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A chronic condition and an indelicate question

MaWinMex

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Because of colorectal cancer surgery six years ago, this 74-year-old retiree will be starting my CF journey from SJPdP in September with a permanent sigmoid colostomy. I've come to terms with the extra space and weight requirements that my ostomy equipment will require over the course of six weeks. I also have great boots, because they say the hardest part of a colostomy is finding shoes to go with your bag....joke. But my question has to do with typical albergue w.c. privacy. I really don't relish the idea of subjecting my fellow pilgrims to the daily routine of ostomy maintenance/cleaning/upkeep. Do albergue bathrooms typically provide enough privacy to address my self-consciousness and protect my fellow travelers? Or should I just plan on the higher cost of private lodgings each night, and forego the end-of-the-day fellowship of the albergues?
 
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StFina

Member
Past OR future Camino
CF, June 2012
CF, July 2012
CF, September 2016
Camino Primitivo, May 2017, followed by Camino Frances, late May, 2017
It's a mixed bag. Some albergues have individual enclosures for bathrooms, others have typical high school bathroom stalls. We will be on the CF and are staying at small hotels all along the route just for that same reason. Prices are reasonable, around 25 to 45 Euros a night for a couple depending on the location. I find that if you stay at locations off the recommended Brierly route, such as Lestedo and Fonfria, prices are much more reasonable, but much less to do at night. Good luck. - Steve
 

november_moon

Veteran Member
Yes, it is definitely mixed. In my experience, you will most often find bathrooms with multiple toilet stalls and multiple shower stalls and then sinks in a common area. Sometimes you'll find places with shower, toilet, and sink all in a private room like a regular bathroom.
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
>
Firstly my absolute respect to you for being a cancer survivor and continuing to challenge yourself, no matter what your limitations.

On the Camino, in alberges, my observation is that everyone sits around in the dorms picking at their blisters, applying bandages and discussing their ailments at length, so a bit of subtle ostomy maintenance will probably go unnoticed! I would just pick a time when the bathrooms are quiet (maybe when most people are in bed), and do what needs doing. If you need any special help or disposal facilities, maybe have a quiet word with the hospitalero. Getting some explanatory text properly translated into Spanish and laminated into a little card might help, if this is the case.

I don't know what kind of diet you are supposed to follow with a colostomy, but bear in mind Spanish food is usually very low in fibre. I have no medical conditions yet I got very constipated at points, and in desperation bought some so-called 'fibre biscuits' in a supermarket, which give me the most horrible wind. Brown bread is called 'pan integrale' (you can't literally say 'brown' bread because the word for brown means 'chestnut'). But wholemeal bread is very hard to find, except in the bigger towns. In the end I became obsessed with lentil soup, which I would pursue at length, going around bars saying "Busco sopa de lentejas!" until people took pity. One lady heard me pleading for it in a place that didn't do it, and led me off to her own tiny back street cafe and made it specially for me. So if you need fibre, maybe get your doctor to prescribe a supplement to bring, or you'll need to make efforts to get it in your diet, by searching out dishes containing beans (garbanzos) and lentils.

I hope this helps, maybe mix and match alberges with private accommodation. Sometimes it's nice to be all communal, and other times just soaking in your own bath and wandering around your bedroom stark naked is nice.

I wish you all the very best.
 
Last edited:

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
A mixed bag of albergues like already posted.
I wish you good luck...it is feasible to work it out.
A beautiful private closed bathroom you will find at the private albergue Check In in Logroño. Recommended!
I will browse through my list tomorrow for other suitable places.
 
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C clearly

Moderator
Staff member
Past OR future Camino
Most years since 2012. Hoping now for 2022.
Many private albergues have private double rooms (that 1 or 2 people can occupy), as well as having typical dorm rooms with bunk beds. That way, you can stay in the same place, even eat a communal meal if there is one, yet have the private facilities. I think it is also a good idea to take a written translation of your situation so you can check with the hospitalero. There might be a spare bathroom they'll let you use.

Two albergues I can think of, where the dorm occupants use private bathrooms with shower, toilet and sink, are Albergue El Pajar in Ages, and Albergue El Alfar in Hornillos del Camino. Both are excellent albergues with an option for communal meals, as well.
 
M

Mike Trebert

Guest
Firstly my absolute respect to you for being a cancer survivor and continuing to challenge yourself, no matter what your limitations.

On the Camino, in alberges, my observation is that everyone sits around in the dorms picking at their blisters, applying bandages and discussing their ailments at length, so a bit of subtle ostomy maintenance will probably go unnoticed! I would just pick a time when the bathrooms are quiet (maybe when most people are in bed), and do what needs doing. If you need any special help or disposal facilities, maybe have a quiet word with the hospitalero. Getting some explanatory text properly translated into Spanish and laminated into a little card might help, if this is the case.

I don't know what kind of diet you are supposed to follow with a colostomy, but bear in mind Spanish food is usually very low in fibre. I have no medical conditions yet I got very constipated at points, and in desperation bought some so-called 'fibre biscuits' in a supermarket, which give me the most horrible wind. Brown bread is called 'pan integrale' (you can't literally say 'brown' bread because the word for brown means 'chestnut'). But wholemeal bread is very hard to find, except in the bigger towns. In the end I became obsessed with lentil soup, which I would pursue at length, going around bars saying "Busco sopa de lentejas!" until people took pity. One lady heard me pleading for it in a place that didn't do it, and led me off to her own tiny back street cafe and made it specially for me. So if you need fibre, maybe get your doctor to prescribe a supplement to bring, or you'll need to make efforts to get it in your diet, by searching out dishes containing beans (garbanzos) and lentils.

I hope this helps, maybe mix and match alberges with private accommodation. Sometimes it's nice to be all communal, and other times just soaking in your own bath and wandering around your bedroom stark naked is nice.

I wish you all the very best.
Hi Notion and MaWinMex, I noticed your post about diet/roughage. I've been a vegetarian for close on 50 years so my diet during my recent Camino Frances was a bit challenging at times. I ended up heading to the supermarcado every couple of days to buy a can of chick peas or lentils. There were also jars of salad(!). Don't know if you spotted these. A strange item but satisfied my craving for some fibre. Crunchy stuff in a very mild brine - surprisingly fresh tasting. Pour off the brine down the sink and hoe in! I found a great supermarket chain which had more of the kinds of stuff I wanted. Dia supermarcados popped up quite regularly, even in smaller towns. They also sold very good dried fruit and nuts in their own branded packs. I made my own trail mix and always carried some in my pack. Protein, sugar, carbs, roughage - what's not to like? I loved the soups, especially in Galicia, but I got a bowl of lentil soup one time which was loaded with shredded bacon. I pushed it aside and ended up with quite a pig pile. Poor porky. Bread was usually a disappointment so had to make up in other ways. It was great to get back home to lots of oats and seeds and homemade muesli.

Buen camino, - Mike
 

notion900

Veteran Member
Past OR future Camino
>
Dear MaWinMex I think your decision isn't really one of alberge vs private accommodation for the whole route, so much as how much you want to 'wing it' as you go along. I think it could be feasible to prepare a list of alberges with suitable facilities with help from SabineP and others on this forum, and then stay in private rooms when that's not available, without booking much in advance, and deploying some prepared printed info in Spanish to make your needs known. September into October I think there should be enough accommodation to afford you that flexibility (comments anyone?).

But you might still feel a bit too vulnerable doing that and want to plan the whole thing out in private rooms with bookings. That would also avoid you having to tell people about your condition, if you feel uncomfortable doing that. The problem with doing it all with pre-bookings is that you are then under a different kind of pressure, and as you say, maybe a bit isolated. You don't mention whether you are starting out on your own, this could affect the choice.

In the end, it's about your needs and health, I wouldn't worry too much about offending other people: people who choose to stay in albergues are generally pretty 'earthy', open and unfastidious. As novembermoon says, you can be sure to always have proper shower and toilet stalls (cubicles) in the albergues, it's just the sinks that can be communal. Pilgrims' daily routines are also very fixed, so you can be 99% sure to have the bathroom to yourself at certain times, e.g. late at night.

Buen camino!
 
Last edited:

SabineP

Camino = Gratitude + Compassion.
Past OR future Camino
some and then more. see my signature.
Hi MaWinMex,

I browsed through my notes on albergues and found these albergues on the Frances that have more private facilities regarding bathrooms. One of my friends went through a masectomy and also needed some privacy for herself. She and her husband did use pensiones and hotels regularly but also albergues.

In Pamplona the Casa Paderborn albergue run by the German confraternity is a smaller albergue , rooms with two to four bedbunks and a decent bathroom. Even more the hospis will take care of you and will answer all questions.
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-casa-paderborn#bloque-informacion

http://www.alberguezariquiegui.com/empresa/ In Zariqueigui. Heard great things about this albergue regarding privacy bathroom.

The much needed new albergue in Villamayor de Monjardin.
  • Duchas y servicios individuales con vestuario
http://www.alberguevillamayordemonjardin.com/albergue.html

A new one in Ciruena
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-turistico-victoria#bloque-informacion

In Belorado the pension from Paul and Belmalyn I strongly recommend : Casa Waslala.
Really not that expensive and the owners are treasures!!
http://www.casawaslala.com/

A new one in Hontanas. Hmm seems the new ones really do their best to optimise the bathroom facilities.
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-juan-de-yepes

Although the big municipal in Burgos can be overwhelming I do find the bathroom facilites very good. Although i heard it depends on which floor they put you.

I remember the bathroom in Portomarins Albergue Ultreia as very good. also the daughter of the house is studying to be a doctor.
http://ultreiaportomarin.com/servicios


As a general rule : if in need of a doctor or medical aid. The level of healthcare in Spain is very good. do check out your health insurance coverage at home.
The hospitaleros will tell you when the doctor will be at the local Centro de Salud.
Pharmacists also have good knowledge!

Although a Donativo albergue is a beautiful experience the ones I stayed in have very rudimental bathrooms and not much privacy.
Always nice to say Hi there though....
The Parochial in Estella, the Granon one and the one in Tosantos are incredible but lack comfort in terms of bathrooms.


Happy preparations!
 
Last edited:

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Past OR future Camino
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Because of colorectal cancer surgery six years ago, this 74-year-old retiree will be starting my CF journey from SJPdP in September with a permanent sigmoid colostomy. ... Do albergue bathrooms typically provide enough privacy to address my self-consciousness and protect my fellow travelers? ...

Yes, the toilets are separate stalls with doors that you can close firmly. I would suggest to take an S-shaped hook with you to hang up your toiletry equipment and work hands-free. Buen Camino, SY
 
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MaWinMex

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Hi MaWinMex,

I browsed through my notes on albergues and found these albergues on the Frances that have more private facilities regarding bathrooms. One of my friends went through a masectomy and also needed some privacy for herself. She and her husband did use pensiones and hotels regularly but also albergues.

In Pamplona the Casa Paderborn albergue run by the German confraternity is a smaller albergue , rooms with two to four bedbunks and a decent bathroom. Even more the hospis will take care of you and will answer all questions.
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-casa-paderborn#bloque-informacion

http://www.alberguezariquiegui.com/empresa/ In Zariqueigui. Heard great things about this albergue regarding privacy bathroom.

The much needed new albergue in Villamayor de Monjardin.
  • Duchas y servicios individuales con vestuario
http://www.alberguevillamayordemonjardin.com/albergue.html

A new one in Ciruena
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-turistico-victoria#bloque-informacion

In Belorado the pension from Paul and Belmalyn I strongly recommend : Casa Waslala.
Really not that expensive and the owners are treasures!!
http://www.casawaslala.com/

A new one in Hontanas. Hmm seems the new ones really do their best to optimise the bathroom facilities.
http://caminodesantiago.consumer.es/albergue-juan-de-yepes

Although the big municipal in Burgos can be overwhelming I do find the bathroom facilites very good. Although i heard it depends on which floor they put you.

I remember the bathroom in Portomarins Albergue Ultreia as very good. also the daughter of the house is studying to be a doctor.
http://ultreiaportomarin.com/servicios


As a general rule : if in need of a doctor or medical aid. The level of healthcare in Spain is very good. do check out your health insurance coverage at home.
The hospitaleros will tell you when the doctor will be at the local Centro de Salud.
Pharmacists also have good knowledge!

Although a Donativo albergue is a beautiful experience the ones I stayed in have very rudimental bathrooms and not much privacy.
Always nice to say Hi there though....
The Parochial in Estella, the Granon one and the one in Tosantos are incredible but lack comfort in terms of bathrooms.


Happy preparations!
Wow!! Can't tell you how helpful that is; thanks so much!
 

tutumeyer

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Planning French Way (September 2017)
Hi, MaWinMex. Believe it or not, I am an ostomy nurse. I'm sure you're already aware of this, but I want to remind you that increased exertion will cause you to perspire more, and will probably reduce the wear time for your appliances - so plan accordingly.

I'm always thrilled when I find ostomates who don't let their situation rule their lives. Good for you!!

Buen Camino.
 

MaWinMex

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Yes, the toilets are separate stalls with doors that you can close firmly. I would suggest to take an S-shaped hook with you to hang up your toiletry equipment and work hands-free. Buen Camino, SY
Thanks for that; the S-hook sounds like a good idea. I've discovered that a sink with mirror next to or near a toilet is ideal, but I suspect that will only be found in private accommodations, so I'll have to learn how to wing it along the way. Part of my preparation has been to read your book---three times so far, with a couple more times planned before my September departure.
 

MaWinMex

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Hi, MaWinMex. Believe it or not, I am an ostomy nurse. I'm sure you're already aware of this, but I want to remind you that increased exertion will cause you to perspire more, and will probably reduce the wear time for your appliances - so plan accordingly.

I'm always thrilled when I find ostomates who don't let their situation rule their lives. Good for you!!

Buen Camino.
Thanks so much; that's a timely reminder as I try to figure out how much stuff I need to pack to be safe. Since I'm only planning on a sleeping bag liner instead of a sleeping bag, that should free up some appliance space. It's a relief to hear from someone who has personal knowledge of both the Camino and the demands of ostomy life, and doesn't think I'm crazy for undertaking this. Thanks again. Winston
 
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MaWinMex

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2016
Thanks to everyone who has shared their experiences and knowledge. As I think about the pilgrimage ahead, probably the biggest challenges won't be at the albergues or hotels, but at the stops along the way. Whatever those challenges turn out to be, I'm confident the Camino will provide the anticipated blessings for a long-delayed dream.
 

Angie S

New Member
Past OR future Camino
Part/s of the Camino de Santiago-Camino Frances (2018)
I know this is an old thread but I wanted to pipe up on it. Firstly I hope you went on the Camino and had a wonderful time MaWinMex. I have a urostomy (also post Cancer surgery) and I've been on 2 x 3 day 'bits' of Camino. Once from Logrono onwards and once down south on the Camino Mozarabe. Having a Urostomy walking can actually be easier for a woman because I can now wee standing up and people don't notice if you need to 'go' especially if its obvious you're a woman :D Carrying all the additional stuff is a pain and that's one reason why I've only done short trips and I did used to worry massively about leaks but not so much now partly because I've worked out all the dangers now and partly because I've now found bed protectors which are worth their weight to carry. You only need one to use and one for spare. I've always made sure I have a private room but I'll never say never to sharing a dorm. I might be a BIT embarrassed about my night bag but its more comfortable than getting up a lot in the night and worrying about if there'll be a bathroom free.
 

heydave101

New Member
Past OR future Camino
2021
Thanks so much; that's a timely reminder as I try to figure out how much stuff I need to pack to be safe. Since I'm only planning on a sleeping bag liner instead of a sleeping bag, that should free up some appliance space. It's a relief to hear from someone who has personal knowledge of both the Camino and the demands of ostomy life, and doesn't think I'm crazy for undertaking this. Thanks again. Winston
I’m in a similar situation myself. Colonectomy in 2001 from colon cancer (Ileostomy since then) and have many of the same questions. Plan on statin Camino Frances in September. Good luck and Buen Camino!
 

Barbara

Active Member
Past OR future Camino
Frances, Norte (twice)and Primitivo, Sureste, In France From home Tours and Vézelay, also Le Puy.
I don't know how much extra stuff you need to carry, but there will be pharmacies along the way, if you can get a translation of what you need you can resupply as required. Hospis will always help you deal with disposal, and municipal albergues normally have a 'minusvalido' room and toilet facilities. Just ask the hospi on arrival.
 
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Firstly my absolute respect to you for being a cancer survivor and continuing to challenge yourself, no matter what your limitations.

On the Camino, in alberges, my observation is that everyone sits around in the dorms picking at their blisters, applying bandages and discussing their ailments at length, so a bit of subtle ostomy maintenance will probably go unnoticed! I would just pick a time when the bathrooms are quiet (maybe when most people are in bed), and do what needs doing. If you need any special help or disposal facilities, maybe have a quiet word with the hospitalero. Getting some explanatory text properly translated into Spanish and laminated into a little card might help, if this is the case.

I don't know what kind of diet you are supposed to follow with a colostomy, but bear in mind Spanish food is usually very low in fibre. I have no medical conditions yet I got very constipated at points, and in desperation bought some so-called 'fibre biscuits' in a supermarket, which give me the most horrible wind. Brown bread is called 'pan integrale' (you can't literally say 'brown' bread because the word for brown means 'chestnut'). But wholemeal bread is very hard to find, except in the bigger towns. In the end I became obsessed with lentil soup, which I would pursue at length, going around bars saying "Busco sopa de lentejas!" until people took pity. One lady heard me pleading for it in a place that didn't do it, and led me off to her own tiny back street cafe and made it specially for me. So if you need fibre, maybe get your doctor to prescribe a supplement to bring, or you'll need to make efforts to get it in your diet, by searching out dishes containing beans (garbanzos) and lentils.

I hope this helps, maybe mix and match alberges with private accommodation. Sometimes it's nice to be all communal, and other times just soaking in your own bath and wandering around your bedroom stark naked is nice.

I wish you all the very best.
Garbanzos are chick peas. The big lumpy yellowish things you find in salad sometimes. Fabas are another kind of bean, called Fava in English, some people are said to be allergic to them. Soliciting here for different dry-bean words! ;)
 
Past OR future Camino
Norte (2017-18)
Portugues (2015)
Frances (2014)
Dear MaWinMex I think your decision isn't really one of alberge vs private accommodation for the whole route, so much as how much you want to 'wing it' as you go along. I think it could be feasible to prepare a list of alberges with suitable facilities with help from SabineP and others on this forum, and then stay in private rooms when that's not available, without booking much in advance, and deploying some prepared printed info in Spanish to make your needs known. September into October I think there should be enough accommodation to afford you that flexibility (comments anyone?).

But you might still feel a bit too vulnerable doing that and want to plan the whole thing out in private rooms with bookings. That would also avoid you having to tell people about your condition, if you feel uncomfortable doing that. The problem with doing it all with pre-bookings is that you are then under a different kind of pressure, and as you say, maybe a bit isolated. You don't mention whether you are starting out on your own, this could affect the choice.

In the end, it's about your needs and health, I wouldn't worry too much about offending other people: people who choose to stay in albergues are generally pretty 'earthy', open and unfastidious. As novembermoon says, you can be sure to always have proper shower and toilet stalls (cubicles) in the albergues, it's just the sinks that can be communal. Pilgrims' daily routines are also very fixed, so you can be 99% sure to have the bathroom to yourself at certain times, e.g. late at night.

Buen camino!
Well, sort of. There do exist communal showers, as we once encountered in junior high school, in some albergues. I'm thinking here of Ponte de Lima. And they didn't really have anywhere to hang the clean clothes, I parked my stuff on the windowsill. It wouldn't have worked if I hadn't had the gang shower to myself that afternoon!
 

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