Wednesday, 8 July 2009


I got me some pain these days. Critter pain.

My animals are giving me a big ache, and not just the emotional kind. Sometime in the past week a combination of exertions made me very sad indeed. These included carrying the 30-pound Una dog all the way home down Calle Ontanon (she´d fallen and couldn´t get up) and a fall in the muddy chicken hut (the new black chickens still spurn my friendly overtures), and some rather heavy gardening work. Suffice it to say I woke up one morning last week with a very bad pain all the way down my right arm.

It was not sympathetic pain for Una, who also has a really bad arm. I can´t point at a particular trauma that could have caused an injury.
So I left it alone and "got on widdit."
It didn´t get better.

So I sought out David, the Masajista. The Massage Guy of Sahagún, beloved of Santiago Pilgrims.
Visiting his office is a sitcom waiting to happen, as he shares a waiting room with his brother Luis.
David gives massages and orthopedic treatments. Luis makes and installs dentures and bridgework. My fellow sufferers tarried with me and willingly shared their symptoms with one another, accompanied by sympathetic oohs and aahs. One kindly old man pointed to the place where his lower plate rubs his gums all wrong. He pulled a little wallet from his pocket and opened a flap and there it was, the offending lower rack, grinning out at us.

"My husband had those same teeth," said the woman next to him. "He never wore them, except for holidays." Everyone nodded sagely. I ran my tongue over my teeth, the original set I was issued at age 7. I gave thanks silently.

David kneaded me like a sourdough starter, hard enough to leave bruises. He cracked my neck and snapped my back, and I realized up til then I´d been numb all ´round my elbow. And now that hurt, too.

He says I have tendinitis, the very injury that drives so many pilgrims to our door. I already knew the treatment, but could hardly understand how or why I have it. I haven´t walked several 25-kilometer days for a good while. I don´t do repetitive motions with my hands or arms -- I spend little time Flamenco dancing or working on assembly lines.

I am working too hard and I need to stop it, says David.
I need to put heat on my shoulder, and then exercise it in some rather amusing ways, and then put a bag of frozen peas on it. And drink tea made from Arnica, rosemary, and Devil´s Claw.

Arnica and Devil´s Claw leaves are available at any herboleria in Spain, it turns out. We have a massive rosemary hedge growing right outside the gate. The Lord she do provide. The tea is drinkable, the exercises doable. And when I am sad and sore and needy, Paddy steps right up and cares for me. This morning he did the heavy garden work I´d set out for my own self to do, whilst I sat under the apple tree and watched Murphy Cat stalk chickens. I felt fine, long as I didn´t move around too much. I sent up another "thank you," I made lunch. I ordered a vast array of on-sale crianza wine from the wine merchant: Albariño, Ribera del Duero, Navarra, Toro...things that can stay in the bodega for three or four years. (Not that any wine is likely to survive that long around here!)

In spite of the heat and peas and Devil´s Claw, by afternoon the fierce pain was back. Paddy sent me off to take a nap, his first response to any challenge I present.

And verily, later on, The Almighty sent us a doctor down the trail. Shay is a General Practicioner from Los Angeles (the city, not the heavenly host. Far as I know.) She´s traveling light, but with a little bagful of very, very useful medicines. Like 70-mg Voltaren tablets. I took one with dinner.

And almost all the pain went away. And it´s staying away. I may actually sleep tonight! We may need to keep Shay around for a day or so.

Okay, I know nothing is more boring than someone else´s medical problems. I will stop complaining now.
And in the future I will have a much deeper sympathy for the pilgrims whose tendinitis shuts them down.

Yeah, it usually goes away after a few days of rest. But who wants to sit still, in a place that´s built around moving silently, peacefully forward? A place that has a big old manure pile that needs to be wheeled into the back garden and spread over the vegetable beds? A place with walls that want painting, and a chicken hut that needs a new door, and hens who need handling?

Thank you, Universe, for sending me a nice husband and a massage therapist, and now a doctor. Now, if you please, send me some patience. Do it Now. And please enclose several dozen Voltaren tablets. And no more animals. At least for a while...

1 comment:

claire bangasser said...

The Universe must want you to stop for a while and just be, I guess.

I feel for you. It's not fun to ache and to be unable to sleep or rest or escape the pain...

The only nice thing is that you know it will go away. And, as you say, the Universe is taking care of you, giving you a nice husband, a masajista (sp?) and a doctor from LA with Voltaren in her backpack.