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Health Issues ☹

Frank66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2016 Camino Frances
September (2017) First stage of Camino Portugués
Hi all,
Just wanted to share my pain!
My wife and me had planned on walking the Portuguese Camino in May this year but fate has intervened . . .
On 12 December, whilst on a treadmill in a gym on a cruise ship in the Carribean, I suffered a cardiac arrest.
After 4 defibrillator shocks, great Medicare on the ship and an unscheduled 10 day stop in a Martinique hospital, we eventually made it back to the uk.I have since had an internal defibrillator/pacemaker fitted and am currently resting up at home.
This is my second treadmill-related cardiac arrest (time to take the hint?🤔). I had a triple heart bypass after my first arrest (it was buy one get two free!🤣)My wife is understandably worried about my heightened risk-level and is concerned about me exercising in the future.
I think I will avoid exercise that raises my pulse level too high but want to continue doing Caminos (it's like a drug!). In fact, the thought of never doing another one is devastating.
I would live to hear from anyone who has walked a camino with a similar health history.
Failing that, any words if encouragement would be most welcome 👍🏻
Anyway, time for a coffee and to watch some Camino-related YouTube! . . . .
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Currently on a "Virtual" Camino and striding out across Castile y Leon!
Hi all,
Just wanted to share my pain!
My wife and me had planned on walking the Portuguese Camino in May this year but fate has intervened . . .
On 12 December, whilst on a treadmill in a gym on a cruise ship in the Carribean, I suffered a cardiac arrest.
After 4 defibrillator shocks, great Medicare on the ship and an unscheduled 10 day stop in a Martinique hospital, we eventually made it back to the uk.I have since had an internal defibrillator/pacemaker fitted and am currently resting up at home.
This is my second treadmill-related cardiac arrest (time to take the hint?🤔). I had a triple heart bypass after my first arrest (it was buy one get two free!🤣)My wife is understandably worried about my heightened risk-level and is concerned about me exercising in the future.
I think I will avoid exercise that raises my pulse level too high but want to continue doing Caminos (it's like a drug!). In fact, the thought of never doing another one is devastating.
I would live to hear from anyone who has walked a camino with a similar health history.
Failing that, any words if encouragement would be most welcome 👍🏻
Anyway, time for a coffee and to watch some Camino-related YouTube! . . . .
Nothing to compare to that but my daughter's reaction to my own near miss: "Not dead then? Well that's a good thing!" put things into perspective.
I now haunt this Forum and walk virtual Caminos on Google Earth contemplating a return to full walking fitness.
Here's hoping things go well for you from here on.

PS - are you sure you should be drinking coffee? ☕ ;)
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
Hi Frank, sorry to hear your news. I walked my first Camino in 2012 16 yrs and several stents after my triple bypass, I had no issues as I walked in my own comfort zone, some days 16k and others up to 40k. I walked the Sarria section in 2013 with my wife, again no issues. I attempted a Camino in 2014 from SJPP but had to turn back at Orrison with chest pain and had a stent fitted in a clinic in Bayonne. All that said I am still hiking, I haven't done any more Caminos but that is based on how busy they are at the moment rather than health issues. If you are happy with your level of walking fitness and take it nice and easy you should be fine IMO.
Buen Camino.
 

Frank66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2016 Camino Frances
September (2017) First stage of Camino Portugués
Nothing to compare to that but my daughter's reaction to my own near miss: "Not dead then? Well that's a good thing!" put things into perspective.
I now haunt this Forum and walk virtual Caminos on Google Earth contemplating a return to full walking fitness.
Here's hoping things go well for you from here on.

PS - are you sure you should be drinking coffee? ☕ ;)
I knew someone would pick up on the 'coffee' detail! Thanks for the response👍🏻
Frank
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
Hi Frank - glad you survived again! I have to side with your wife ... what is this over-exercise addiction you have? ... with your heart history it is a very thin line between fit and dead - but you know that ;).

(first - don't take any advice on here Frank, your consultant is your guru! listen to what she/he says!)

So, treat this and all other replies as fun .. but listen to your consultant!!!

that said, here my two-penneth .. I have no knowledge of those with heart problem histories on Camino, sorry, but it seems to me that it depends upon how you walk a Camino ... if you are healthy at home and your consultant is happy for you to go and you go relaxed, slow, take it easy, and just eat up those few miles a day over pleasant time then sounds ok to me

but .. judging by your use of treadmills until death and then being brought back and then doing that treadmill thing again, I don't think that this is how you undertake Caminos ... time for a change here? as part of constant recovery you might find it benefical to take up meditation and tai-chi rather than stay with your compelling addiction - but that is very much up to you.

Frank - people die on Camino - and that is ok, everyone has to die somewhere ... if you do go again then perhaps you should do it with the assumption that it could be a one way ticket. Sort your affairs at home, write the will, say goodbye to your wife and family - carry on you a laminated card with blood group and next of kin details in Spanish as well as English and maybe in a waterproof pouch an apology and a 50€ note for the person who finds you, so that they can have a good drink afterwards.
Just be aware that with your known medical condition you may be unable to buy a travel insurance that will fly your body home - will you leave enough money for your wife to be able to do that without stress or harm?

So - with that all in order and the blessings of your consultant, and tender farewell to your wife, sure, why not go on Camino - if you live you will have had a wonderful time, if you die, well, we all have to die - and it is fairly obvious that you are not afraid of death ... otherwise you would modify your exercise activity -

Buen Camino ;)

oh - and Frank - give up the coffee????? 🤔
 

steve 217

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino frances planning via del la plata
Frank 66 sorry to hear of your recent health issues , i too when work or when in the small hours of the night i find myself awake and thinking of the Camino have found some solace in You Tube watching others walk the Camino.

On a practical note has the Cardiologist said that you have a max hr that you must stay below ? If so flattish Camino at slower pace?
Ranulph Fiennes after his “episode” ran 7 consecutive marathons in 7 different continents if my memory is correct , mind you i think his running buddy was his cardiologist !
I suppose it's like going on a long road trip with a mechanic.
Cycling may be an alternative if all else fails, either way i wish you a speedy recovery and hope that you get back on the Camino in some way .
Last year i took my elderly Mother from Sarria to Santiago and i didnt feel any shame in using the correos bag transfer after carrying her and my rucksack 30k one day , theres always a way .
Good luck Buen Camino
 

Frank66

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
May/June 2016 Camino Frances
September (2017) First stage of Camino Portugués
Hi Frank - glad you survived again! I have to side with your wife ... what is this over-exercise addiction you have? ... with your heart history it is a very thin line between fit and dead - but you know that ;).

(first - don't take any advice on here Frank, your consultant is your guru! listen to what she/he says!)

So, treat this and all other replies as fun .. but listen to your consultant!!!

that said, here my two-penneth .. I have no knowledge of those with heart problem histories on Camino, sorry, but it seems to me that it depends upon how you walk a Camino ... if you are healthy at home and your consultant is happy for you to go and you go relaxed, slow, take it easy, and just eat up those few miles a day over pleasant time then sounds ok to me

but .. judging by your use of treadmills until death and then being brought back and then doing that treadmill thing again, I don't think that this is how you undertake Caminos ... time for a change here? as part of constant recovery you might find it benefical to take up meditation and tai-chi rather than stay with your compelling addiction - but that is very much up to you.

Frank - people die on Camino - and that is ok, everyone has to die somewhere ... if you do go again then perhaps you should do it with the assumption that it could be a one way ticket. Sort your affairs at home, write the will, say goodbye to your wife and family - carry on you a laminated card with blood group and next of kin details in Spanish as well as English and maybe in a waterproof pouch an apology and a 50€ note for the person who finds you, so that they can have a good drink afterwards.
Just be aware that with your known medical condition you may be unable to buy a travel insurance that will fly your body home - will you leave enough money for your wife to be able to do that without stress or harm?

So - with that all in order and the blessings of your consultant, and tender farewell to your wife, sure, why not go on Camino - if you live you will have had a wonderful time, if you die, well, we all have to die - and it is fairly obvious that you are not afraid of death ... otherwise you would modify your exercise activity -

Buen Camino ;)

oh - and Frank - give up coffee!!!
Made me smile! But there is some considered advice lurking in there!
Thanks for the response 👍🏻
Frank
 

wayfarer

Moderator
Staff member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPP-Santiago-Finistera-Muxia. April/May 2012
Sarria-Santiago Sept. 2013
SJPP - Almost Orrison April 2014
As for the coffee issue, I was told to give up coffee and just drink very weak tea after my bypass. This lasted about 4 years then I was told to drink say 2 cups of coffee per day and lots of tea because of the high levels of antioxidants. I'll go back to the old adage, everything in moderation including moderation itself.
 

Diane Kinney

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Leon to Santiago May 21 to June 3, 2014
Ponferrada to Santiago September 2015
Hi Frank, in 2015 I met a Danish couple waiting for a bus. The gentleman had heart issues but the Camino was a long time goal and he still wanted to go. With his doctor’s blessing, he and his wife set off to do a Camino she planned with her husband’s health in mind.
They walked everyday for no more than 10 or 15 km, stopping mid morning then taking buses or taxis to where they planned to spend the night. They had a leasurely lunch and took mid day rests and then enjoyed touring the town and village they were in. They stayed in private accommodations as a good nights’ sleep was critical. They avoided steep climbs opting for taxis. They had their bags transported. The key for them was go slow and enjoy the experience.
The husband, after coming to terms with a “different” Camino, was loving it. The wife, who had never planned on doing a Camino, was loving it. They had met so many other pilgrims, enjoyed meals and conversations with locals and other travellers and were experienced a beautiful Camino.
What I took away from this is anything is possible just adjust to your new circumstances and embrace a different experience.
Wishing you a continued recovery.
 

David

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Moissac to Santiago Spring 2005 was the first foray.
As for the coffee issue, I was told to give up coffee and just drink very weak tea after my bypass. This lasted about 4 years then I was told to drink say 2 cups of coffee per day and lots of tea because of the high levels of antioxidants. I'll go back to the old adage, everything in moderation including moderation itself.
sounds good - my motto is "never take moderation to excess" :D
 

KJFSophie

My Way, With Joy !
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2014 & 2015 ),Via San Francesco(2017) Camino Portugese (2018 )Camino Ingles(2019) CF
Hi all,
Just wanted to share my pain!
My wife and me had planned on walking the Portuguese Camino in May this year but fate has intervened . . .
On 12 December, whilst on a treadmill in a gym on a cruise ship in the Carribean, I suffered a cardiac arrest.
After 4 defibrillator shocks, great Medicare on the ship and an unscheduled 10 day stop in a Martinique hospital, we eventually made it back to the uk.I have since had an internal defibrillator/pacemaker fitted and am currently resting up at home.
This is my second treadmill-related cardiac arrest (time to take the hint?🤔). I had a triple heart bypass after my first arrest (it was buy one get two free!🤣)My wife is understandably worried about my heightened risk-level and is concerned about me exercising in the future.
I think I will avoid exercise that raises my pulse level too high but want to continue doing Caminos (it's like a drug!). In fact, the thought of never doing another one is devastating.
I would live to hear from anyone who has walked a camino with a similar health history.
Failing that, any words if encouragement would be most welcome 👍🏻
Anyway, time for a coffee and to watch some Camino-related YouTube! . . . .
Not quite cardiac issues, but I've walked against sound medical judgement a few times. ( shhhh.don't tell anyone ! ) I'm not sure if your 'treadmill' events were pushing your physical limits or simply 'walking' . I know many with pacemakers and such who walk everyday with great health benefit. I think the key is knowing how much is too much. If you intend to get on that camino and walk 25+ K a day all uphill...maybe not a good idea. If you simply make it a "mosey", honoring your body and spirit, it's a very different plan. As a medical professional, I think you should first seek the input of your cardiologist, being honest about what your planned camino would entail and get that opinion. Secondly, assess whether or not you can and would be happy with doing a modified camino. Was it the actual physical exertion that appealed to you , or are there other elements that you could embrace? I'd consider, too, planning to sleep in the type of accommodations that would ensure restorative sleep and comfort to recharge. The right choice will come to you. Buen Camino!
 
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 Frank! So sorry about your medical issues but gosh, aren't you lucky to still be alive!
How about just doing Slow Caminos?
There are plenty of places and routes all over Spain that are basically flat walking.
You could walk short stages and bus over the mountainy parts.
Whatever you decide, best wishes and happy planning!
Love,
Annie
 

RRat

Member
Camino(s) past & future
Planning 2017
Hi all,
Just wanted to share my pain!
My wife and me had planned on walking the Portuguese Camino in May this year but fate has intervened . . .
On 12 December, whilst on a treadmill in a gym on a cruise ship in the Carribean, I suffered a cardiac arrest.
After 4 defibrillator shocks, great Medicare on the ship and an unscheduled 10 day stop in a Martinique hospital, we eventually made it back to the uk.I have since had an internal defibrillator/pacemaker fitted and am currently resting up at home.
This is my second treadmill-related cardiac arrest (time to take the hint?🤔). I had a triple heart bypass after my first arrest (it was buy one get two free!🤣)My wife is understandably worried about my heightened risk-level and is concerned about me exercising in the future.
I think I will avoid exercise that raises my pulse level too high but want to continue doing Caminos (it's like a drug!). In fact, the thought of never doing another one is devastating.
I would live to hear from anyone who has walked a camino with a similar health history.
Failing that, any words if encouragement would be most welcome 👍🏻
Anyway, time for a coffee and to watch some Camino-related YouTube! . . . .
There are sections that would take hours not minutes for EMT to respond and get you to a hospital. Avoid those sections. Half the fun is sitting in front of a bar in the afternoon, with fellow pilgrims is planning the next day. I never met a pilgrim that questioned another's motivation, although after a few glasses of wine it might get loud. In my case we had a lady that was limited by health issues. She would ride the bus on some sections. She became our advanced scout. It was joyous to arrive into a town with her waiting for us.
 

motero99

New Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances 2019
Camino Norte (2020)
Good Luck Frank. In August 2018 I had "widow maker" heart attack while swimming in a 2 mile open water race in Lake Superior. I did manage to finish before full on cardiac arrest. That being said, after a lot of PT and learning to watch my pulse rate, 8 months later I started on the Camino Frances. I took the first day easy and went only to Orisson. There were instances where I knew I had to stop as my pulse was over my threshold of 130. I used a Fitbit to monitor my pulse. That being said, in my case my heart adapted to the trail and I did the European walk of averaging 20K a day. I did have an episode of a bladder problem, but that was due to a reaction to the chemo I was given after bladder surgery a month before. Luckily I was only 1 day out of Leon, so it was a quick bus trip there where I was diagnosed and received medication. the next day I bused back to where I had stopped and continued the walk. I guess it helps to time medical incidents where you are close to a major city. That being said, there are more than a few monuments on the Camino Frances to people who had heart attacks and died there. Going to try the Camino Norte this spring. I wish you luck.
 

GraemeHall

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
Francés 2017/18; Portugués 2019
Hi Frank
I took the Frances pilgrimage in 2018 at age 69, and continued on to Muxía and Fisterre. No problems except for a break in Léon because of tendinitis. Roll on to mid-2019, and I found myself in hospital in Brisbane having 2 stents installed.
I had planned and paid for the travel to do the Portugués pilgrimage, from Lisbon to Santiago, later in the year. The cardiologist's advice was, "Well, put it this way. Your heart is in better nick this year than it was last year!"
So in Sep-Oct of 2019 I walked 640 odd km, with pack, 24 days with no rest days. All went well - max HR observed was 119bpm.
The health issues were not nearly as dramatic as yours, but listen to your own body and your specialist.....for what it's worth.
Buen Camino.
 

FooteK

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
SJPdP to SdC, 2013; Lourdes to SdC, 2015; ??? to SdC (2020)
I totally agree with the idea of doing the Camino at a slower pace. It isn't a race, as you well know. You don't have to do a certain number of Kms in order to be "doing" it. I posted on another topic, I got it from a poster her several years ago, and I will repeat it here:
Start out walking like an old man, so you can finish as a young man.
No explanation needed, right?
 
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 Frank
I took the Frances pilgrimage in 2018 at age 69, and continued on to Muxía and Fisterre. No problems except for a break in Léon because of tendinitis. Roll on to mid-2019, and I found myself in hospital in Brisbane having 2 stents installed.
I have Halls in my line.
Just sayin' maybe we're cousins! lol!
 

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