we talked like Camino friends talk, honestly and with love. They are gifts of the Camino; I’ve learned so much from both of them.
We met in the morning for the awesome Parador hotel breakfast buffet. I decided to give Gina my Camelbak and my copy of the Brierley guidebook for the rest of the journey. The Camino has made me more generous. It feels good to know she has them as she moves into Galicia. We posed at the statue outside the Parador, and then it was time for my taxi to the train station.
I’m in Madrid now. I will keep posting my reflections on my experience of the Camino as I move forward, as well as more photos.
I know that it will continue to teach me and inform my ministry.
Today in Madrid I looked up at the cathedral and saw a statue on the roof of St. James with his staff and shell. Later, I had tapas at an outdoor cafe and noticed that we were on Calle Santiago. He is looking out for me, I think.
I’m sorry this part of your Camino has ended, though somehow I think you’re still on it… just not on those particular roads. I also feel you’ll be back in Spain at some later date. It’s selfish to feel sad not just for you, but for all of us who have been enjoying this journey with you. You may not know to what extent — we may not know either — but your Camino changed all of us and the direction we’re traveling, too.