August was all mapped out. We had 4 weeks to be a family, have fun, enjoy our time together without worrying about work, school, or nursery. It was time to chill the hell out, catch up with family and mates, go to the beach, and get to know our kids a bit better.
But I now know, just as many people in Sevilla have told me, you can’t plan anything.
The first week in August was chilled. I tried to give my wife as much of a break from the kids as possible so she could catch up with her best friend, have time with her family, and take the strain of the kids away.
It’s not like I don’t do my fair share normally. I often take them out on my own, bath them, and cook for them. But they can be a handful. I remember thinking that week how hard it was with the two, and that was with my wife in another room, or at least close by. Silly things like taking the two to the supermarket, or to the park, on my own was tough going; I just never knew what they were going to do next. They’d been fighting a lot too, which didn’t help.
Anyway, on the Monday of the second week in August my wife was complaining about a back pain.
“It’s probably nothing,” I said, rubbing on some deep heat. She just shrugged.
That Monday afternoon we went to a toy shop and bought my son a little digger and daughter a new doll to keep them entertained for five minutes. Little did I know that would be our last family trip for some time.
When we got back she complained about being cold, which was incredibly rare in 40 degree heat. We thought it might just be sunstroke, or a fever. The next day she was still feeling rough, but we still put it down to summer flu. I went to the pharmacy to get her some flu medicine and she picked up a bit.
However, that night she hardly slept and when I woke up, alone in bed, I panicked. She was downstairs, struggling to breathe. We called the emergency doctor number and explained the symptoms and they said get to the doctor as soon as possible.
So, with two hypo kids we walked down to the doctors. She was finding it hard to walk with the pain in her chest and when we sat in the waiting room I watched her holding her side and really began to worry.
The doctor said it could be pneumonia, but I couldn’t take it in. How the hell would she pick it up in two days, with no cold? It was bloody summer. They insisted we went to the hospital.
So my father-in-law came round to watch the kids.
Up at the hospital, it began to sink in. They immediately gave her gas to help her breath. Back in the waiting room it was like speaking with Darth Vader, but she didn’t appreciate the jokes I made. I still thought it was a simple fever or something.
Three hours later they came out and gave her some antibiotics. I googled the name. Levofloxacina; used to treat pneumonia.
Still at that point I was expecting to return home with her, but it wasn’t until we went back to see the doctor and she said she would be staying in that a tear dropped from my eye.
But for how long?
As long as it takes.
We were both speechless.
They dressed her in a hospital gown and gave me her clothes and rings. I was told I could see her again at 8pm.
Luckily, I was able to drop my kids with some friends up the road for a couple of hours. When I went back to see her in ‘observation,’ I still thought she’d be home in the morning.
My mother-in-law came to stay to help with the kids, and she said she’d stay as long as it takes. So when I saw my wife that evening, I told her she had to get out as quick as possible (joke, I love her really).
The next morning I get a call saying she was in la U.C.I, which was on la primera planta – the first floor. But I misunderstood what she said and heard that she’d been taken to planta, which when I told my mother-in-law was a positive thing because if she is in planta then it means it’s not that serious.
It wasn’t until I got to the hospital and realised that la U.C.I means intensive care.
Then when I was called into a room to chat with the doctor one on one, it hit me just how serious it was going to be.
He explained she had pneumonia. There was a build up of liquid in her pleura, and that she would need a scan so they could find out how to get rid of the liquid. Turns out they had to suck it out with a draining machine, for the following 6 days.
I asked him about the flight we had booked to England for the following week, he shook his head and told me to forget about it. But what about my family, them seeing the kids, the cousins playing? We’d spent all year waiting for the summer holiday together. Maybe I could take the kids on my own once my wife got out in a couple of days.
Then when I saw her, I realised it wasn’t about that anymore. There is nothing worse than seeing your partner in pain, with tubes, monitors, and gurgling noises around her.
It wasn’t until the morning that it kicked in.
I was on my way to the supermarket with the kids, feeling shell shocked; I’d hardly slept for 3 nights. The kids didn’t know what was going on; they are only 3 and 2, and all I told the oldest one was that Mama had a nasty cough.
They started to play up at the supermarket, picking up everything and asking if they could have it. I just nodded, with my shades on, trying not to cry.
I managed to hold it in, until we got to the park.
Such a stupid thing set me off. My son got in the pram and wouldn’t let my daughter in, which meant I had to carry her, push the pram, and carry the shopping. On a normal day, when I wasn’t worrying so much about my wife, I would have just done it, but the tears began to build up behind my eyes, bursting to pour out.
How was I going to cope with the kids on my own for so long (at the time I still thought it was only going to be a couple of days).
Anyway, I managed to hold in the tears, but after a while I just couldn’t physically carry my daughter, push the pram, and hold on to the bags.
I persuaded my son to get out and change, and when he did, because he was being nice, the tears began to stream.
But I battled on, now with my son in front, and prayed he didn’t turn round and see me, but he did.
Papa, are you crying?
Just a bit
My foot hurts
Don’t worry, when we get in I’ll put a plaster on it.
The tears poured until I got home.
Having my suegra to help was useful, but it just wasn’t the same as having one of my own here. Luckily my mum offered to come and help.
I still remember the moment when she said she would. I was in a chair beside my wife, who was asleep, texting my mum. When she said she’d be out in two days, I cried like a baby through pure relief.
My wife stayed in la UCI for almost a week, coming out, to planta, on the 15th of August, her Saint’s Day.
At this point we knew that the majority of the liquid, almost 2 litres, was out, and she was in the clear. She was still in a lot of pain though, on three antibiotics, pain killers, but at least she was in planta.
We asked how long she might be there, but they didn’t know for sure. One doctor said another 2 weeks, and we just laughed, thinking it would be impossible; there was no way we were going to miss out holiday at the beach too.
When my mum came out the pressure came off immensely. I could leave the kids with her and go off and see my wife every day, normally in the afternoon. The problem was it was still in the 40’s. Luckily a couple I know offered to help out. I don’t know what I would have done had it not been for my mate picking me up every day at about 16.00 and bringing me home. He was a life saver. Plus the fact he made me some salmorejo, goat’s cheese, and his wife some cuss cuss. Signs of pure kindness for a desperate man in need of help.
Each time I went to see my wife, I felt like I was on a date. It’s not like we have loads of time together with work and the kids, and we are often so knackered in the evenings. But her being in hospital gave us time together. It was like when we started, being cute with each other, almost falling in love again, not that we ever fell out, but still, sometimes you need a reminder of who the most important people in your life are.
Not one day went by that I didn’t see my wife. It was heart breaking, thinking how quickly she got this damn pneumonia, thinking she had been taken from us, and from her kids. To leave her each evening and go home alone, to an empty bed, was soul destroying.
I was gutted we couldn’t go to England, to see my family, but I couldn’t bare to leave her. The pressure was so much at times. I had a cry most days at some point, but those tears turned to joy as I saw her get better. I know I helped her, keeping her positive, keeping her motivated, and telling her she was going to fight this damn illness and we were going to get to that beach we live so much in Rota, even if I had to carry her (not that she weighed much anymore – hospital food is dire worldwide).
The kids were great considering their mummy was away. They were forced to get on better. Before they had been fighting a lot, but for some reason they began to help each other. I had to leave them on their own in the same room at times when before I wouldn’t have dreamt of it. They began to be friends, and did brilliantly.
When we found out that the medicine was finally working and she’d be free to go, and in time for our holiday at the beach, we were overjoyed, as were the kids.
She was there for 21 days in total.
I have a lot of people to thank for their help over this time. Friends and colleagues for asking about my wife while she was in hospital. My mate for taking me up to the hospital every day, his wife for lending me her husband. But most of all, I have to thank my mum.
She came out and helped, missed her cousins 60th birthday, left my dad, to whom she hasn’t been apart from before, to come out and look after two hypo kids for 3 weeks. I don’t know what I would have done without her help. So, cheers Mum.
Now as I sit here, my kids are asleep in bed upstairs, my wife is resting too, and my mum just made me a coffee, asking what I have been writing about, well, now you know.
In the end we did make it to the beach, 5 days down in Rota, and the time was so much more special than normal. We are more in love, our kids are stronger, and as a family we are binded stronger by our first real test together.
It was such a scary moment, seeing my wife there, in intensive care. Not a day will go by that I won’t remember exactly why I married her, and why I devoted my life to her, here in Sevilla, and appreciate that we have such a wonderful couple of kids, and two great families and friends to support us in times of need.