The Camino Calls

The Camino calls. This time I’ll be walking to Rome. When I heard there was a walk to Rome, I knew I wanted to do it, but I just didn’t know when it would be. I didn’t think it would be this soon. I figured the next time I’d be able to go I’d be in my 60s, and then would my body even be able to handle it? Will it be able to handle it now? Something I suspected when I did my first Camino, but didn’t know for sure, is that I have fibromyalgia. I first suspected it 21 years ago, but I ignored it. Maybe if I ignored it long enough, it would go away, or it wouldn’t be true. Confirming it would be admitting I would live with it for the rest of my life. There is no cure, because doctors don’t really know what it is, which means they also don’t know how to treat it.

My first camino was incredibly painful, for multiple reasons. Besides the fibro, my arches fell. Every step was painful. When I got back, I waited for my feet to heal. I thought all they needed was rest and time. Over a year after I got back, I finally went to a podiatrist and got custom orthotics. They worked and I’m walking again with very little pain. I’m sure another camino will still be painful, but not as much. My feet will be better prepared.

The camino sent my fibro into overdrive, which finally sent me to the doctor, but nothing approved for treating fibro did anything for me. I did find something on my own that works, but that’s another story for another time.

The point is, I didn’t think I’d be going on another camino this soon. I’ve even had friends and family members ask, “Is that a good idea?” The answer is, No! It’s probably really not a very good idea at all. It’s probably a very bad idea, but I’m going anyway. I can’t let my pain hold me back, and this is something I want to do. I have to do it.

My parents both died this year. My dad was diagnosed with Pancreatic Cancer on February 5th, 2018. His funeral was February 16th, 2019. My mother, who had a chronic lung condition for over 55 years, died four months later. We didn’t expect her to outlive my dad by even 30 days, so 4 months was a blessing.

I started thinking about the Via Francigena in March. I told my mom that if she passed away soon, I’d be going this summer. She said she would come with me. Walking is the best therapy.

Traditionally, the VF starts in Canterbury, England, but it’s a little difficult to complete the whole thing in just the 90 days that are allowed by American Visas in the Schengen region. So, then I realized, the perfect solution would be to start in Le Puy, again, but this time go the other direction to Geneva, through Switzerland, and down through Italy. But I’ve also come up with an alternative route through the Alps that I’m hoping I can take instead. I’ll make the decision once I’m there depending on my knees. I’m spending the full 90 days this time, but I’ll have some leeway to take rest days and change things up a bit.

dog

My dad had this picture hanging by his desk at work. This will be my spirit animal from now on. My dad was quiet. He was strong. He was a good man and a good provider. He took care of his family. He didn’t talk much about his dreams. He spent his life taking care of a disabled wife and daughter, and another daughter with a lot of health problems. I know he had dreams; things he would like to do, but he put them aside to take care of his family. I remember talking to him about the Appalachian Trail and how he had always wanted to do it, but he wouldn’t be able to leave Mom alone to do it. After he retired, he said he would come hiking in the Tetons with me after mom died. We always thought she would go first. Less than a year after he retired came the cancer. I found this picture in his work boxes while we were cleaning out the house. It hung by his desk. I can only speculate how it made him feel. Maybe he was this dog on the inside. But on the outside, he stayed close to home. Now, the gate is open.

And me, I’m a different person now than I was in 2015. When I started, I was looking for answers. I found answers, just not the ones I was looking for. And the biggest camino lesson didn’t come until 20 months after I got home. The camino is an amazing teacher. I’m looking forward to what this version of me is going to learn, and what version of me that will lead to.

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32 Comments

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  1. Kathy McDougal July 23, 2019 — 2:06 pm

    I so look forward to your juorney

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  2. Kathy McDougal July 23, 2019 — 2:07 pm

    I so look forward to your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. So excited for you Betsey! I’ll live vicariously through you. I’m looking forward to seeing your adventure and what’s in store for you. Safe travels. You will be missed.

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  4. A great prologue Betsey! You have an amazing journey ahead. Your audience will look forward to each new post. Be safe and make the most of this adventure!

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  5. A great prologue Betsey! You have an amazing journey ahead. Your audience will look forward to each new post. Be safe and make the most of this adventure!

    Like

  6. You don’t know me. I am a follower of your sister on 2 Peas. I followed your last journey and I am excited to share this next one. Good Luck.

    I am sorry about both your Mom and Dad’s death. That is a lot to deal with in such a short time. I am sorry for your loss.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. We are so looking forward to tagging along (virtually) on your adventure! You have inspired me and Ananda to follow in your footsteps and we hope to start our Camino adventure in a year or so. I would love to connect when you return!
    -Christine (Lee’s daughter)

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  8. Now I’m crying. Love you Betsey!

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  9. Can’t wait to follow you on your journey Buddy!

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  10. Christina Perez July 24, 2019 — 12:16 am

    Wow Betsey… Another amazing trip planned. I did follow your last journey. I enjoyed it immensely. Looking forward to this.

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  11. All the best on your journey Betsey. See you back at W.A. in October!&

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  12. Good luck. We will be following along on your amazing journey. Life always teaches us lessons, usually not the ones we were expecting. I know you will be open to whatever happens, especially with your mom and dad walking with you.

    Mickey from Aqua Fit

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  13. Have a fun/exciting trip. Looking forward to hearing about your adventures along the way.
    Barb Aqua Fit

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  14. Yay! Can’t wait to read about you something I wish I could do.

    I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia while living in Utah during my20s. I eventually ditched all the meds and turned to weight training and running as my therapy which worked well until I was involved in 4 accidents back to back.

    I can’t walk long distances anymore, let alone run, so reading about your journey is the closest I will ever get to doing this myself.

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  15. Laurelle Duffin July 26, 2019 — 3:59 am

    Wishing you the best! Your family has been a great positive influence on our family. We have many happy memories of your Dad and Mom and little ones as they came along.
    Take Care and walk with God!
    Our love to you,
    Grant and Laurelle

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  16. Peter Ahlstrom July 28, 2019 — 4:38 pm

    I didn’t remember that dog picture from Dad. What you said there really touched my heart. Mom is with you, so I hope Dad has fun on the trip too!

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  17. I also found you through Two Peas, and loved following your first journey. Thank you for sharing this new trip! Your writing makes your travels come alive. I’m so sorry to hear about your family. Your mom is definitely walking with you, and I suspect that your dad is running on ahead of you. Many blessing on your walk!

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