In Lisbon the truth about Lesley's back problems hit us with full force. Finally she had a x-ray done and the results where not good. Now we are awaiting an operation.
Lesley never complaints about anything. This makes it hard to know how bad things really are. We visited doctors all over the place (Norway, UK, Spain and now Portugal) trying to find the easy cure. Surely a few tablets would do the job? But this never happened and the gale across Biscay finally destroyed all hope for a "easy fix". The fact was that she gradually got worse. It was getting harder to walk, it was painful to sleep. Something had to be done. I had told Lesley that an Atlantic crossing was out of bounds for her unless her back improved greatly. A slipped disc half way across the big pond is not what I wanted. If she was not getting better she would have to fly across.
Arriving in Cascais Lesley went off to find a hospital. Being new to Portugal and Cascais the place to start looking was the hairdresser at the marina. They proudly advertise that they have four translators and provide a level of service unknown in "hyper effective" Norway. They have time to talk and to care. So it turned out that one of the people who worked there had an uncle who..... The next minute Lesley left in a cab to see the doctor.
Unfortunately this was the week that I had to leave again to do some work. So while Lesley was seeing the doctor I had to head north. First I was coaching an international group of leaders in Copenhagen, then off to Oslo for meetings and then to StrÝmstad in Sweden to run a three day workshop. All great fun, I like my job, but it is never nice to leave your family especially when Lesley was not well. The yachting community however is like a large family. We all take care of each other. So when Lesley was getting worse and the doctor told her to take it very easy they all stepped in and did whatever they could to help. SY Noravind helped with the kids and communication as Lesley did not have mobile phone. Camilla more or less lived there with her friend. Colin got to spend a lot of time on SY Wild Alliance with his friend Will. Colin went to the aquarium in Lisbon with them. Camilla went a couple of days later with Noravind. They both had school on different boats during the week. They where both busy and busy children are often happy children. Viviane on Wild Alliance went to the hospital with Lesley while John cooked dinner for everybody. It is a great bunch of people!
Half way through my week I got the message from Lesley that the x-rays where not good. I was in the middle of a workshop with 50 participants from Norway and Sweden. The doctors said that urgent treatment was necessary if she was to keep her ability to walk! It turned out we where very lucky to have had that x-ray done in time! It was not so easy to concentrate the rest of the workshop.
Lesley was put on a treatment schedule right away. So she had to go in for injections every day, cortisone and hormones to get any swelling down. She then had a CT scan late at night. Viviane and Lesley both battling to stay awake. As I am writing this I am on the plane heading back to Lisbon. We do not know yet when she is to be operated or how long she will need to recover. It sounds like the operation is necessary however. As the information came in from Portugal I had the opportunity to talk to a specialist in Oslo. Dag Andre, a friend of mine, had a neighbour who was a specialist. Lars Haukeland was very helpful and very sympathetic. He could confirm the diagnosis and the treatment. It all sounded very familiar to him and he assured us that it was all routine. The operation apparently takes only about one hour. Recovery about one week. But not having spoken to the doctors in Lisbon I do not know yet what will happen. There might be complications.
For us this is a time for re-planning. The future seems uncertain but we are still set on crossing the ocean with the Atlantic Rally for Cruisers (ARC). Before that time we have to do some work to the boat and get our new engine installed in Lanzarote. So in-between speaking about Branding, Emotional IQ and leading group discussions I was calling crew (maybe they could delay the trip?), delivery captains (could someone maybe take the boat down for me so I could stay with Les?), the yard (how much time do we really need to put the new engine in?) and ... to see how it all could be re-planned. Lesley wanted me to put the kids onboard and leave right away leaving her behind.She did not want to disturb our plans. But for me that did not feel ok at all. I would not like to leave her alone in a foreign country having surgery. So after frenetic calling and some thinking the plan seems to be that I do sail the boat to Lanzarote but only in a weeks time after all is organised around Lesley. Ann (Lesleys mum) and/or Karen (sister) will fly up from South Africa to be with Lesley while I am having the engine installed.
What happens after that is up in the blue. Maybe we fly to Lisbon to be with Lesley, maybe she can cross the Atlantic, maybe we winter in the Canaries...... We will see. The main thing now is to make sure Lesley is well taken care of and that she will recover. Everything else has to be second priority. I guess life is rather unpredictable?
This site was last updated 19-10-2005 17:50:49