The hell hole!

It was my first trip in an ambulance. It was old and rattled a lot. After about 15 minutes we arrived at the De Sao Jose Hospital. A very old building. The ambulance crew checked me in and handed over the papers the ships medical team had quickly put together. The ambulance pair departed leaving me on a trolley.

I found myself in a waiting area which had about 40 trollies lined up alongside each other. They had found a slot for me. After some time I was wheeled away and lined up for a couple of bags of Portuguese blood to be dripped into me.

I was still on my trolley for the 2 days in the place. No question of me being offered a bed! It was almost impossible to sleep. I asked whether or not I could have a pillow. No they didn’t have pillows in Lisbon hospitals. And the noise was horrific at night. People were shouting and fighting. Nurses were shouting instructions to each other.

After two days I was moved to a nearby public hospital which had a haematology department – the Dos Capuchos. The doctor in charge spoke English which helped. By this time the Smith family (Louise and Mike) had swung into dictatorial and organisational mode and were talking to and chasing the travel insurers Allianz, about getting me home. Mike flew out to Lisbon from his home in Dubai. He persuaded the insurers and the hospital that we should stay in a hotel and go into the hospital as an outpatient.

That worked well. There was a room in the hospital with 12 chairs where patients sat with drips attached. Some people appeared daily, some weekly.

Some days I sat there for 13 hours. 9.00am start, then some blood taken to be tested. Hours later after testing, bags of matching blood were ordered. They might not arrive until late afternoon. Then the slow process of dripping it into me began. On the last day in Lisbon the process didn’t finish until 10.30pm. Sudukos, Wordle and John Grisham helped to pass the time.

Halfway through my stay in Lisbon, Mike flew back to Dubai to be with Gretchen, who is shortly to give birth, and Archie. He had been able to work on line during his time in Lisbon. On the day he left Louise arrived from London. She worked on line in cafes near the hospital and I sat in the dreaded room attached to a drip.

Plans for getting me back to Southampton General Hospital were being sorted by Allianz. They wanted a doctor to accompany me on the flight and they also needed to be sure that a bed would be available in the SGH when we arrived there.

Doctor Veronique arrived from Belgium and we (Doctor, Louise and me) set off from Lisbon on 16 May on an EasyJet flight to Gatwick. On arrival we were transferred to an Ambulance which drove at high speed to Southampton arriving at the hospital at 10.30pm.

SGH had a bed for me (with a pillow!) but before that they carried out a number of tests. The next day after more medics had seen me, I was moved to a new single room with en suite shower and WC and a TV. I thought I was being treated regally but I later discovered the only reason I was in a single room was because I had returned from Portugal and might have brought with me some Portuguese bugs!

After more tests I was told I could go home and that was on the 20 May – a fortnight after being dumped ashore in Lisbon.

After I had left the ship Jane and Kim remained on Queen Anne until she arrived back in Southampton 3 days later. Kim had to cope with all the packing for the 3 of us and getting all the luggage home and then she looked after Jane until she, Kim was able to go home on 25 May.

It was sad that the 3 of us missed the 14 days to the Canaries, more so because my sister Liz and her husband Tim were on that voyage. It would have been the first voyage that my sister and I would have enjoyed at the same time.

Now it’s a matter of waiting to hear the results of the tests carried out last week in Southampton and the suggested treatment.

The only reason for putting this on the blog is that it saves me explaining it in separate emails!

Thank goodness I arrived back in time to see the Saints victory yesterday. Louise and Red had my tickets and David D’Arcy Hughes and his grandson had Carole Gordon’s tickets and Mike flew in with his Dubai Saints friends and they all had a really great day at Wembley and surrounding hostelries.

Louise and Mike at Wembley


10 Replies to “Lisbon”

  1. Great to learn that your home.

    Hope the tests find nothing too serious – I’ll keep an eye out for you in the Haematology Outpatients – C7. Its a long shot but we might bump into each other – I only vist once a month now.
    SGH is recognised as world class for Haematology so you live in the right place! Cheers Jon

  2. Smithy,
    My dear old chum: what Lisbon larks I don’t think: clearly not much fun there!
    Poor you old boy; but you must have brought the Saints their luck!
    In Portugal but will contact you on my return.
    Keep safe and get well quickly.
    Love to Jane and family 😇 Bill

  3. Wow what an experience, not to be repeated. So glad you are finally home and in one piece! Let’s hope the tests find something that can be easily and quickly treated.

  4. Good Morning Richard,
    Sorry to hear of your medical issues encountered during your recent cruise but good to know that you are now safely back in the SGH.
    Looking forward to your next blog

    1. Thanks John – good to hear from you. Lots of tests at the moment but the NHS are gearing themselves up for an old troublemaker!

  5. 30th May – Just finished reading – Thank you so much for the Effort of writing.
    Have been thinking of you both since the first day on QA – and still am “Thinking” – a rare thing, you’ll know!!
    (I did cheer for SFC, by the way! )

    Will write again soon, and hoping the results of the blood reports as well as other tests help the staff to get things sorted ASAP for you -and wishing there was Anything we could do to help?
    Rosie xx

  6. Richard,
    What a horrendous experience ! We did have a medical emergency
    When on holiday on the Algarve, when the hotel doctor was called,
    who was cultivated and efficient, so there are parts of Portugal
    which are 1st world , and not the disgusting conditions which you encountered.
    Hope ( when you get them ) the test results are OK.

  7. Hi Richard,
    We’re so please to read this. We had been very worried about you and really missed seeing you on the last few days of the voyage. We’re delighted to hear that you are home but sorry about the terrible ordeal you had in Portugal. What a nightmare! We do hope you get good news from your test results and make a full recovery. Hopefully, our paths will cross on another cruise one day.
    With our love to you and Jane and Kim,
    Jane & Bill

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