“What’s the matter?” asked Nana as I hung up.
“That was A&E, Mr is there...
Now, my mum is made of the same stuff Pinkie is, the stuff that powers them along, long after everyone else is tired and ready for a nap, the stuff that makes them powerless to do nothing and be still - the sparkly stuff I suppose.
“If you are learning about Battle then we should go, what do you think?” she looked over to me.
“Umm,” I replied or something else just as non-committal.
Now, I have known my mum for a fair while now, and know that even a vague show of interest will be considered a green-flag-book-it-immediately signal, so it came as no surprise two days later when Mum phoned to tell me it was all booked and that we were going to Dover the following weekend.
I take the mickey out of my mum but she is probably one of the most generous people you will ever meet, and not just financially (we fight over bills in restaurants and I consider it a rare victory if I get to pay), but also with her time. We have travelled all over the UK in the quest for knowledge for Blue and Pinkie, what ever they are interested in, she can find a trip to take their learning to the next level, so when I told Mr that we were off to Battle he just laughed.
As it happened Mr didn’t mind one bit being left home alone that weekend (Puppy-Face was still too young to be away from his mum so Mr was flying solo). Mr had signed up for his second international bike ride: London - Amsterdam - Brussels to raise money for Cystic Fibrosis. He had a couple of pals doing it with him and they were on schedule to raise a small fortune. We couldn’t have been more proud of him. The ride was due to commence the weekend after our trip to Dover and Mr had big training plans for the Saturday we were away.
Friday night came and I headed off after school with Blue, Pinkie and Nana to our hotel on Dover’s sea front. Mr called when he got home from work and said he was getting a Chinese takeaway and an early night.
The following morning was a bright sunny day and as we arrived in Battle I remember looking up at the sky and thinking what a perfect bike riding day it was, and that I hoped Mr’s last ride before the biggun’ was as enjoyable as I imagined. Blue and Pinkie were mucking around as Nana filled the cool bag with snacks and bottles of water. I was rummaging in my bag to find my ringing phone.
There was a woman’s voice on the other end and I could hear what she was saying, but my mind couldn’t grasp it. I looked over at Blue and Pinkie, who were thankfully out of earshot.
“What’s the matter?” asked Nana as I hung up.
“That was A&E, Mr is there, she said he’s having a heart attack.”
We stood looking at each other for a few seconds before Nana rallied. My phone rang again, the same number.
“Have you had a chance to digest what I said to you? You sounded very shocked so I thought I’d ring back and give you more information if you are ready for it.”
“Are you sure it’s him? He’s got blue eyes, big fella?”
“Yes we are sure it’s Mr.”
“And are you sure he’s not got indigestion? He can be a bit of a hypochondriac and he had a Chinese last night which as we both know isn’t exactly food of athletes.”
“Yes, we are sure it’s him.”
“And, I’m not being funny, but you have got all the machines plugged in properly and everything.”
“We are A&E, can you understand what I’m saying to you? Your husband is with us because he is having a heart attack, you need to come.”
“But he’s 38,” I whimpered.
The journey back to the hotel to check out was agonising, I wanted to leave our stuff and get to him sharpish, but the doctor had said he was doing well and wasn’t in any immediate danger, also Pinkie’s nebulisers were in the hotel room.
“Is Daddy ok?” asked Pinkie.
“Yes darling, he’s pulled his heart muscle bike riding this morning so he’s at the hospital. We’re going there now.”
“It must be sore if he’s at the hospital,” said the ever astute Blue.
“The GP is closed on a Saturday darling.”
Trying to hold it together for the children while my head was racing was a challenge. Mid way we got another call, this time over the car’s paired system.
“Hi,” I said all jolly, “you are on loud speaker and the children are in the car. Say hello children.”
“Hello,” said the doctor.
“Is my Daddy ok?” called Blue.
“Yes, your Daddy is fine, so we are transferring him to a specialist unit in a different hospital.”
I unpaired that phone quicker than you could rip a phone line from a wall (old school phone line) and spoke quietly but with a smile fixed in place.
After an eternity we arrived at the hospital he’d been transferred to. My dad had arrived before us with his car to take the children and Nana back to their house, but they needed to see their Daddy before they left.
“I’ll go first, just to check that children are allowed in,” I crouched and said to Blue and Pinkie at their eye level.
I knew I was going to the Cardiac Unit but as the whole place was a Cardiac Unit finding Mr was going to be a quest, and with my mind full of horrible images I wasn’t able to follow the signs. I found a cleaner, the only ‘official’ looking person I could see.
“You have to help me find Mr.”
He nodded, clearly able to see that he had no choice, as I was frantic.
When we found where Mr was, I bid farewell to the cleaner, I think I hugged him I was so grateful. My stomach was in knots and I was feeling faint.
“Are you alright?” asked a friendly nurse as I entered the ward.
“I need to see Mr.”
She pointed to a bed near the window.
There he was, propped up on the pillows looking exactly like… himself.
“Sorry,” he said, but we both knew he had nothing to be sorry for. Over the following five days that he was kept in, they ran every test and each and every one came back as normal. No damage, lucky escape, take it as a warning, you were lucky, you were lucky, lucky escape… except we didn’t feel lucky.
The specialist some months later, when Mr was getting ready to be signed off, said it was most probably due to dehydration. For the merest second Mr’s blood thickened, enough to cause a clot and that clot had struck his heart. He was unlucky to have it, but one of the lucky ones to survive it. It’s the same thing that sports people get, or marathon runners. He also said that the years of carrying on like nothing had happened with Pinkie, having a stressful job and holding it all in hadn’t helped him one bit. Personally, I think the Chinese was to blame - nasty salty stuff!!
N.B Mr went on to complete his C.F bike ride this summer and had a great time while raising thousands - my hero. I love you Mr xxxx