Its over two years since the break up of my 12 year relationship and all the shit that goes with it. If you have ever been there you will know what I mean. If you havent, then dont!
I had taken just about as much as I could take from the UK bias family court system, to the point where it nearly cost me my life. Arriving in The Algarve on that Saturday night during February 2011 and finding myself in intensive care on the following Monday morning having had a heart attack isn’t what the doctor ordered. In fact it was that same old story “too much stress”. You think you are in control only to be caught out by that silent killer. You do think it’s never going to happen to you, but believe me, I’m the last person it should have happened too, as you will realise as you read on. We were just out for a walk on a Sunday morning in Faro, taking in the sun and a few sights, sitting on the harbour wall watching the mountain bikers out for their sunday spin and doing a little shopping in the local Jumbo supermarket, then arriving back at the apartment only to be hit hard by the most stabbing pain in the chest and then down the left arm. I knew it was’nt something I could explain or experienced before and as it intensified I started to realise that I needed help, and fast. So within five minutes I find myself sitting on the steps of the local police station trying to explain in English that I was having a heart attack or so I thought. Luckily, I have my partner with me and she being Brazilian, speaks perfect Portugues and quickly gets the help I need. Within a few hours I’m in intensive care and waiting for the specialist cardiologist. Next day I’m on the operating table actually watching on the three flat screen monitors above the operating table as the cardiologist threads the cable through a small cut in my wrist and as I feel it snake up my arm and across my chest and then the strangest feeling and sight as the end of the cable with its die pops into my left Atrium. How strange is that? Actually being able to watch them poking around inside your heart.
Its all over in what seems like a few minutes. The guy speaks to me in Portugues. I think he said “all done” well I hoped that what he said. Within 30 minutes I’m back in bed continuing my RnR.
Anyway, 7 days in hospital and daily advice from a very young and I guess well-intentioned lifestyle nurse. If you knew me you would know just how ironic that is. As I jog, walk every day and eat healthily, I dont smoke or drink. I wanted to say its just stress but I kept quiet and let her do her job. She was Portugues and had limilted English. You see I worked as a personal trainer for ten years after leaving university with a health and exercise degree. I have also done countless triathons, cross country and road races. I know its all in the past but habits die hard and I’m still fit for a middle aged almost completely grey guy. See the irony now?
So I’m out, back in the Portugues sunshine. What next? Some hard thinking about the rest of my life, thats whats next. So I spend a few days just relaxing without over-exherting myself. Eventually I decide to venture out to see if I can walk. I get a few hundred metres and have to stop for a short rest and then carry on. You dont really and truely know just how fragile and short life can be untill you have knocked on the door for real. Then you really do take stock of your life and start to think differently. I can tell you that my thought processes had started to change even before I left my hospital bed. Ok, what shall I do now? I knew one thing for sure I was’nt going to let another female do that to me ever again. Forgiveness is one thing but learning from your mistakes is another. “never again”
Although I can never and will never stop thinking about my two children and waiting for the day we are together again I do have to get that evil bitch out of my mind and put all the pain behind me. If I dont I am likely to have more health problems and I know that is just what she wants. I know she already has a new victim, I mean boyfriend and you know I actually feel sorry for him. You know men have to stick together and I would’nt wish my last two years on anyone.
After my new partner and best friend left for Brazil I found it quite hard to actually make a plan for the future so I guess it started to come together over the space of a few weeks back in the UK. I was constantly having flashbacks of her leaving me in Faro airport not knowing how my body would react to altitude when I left Faro too three days later. Watching her go through the airport control was very emotional and sitting there in the departure lounge upset about her leaving for Brazil and worried about the flight on Saturday was another. You see her visa had run out that week and she had no choice but to leave me. I know it was as hard for her as it was for me. She was flying back to Brazil not actually knowing or being sure that I was ok on my own for the three days alone in our apartment or flying next Saturday back to Liverpool.
Anyway I got on the Ryan Air plane back to LIverpool. They tell you that its a budget flight company and to be honest its all you need for a two or three hour flight but I would want to fly any further with commercial adds on the flight intercom every five minutes. The flight went ok on Saturday, and I arrived at John Lennon Airport in Liverpool and subsequently Leek in the Staffordshire Moorlands later that day and started to plan the rest of my life.
For the next few weeks I walked every day and slowly got myself fit again.Just a mile to start and then slowly increasing the time and pace over the next few weeks. To be honest I got fit quite quickly. Having visited my GP on the first available appointment after my arrival home and realising that I was going to wait 8 weeks for a cariologist appointment in the UK I had already decided to be fit before I saw the specialist and tell him, thanks for the advice but I dont need you know! You may as well sort it out for yourself if you have to wait 8 weeks. One thing to mention at this point. The next politician that says the NHS is the best in the world I will through the TV through the nearest window. Whilst in Portugal I can tell you that nothing was too much trouble for the staff in that hospital. They actually had a lady for everything. If you wanted a shave or a hair cut the lady was there in minutes. The food was great the cleanliness was first class. A lot of people dont know this but Portugal is still more or less a third world country but I can tell you compared to the NHS Portugal knocks spots off the UK. In 2010 I spent a week in North Staffs University Hospital suffering from one of the most painfull complaints a man can have, a kidney stone. I can tell you that I never felt pain like that. I now know having had a heart attack too that even that wasn’t as painfull as the kidney stone passing through your system. The reason for telling you this is that for lunch we had sandwiches in those triangular plastic boxes. You know the ones you get from a machine or the sandwich shop next to where you work. For dinner well much the same. It certainly wasnt what you could call a nutritious meal. In Portugal every meal was freshly cooked on the premises. Actually looked like fish and fresh vegetables and actuall tasted like home cooked food. Another cost cutting exercise for the NHS Trust North Staffordshire. Maybe the admionistrators should all go to the Algarve for a working holiday to see just how to run a hospital.
I waited 8 weeks with a cancellation included for my cardiologist appointment. I actually thought that my GP was joking as I sat in his office while he was making a telephone booking to see my first UK cardiology specialist and him saying its an eight week waiting list. He quiried the 8 weeks and then said that the receptionist had told him that eight weeks was an emergency appointment. I thought thats typical, I’m off back to Portugal. In truth the service isnt the fault of the staff working for the NHS its the culture of constantly trying to save money whist throwing it needlessly on attacking other countries and leaking it into the pockets of corrupt and useless quango’s, politicians and less important causes. In my view the health service should be the number one priority for funding.
Anyway, I’m rambling again and getting stressed. Thats the one thing I promised myself not to do!
For about two months after arriving home I made a number of lifechanging decisions. Making my mind up a number of times and then either changing my mind or altering the plan. But one morning, and at this point its important to point out that I am a “born again Christian” I got the urge to pray whilst still in bed and just mulling thoughts around in my head. I prayed for guidance and got out of bed thinking no more of it. But I sat down to turn on my laptop and read my emails it came to me. Im off, life is too short. It actually seemed so positive. Just as though the thought was set in concrete already. I told my partner by Skype and I knew that my prayer had been answered so clearly. You see, ask for help and he answers at the right time.
So over the next few weeks I started to make the plans bring all the details together and I left.
Follow my trip on the home page as we tour the world while waiting patiently for the day my children come home.