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First aid on Camino - some thoughts

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David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Hi. I am recently back from doing seven weeks first aid. I am usually alone and having the comradeship, help, and support from JennyH94 really enhanced the whole experience for me (especially her wildly irreverent sense of humour that matches mine!). We met many injured pilgrims; Puenta La Reina was a great stop, being just a few days from St Jean, with many pilgrims beginning to fail there - at times the first aid would go on for over four hours non-stop, with Jenny using the torch on her phone as we worked into the late evening.
Anyway ... I have some thoughts about some of the problems I/we met with. These are personal opinions from repeated observation and hands-on experience in the field. Your thoughts may differ from mine but I am not trying to force my point of view, only offering it.

Boots - most foot problems were blisters and mainly to do with the wrong size or ill-fitting boots, as well as ignoring hotspots until it was too late. Boots were frequently laced too tightly and/or were too small. I know this is gender specific but I would say that over 90% of those whose boots were too small were women .. now, I don’t know if this was to do with women wanting their feet to look the right size, or inexperience, but again and again frontally located blisters were women with the wrong size/width boots.

I rearranged the lacing on many boots .... loosening the front section of the laces, with my fist stuffed inside the boot to spread it out, from the front to the third eyelets and then tying a half knot, at those eyelets, and then showing them how to put them on. Kick the heel right back into the boots, tie up firmly so that the rear of the boot is held firmly with the foot, and, with the half hitches at those mid eyelets, the front of the boot never tightens up but stays more open, allowing the toes to move freely.

We also found that many would lace up tight in the morning and leave their boots untouched until they finished walking at the end of the day, ignoring the increasing pain - some did not even know that their feet became larger during the day. One should stop at least every two hours, take the boots and socks off and have a break, then put the socks back on alternate feet (so that seam pressure points are moved) - for many this was the end of their daily discomfort or pain.

Blisters - rascally things! we met pilgrims who were in denial, just hobbling along in pain with terrible blisters and doing nothing about them. We found those who had self-treated poorly and made their situation worse; those who had drained their blister and left cotton thread in there to wick away liquid and then left them uncovered. This is a terrible idea unless you know exactly what you are doing. That sweaty environment inside the socks is a perfect petrie dish for microbes to breed and many had become infected.

There are two points of view here - cover and allow to heal, and drain and cover and allow to heal. Here is the thing. A blister is a burn under the surface of the skin. The body produces the fluid as a cushion but walking on it every day forces the liquid, with each step, to press against the outer edges of the blister under the surface skin - which widens it every day .. the blister gets bigger and bigger.

So I drain them - always. They have to be drained. I use a scalpel to make two tiny V shaped cuts that allows the blister to be completely drained. I then spray antiseptic (to get into all crevices and inside the cut sections) and cover with fabric plasters that have sticky all the way round the edge. I then sometimes fabric plaster on top of that to give more cushioning (I give the pilgrim back-up plasters to keep them going until they get to a pharmacy).

This treatment works well, almost instant pain relief. Why fabric plasters? Because I find that waterproof ones are never sticky enough and they allow the wound to sweat beneath them - so I always use fabric, which sticks well and breathes.

What we found, again and again, were pilgrims who had stuck Compeeds over a growing blister. The Compeed sealed all the way round, the constant pressure of each step enlarged the blister and they ended up in considerable pressure pain - and there was no way I could get the Compeed off without the strong possibility of further harm.

I no longer use Compeeds now, will never use them again. Although I met pilgrims who had self-treated with them and had no problems, our view - remember, we were only seeing the feet of those who came to us for help - is that they cause too many problems. We met pilgrims who hadn’t put them on properly .. dirt had got in, the blister had burst, and they were getting infected.

A Swedish woman: - we had met her before and met her again "purely by chance" on the Camino, another one of those extraordinary Camino ‘coincidences’ - we met her as she was about to walk up onto the Meseta. She was feeling a little dizzy and had put it down to lack of water or the heat. She then said she had a blister problem. The moment I looked at it I said she had to go to hospital. It took us the rest of the afternoon to find a casualty dept (in a small town about 20 miles away).

Her problem was that she had put a Compeed onto a heel blister. The blister had grown over the days of walking until it burst and forced an edge of the Compeed open. Dirt got in and it became infected - what did she do? Just kept walking. When we saw her she had blood poisoning, her ankle had already started to swell. Had we not found her she may have died of that blood poisoning somewhere, going to bed with “just a little fever” and waking up dead. The doctor cleaned it all up, gave her horse-pill sized antibiotics and told her that her Camino was over, she had to go home. The doctor then took me aside and said we had to keep an eye on her overnight and that if she became more ill we must take her to an emergency dept immediately, she was really concerned for her. We did that but she started to become better and the next afternoon we drove her way over to Pamplona and put her on a train home.

This is what had us instantly throw her in the car in search of a doctor.

Kerstin.jpg


Knees and shin splints - well, you all know the answer here - stop walking! We met with many of these but also discovered a method of lessening the problem. Try this. Stand up straight and become aware of all the muscles at the front of your legs, right down to the ankles. Now, with your arms hanging down turn your elbows out slightly and then lean your upper body a little forward from the waist up. You will instantly feel all of those front muscles go into tension. This is what happens when you put your pack on - before you have even taken a step! So, you have to stand and walk as if you are not wearing a pack, you have to stand relaxed and straight - then you won’t put all those muscles under stress. Also, we found some with these problems used big striding steps - this causes too much flexing and more stress. We showed pilgrims how to walk with half length steps, standing as if they weren’t carrying a pack, and they felt better instantly. Problems were also caused by a pilgrim keeping up with someone who walks a little faster than what their body is comfortable with - never do this. Bad enough with friends but if it is your husband/wife who won’t slow down for you then stuff a custard pie into their face and walk alone at your own speed!

The Camino is not a smooth trail, the surface is wildly uneven in places and that constant attempt by the knees to maintain balance causes many ligament problems. Again; walk as if not wearing a pack and walk at half length - or even less - steps. A pole for stability is a boon, so much better to be a tripod than a biped (kangaroos know this).

Once the problem is there it is difficult to treat. Ice, anti-inflammatory gel and pills (if one can take them without harm), rest, raising the limb; deep but gentle thumb massage into the tendons and ligaments - all these help recovery but they have to be allied with taking a day or two off. A knee brace helps ligaments from over-stretching but one shouldn’t wear one all the time as it allows the muscles to weaken. Take them off when not walking - ideally one should only wear them on rough terrain, ascents and descents, and take them off afterwards when back on ‘normal’ surfaces.

Shoulders - so many pilgrims with madly heavy packs of course but also badly fitted rucksacks! Not their fault I think. Their first walking adventure and no fitting help from the shop where they bought their pack. Not much to say here, except, go on You tube and see how to fit a pack - there should be at least a finger width between the shoulder straps and the shoulders - then Hey Presto! no more shoulder problems!

So - just a few thoughts, a little rambling from home ... I will be back out there next Autumn with Jenny, and possibly next Spring too alone. If you are interested in helping others then please do take a first aid course and carry a larger than normal kit with you - and if you are ‘religious’ and it is of interest to you please do visit my website www.pilgrimfriars.org (and perhaps also my www.donoharm.co.uk) - the whole mission is based upon the command given by Jesus/Yeshua at the end of the story of the Good Samaritan “Then go, Ye, and do likewise".

You know, this first aid, it isn’t just about putting dressings on. Many pilgrims are suffering internally and cover it with laughter and jolliness, but inside, if you look, you can see their pain, the anguish they are going through - one has to look at them, one has to see them; it is an integral part of the first aid mission. You might be amazed at how many apparently confident pilgrims burst into tears when you start helping them - it is, after all, about love.

Buen Camino
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
Hi. I am recently back from doing seven weeks first aid. I am usually alone and having the comradeship, help, and support from JennyH94 really enhanced the whole experience for me (especially her wildly irreverent sense of humour that matches mine!). We met many injured pilgrims; Puenta La Reina was a great stop, being just a few days from St Jean, with many pilgrims beginning to fail there - at times the first aid would go on for over four hours non-stop, with Jenny using the torch on her phone as we worked into the late evening.
Anyway ... I have some thoughts about some of the problems I/we met with. These are personal opinions from repeated observation and hands-on experience in the field. Your thoughts may differ from mine but I am not trying to force my point of view, only offering it.
This should be made a sticky thread for all to read.

Your advices are very important. Especially the part about Compeed. I never use it anymore, after advice from a Spanish doctor. More often than not it will worsen things instead of making it better. Should I get a problem, I use Iodine, then cover it with fabric and then tape. It is all about getting air and dry it out.

Everybody should educate themselves here beforehand:

http://www.blisterprevention.com.au/the-advanced-guide-to-blister-prevention#.Vi4l7H4vfIV
 
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Aidan21

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP to SDC 2013/14
SJPP to SDC 2016
Porto to SDC 2017
VdlP Sevilla/Salamanca 2018
Hi David,

Thanks for the post, excellent advice. Just one point about compeeds. I have used them many times and never had any problems or difficulties with them. However I only ever used them on hot spots. Compeeds work well if used at the first hint of trouble, i.e. as soon as you think something feels uncomfortable, stop, put on a compeed and it will work well. However if a blister has laready formed then a compeed can be problematic.

Aidan
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2011), Camino Frances (2015), Camino Ingles (2017), Camino Muxia (2017), LePuy(2019)
Thank you, David, for the excellent information and advice. You are one of several who tell me they do not use Compeed. In 2011, I walked from Leon to Santiago without any blisters. In 2015, I walked from SJPP to Santiago and developed blisters as I approached the meseta. I wondered if the heat and the terrain were factors. I noticed many injured pilgrims by the time I reached Leon.
I am grateful to you and all who selflessly have given to pilgrims on their way. Thanks to all camino angels!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2006,08,09,11,12(2),13(2),14,16(2),18(2) Aragones 11,12,VDLP 11,13,Lourdes 12,Malaga 16,Port 06
Hi David,
Wonderful post and very helpful. I agree with Alex, it should be pinned.
However, I also have to agree with Aidan.
I use Compeed every year with no problems.
But you need to use it correctly or it will cause more problems, like you say.
If used at the first sign of a hotspot and then left on until it fall off, it works fine for me.
I would never put it on a blister that has already formed.
Thanks for a good post!
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Hola Brother, one of the best "how to, or how not to" posts I have seen on the forum. Agree it should be a "sticky", especially now we are at the end of the walking season and going into the "prep" season for 2016. Enjoy the winter down South!:)o_O
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Huh, David, you're a gem of Camino for large amount of inexperienced pilgrims/walkers/hikers I guess. I'm very happy that I almost don't know the problems you mentioned but if I would need help by any chance I'd vote for your help, that's for sure :)

Also agree very much with @alexwalker suggestion that your post should be a sticky post. Good one!!!

I'm honoured to be on the same Forum with you @David !!!

Ultreia!
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Thanks David. What an excellent post!
I would make one small suggestion, that the medicated blister be left uncovered overnight, so that it has more chance to dry out.
You can buy in the Spanish Pharmacies a roll of plaster called Omnifix. You cut it to size and it's fantastic, because is stretches in all directions (therefore taking into account curves on our feet). Another brand is
Dermomed Fix. The centre part of the strip is a padded area.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Great post brother David, such sensible advice. Did you, by any chance, come across the girl who was walking with bare feet? She's had neatly taped around the balls of her feet but that was all.
 
Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
I follow the same advice as Annakappa gave: In the afternoon/overnight, take off Compeed/fabric to let your problem dry out, with antiseptic on. Her Omnifix tip is also a good one. OK, as prevention, put on some Compeed on a hotspot if you like: I prefer fabric. The thing is, Compeed closes in moist/bacteria. Keeping it on for several days is something I would never dare to do... My Spanish doctor in Merida was very much against Compeed.

Most of all; if you get foot problems, you haven't listened well enough to the signals your body has sent you...;) Time for a rest day with icecold cerveza... :)
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
I follow the same advice as Annakappa gave: In the afternoon/overnight, take off Compeed/fabric to let your problem dry out, with antiseptic on. Her Omnifix tip is also a good one. OK, as prevention, put on some Compeed on a hotspot if you like: I prefer fabric. The thing is, Compeed closes in moist/bacteria. Keeping it on for several days is something I would never dare to do... My Spanish doctor in Merida was very much against Compeed.

Most of all; if you get foot problems, you haven't listened well enough to the signals your body has sent you...;) Time for a rest day with icecold cerveza... :)
I have to disagree on behalf of Compeed in two major points (but don't want to hijack the thread also). You shouldn't put the Compeed on already developed blister. I only put it on when I feel a hot spot which is quite usual for my feet when walking a lot on tarmac. Secondly, when Compeed is on you should wait until it fall off by itself otherwise (especially in case it was put on when blister was already developed) it could do more damage than without using it. If used properly the skin over hot-spot (=developing blister in its early stage) will become thicker, the fluid underneath gone and problem solved. Well, at least in my case with lots of walking on tarmac!

Anyway, good to make this thread a sticky one in the time from my last visit ;)
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Great post brother David, such sensible advice. Did you, by any chance, come across the girl who was walking with bare feet? She's had neatly taped around the balls of her feet but that was all.

Kanga! Oh! I wish I had!!

@annakappa - I use uk versions of both of those you mention as well as some other light non-adherent dressings as well as butterfly plasters for toes. I even sometimes stick corn pads between toes to separate them!! (the adhesive rings with a hole in the middle).

@alexwalker - I have been thinking of moving over to Iodine but cannot work out how to apply it without making a mess when there is a queue of waiting pilgrims, so I still use the antiseptic spray. Might buy a bottle and practise though.

Re the Compeed - because of the problems I have seen I no longer use it but, remember that we only saw those with problems - we could have been surrounded by pilgrims wearing Compeed that was working perfectly well!
Though, there are other ways of responding to hot spots - an ordinary plaster, sheeps wool .... I was in Puente la Reina last year talking about first aid with a pilgrim and his dog (second time with his dog, who seemed happy) and Michael Caine joined in (the actor, who was there with his wife supporting some walking friends), saying (in his inimitable voice)
" my mate told me, if you get a hot spot take your boot and sock off and stick a plaster on it - job done!".
I was waiting for him to say "not many people know that" but he didn't (never ever has, apparently).
 
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Camino(s) past & future
(2009): Camino Frances
(2011): Sevilla-Salamanca, VdlP
(2012): Salamanca-SdC, VdlP
(2014): SJpdP-Astorga
(2015): Astorga-SdC
(2016) May Pamplona-Moratinos; Sept.:Burgos-SdC
(2016): August/Sept: Camino San Olav (Burgos-Covarubbias), Burgos-Sarria
(2017): May: Portuguese; Sept: Pamplona-SdC
@alexwalker - I have been thinking of moving over to Iodine but cannot work out how to apply it without making a mess when there is a queue of waiting pilgrims, so I still use the antiseptic spray. Might buy a bottle and practise though.
Use a cotton or fabric patch: pour Iodine into it, and thoroughly wash the actual area. Then put on sterile fabric and tape it on. Works miracles.
 

KinkyOne

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
I'am not perfect, but I'm always myself!!!
Re the Compeed - because of the problems I have seen I no longer use it but, remember that we only saw those with problems - we could have been surrounded by pilgrims wearing Compeed that was working perfectly well!
Agree completely ;)

... and Michael Caine joined in (the actor, who was there with his wife supporting some walking friends), saying (in his inimitable voice) " my mate told me, if you get a hot spot take your boot and sock off and stick a plaster on it - job done!". I was waiting for him to say "not many people know that" but he didn't (never ever has, apparently).
Oh, you were so lucky to meet him. OTOH if I would have that chance I doubt I would have the guts to approach him. Or any other good actor/-ess for that matter. I'm almost sure I've seen Christopher Walken at Praza do Obradoiro the day I left Santiago for Muxia this year. As a film director I know something about makeup in movies and he sure looked like completely without any :) I'm still not completely sure if that was really Him. But I left without bothering "him". Maybe he knows something more about Compeeds :D
 
Camino(s) past & future
cycled from Pamplona Sep 2015;Frances, walked from St Jean May/June 2017. Plans to walk Porto 2020
Great post brother David, such sensible advice. Did you, by any chance, come across the girl who was walking with bare feet? She's had neatly taped around the balls of her feet but that was all.
Jill I did not see the woman in question, however I did come across a male pilgrim between Samos and Sarria - no shoes and had not had a haircut for about 9 months either. Cheers
 

annakappa

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Part frances jun 07/rest frances may- jun 2008/Frances sept-oct 2009/ Sanabres Oct 2010/Frances sept-oct 2011/Aragones Sept-Oct 2012. Hospitalero Sept 2010, Amiga in Pilgrim's Office Oct 2013. Part Primitivo Oct 2013. Portugues from Porto June 2015.
Use a cotton or fabric patch: pour Iodine into it, and thoroughly wash the actual area. Then put on sterile fabric and tape it on. Works miracles.
Or use those cotton bud ear cleaners.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Mike, the girl with no shoes was a clean and well equipped pilgrim - with short, elegant hair! It seemed carefully thought out. She had very professional neat blue tape wrapped carefully under the balls of her feet and crossed over the tops of her arches, and was very happily skipping along. From the look of the tape she must have replaced it daily - it was not dirty or ragged at all.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Re Iodine - the swabs and earbuds are the problem, one would end up with a pile of twenty or thirty swabs and/or earbuds, plus one would need to pour it each time - really messy, not the same as doing it once - but! I just remembered that my antiseptic spray is iodine coloured so had a look at it - I am already using Povodine Iodone spray!

Doh! I wonder about myself sometimes!! :oops:
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Hi David -

Thanks so much for putting up this post - it's excellent advice. It's such a great reminder that we all REALLY need to look after ourselves and to listen to our bodies at all times on camino.

Here's a photo of the pilgrim's foot, post treatment from the doctor in the Casualty Department :

Kerstin's foot post treatment.jpg

It was such a disappointing and very worrying time for her, as we both know. To hear a doctor emphatically say the words "Your Camino is over" are words that no pilgrim ever wants to hear and we really did feel so sad for her.

Forum members - working with David assisting him with the first aid was the biggest privilege and joy and is one that will stay with me always - as the Camino itself will stay with me always. I cannot thank David enough for giving me the opportunity to help him. We have so many shared, very special memories of being of service to pilgrims with first aid, pastoral care (given by David) and even transportation over long distances when pilgrims were stuck - we helped across the Camino from Roncesvalles over to Castrojeriz - on the Camino path itself and at albergues.

During our "time off" we talked constantly - David is one of the most interesting, knowledgeable and entertaining people I have ever met and to say that we laughed so much at times that our stomachs hurt would be a huge understatement!

We've developed some wonderful ideas which we'll be trialling next September and which we'll report on in due course - all to share and to help.

My grateful thanks to you, David -

Jenny
 

MichaelSG

Retired member
Camino(s) past & future
Not enough
You two are saints. That said, here is something to consider.... It sounds like you had a fantastic and fulfilling time doing this Camino as care-givers - particularly in each other's company. Maybe at some point, if you each took on a new apprentice on a walk at different dates, then the next time the four of you each took on a new apprentice, then the next time the eight of you each took on a new apprentice..... Wouldn't that be even cooler? Just thinking out loud.

Great thread and advice, BTW.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
You two are saints. That said, here is something to consider.... It sounds like you had a fantastic and fulfilling time doing this Camino as care-givers - particularly in each other's company. Maybe at some point, if you each took on a new apprentice on a walk at different dates, then the next time the four of you each took on a new apprentice, then the next time the eight of you each took on a new apprentice..... Wouldn't that be even cooler? Just thinking out loud.

Great thread and advice, BTW.

Michael - if only! I have been doing this since my first Camino in 2005. My degree is religions and theology (I am an exo-theologian and my field was the development of early Christianity) so quite qualified to found an order of friars. I put the websites up then, I have posted on forums, I have talked with pilgrims on the Camino .. but, everyone seems focused on getting to Santiago, they seem focused upon themselves, whether it is their first or fifth time. I have yet to find a pilgrim who wishes to do the same as me. True, this year I have had some lovely pm's with two returning pilgrims who will be doing first aid independently, and Jenny, that Good person, came this year of course - but friars? male, female, straight, gay, young, old? no, not one - nor even a secular recruit. So my Society of Pilgrim Friars is still a Society of One at the moment!!

Gautama Buddha is quoted as saying "Desire for personal happiness, result misery. Desire for happiness of others, result happiness." For me the issue is quite clear but I am now moving towards the belief that my concept of first aid friars and lay volunteers wandering up and down the Camino, helping where they can, is a false concept. Just because I can think it in my head doesn't mean that it has any external justification - ;)

Personally I don't quite understand it - there are countless Christians going on Camino and to me it seems that "Go, Ye, and do likewise" is a command that other Christians would jump at - but there you go. :(
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Thinking about myself honestly, @David, I am too selfish by far. My excuse is that during my "normal" life much of my time and effort is spent in the care of others. But that is an excuse, I acknowledge.
 

ShellsG

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (Sept/Oct. 2015)
David I commend you, doing first -aid as a planned event on the Camino is very charitable and I can see that it would be very fulfilling. I am similar to Kanga, I am too selfish. I work in health care and when people asked me what I do for a living I was very hesitant to tell them because I didn't want to be "that" while on my camino, I wanted to be far removed from it. (I cannot lie no matter how bad I wanted to) For a period of time I was walking with new friends for a few days and one kept saying "she is a nurse, she can help you I am sure" and I would cringe ... not because I wasn't willing to help if someone was really in need but I really really really didn't want to be a nurse on my vacation. I could see planning to do it on the camino, like you and Jenny did, that would be fun but then my mindset would be in a different place.
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
Francés - 2018
Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)
David - you are amazing ! It is an honor just to try to add something to one of your threads.

I had some trouble on my first Camino with blisters and soon learned that Compeed didn't work that well, once the blisters were formed. I had trouble with rim blisters on my heels and a couple on my toes. On my second Camino, I put "Gloves in a Bottle" on my feet in the morning and I wore Injini toe sock liners under my normal socks. I also changed my socks every two hours. The first few weeks went fine but when I hit Burgos, I started getting blisters on my heels once again. I think that my problem was caused by the inserts that I wear for arch support. I told another Peregrino about my problem, and he give me a tip for treatment that ended my blistering problem.

Drain the blister and put "Cicatrizante" (Available in the pharmacy) on the blister. Cicatrizante is normally used to manage bed sores. It helps dry and heal the skin. Then I applied a thin foam pad (very light adhesive) cut to size over the blister while it was healing. The 3/16 inch thick pack is sold in pharmacy too and normally used to cover and protect injuries suffered by burn victims. It can be reused every day for a week or so. The adhesive is very mild. I carefully put my sock on over the foam pad covered blister and walked in comfort. After this treatment, I never had another problem with my feet.

I have been researching a patch product made by Engo that you put in your boot, not your foot to manage hot spots before they happen. I may give that a try for next year. The product isn't cheap but it might be worth it.

Buen Camino
 

Magwood

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
See signature line for links to daily posts to blogs from many caminos
I would like to add my my voice to the chorus of admiration above. I have had the great pleasure of meeting with @David on a couple of occasions as we are virtual neighbours when I return home to the south west of England. And my forum experience of @JennyH94 tells me that she is one of the kindest forum members with always a good and positive word to add to threads. What a fabulous team - I would have loved to come across them. And what an interesting documentary could have been made about their work on the camino.

Thanks, you guys, on behalf of my fellow pilgrims both on camino and all of us learning so much from reading this thread.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Guys, guys (non gender specific) - I put up a post about first aid and problems because I thought that it might be useful and then sort of fell into other posts in response - I really - really! - need to point out that we aren't saints, nor are we marvellous, nor should there be any admiration - of those who have met either of us, you already know, we are just bog standard pilgrims who talk too much, drink too much Rioja, and sometimes laugh like drains, usually at the wrong moments - and we just happen to go off and do first aid. Look at some of my previous posts and you will see what an irascible old fart I can be. :oops:

True, the mission is based on that pesky Christian story of the Good Samaritan but please - only the Good God is good - we are idiots!! (well, I am, Jenny is less of a fool, but she will learn! ;) )
 
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Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
David - you are amazing ! It is an honor just to try to add something to one of your threads.

I had some trouble on my first Camino with blisters and soon learned that Compeed didn't work that well, once the blisters were formed. I had trouble with rim blisters on my heels and a couple on my toes. On my second Camino, I put "Gloves in a Bottle" on my feet in the morning and I wore Injini toe sock liners under my normal socks. I also changed my socks every two hours. The first few weeks went fine but when I hit Burgos, I started getting blisters on my heels once again. I think that my problem was caused by the inserts that I wear for arch support. I told another Peregrino about my problem, and he give me a tip for treatment that ended my blistering problem.

Drain the blister and put "Cicatrizante" (Available in the pharmacy) on the blister. Cicatrizante is normally used to manage bed sores. It helps dry and heal the skin. Then I applied a thin foam pad (very light adhesive) cut to size over the blister while it was healing. The 3/16 inch thick pack is sold in pharmacy too and normally used to cover and protect injuries suffered by burn victims. It can be reused every day for a week or so. The adhesive is very mild. I carefully put my sock on over the foam pad covered blister and walked in comfort. After this treatment, I never had another problem with my feet.

I have been researching a patch product made by Engo that you put in your boot, not your foot to manage hot spots before they happen. I may give that a try for next year. The product isn't cheap but it might be worth it.

Buen Camino

Hi Dennis
I have used both Injinji toe socks and Engo patches for many years now and find them very effective. On our Camino this year I had Engo patches on my boot inserts and also at the back of the heel in one of my boots. I walked for 44 days and here is a photo of how the Engo patch lasted. They are expensive but do wear well so I find them really good value. I had no blisters at all during our Camino and my boots were full leather Meindl hiking boots so quite enclosed and heavy but this is what works for me.

engo.jpg
 

Wokabaut_Meri

somewhere along the Way
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Francés 2015
Pilgrims Way 2018
Via Francigena #1 Canterbury-Dover 2018
Guys, guys (non gender specific) - I put up a post about first aid and problems because I thought that it might be useful and then sort of fell into other posts in response - I really - really! - need to point out that we aren't saints, nor are we marvellous, nor should there be any admiration - of those who have met either of us, you already know, we are just bog standard pilgrims who talk too much, drink too much Rioja, and sometimes laugh like drains, usually at the wrong moments - and we just happen to go off and do first aid. Look at some of my previous posts and you will see what an irascible old fart I can be. :oops:

True, the mission is based on that pesky Christian story of the Good Samaritan but please - only the Good God is good - we are idiots!! (well, I am, Jenny is less of a fool, but she will learn! ;) )

Sorry, David but... I think that you are.

So this poem, from one of my many favourite poets (now dead, unfortunately), is posted in appreciation of all that you do and all that you are:

An Outstretched Hand
for Jay Allen
by Rod McKuen


Each of us was made by God
and some of us grew tall.
Others stood out in the wind
their branches bent and fell.

Those of us who walk in light
must help the ones in darkness up.
For that’s what life is all about
and love is all there is to life.


Each of us was made by God
beautiful in His mind’s eye.
Those of us that turned out sound
should look across our shoulders once

and help the weak ones to their feet.

It only takes an outstretched hand.
 

Dennis D

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés - 2014
Francés - 2015
Francés - 2016
Francés - 2017
Francés - 2018
Francés - 2019
(2020 - ?)
Hi Dennis
I have used both Injinji toe socks and Engo patches for many years now and find them very effective. On our Camino this year I had Engo patches on my boot inserts and also at the back of the heel in one of my boots. I walked for 44 days and here is a photo of how the Engo patch lasted. They are expensive but do wear well so I find them really good value. I had no blisters at all during our Camino and my boots were full leather Meindl hiking boots so quite enclosed and heavy but this is what works for me.

View attachment 22179

Hello and thank you for the info. I just ordered some for next year.

At the risk of overstating the obvious, the more we can do on the preventive side, the less we have to do on the treatment side. I discovered early on, that walking on the Camino has a lot to do with your feet. If your feet are healthy and happy, the rest of you will follow them along. On the treatment side, Cicatrizante from the pharmacy, really helps blisters heal.

Buen Camino
 

good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
Thank you very much for this thread and for doing what you did. It reminded me that there are still good people out there, something I sometimes tend to forget.


In my opinion helping each other is an important part of the camino. Not everyone can, for whatever reason, do that, though. But that's okay, because from my experience, most people at least tried, each in their own way. Which was good to see. I developed a blister problem the very first day, but knew what to do (was expecting it). Not once did I treat my feet without someone asking if I needed help, offering compeed, ect ect. I didn't need it, but people offering help still was very meaningful to me, the gesture of caring about a complete stranger. It made me feel less lonely and lost for a moment.

Often it's the small things that count. Once, I remember, when I was ill, there was a group of people walking in front of me, who had been in the same albergue the night before. They knew I was ill. That day I noticed that from time to time when they stopped for a short break they waited for me to catch up before they started walking again, like to make sure I was ok before walking on. That made me cry.


What I want to say with this, is, thank you so much for the work you were doing. A simple thing like offering some first aid can be so important, even if it is not life threatening and "only a blister" in most cases.

The gesture is so much more than putting some plaster on a wound. For those you help, it is a message that they matter. Not for who they are, or what they do - because you don't know them - but just like that. They matter. No reason needed. That can be life saving, too.
 
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good_old_shoes

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('15, '19)
Via Coloniensis ('16)
Trier-Nancy + Le Puy-Fisterra ('17)
Aragonés ('18)
[On a side note – there's a special kind of wound dressing for bedsores called „biatain ibu“ foam that I found to be most helpful for blisters, especially the deeper ones you get under the feet because of pressure/too much weight. After removing the cause of the blister, disinfect&drain, put the foam dressing on, fixate with bandages or tape. Then you can walk on it. The foam takes off the pressure, drains the blister, and also takes the pain away because there's ibuprofen in it! After walking, take it off, disinfect again and let the blister dry. Repeat procedure until the blister has healed. The stuff is expensive but very good. You can cut off the part you need and give the rest of it to others :)]
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
English expression, goes back a way :)

"Origin
This is a UK phrase, from around the time of WWII. It is first recorded by Eric Partridge in A dictionary of forces' slang 1939–45, 1948. He describes it as 'Ward-room and also Army officers’ slang'.
The reason why drain was picked for this simile isn't clear. Most similes include items that especially display the property being described, e.g. as white as as snow. Drains don't immediately make one think of laughter, although the gurgling sound might have been thought of as being similar to chuckling.
 
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Margaret Butterworth

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
2013 (Pamplona to Burgos)
2014 (Burgos to Villafranca del Bierzo)
2015 (Villafranca to Santiago)
2016 (Le Puy to Conques; SJPP To Pamplona)
Where did the two of you stay? Did you base yourselves in an Albergue which allowed you to remain in the same place for a period? How did you advertise your services?
 

PEI_Heather

Canadian Member
Camino(s) past & future
2016 - Voie de la Nive
2012, 2016 - Frances
2013 - Portuguese
2012, 2013 - Finesterre & Muxia
English expression, goes back a way :)

"Origin
This is a UK phrase, from around the time of WWII. It is first recorded by Eric Partridge in A dictionary of forces' slang 1939–45, 1948. He describes it as 'Ward-room and also Army officers’ slang'.
The reason why drain was picked for this simile isn't clear. Most similes include items that especially display the property being described, e.g. as white as as snow. Drains don't immediately make one think of laughter, although the gurgling sound might have been thought of as being similar to chuckling.

I figured it had to have something to so with gurgling! Hahaha!
May you always laugh like drains, David! :)
Happy Halloween from the other side of the pond!
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Where did the two of you stay? Did you base yourselves in an Albergue which allowed you to remain in the same place for a period? How did you advertise your services?

We had our own refugio on wheels! Two berth caravan with two single beds. There are a few camp sites attached to refugios and we stayed there. We would find those who needed help by talking to pilgrims on the Camino and by visiting refugios.
 

Bob of Tucson

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
May(2016)
David, Not really related to the previous issues however it is health related. I'll be walking in April of 2016 and use injectable insulin for diabetes Type 2. My insulin, Lantus lasts for about 9 days unfrigerated.. So my question is do I send insulin on along the camino to health clinic/hospitals or can I get local supplies with a prescription ?

Bob from Tucson
 

walkmag

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
leon to Santiago (2006),
SJDP to Santiago (2009)
Porto to Santiago (2010)
Minturno to Rome (2012)
Siena to Rome (2012),
Fidenza to Siena (2013)
Lausanne to Fidenza (2014)
Bilbao to Ribadeo Sept (2015)
CMD Maybe (Sept 2016)
Thankyou David
Interesting reading and very informative advice.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
David, Not really related to the previous issues however it is health related. I'll be walking in April of 2016 and use injectable insulin for diabetes Type 2. My insulin, Lantus lasts for about 9 days unfrigerated.. So my question is do I send insulin on along the camino to health clinic/hospitals or can I get local supplies with a prescription ?

Bob from Tucson

Hi Bob - yes, you can buy all diabetic needs in pharmacies without prescription - this site is good - http://www.diabetesinspain.com/

Buen Camino!
 

JohnnieWalker

Nunca se camina solo
David - thanks for your tremendous, selfless service to fellow pilgrims. This first aid service is much needed. Thanks for the post.

I wondered if given your extensive experience of the foot problems pilgrims experience you could be persuaded to write a post about prevention?

Best regards

John
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
David - thanks for your tremendous, selfless service to fellow pilgrims. This first aid service is much needed. Thanks for the post.

I wondered if given your extensive experience of the foot problems pilgrims experience you could be persuaded to write a post about prevention?

Best regards

John

John, hi. I see the 'victims' and do what I can but unfortunately I am at a loss when it comes to prevention! There seem to be novices who walk in cheap footwear and supermarket socks who have no problems, veteran walkers on perhaps their third Camino who suddenly get blisters for no apparent reason ... wet weather is blamed, but so is dry weather! Waterproof boots in summer are blamed. Then there are the socks with liners, 1,000 mile socks, etc, that pilgrims swear by ... then there are those who never shower in the morning/always shower in the morning ... making the feet slippy with copious creams/keeping them clean and dry ... I would love to be able to write such a thing but, well ... apart from badly fitting/wrong sized footwear and airing the feet every couple of hours where does one even start??
You have so much more pilgrim experience than me - you are there nearly all the time, helping pilgrims, talking with pilgrims - I think you would be the better candidate for this!
 

newfydog

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Pamplona-Santiago, Le Puy- Santiago, Prague- LePuy, Menton- Toulouse, Menton- Rome, Canterbury- Lausanne, Chemin Stevenson, Voie de Vezelay
Terrific piece of work by you all, and probably the best blister post on the forum, no small feet(sic) seeing that the subject is on about a million threads!

The photos of what can happen if you don't get proper treatment are good things to include. I thought I'd add a picture of an untreated infected foot I treated last year. This was a young Nepali porter whose group did nothing to help him. I won't name their nationality, but I was unimpressed. Fortunately, one of Nepalis in our party saw him and brought him to our camp.

Don't ignore early signs of infection! If you are really lucky, maybe a David or Jenny can help.nepalfoot.JPG
 
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JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
Newfy - that's truly awful. Considering he was a porter, and the loads he would have been carrying, he must have been in so much pain. I hope that with the help and the medical treatment from your group, he eventually recovered. Quite apart from the pain, an infection like this would have a huge economic impact on him and his family if he was no longer able to work.
 

VNwalking

Wandering in big circles
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
San Olav/CF ('16)
Baztanés/CF ('17)
Ingles ('18)
Vasco/CF/Invierno ('19)
You can buy in the Spanish Pharmacies a roll of plaster called Omnifix.
Noticing the omnifix in the 2nd pic of the pilgrim whom you took to hospital....
I can attest to it's usefulness--brilliant stuff.

You know, this first aid, it isn’t just about putting dressings on. Many pilgrims are suffering internally and cover it with laughter and jolliness, but inside, if you look, you can see their pain, the anguish they are going through - one has to look at them, one has to see them; it is an integral part of the first aid mission. You might be amazed at how many apparently confident pilgrims burst into tears when you start helping them - it is, after all, about love.
Oh, yes. Beautiful, David. This is what we're here to do for each other.
I have yet to find a pilgrim who wishes to do the same as me.
Sign me up. Sounds like a wonderful way to spend one's time on the Camino! (In terms of service I can't manage the logistics of what you were able to do with the caravan (long story), so will have to make do with cleaning trash along the way.)
 

Symphony

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
July 2016
I was directed here from another thread, and it made for some valuable reading - plus a little internal 'oh god' moments at the pictures of the infected feet ;)

There's never enough information for a newcomer to soak up though on topics such as this, especially as I think for people new to the Camino, many of us would have the same worries, such as blisters, back pain, twisted ankles, etc! The more prevention methods I can learn or take in, the better prepared I'll be!

And, aside from that, kudos to both of you for what you have been doing for pilgrims. I'd imagine a friendly face and a helping hand with first aid after long days of walking and/or being in pain is probably akin to Heaven for many! :)
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Michael - if only! I have been doing this since my first Camino in 2005. My degree is religions and theology (I am an exo-theologian and my field was the development of early Christianity) so quite qualified to found an order of friars. I put the websites up then, I have posted on forums, I have talked with pilgrims on the Camino .. but, everyone seems focused on getting to Santiago, they seem focused upon themselves, whether it is their first or fifth time. I have yet to find a pilgrim who wishes to do the same as me. True, this year I have had some lovely pm's with two returning pilgrims who will be doing first aid independently, and Jenny, that Good person, came this year of course - but friars? male, female, straight, gay, young, old? no, not one - nor even a secular recruit. So my Society of Pilgrim Friars is still a Society of One at the moment!!

Gautama Buddha is quoted as saying "Desire for personal happiness, result misery. Desire for happiness of others, result happiness." For me the issue is quite clear but I am now moving towards the belief that my concept of first aid friars and lay volunteers wandering up and down the Camino, helping where they can, is a false concept. Just because I can think it in my head doesn't mean that it has any external justification - ;)

Personally I don't quite understand it - there are countless Christians going on Camino and to me it seems that "Go, Ye, and do likewise" is a command that other Christians would jump at - but there you go. :(

Is that your website http://pilgrimfriars.org/Vocation.html ? If yes, I will email you soon, SY
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Sy, hello. Yes, that is my website. How "co-incidental" that you should post today as I was just about to post as well! I have been thinking about all this for quite a while now, looking for a way forward that would encourage others to become part of it, and have decided to alter things a little.

Perhaps I should be moving into a less formal way of looking at first aid and pastoral care on Camino?

This is very early days but over the next couple of months I will be working on a new concept - "Camino Samaritans" - If I design some embroidered patches, write an instruction manual - not the first aid but the 'how and why' - and then launch it in the spring (have to juggle this with going on Camino) I think that there may be many returning pilgrims who would be happy to carry a full first aid kit and help pilgrims along the way.

I chose the name Camino Samaritans as it isn't just first aid, it is also pastoral care, and helping in whatever way when needed - St John is an ancient Order but morphed into the secular St John Ambulance - the patches will make one recognisable, and more accepted as part of an organisation rather than a random pilgrim pulling out a scalpel!! ;)

At the moment I am thinking that anyone who wants to participate as a Camino Samaritan would receive a pack from me containing, say, five patches for clothing and rucksack, two of my laminated signs saying First Aid in a number of languages; one to pin to the rucksack and one to 'display' when entering a refugio for instance; a first aid roll-out bag identical to the one that I use (so pilgrims will come to recognise it), an equipment list, and the whys and wherefores, and so on - then maybe, just maybe, this concept will grow. I have had a number of messages from members who would like to be involved the next time they go on Camino so there is already a core for expansion. As you know, there is a Camino grapevine and people walk at different speeds and take a bus further along the Way and talk about the people they have met, so just having two or three Camino Samaritans out there and pilgrims will start to look for them (well, I think that they might!).

Before the spring I will design a simple website and have a password protected area where members can enter and message others - see who is where on Camino, ask or answer questions (I have never done this password area before so will have to go on a bit of a learning curve - should be doable though).

Behind it all, of course, will be the mission core which is the parable of the Good Samaritan and the specific command to each of us "then go, Ye, and do likewise" which surely is acceptable even to the most devout aetheist.

Here the first aid sign that I currently use - I would put the new logo in (once I have designed it!!)

pf first aid sign (399 x 526).jpg

And these are the logos I will work on to produce a new Camino Samaritans patch -

First aid Logo (356 x 352).jpg new logo (376 x 374).jpg

will possibly remove the four knots (the vows) from the ring, replace around top with Camino Samaritans, keep the 'Luke 10:37' ... the white cross on green background is the international first aid symbol ..... possibly change ring and lettering colours -

Pilgrim Friars would still be there, in the background as it were, but this would allow a more secular and inclusive approach ...

this is an open invitation - I am very happy to receive any suggestions on patch design as well as any feedback at all on the Camino Samaritans concept ....
 
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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
The one thing you need to research/spell out to participants is the legal aspects of 'officially' offering first/medical aid. You don't want one of the samaritans getting sued for real or imagined mistakes made during treatment. Also think about qualifications/training, if not you just might end up with a bunch of volunteers full of enthusiasm but not so full of actually sound knowledge. Buen Camino, just going through your website, SY
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Of course, but if one takes a course with St John Ambulance one is then covered by their insurance and I certainly wouldn't accept members that I hadn't met and seen in action unless they could provide some form of independent back up - such as their being a nurse, etc. - early days Sy, early days, and nothing may yet come of it, we'll see ;)
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
You don't want one of the samaritans getting sued for real or imagined mistakes made during treatment. SY
This cannot happen any more in Europe as its covered under the "Good Samaritan Laws" If you help someone at an accident etc, even if you have caused the accident, you cannot be sued for helping or giving aid, and thank God for that. I am a First Responder and have been trained in CPR, use of Defibrillator and basic First Aid and this was all explained to us during training as some were afraid of being sued if they made a mistake.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Yes, that is true! But as I understand the Good Samaritan law it applies to those that come across a situation/emergency 'accidentally'. Setting up a semi-permanent first aid station and/or going out on the way with the explicit intent to offer/give First Aid could be different. Hence my urge to David to check these kind of things out. Buen Camino, SY
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
Setting up a semi-permanent first aid station and/or going out on the way with the explicit intent to offer/give First Aid could be different. Hence my urge to David to check these kind of things out. Buen Camino, SY
Good point SY, I will check this out.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Guys, pilgrims - I have noticed on this forum before that if a negatively phrased comment is posted it seems to attract a series of them - so - before this becomes a chain of negative and fearful comments could we assume that I am intelligent and capable? That were I to go ahead that I would look into all aspects, that I might even make a plan? Even use St John Ambulance as the model? And as part of that plan I may have already Googled "liability insurance for first aiders" ??

Rather than the fearful getting sued or the 'bunch of enthusiastic amateurs' and so on, (and of course they would be enthusiastic amateurs) could not these be phrased differently? More positively? "David, what sort of insurance will you be getting for members?" or "David, will you be able to link in to the global St John insurance scheme if all members are St John qualified?" or "will members have to undergo specific training and will you be inducting them personally on the Camino?" and so on ....

I invite comment and suggestions - I am quite happy for anyone to tell me it is a bad idea and for what reason (I am often wrong about things!) - but I really do not want fears, they are only a projection of the writer's own mind, don't you think? ;)

What could possibly be a better way to live, even if just for a few weeks a year, than helping others? What is a life not lived? It is a life with thought only of oneself.
Come now ... fears and negative phrasing? .... Toosh! Let there be Joy! Joy!!

same year.jpg
 

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SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
@David You misunderstood me completely, but I leave it at that. Sorry for thinking out loud and sorry for being a non-native-English speaker that not always formulates her thoughts in a perfect way. All the best, SY
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
I was directed here from another thread, and it made for some valuable reading - plus a little internal 'oh god' moments at the pictures of the infected feet ;)

There's never enough information for a newcomer to soak up though on topics such as this, especially as I think for people new to the Camino, many of us would have the same worries, such as blisters, back pain, twisted ankles, etc! The more prevention methods I can learn or take in, the better prepared I'll be!

And, aside from that, kudos to both of you for what you have been doing for pilgrims. I'd imagine a friendly face and a helping hand with first aid after long days of walking and/or being in pain is probably akin to Heaven for many! :)
Hi Symphony - thanks for your terrific feedback on the work David and I did for pilgrims this year. The fact that David has been doing this volunteer work, often twice a year, since 2006, is wonderful, completely wonderful. I have so much admiration and respect for him for the work that he does so selflessly and for his generosity to pilgrims. I know he would agree with me that, as with any volunteer work, you do get more than you give - it's incredibly rewarding.
While writing, I just have to say that I LOVE your signature ... I know the line and the song well ... it's a line from my favourite song from "Wicked", which incidentally is my favourite musical ... I've seen the musical three times, I have the CD, I have Elphaba's green glasses ...! (sigh!)
Cheers and Buen Camino for July -
Jenny
 

Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
I am sure that pilgrims more experienced than I will know that sharing the contents of one's first aid kit and such expertise as one may have in the use of it is simply the normal and natural thing to do. I was four days in on my first camino when I gave much of the foot care materials in my first aid kit to a perigrina with serious blisters who had used up whatever she had started with. This is something that I learned in the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains, where there are no farmacias. If you meet someone on the trail who needs first aid supplies, you are their source of aid. I gave a whole package of Moleskin to a backpacker who was about a week's walk from the nearest road with feet shattered by new boots which he had not broken in. After I broke my walking stick two years ago, another hiker offered me one of his, saying that I could send him some money when I got home. This kind of behaviour is inevitable when you know that you are all that the other has. I know a little girl about five years of age who understood this well when she expressed an intention to marry the Good Samaritan. Without going that far, I am sure that pilgrims dance from one role to the other, giving and receiving aid as there is need, because that is the natural thing to do on the camino. Nonetheless, I am fascinated by the possibility of "going and doing likewise" in a more organised context and I should love to hear further about it as plans progress.
 
Y

YourGreatAunt

Guest
One should stop at least every two hours, take the boots and socks off and have a break, then put the socks back on alternate feet (so that seam pressure points are moved)

Ooooh, you clever, clever man. Never thought of switching feet. *making mental note*
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
I am sure that pilgrims more experienced than I will know that sharing the contents of one's first aid kit and such expertise as one may have in the use of it is simply the normal and natural thing to do. I was four days in on my first camino when I gave much of the foot care materials in my first aid kit to a perigrina with serious blisters who had used up whatever she had started with. This is something that I learned in the backcountry of the Rocky Mountains, where there are no farmacias. If you meet someone on the trail who needs first aid supplies, you are their source of aid. I gave a whole package of Moleskin to a backpacker who was about a week's walk from the nearest road with feet shattered by new boots which he had not broken in. After I broke my walking stick two years ago, another hiker offered me one of his, saying that I could send him some money when I got home. This kind of behaviour is inevitable when you know that you are all that the other has. I know a little girl about five years of age who understood this well when she expressed an intention to marry the Good Samaritan. Without going that far, I am sure that pilgrims dance from one role to the other, giving and receiving aid as there is need, because that is the natural thing to do on the camino. Nonetheless, I am fascinated by the possibility of "going and doing likewise" in a more organised context and I should love to hear further about it as plans progress.

What a lovely post - you may be surprised, Alberta-Girl, how many pilgrims I have seen who "walk by on the other side" on Camino - how many sit at table drinking and eating and laughing with those they have known for just a couple of days and ignore the pilgrim woman or man sitting alone at the next table. Who see a pilgrim limping and just overtake with a "buen Camino" and a casual wave - who glimpse hidden tears in a strangers eyes and look away - you would be surprised at how many there are. Not all have your heart, your awareness. All are good but many are asleep and have forgotten, forgotten their child's heart. . Buen Camino Alberta-girl. xx
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
Boots - most foot problems were blisters and mainly to do with the wrong size or ill-fitting boots.... I know this is gender specific but I would say that over 90% of those whose boots were too small were women .....

I've just caught up with this thread so I'm considerably late to the party! As someone who suffered from blisters on my first camino can I firstly say what a wonderful gift you're providing to pilgrims!

Second, I wonder if women suffer more because our shoes are generally more narrow than mens? I have real problems with my wide feet and so I buy a man's shoe? Also, the pharmacy sold me Compeed even when I had swollen and broken blisters... luckily the next pharmacy told me not to use them.

And finally, whilst this is mainly about blisters and walking injuries, can I share a link about how to deal with Burns and Scalds? Last autumn, just as I was leaving to go on holiday, I poured boiling water into a thermos flask but the flask was broken and a kettle of water spilled down my hand and arm. I didn't know the correct first aid, so I ran cold water on the burn for a few minutes and we left for our holiday.

I was a very lucky girl though because I actually suffered a second degree burn and part of the area was a deep second degree burn. I'm lucky because although I took no further action for 2 days, I had no infections and very little scaring... but I was very lucky! I did feel quite shaken after an hour or so of the incident, I really thought I was going to be quite ill, but again I did nothing... all of the medical staff that treated me said that this was possibly shock and again, reiterated how lucky I had been. It took more than 5 weeks for the skin to heal completely and twice daily dressing changes for the first 10 days... and oh my goodness it was painful.

It really is very easy to burn or scald yourself badly, without correct first aid or medical treatment the burn can become very dangerous... so folks... if you dont know what to do (like me) it might be worth taking a look at the link.

I hope I'm not hijacking this great thread... but I'm on a bit of a crusade to inform people now... and if you're not convinced the thumbnail is my arm before it got too bad!

burn4.jpg
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Ooooh, you clever, clever man. Never thought of switching feet. *making mental note*
Guess noone doing this is wearing Injinjins, or what ever they are called. Actually don't most pairs have a right and a left? And ideally not front seam?
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
@David , what do you call fabric platers, and are they gluey all over? If so will they not also rip skin on the blister when they come off? Or do they go over a gauze of some sort? Thank you.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
@David , what do you call fabric platers, and are they gluey all over? If so will they not also rip skin on the blister when they come off? Or do they go over a gauze of some sort? Thank you.

Ah, I should be more clear - sorry .... plasters tend to have adhesive at each end and the absorbent pad in the middle, which leaves a wound open to the air on either side .. but you can get rectangular and square plasters in various sizes where the adhesive goes all round the edges and there is an 'island' of absorbent gauze in the middle - so the absorbent gauze goes over the treated wound and then the plaster sticks down all the way round. I also carry individually wrapped sterile dressings in much larger sizes that are constructed the same way. By 'fabric' plasters I mean that stretchy non-waterproof type rather than the plasticky shiny waterproof ones. I don't use the waterproof ones mainly because the adhesive is very weak on them and they come off really quickly.
This is the sort of fabric plasters, do you see how the absorbent gauze pad is an island? - though I buy mine from wholesale suppliers online and larger sizes too (and different shapes!).
Dependaplast_Fabric_Plasters_Box__53787.1448208566.1280.1280.jpg

@LesBrass - crikey! that is a serious wound there - the body shock must have been serious as well - did you feel 'jittery' for a couple of days? Shock really can kill, but you know that now. You are so right - those boiling water accidents can happen at any time, especially when one is in a refugio kitchen using unknown equipment with other people milling around.
I think it really is worth reading a first aid manual just to know what one should do in these situations, then one can help oneself as well as others. First aid should be taught in schools, don't you think?
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Guess noone doing this is wearing Injinjins, or what ever they are called. Actually don't most pairs have a right and a left? And ideally not front seam?
One needs to turn them inside out first, and then they can be used on the opposite feet.
 

LesBrass

Likes Walking
Camino(s) past & future
yes...
@LesBrass - crikey! that is a serious wound there - the body shock must have been serious as well - did you feel 'jittery' for a couple of days? Shock really can kill, but you know that now. You are so right - those boiling water accidents can happen at any time, especially when one is in a refugio kitchen using unknown equipment with other people milling around.
I think it really is worth reading a first aid manual just to know what one should do in these situations, then one can help oneself as well as others. First aid should be taught in schools, don't you think?

@David - I felt really odd after an hour or so of the accident, it wasn't immediate. We were driving down south for our holiday and we stopped for fuel... when my husband got back in the car he started to worry as I'd gone so pale and really felt dreadful and the burn started to swell a great deal... but again because we didnt' really think the burn could have been that bad, we talked about it and decided to continue our journey. I took some paracetemol and slept for a few hours. It was late when we arrived at the hotel and I felt totally exhausted so went to bed... it wasn't until the end of the second day that we felt that it was going a horrible colour and perhaps we should seek advice. The Pharmacist was horrifed and sent us to the local medical centre.

We're sensible people, we really just were totally unaware of how easy it is to scald yourself very badly with hot water. I had quickly looked up how to treat a burn and read that you should avoid creams and so I just left it. But this is only the initial advice.... so I had further hindered the process with my little bit of knowledge. Like you say the shock can be really dangerous as can the risk of infection as the skin breaks... and yes teaching in schools would be a brilliant idea!
 
A

Anemone del Camino

Guest
Thank you for explanimg what you meant by fabric plasters. I do not like these one bit as I find they always end up rolling up and exposimg the wound, especially if worn on the heel or a joint. I was hoping there was some sort of tape that only had stciky stuff on the edeges.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Sure, you can buy tape on a long strip you cut to size, you can also over tape the plasters with adhesive roll tape - though, if the plasters come unstuck it is either that they are rubbish plasters! or that the skin is oily when they are put on and they don't adhere - always do an alcohol swab wipe and dry before placing plasters - hope this helps
 

JennyH94

Pilgrim in progress
Camino(s) past & future
CF - sections and whole (2012-2019) and part VF (2017)
First aid on Camino - some thoughts

I have all the first aid necessities in the bottom of my bag - I just fold David up really really small and put him there (in a waterproof bag of course). ;)

Al - I have a much better idea ... invite the full-size, not folded up, walking-talking David (with the first aid kit of course!) on your next Camino! Something tells me that you two lads would have a fantastic Camino together! :);)
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
Hi. I am recently back from doing seven weeks first aid. I am usually alone and having the comradeship, help, and support from JennyH94 really enhanced the whole experience for me (especially her wildly irreverent sense of humour that matches mine!). We met many injured pilgrims; Puenta La Reina was a great stop, being just a few days from St Jean, with many pilgrims beginning to fail there - at times the first aid would go on for over four hours non-stop, with Jenny using the torch on her phone as we worked into the late evening.
Anyway ... I have some thoughts about some of the problems I/we met with. These are personal opinions from repeated observation and hands-on experience in the field. Your thoughts may differ from mine but I am not trying to force my point of view, only offering it.

Boots - most foot problems were blisters and mainly to do with the wrong size or ill-fitting boots, as well as ignoring hotspots until it was too late. Boots were frequently laced too tightly and/or were too small. I know this is gender specific but I would say that over 90% of those whose boots were too small were women .. now, I don’t know if this was to do with women wanting their feet to look the right size, or inexperience, but again and again frontally located blisters were women with the wrong size/width boots.

I rearranged the lacing on many boots .... loosening the front section of the laces, with my fist stuffed inside the boot to spread it out, from the front to the third eyelets and then tying a half knot, at those eyelets, and then showing them how to put them on. Kick the heel right back into the boots, tie up firmly so that the rear of the boot is held firmly with the foot, and, with the half hitches at those mid eyelets, the front of the boot never tightens up but stays more open, allowing the toes to move freely.

We also found that many would lace up tight in the morning and leave their boots untouched until they finished walking at the end of the day, ignoring the increasing pain - some did not even know that their feet became larger during the day. One should stop at least every two hours, take the boots and socks off and have a break, then put the socks back on alternate feet (so that seam pressure points are moved) - for many this was the end of their daily discomfort or pain.

Blisters - rascally things! we met pilgrims who were in denial, just hobbling along in pain with terrible blisters and doing nothing about them. We found those who had self-treated poorly and made their situation worse; those who had drained their blister and left cotton thread in there to wick away liquid and then left them uncovered. This is a terrible idea unless you know exactly what you are doing. That sweaty environment inside the socks is a perfect petrie dish for microbes to breed and many had become infected.

There are two points of view here - cover and allow to heal, and drain and cover and allow to heal. Here is the thing. A blister is a burn under the surface of the skin. The body produces the fluid as a cushion but walking on it every day forces the liquid, with each step, to press against the outer edges of the blister under the surface skin - which widens it every day .. the blister gets bigger and bigger.

So I drain them - always. They have to be drained. I use a scalpel to make two tiny V shaped cuts that allows the blister to be completely drained. I then spray antiseptic (to get into all crevices and inside the cut sections) and cover with fabric plasters that have sticky all the way round the edge. I then sometimes fabric plaster on top of that to give more cushioning (I give the pilgrim back-up plasters to keep them going until they get to a pharmacy).

This treatment works well, almost instant pain relief. Why fabric plasters? Because I find that waterproof ones are never sticky enough and they allow the wound to sweat beneath them - so I always use fabric, which sticks well and breathes.

What we found, again and again, were pilgrims who had stuck Compeeds over a growing blister. The Compeed sealed all the way round, the constant pressure of each step enlarged the blister and they ended up in considerable pressure pain - and there was no way I could get the Compeed off without the strong possibility of further harm.

I no longer use Compeeds now, will never use them again. Although I met pilgrims who had self-treated with them and had no problems, our view - remember, we were only seeing the feet of those who came to us for help - is that they cause too many problems. We met pilgrims who hadn’t put them on properly .. dirt had got in, the blister had burst, and they were getting infected.

A Swedish woman: - we had met her before and met her again "purely by chance" on the Camino, another one of those extraordinary Camino ‘coincidences’ - we met her as she was about to walk up onto the Meseta. She was feeling a little dizzy and had put it down to lack of water or the heat. She then said she had a blister problem. The moment I looked at it I said she had to go to hospital. It took us the rest of the afternoon to find a casualty dept (in a small town about 20 miles away).

Her problem was that she had put a Compeed onto a heel blister. The blister had grown over the days of walking until it burst and forced an edge of the Compeed open. Dirt got in and it became infected - what did she do? Just kept walking. When we saw her she had blood poisoning, her ankle had already started to swell. Had we not found her she may have died of that blood poisoning somewhere, going to bed with “just a little fever” and waking up dead. The doctor cleaned it all up, gave her horse-pill sized antibiotics and told her that her Camino was over, she had to go home. The doctor then took me aside and said we had to keep an eye on her overnight and that if she became more ill we must take her to an emergency dept immediately, she was really concerned for her. We did that but she started to become better and the next afternoon we drove her way over to Pamplona and put her on a train home.

This is what had us instantly throw her in the car in search of a doctor.

View attachment 22117


Knees and shin splints - well, you all know the answer here - stop walking! We met with many of these but also discovered a method of lessening the problem. Try this. Stand up straight and become aware of all the muscles at the front of your legs, right down to the ankles. Now, with your arms hanging down turn your elbows out slightly and then lean your upper body a little forward from the waist up. You will instantly feel all of those front muscles go into tension. This is what happens when you put your pack on - before you have even taken a step! So, you have to stand and walk as if you are not wearing a pack, you have to stand relaxed and straight - then you won’t put all those muscles under stress. Also, we found some with these problems used big striding steps - this causes too much flexing and more stress. We showed pilgrims how to walk with half length steps, standing as if they weren’t carrying a pack, and they felt better instantly. Problems were also caused by a pilgrim keeping up with someone who walks a little faster than what their body is comfortable with - never do this. Bad enough with friends but if it is your husband/wife who won’t slow down for you then stuff a custard pie into their face and walk alone at your own speed!

The Camino is not a smooth trail, the surface is wildly uneven in places and that constant attempt by the knees to maintain balance causes many ligament problems. Again; walk as if not wearing a pack and walk at half length - or even less - steps. A pole for stability is a boon, so much better to be a tripod than a biped (kangaroos know this).

Once the problem is there it is difficult to treat. Ice, anti-inflammatory gel and pills (if one can take them without harm), rest, raising the limb; deep but gentle thumb massage into the tendons and ligaments - all these help recovery but they have to be allied with taking a day or two off. A knee brace helps ligaments from over-stretching but one shouldn’t wear one all the time as it allows the muscles to weaken. Take them off when not walking - ideally one should only wear them on rough terrain, ascents and descents, and take them off afterwards when back on ‘normal’ surfaces.

Shoulders - so many pilgrims with madly heavy packs of course but also badly fitted rucksacks! Not their fault I think. Their first walking adventure and no fitting help from the shop where they bought their pack. Not much to say here, except, go on You tube and see how to fit a pack - there should be at least a finger width between the shoulder straps and the shoulders - then Hey Presto! no more shoulder problems!

So - just a few thoughts, a little rambling from home ... I will be back out there next Autumn with Jenny, and possibly next Spring too alone. If you are interested in helping others then please do take a first aid course and carry a larger than normal kit with you - and if you are ‘religious’ and it is of interest to you please do visit my website www.pilgrimfriars.org (and perhaps also my www.donoharm.co.uk) - the whole mission is based upon the command given by Jesus/Yeshua at the end of the story of the Good Samaritan “Then go, Ye, and do likewise".

You know, this first aid, it isn’t just about putting dressings on. Many pilgrims are suffering internally and cover it with laughter and jolliness, but inside, if you look, you can see their pain, the anguish they are going through - one has to look at them, one has to see them; it is an integral part of the first aid mission. You might be amazed at how many apparently confident pilgrims burst into tears when you start helping them - it is, after all, about love.

Buen Camino
Good old school medicine and advice. I'm a retired Navy-Marine Corps Corpsman. We would cap blisters (CUT the top off) then paint the area with Tincture of Benzoin. Tincture of Benzoin is sn antiseptic and shin adhesive. Burns like the Dickens AR first but toughens the new skin fast and the fabric (moleskin) patch will not sweat or shower off. My Marines were up and walking right after treatment. Works great for stopping hot spots from becoming blisters.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Good old school medicine and advice. I'm a retired Navy-Marine Corps Corpsman. We would cap blisters (CUT the top off) then paint the area with Tincture of Benzoin. Tincture of Benzoin is sn antiseptic and shin adhesive. Burns like the Dickens AR first but toughens the new skin fast and the fabric (moleskin) patch will not sweat or shower off. My Marines were up and walking right after treatment. Works great for stopping hot spots from becoming blisters.
The current advice from the USMC site (extracted from FMST1604 accessed on 22 Feb 16) is:

Blister – a blister is a defense mechanism of the body. When the epidermis layer of the skin separates from the dermis, a pool of fluid collects between these layers while the skin re-grows from underneath. Blisters can be caused by chemical or physical injury. An example of chemical injury would be an allergic reaction. Physical injury can be caused by heat, frostbite, or friction.
Causes
- Improperly conditioned feet
- Heat and moisture
- Improperly fitting boots and/or socks
- Friction and pressure

Signs and Symptoms
- Fluid collection under the skin
- Mild edema and erythema around the site
- Sloughing of tissue exposing subdermal tissue layer
- Localized discomfort and/or pain

Treatment
Small blisters usually need no treatment

- Clean area with soap and water
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection
- Apply a protective barrier (moleskin bandage) around the blister, to prevent further irritation

Closed, Large blisters (if affecting individuals gait)
- Wash the area around the blister with Betadine solution or alcohol pad
- Drain as close to the edge of the blister as possible to allow for drainage, and then apply gentle pressure to the blister dome expelling the clear fluid
- Apply moleskin (donut) to skin surrounding the blister, using tincture of benzoin as an adhesive.
- DO NOT PUT ANY ADHESIVE DIRECTLY ON THE BLISTER
- Dust entire foot with foot powder to lessen friction and prevent adhesive from adhering to the socks
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection

Open blisters
- Wash with Betadine solution or clean with soap and water
- Remove any loose skin with a surgical blade or scissors
- Apply moleskin (donut) to cover skin surrounding the blister, using tincture of benzoin as an adhesive.
- Place a small amount of antibiotic ointment over wound
- Cut a telfa pad and place it inside the moleskin
- Apply moleskin over entire treated area to include surrounding skin
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection.


I note in particular that draining is only recommended when the blister is affecting an individual's gait.

Other than draining blisters, which I will not do, these techniques are the same as those I have used as the 'blister-fixer' on multi-day group walks.
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
The current advice from the USMC site (extracted from FMST1604 accessed on 22 Feb 16) is:

Blister – a blister is a defense mechanism of the body. When the epidermis layer of the skin separates from the dermis, a pool of fluid collects between these layers while the skin re-grows from underneath. Blisters can be caused by chemical or physical injury. An example of chemical injury would be an allergic reaction. Physical injury can be caused by heat, frostbite, or friction.
Causes
- Improperly conditioned feet
- Heat and moisture
- Improperly fitting boots and/or socks
- Friction and pressure

Signs and Symptoms
- Fluid collection under the skin
- Mild edema and erythema around the site
- Sloughing of tissue exposing subdermal tissue layer
- Localized discomfort and/or pain

Treatment
Small blisters usually need no treatment

- Clean area with soap and water
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection
- Apply a protective barrier (moleskin bandage) around the blister, to prevent further irritation

Closed, Large blisters (if affecting individuals gait)
- Wash the area around the blister with Betadine solution or alcohol pad
- Drain as close to the edge of the blister as possible to allow for drainage, and then apply gentle pressure to the blister dome expelling the clear fluid
- Apply moleskin (donut) to skin surrounding the blister, using tincture of benzoin as an adhesive.
- DO NOT PUT ANY ADHESIVE DIRECTLY ON THE BLISTER
- Dust entire foot with foot powder to lessen friction and prevent adhesive from adhering to the socks
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection

Open blisters
- Wash with Betadine solution or clean with soap and water
- Remove any loose skin with a surgical blade or scissors
- Apply moleskin (donut) to cover skin surrounding the blister, using tincture of benzoin as an adhesive.
- Place a small amount of antibiotic ointment over wound
- Cut a telfa pad and place it inside the moleskin
- Apply moleskin over entire treated area to include surrounding skin
- Monitor for signs and symptoms of infection.


I note in particular that draining is only recommended when the blister is affecting an individual's gait.

Other than draining blisters, which I will not do, these techniques are the same as those I have used as the 'blister-fixer' on multi-day group walks.
Great treatment if your in a clinic setting and the patient can stay off their feet for a few days. Like I said, I'm old school and the treatment I used, while uncomfortable, was field expedient, simple, and it worked. Patients were up and walking within minutes of treatment.
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
Yes, that is true! But as I understand the Good Samaritan law it applies to those that come across a situation/emergency 'accidentally'. Setting up a semi-permanent first aid station and/or going out on the way with the explicit intent to offer/give First Aid could be different. Hence my urge to David to check these kind of things out. Buen Camino, SY

I hate to be a wet blanket but that's the problem. Emergency first aid is just that. The ABC's and nothing more. If you exceed the basic ABC's you better be qualified and able to prove it. If more is needed you activate the EMS system and let them take over treatment. If you set up a treatment area you have crossed the line between emergency first aid and practicing medicine and the Good Samaritan law may not or will not apply if someone you treated later complains or has a negative outcome. We pilgrims, that includes physicians and nurses and other para-medical people, that help others pilgrims in medical need are working in a dark area. Like David, I am not afraid of the dark and I will do everything I can to provide medical aid or save a life. Buen Caminio
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
Great treatment if your in a clinic setting and the patient can stay off their feet for a few days. Like I said, I'm old school and the treatment I used, while uncomfortable, was field expedient, simple, and it worked. Patients were up and walking within minutes of treatment.
It would be easier to do almost all first aid in a clinic, but I don't agree with your assessment that the techniques described need that. I would have thought that if your beloved USMC is teaching this at its Field Medical Training Battalion, it is intended for use in the field, as well as in clinics, unless the nature of the Marine Corps mission now precludes any combat:rolleyes:. I rather suspect there are more modern approaches being practiced today, even in the USMC, than you might once have been taught.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
Eeeew! No, I am sorry @Urban Trekker, the current medical advice, and that from the Spanish (with a history of nearly 1000 years of practical experience treating pilgrims) is similar to that quoted by @dougfitz. My simplification is to do everything possible to keep the skin intact. And keep the blister from getting infected. I favour popping blisters (antiseptic wipe to needle and blister first) to allow them to drain to relieve pain and to prevent the pressure from becoming so great they do tear, but otherwise, keep the skin intact. Please.

If the blister is torn, that is different. As noted in the USMC advice.
 

SYates

Camino Fossil AD 1999, now living in Santiago de C
Camino(s) past & future
First: Camino Francés 1999
...
Last: Santiago - Muxia 2019

Now: http://egeria.house/
Great treatment if your in a clinic setting and the patient can stay off their feet for a few days. Like I said, I'm old school and the treatment I used, while uncomfortable, was field expedient, simple, and it worked. Patients were up and walking within minutes of treatment.

Nops, I used a very similar treatment on literary thousands of pilgrim feet during my time as a hospitalera and they were up and "running" as soon as the burning from the Betadine (which I put in the emptied blister) had passed. And I would never ever cut the skin over an otherwise 'healthy' blister. This is reserved for badly infected cases and should only done by a medical professional in a hospital or similar.

Buen Camino, SY
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Sy - so agree ... it is just simple first aid, the sort of thing the pilgrim next to you would offer - I would never ever cross the line over into medical care - I always send or take that pilgrim to a health centre or casualty clinic .... the first rule of first aid is "do no harm" - I keep to that and will not touch anything that worries me or looks serious.
 

Urban Trekker

Happy Trails
Camino(s) past & future
English Camino (2013)
Portuguese Camino (2014)
French Camino (2016)
Way of Saint Francis April 2017
Sy - so agree ... it is just simple first aid, the sort of thing the pilgrim next to you would offer - I would never ever cross the line over into medical care - I always send or take that pilgrim to a health centre or casualty clinic .... the first rule of first aid is "do no harm" - I keep to that and will not touch anything that worries me or looks serious.
David, it would seem that I have stirred up the pot on blister treatment. Not my intention. Just trying to share another way to treat blisters.

Setting up a medical aid station near a difficult section of the camino was brilliant. A pilgrim having a first aid kit and a pilgrim knowing how to perperly use its contents are two different things. Being able to help pilgrim would provide great comfort. It always feels better when someone else wraps it.

Never "Harm the Patient" has been my mantra for my entity working carreer. In the Navy as a Corpsman l could and did make Navy Aircraft Carriers change course and come to me to pick up a sick or injured crew member. As a correctional nurse I made decisions that upset or angered my peers but they were the right decision for my patients.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
David, it would seem that I have stirred up the pot on blister treatment. Not my intention. Just trying to share another way to treat blisters.

Setting up a medical aid station near a difficult section of the camino was brilliant. A pilgrim having a first aid kit and a pilgrim knowing how to perperly use its contents are two different things. Being able to help pilgrim would provide great comfort. It always feels better when someone else wraps it.

Never "Harm the Patient" has been my mantra for my entity working carreer. In the Navy as a Corpsman l could and did make Navy Aircraft Carriers change course and come to me to pick up a sick or injured crew member. As a correctional nurse I made decisions that upset or angered my peers but they were the right decision for my patients.

Not at all UrbanT!! - no, I agree with you completely, everything you have said .. my response was to avert certain members from starting to gush negatively about legality and don'ts and don'ts and don'ts - rather than the obvious response of getting some expertise and helping someone in need .... ;)

Can you imagine how the more negatively inclined on the forum would have handled Jesus' telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37)
 
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Albertagirl

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (2015); Aragones-Frances (2016); VdlP-Sanabres (2017); Madrid-Frances-Invierno (2019)Levante
Not at all UrbanT!! - no, I agree with you completely, everything you have said .. my response was to avert certain members from starting to gush negatively about legality and don'ts and don'ts and don'ts - rather than the obvious response of getting some expertise and helping someone in need .... ;)

Can you imagine how the more negatively inclined on the forum would have handled Jesus' telling of the parable of the Good Samaritan? (Luke 10:25-37)

"But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion.
He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine.

"What?" They might say ... "bound up his wounds with oil and wine? Well that isn't in the textbooks .. and was it sterilised oil and wine? Did he wash his hands first? Was the Samaritan qualified to do this?"
Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him.
"What? Set him on his donkey? What if the man was allergic to donkeys? What if the donkey had become scared and galloped away? Brought him to an inn? What if the man was recovering alcoholic and he woke up there? What sort of place is that to take an injured and naked man? By what right did he do this? Why didn't he get a professional to take care of him, someone paid to do that sort of thing?"

And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back."
"What?? Bribed the innkeeper who was most likely completely unqualified to care for him and then just abandoned the man there, with a stranger? What sort of care was this?"

and so on ..... the command at the end of the parable, to us all, is not
"go get insured and also get a diploma and make sure you have the full agreement of all on the forum and then perhaps go and do the same but in a very small and limited and nervous way"

It is
"Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?”
He said, “The one who showed him mercy.”
And Jesus said to him, “Then go, Ye, and do likewise.”

and, just in case this post is taken a little too seriously, here is another take on the parable of the Good Samaritan ...


Buen Camino :);)

David:
I am planning another camino in the fall and shall be walking from Pau in the south of France over the Somport Pass and along the Camino Aragones to Puenta la Reina, then on to Santiago, probably on the Frances. This will be about a 950 km route. I want to be able to share my footcare supplies with persons whom I meet on my pilgrimage, generally for them to do their own footcare, as I do not pretend to have any special knowledge in this area. I shall have to carry whatever I take with me, as I am travelling only on foot, and renew supplies in farmacias along the way. Can you suggest basic supplies to start with, in addition to moleskin, tape, bandages, dressings, and antiseptic wipes? Can antibiotic ointment be shared safely? How? I do have Red Cross first aid training and I would be willing to suggest that any particularly nasty blisters or other foot injury be referred to a clinic. A focus on travelling light may cause some persons with little long distance hiking experience to be under-supplied, and I should like to help as I can.
 

dougfitz

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Spain: Mar 2010, Apr 2014, May/Jun 2016. Norway/Sweden: 2012, 2018. Other: 2011, 2019. CP (tbc)
my response was to avert certain members from starting to gush negatively about legality
@David, I know that you brush aside concerns that your reliance on the Good Samaritan principles will not alway protect you - I expect you will be protected while you are providing first aid, but I also hope that you are not tested on this by the authorities.

I also know how difficult it can be determining whether some care that is needed extends to being initial wound treatment, and following first aid, the person really needs to be treated in an appropriately equipped medical facility. I think that the special nature of pilgrimage makes this doubly difficult when it is clear pilgrims are highly motivated to continue on their journey, and less likely to heed advice they need to seek more expert treatment.

I remember how difficult it was as the blister fixer on one walk to resist helping people with minor wounds in ways that one might have considered at home with one's family, knowing that they would not take advice that involved taking time away from the Camino we were walking. I am sure that you will have found a balance here, although I also get the feeling you would err on the side of doing a little more than a little less when it came to helping those who needed greater care. Please take care in that.
 

Kanga

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés x 5, Le Puy x 2, Arles, Tours, Norte, Madrid, Via de la Plata, Portuguese, Primitivo
@Albertagirl you may not meet many pilgrims at all between Pau and Puenta La Reina. It is a beautiful, but seldom travelled route. From then on you will be in well supported territory, as you know.
 
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