Chapter 1 What is going on?

London October 2009, I was leading an interesting audit and had good fun with my team. Everything was going as planned and the family joined me there as it was All Saints school holidays back home. They took the opportunity to visit what we missed while we were living in Sevenoaks and really it was a fantastic time, professionally and personally as well.

We were all enjoying our time over there also remembering the time spent in England when we were living in Kent… The good old days some might say! It was like going back in time, being on holiday and at work all at the same moment. I even had meetings with friends who were with us in Malaysia and so remember some great moments we had during our 4 years in South-East Asia. Maybe I should later talk about those two fantastic family experiences to expand on my Rotary experience in Malaysia but we’ll see that later.

If you remember that second half of 2009, all the media were focusing on the swine flu or H1N1 that was spreading all over the globe and we all had to be careful not to get that flu. I will not go in all the details of the messages we were all receiving every day but you had to be deaf and blind for not being aware of the 21st century plague! Everything was made to not only make you aware of the decease but also to scare you as it was spreading fast and the messages were conflicting about getting vaccination or not. At the end of the day I did not get the shot!

In the meantime, I was also preparing my next assignment that was sending me to Manila in The Philippines for three weeks. The admin work to get a visa was cumbersome and I was not sure I could get it done on time for my mid-November trip. indirectly I guess I should thank the embassy for all the paperwork needed to get that visa… If I had it on time, ninety percent sure I old have taken my flight to Manila. Sure I’ll have another opportunity to sleep in the Shangri-La!

Second week of November, while we were closing the London audit and preparing the Manila one, I stayed at home as I was feeling tired and had soar throat and therefore made the decision to stay on the safe side and work from home for a couple of weeks. Quickly I started to feel more and more tired and so went to my doctor to check what was wrong. I came back with some antibiotics and advice to rest but no blood test or whatever.
After a few days, still planning my trip to The Philippines, I started to feel weaker and fever appeared, including convulsions at nights. Back to the doctor, nothing more than a flu and if it does not change, then we’ll see for a blood test to make sure it is not the now famous H1N1.
It kept getting worse day after day up to the point that I was fainting in the corridor at home and could barely walk 10 meters. The next phase was that I could not even hold a conversation as I was talking non-sense (I mean more than usual…).
That step really alarmed my wife who called the doctor again and finally she made the decision to bring me to the ER with a 50-20 blood pressure.

I’ll never thank my wife enough for her reflex and courage to bring me to the hospital that night where I would have, without a doubt, died at home at 44. I can’t even think what would have happened if I had received my visa on time for my business trip… For sure I would have come back in a plastic bag once someone would have discovered my dead body in my hotel room. I can’t refrain myself thinking that my time was not come yet… Everything aligned to give me a chance to survive that night of November 20th 2009!

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3 replies »

  1. Serge, thanks for the courage and spirit to share your story. Keep up the enthusiasm. You remind me every day is a gift to be treasured, especially with loved ones. I’m so glad I visited you one early winter in Liege and also saw my first snowfall! Take good care my friend!

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