Well here we are again, 3rd time in Tenerife, 3rd time at the Marylanza. If you want to know all about it read one of the previous 2 accounts as it's not changed too much. This will just be a short one, with anything unusual that happens.
We booked up 11 days this year, and by chance my colleagues Colin and Evonne and their two boys had also booked for an overlapping time. They were here the first time we came. Claire wanted to get some repeat photographs to compare with the first time, but the kids have all grown strangely camera shy.
We flew from Manchester again.
Enough of that. So we got here fine, and it's all very familiar. We have a room at the back, with a view of the golf course, and we're very close to the restaurant. The furniture hasn't changed but it's really solid stuff so still looks decent. And they still have chocolate doughnuts for breakfast, though not such a variety as last time.
The food is always a highlight here and it really is pretty good. The pastries are delicious and the pool bar has a much bigger selection than most other places we've been. Here goes another "food verses swimming" weight challenge.
The games are the same as ever, with darts, pool, table tennis and schoelen tournaments throughout the day, run by a local guy called Leo now (Dana has been promoted to the reception desk). They break up the day well so we didn't get bored so easily.
We went to Siam Park again, and this time Cate at last got to go on the Tower of Power. Not that it's that great an experience, being quick, a bit painful and you have to close your eyes for most of it. But we really enjoyed the Singha, and the other rides we managed to get on during the morning. However we've done Siam a few times now so didn't buy the half price tickets for another visit.
I managed to get out for walks most mornings before the sun came up and it got too hot. No chases from dogs or other dodgy encounters this time. The most excitement was when a guy asked for help finding his hotel.
The shopping centre across the road proved an attraction now that Cate has a penchant for Starbucks. We visited a few times, and one time I spotted that some monster trucks were parked just a block up the road. They had some shows organised from the Saturday but we didn't book up.
And then everything changed.
It started out innocently enough. Claire had a sore stomach on Friday night. By Saturday it was still pretty sore so she spent most of the day in the room. On Sunday no change so we asked reception to get a doctor.
It all went a bit loopy from there. The doctor sent us in a taxi to a local private hospital. They did some tests and decided Claire had appendicitis. They could operate that day but needed insurance details. The hospital said they don't work with that insurer, and the insurer said we should get Claire to a public hospital if possible. We could pay for the op ourselves but it would be around 10,000 euros. Gulp!
So the hospital called us an ambulance and we were taken up to the Candelaria hospital in Santa Cruz, a 50 minute journey. I was surprised when the two paramedics came in and one spoke with a strong East coast (of Scotland) accent. He was a Tenerife native but his parents came from Edinburgh.
At the big hospital we were dropped off and spent the next half day in the A&E section while Claire got various tests, scans and X rays. The staff were very nice despite us not speaking Spanish or bringing an interpreter.
However by about 7 pm I was starving and asked someone where a vending machine could be found. He pointed me to just outside in the visitor waiting room. It took me two minutes to select a chicken sandwich and a Mars bar, but when I went back in Claire was gone, leaving a couple of text messages: "come back" and "they've taken me to a different X ray area". Not only couldn't I find her but they chucked me out of A&E as it was for patients only. I had to wait in the visitors waiting area.
Cate was back at the hotel all this time, and thankfully Colin and Evonne were able to watch her and take her to dinner. By 10, I had to tell her to get herself to bed and I'd try to get back before morning. Eventually I got a text from Claire saying I could come up to ward 3 in the gynecology section. I asked a porter how to get there and he showed me, finishing with a "congratulations"!
Claire was going to be kept in, so I at least knew I could go back to the hotel. She was due an exploratory operation in the morning.
It was too late for the bus back to Los Cristianos, so I pressed the taxi button and waited. After a few times with no result the staff took pity on me and called one for me. The porter who I'd spoken to earlier was passing and stopped to speak again. He said when he'd said "congratulations" earlier my face didn't reflect a happy mood. "No baby?" he asked.
Anyway, the taxi arrived and took me home. He wondered if I was in getting treatment after too much partying, but I explained that it was my wife's stomach that was the problem. The Meiklejohns aren't known for our wild parties.
I got home about 12:30 and flopped out for the night. Claire was in a strange hospital with uncertain problems and few people who spoke our language.
On Monday morning I got a message: "just going in for exploratory op" and from then on it was radio silence. I found a local car hire place through the reps and hired a car for a few days. Taxis would be too expensive and buses too much of a hassle, so I was going to have to get used to driving on the right. We decided about 4 pm to go up anyway, despite no word, and hope we could see Claire. The hospital gave us her ward number but that was all. I took some advice from the reps, who suggested that park and ride would be easiest, if not the quickest way of getting there. So Cate and I drove to Santa Cruz, parked in the big Intercambiador bus station and went to catch a tram. This was easier said than done. There's a machine that sells tickets which you charge up for a certain number of trips. You then validate the ticket in the tram by holding it up to a screen. I had no idea what I was doing the first time but after a few trips I was validating like a pro.
20 minutes on the tram and we were at the hospital. I tried going in the A&E section but a nice lady took us into a room and explained we were in the wrong place. Round the front and up the lifts we went looking for room 306, only to find that 305 was followed by 307. It turned out all the odd numbers were in one wing and the even ones in the other wing.
Anyway we got there and Claire was awake and groggy, with no idea of the op results yet. We passed on a few essentials and left her, getting home just 20 minutes late for dinner. So we found a decent pizza restaurant just down the road.
Tuesday and there's news. When they did the exploratory op they found several organs inflamed, and so they took them all out. Claire was now down to one ovary, one fallopian tube and no appendix.
Cate and I went to Loro Park for the morning, meeting Craig and Margaret from our church, who were holidaying in the North of the island. Loro had expanded a little, but with the same shows as ever. We warned Craig and Margaret about the orca show but they decided to sit near the front anyway and we all spent the rest of the morning with wet shorts.
After Loro I took us all into Santa Cruz and visited Claire, stopping to try and find her a pair of flip flops. She was much improved from the day before, and impressed to get a pastoral visit when a thousand miles from home.
The next few days developed into a pattern. Claire was stuck in the hospital on a drip, getting antibiotics, so Cate and I spent the morning at the hotel, winning ice lollies at the darts, then headed up to the hospital in the afternoon, getting back in time for dinner.
We visited the new Siam Mall a couple of times, and we went to the Siam Park night event on Friday evening. That was the day we should have flown home, and Colin, Evonne and the boys headed off, but we found ourselves stuck in a kind of Groundhog Day, not knowing how long we would be here.
At the weekend the usual doctor was off so Claire had a different one and didn't get any further news. But on Monday morning the familiar doctor was back and there was good news. "I'm getting out today!" was the message I received. So we took our last trip up the motorway, collected Claire and the doctor's report and brought her home to the Marylanza.
The driving had actually been pretty good. We were close to the motorway and the Intercambiador was just off junction 3 at the other end. The tram system was great, regular as clockwork and easy to use. And the hospital had been brilliant: very friendly and caring and with great facilities. The only problem Claire found was that they kept bringing her a cup of tea, and didn't believe that a British person doesn't like tea.
The only real difficulty was getting the insurance to act. They wouldn't do anything before we got the doctor's report and then they had to get it translated. Even then I had to phone them to prompt then into doing something and they eventually booked us two extra days at the Marylanza, after we'd already had an extra four. Once Claire was out we had to get flights home and of course the insurance asked if we had a fit to fly certificate when the doctor had said we didn't need one. Anyway they eventually arranged a flight on the Wednesday night, so Claire had a couple of days of recovery before going home.
We had special assistance for the flight home, so Claire had a wheelchair in the airport, an extra seat beside her (extra leg room would have been better) and a fancy bus with a raising cabin got her and a couple of others of the plane at Manchester. Then of course we were at the wrong terminal (we flew back with easyJet) and had to walk over a mile to the car park. Anyway, after a long drive through the dawn and breakfast on the way, the ordeal and the holiday were over. Charlie was glad to see us and we had the weekend to recover. Oh, yes, the weight loss challenge. Well I managed to lose a few pounds but Claire triumphed with a multi-pronged strategy of surviving on a drip for a week and having several organs removed.
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