A DIFFICULT DECISION
Decisions can be difficult to make, especially when they concern the members of your family. Love them or hate them, your family are important and should take priority over any enjoyment you might be having when an emergency strikes.
This decision was not life threatening at the time, but it certainly felt like it. Every year, for the past few years, my family and I have spent our holidays in the South of France. My brother, an engineer, lives there with his wife and family. The children are nearly all grown up now; the youngest being fourteen years of age last Easter when we went over to see them. It was to be a catastrophic journey for all concerned and one which would force me to cut our holiday short and return home; something that at the outset, I did not want to do.
The events which transpired to destroy the holiday began before we went. I was at work, teaching year nine when my wife collapsed at home. My seven year old son was off sick himself and had telephoned the school so we arranged for her to be rushed to hospital.
This was two weeks before we were due to go on holiday. The doctor’s said that they thought it could be Meningitis or a TIA, a mini stroke. I was terrified at the prospect, but when further tests were carried out, it was neither and it was found to be a viral infection; very serious, but with plenty of rest, she would recover. The South of France was suggested as a good place to go and rest when they found out that we were going.
My wife was still recovering when we set off on the Saturday after the end of term. My family; two children, myself and my wife, set off with the idea of rest in mind for a full ten days. It was to turn into a nightmare for all of us. The journey down was fine; eight hundred and twenty five miles in two days and two nights. Constant white lines before my eyes. When we got to our destination though, things immediately worsened.
My son is asthmatic and can be prone to terrible bouts of asthma if he gets a bad cold or the flu. On the way down, he developed a head cold, which developed further into a full attack of influenza. He was coughing and finding it increasingly hard to breathe. It got so bad that no-one could sleep very much and his behaviour worsened as a result, due to tiredness and lack of sleep.
We then received another blow as my wife began to suffer further symptoms that were part of her illness and we began to discuss the merits of continuing with the holiday and visiting the hospital to get them both sorted out or to return home immediately. I wanted to return to England; to safety and the comfort of home and family doctor, where medicine is free for children and the care comes without cost.
However, I did not want to cut short the holiday either, so we had a dilemma on our hands. We were totally unsure what to do and were over eight hundred miles away from home, vulnerable and dejected. It was my wife who said that I was to be the one who decided in the end, and so I was left with a very awkward decision. Was I to take us all home, knowing that it would be at least a year, if not more, before we could return, or was I to take the risk and stay, paying the fees for consultation; money we did not have at the time ?
I spent a long, horrible day weighing the problem over, keeping quiet, which is not my usual way when on holiday. My sister in law knew something was on my mind and tried to snap me out of my concern, but it did not work. Nothing could. In the end, I did not know which way to turn, so I began to think that it would be best to return home, as quickly as possible. My son’s behaviour, as well as his illness, was getting worse and was becoming embarrassing.
So, on the Wednesday morning, we returned home, travelling to Clermont Ferrand, through the Ardeche mountains towards our Formule 1 hotel. We got there too early, so we continued and got as far as Orleans, south-west of Paris by seven o’clock. We spent the next hour trying to get a hotel room and were stung for £68-00 due to my lack of French, as a result. The night was terrible for me as I was with my son and he was up all night, coughing until the early hours. I got approximately two hours sleep, after driving for twelve hours or so.
The following day, we set off for Calais and home. We were supposed to stay with my sister-in-law’s sister in Rouen, but we decided to skip that and telephoned my brother to ask him to inform her of our concerns for our son. When I got off the phone we were out of money and did not even have a phone card.
We then continued to Calais and sailed back to England, returning home in the late evening. I was even sea sick on the way back !
It was a very difficult decision for me to make and one which I regret, for something happened as we got home which I still do not understand to this day. My wife and I have discussed this and we can only come to one conclusion. Our son’s illness vanished within a day and his terrible behaviour stopped. It is difficult to know whether it was a psychological attack of fear at being away from home or whether he was just being horrible in order to get us to return home. We know what we believe but we will probably never know the truth about why he behaved so terribly.