A little over three years ago I was living in the South of Spain and wracked with so much physical pain from some mystery illness, I felt like I was knocking very hard at death's door to get in.
It was at the same time that Coronavirus hit European shores and the entire country went into lockdown. Because of that, I could not get any medical attention other than an appointment at my local health center. The doctor told me it was nothing more than old age pains and prescribed Tylenol. On the way back home I got stopped by the police who told me that if they saw me out again I would get a 600 euro fine.
The Tylenol didn't work, so I had to chance another visit to the health center. This time I got prescribed Tramadol, normally used for patients with acute pain due to cancer. It is strong stuff. That did very little to alleviate the pain I was riddled with. To make matters worse I got stopped by the police again and the threat of a hefty fine was repeated.
The frustrating thing was that there wasn't any attempt at all to try to diagnose what was wrong with me. I felt like I was being fobbed off by doctors who looked genuinely scared to see me. They just wanted to get me out of the clinic as soon as possible. There was a third appointment and the young doctor angrily told me very sternly to get out before I could even try to tell him how ill I was. I was at my wit's end.
I have never felt so desperate in all my days. I had run out of money to buy food, and supplies at home were running low. I wasn't even allowed to go out to the shop anyway, without being accosted by the police. Then an angel stepped in and saved my life.
My Japanese wife was at home with her family in Japan. And from that great distance, some 10,642 kilometers away, she set to work, diagnosing my illness, and organizing and paying for my journey to Japan and salvation.
First, she asked me to go into every detail about the pain I was in. Then she got on her computer and did some medical research. In a very short time, she told me I had PMR and GCA, one of them life-threatening.
Then she booked me onto three very expensive flights, from Spain to Germany then on to Japan. I have to say, that was definitely the most horrendous journey I have ever been on.
I arrived at the airport in Jerez in Andalucia and checked in. Then I went through to security control and on to the departure gate. As I stepped forward to go through the gate, passport and boarding pass in hand, I got stopped dead in my tracks by the gate attendant.
"I'm sorry sir, you can't go on this plane to Germany. That country has closed the gates to foreigners, it is German nationals only."
"I'm not going to Germany. I am going to Japan, but I have to get a connecting flight in Germany."
"It doesn't matter, they will not let you disembark to catch that plane."
I was scuppered at the first hurdle, and my heart sank. Then I got lucky. A female colleague of the woman who stopped me was passing near the gate and overheard the conversation. She ran after me to assure me that I could get on the plane. She then took me back to the gate and had a word with the woman who had refused me entry. I was allowed to board the plane.
In Germany, I had a three-hour wait in the terminal. At last, the gate for the plane to Japan opened and I stepped forward, only to be greeted with another refusal to let me board the plane.
"I'm sorry sir, Japan is not letting any foreign nationals into the country because of the Coronavirus, you cannot get on this aircraft." Again, my heart sank. I couldn't stand the thought of being sent all the way back to Spain.
"But I live in Japan, My wife is Japanese, and I have a spouse's visa. I just want to go home, please."
"Ok, can I see your marriage certificate, please?"
"Yes, of course, here it is," I replied. She took one look and said...
"...but it's in Spanish, sir, I don't know what it says. It doesn't even look like a marriage certificate. Leave it with me, I'll get on to Tokyo and see what they say."
Half an hour later she called me back to the desk. She said I could get on the plane, but there was an eighty percent chance I would be sent all the way back to Germany and Spain.
Thirteen hours later I was finally allowed to disembark. It took six hours to get through testing for Coronavirus and immigration. The latter did not want to let me in, even though I had a visa and my lovely wife was outside, patiently waiting for me on the other side of customs control.
Eventually, I was allowed into the country, but I was told that I had to wait at the airport terminal for twenty-four hours for my Covid test result. The only place we could sleep was in my wife's car in the car park. After 24 hours the test result still had not arrived and we left to go into quarantine at a local hotel. The result did not in fact turn up until three weeks later. Somebody had lost my mobile phone number.
By the time my head hit the sack at the hotel we went to stay at it had been almost seventy hours since I had last rested my head on a pillow. I was totally wracked with pain and wrecked with fatigue and jet lag.
In time I got to see a doctor, who immediately agreed with my wife's diagnosis and put me the maximum permitted dosage of steroids. OMG, the effect was amazing. Within twenty-four hours all the pain totally disappeared.
Now my PMR/GAC was under control my wife put me through a full health check. MRI, Pet-CT scan, colonoscopy, endoscopy, ECG, Echocardiogram, cardiac catheterization, multiple x-rays...the lot. That revealed a can of worms such as COPD, sleep apnea, blocked arteries, signs of a stroke, and a heart attack...then to top it all, I fell off my bike in the wet and broke my hip and leg. That alone resulted in a three-month hospital stay.
Three years later I am over it all and fighting fit. I have lost ten kilos and cycle between ten and twenty kilometers a day. In fact, after another recent round of tests, my physician informed me that I am now healthier than I was when I arrived three years ago. Everything is in remission with medication, diet, exercise, and the loving care of a lovely woman, without whom I firmly believe I would not be here, have all put me well and truly back on my feet.
Finally, after three years of being treated here in Japan, I have been given the fit-to-travel green light. That means I can now go all the way back to Spain to put my apartment in order and hopefully spend some quality time with family and friends in Spain and the UK. Most of all, to spend some free time with my guardian angel, sitting on top of the world and watching the sun going down. Bliss.
About the Creator
Author/top writer/editor for various Medium publications (2020/23).
Author of 12 books of short stories and poetry. Out now on Amazon.
Three times Top Story on Vocal Media (June 2023).