Paris, you will forever be in my heart

I've always dreamed of visiting Paris even when I was still very young, so when the opportunity came for us to visit Europe, I made sure France is on the list. I expected so much and looked forward to so many exciting things to see and do in the city of love.

Well, yes a lot of things happened while we were there. Things that forever will be remembered by my family. So now, I’m sure you’re wondering what happened.  Here goes...

On the 17th of May, we took an early morning Easy Jet flight from London to Paris. Everyone of us are of course, very excited to see Paris for the first time. The ride from the airport to the hotel (we stayed at Hotel Louvre Richeliue) was about 45 minutes. A bit far, but we didn't mind as we were very fascinated with France's beautiful old buildings.

Unlike the Amba Hotel where we stayed in London, Hotel Louvre Richelieu is way smaller. It's like a boutique hotel with no lifts and some of the rooms have no air conditions. But who would need an aircon in Paris? Unless it's summer! The rooms are nice though and the bathrooms are modern. The important thing is, we are right in the center of Paris. A few minutes walk and you'll be at the Louvre and River Seine.

Right after checking in we went down to have lunch. Right in the building there is a Vietnamese restaurant on the right and a Thai restaurant on the left. One thing I noticed about London and Paris is their love for Asian dishes. Everywhere you go, you'll surely find a Japanese, Vietnamese and Thai restaurant. I think our Filipino dishes would be a hit here as well.

On our second day we decided to visit Champs Elyssees to shop. There you can find all the luxury shops: Louis Vuitton, Lacoste and many, many more. There were so many tourists visiting the area and it was there at McDonald's that Mai’s (my daughter) bag was stolen. I don't know how it slipped our eyes, but it just went missing from our table. Luckily, their passports (hers and the twins’) and her cellphone were not in the bag. Still, we had to go to the police station for a police report, so we can inform FlytPack that the pocket wifi that we had rented was stolen as well. The rest of us decided to go back to the hotel.

When we got there, we were told that only Mai can go inside the station for security reasons. So we waited for her at the nearby park. After a few minutes, the rest of my family followed and to my surprise, they told me that my mom’s newly purchased wallet and perfume were also stolen while they were in the Metro train. Malas di ba? 2 different incidents of theft in just one afternoon. 

We waited for hours in the park. It got really breezy and cold and most of us went home with the sniffles, my husband included. The next day he had a fever, I gave him some meds for his fever and just stayed in the hotel room to rest. The following day, he said he was feeling better, but I told him to rest a few hours more and I’ll come back for him in the afternoon. When I came back, he was chilling and told me he can’t breathe. It looked really bad so I decided to ask for help. 

The hotel receptionist, Pierre, called the firemen who responded right away and gave my husband the necessary first aid. The oxygen mask didn't seem to work for him because he was still having a hard time breathing, so they called for the medics. They arrived in just a few minutes and immediately performed the procedures to help my husband breathe. I was shocked when the doctor told me that he had a heart attack before and that he might have had another because he had fluid in his lungs and his heart is having a hard time. I was told that he has to put him to sleep, so he can insert a ventilator to help him breathe and that he should be brought to the hospital immediately. 

I felt nervous, scared and confused. It couldn't be happening and I thought not here, not in this place where not so many people can speak English and where we don't know anybody. So glad though that the doctor who came can speak a little English and in his limited words, he was able to explain to me all these things that are happening to my husband.

He was brought to the ICU (Réanimation Médicale) and was diagnosed with severe pneumonia. And again, the doctor, Dr. Jean told me he had a heart attack.  He said that one of his arteries has been already diseased and the other two are tight because of his difficulty in breathing.

This was him when he was first brought tot he hospital.

We stayed there for four days and as soon as he was out of danger, they transferred him to Achard's Unité De Soins Intensifs De Cardiologie. He was also placed in the ICU where they performed the Coronarographie exam.

During his breathing exam.

It was then that they confirmed about his three "very sick" arteries. The diseased one, they said happened when he had a heart attack about ten years ago which we weren't aware of. My husband is strong and very athletic and there was no incident that we remember him having a heart attack. The doctors were even surprised that he never felt any chest pains or difficulties in breathing. Just this one time in Paris.

With Nurse Tamara.

With Nurse Marie.

Nurses Anais and Marie.

They wanted to perform a bypass surgery right away, telling us that he couldn't go home in this state. Both my husband and I were confused because he didn't actually looked sick. He was mobile and can do things by himself and don't feel any pains at all.  But the test they did to him won't deny the fact that he had damaged arteries. They told us that it's a must that the surgery should be done and it's not just a simple recommendation.

The surgery would cost so much though because he is not a local and it was a public hospital. We definitely couldn't afford it even if our insurance coverage is up to €30,000. I called up Europ-Assistance, our travel insurance to inform them of the situation. A travel insurance is a must when you travel. It can really save you at times like this. 

Since we can't afford the bills, we both told the hospital and the insurance that we just wanted to go home and have the surgery done here. We even offered to sign the waiver, just so we could go. It wasn't that easy though, because both of them didn't want to let us go. They said that my husband was not fit to travel. We have to be repatriated with a doctor to make sure he arrives in Manila safely and that he has to be brought straight to the hospital here.

The travel insurance arranged everything. They bought business class tickets for the three of us (my husband, myself and the doctor) so my husband will be comfortable during the flight. They also made sure an ambulance will be waiting for us at the airport to bring him straight to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center in Alabang. Everything was paid for by the insurance; his 12 days stay at the two ICUs in Hôpital Cochin, the doctors' fees, medications, lab tests, my hotel accommodation, our tickets and the ambulance here in Manila.

We came back on June 2 and was brought straight to the Asian Hospital and Medical Center.

During our layover in Korea after an 11 hour flight.

With Dr. Ignacio Varela Pujol who was with us during the flight back to Manila.

On June 8, Dr. Jorge Garcia and his team performed the bypass surgery.

On June 14, less than a week after the surgery, we went home. My husband is out of danger now and is recuperating fast.

We didn’t have a very nice experience in Paris, but I want to tell you guys that most Parisians are very kind and helpful. Most of them looked snobbish, but when you ask for help, they will even go out of their way to help you. So, here’s a shoutout and huge thank you to the following people:

  • To the guy up there. Thank you so much for making everything alright and for helping us get through this with ease.
  • To Pierre of Hotel Louvre Richeliue who called the Emergency when my husband needed help. Joël, you’ve got a great staff. He never left us and made sure we got all the help that we needed. A big thanks to you as well for all the assistance you extended to us. Thanks to Andie and Tristan as well.
  • To the firemen who responded right away and gave my husband the necessary first aid. 
  • To the medics who followed immediately and performed the procedures to help my husband breathe. And brought him to the ICU immediately. 
  • To the Réanimation Médicale Team of Hôpital Cochin led by Dr. Jean who took care of him while he was confined there for four days. Most of the doctors and some of the nurses (Lena, Cecilia, Beatriz and Elo Dee) can speak English so I didn’t have a hard time knowing what’s going on. 
  • To the family (my bad that I didn’t get their names) who helped with the translation when my son and I arrived at the hospital and had no idea what the French receptionist was talking about.  They were also very kind to offer us coffee and water. They are French Indians. 
  • To the Unité De Soins Intensifs De Cardiologie team led by Dr. Neila Sayah, Dr. Denis Duboc and Dr. Philippe Degrell and nurses (especially Marie, Tamara and Anais), student nurse Khadija Abbas and the other kind staff in Achard, thank you so much for taking care of my husband. You are all wonderful and amazing people.
  • To Europ-Assistance and Dr. Ignacio Pujol who accompanied us during our repatriation, thank you! We will never forget you Doc Nacho! When you travel to Europe, I recommend that you chose this company.
  • To everyone who prayed for his quick recovery and supported my family even before I asked, thank you so much! 
We have not seen much during our stay as we were mostly in the hospital. Hopefully, when we go back, we'll have a grand time exploring all the sights that we have missed. I also hope to see all the wonderful people we have met there again. Au Revoir for now Paris.


Unknown said…
Glad to hear that your husband is recovering well. Hopefully you can get back to Paris and have a better time soon!
Kristy Bullard said…
I am so sorry that you all had such a tough time in Paris, but I am so glad that your husband is ok now. I'm glad to hear that everyone was so helpful while you were there.
Jessica said…
Glad to hear your husband is doing great! I am sorry to hear that Paris trip didnt go as planned. Hopefully you can go back and have a much better time.
Lexagator said…
I'm so sorry to hear about your husband. My husband had a hospital stay in Maui and it was quite scary so I can relate. Glad your husband is on the mend.
Maureen said…
It's fantastic to hear that your husband's surgery went well, and he is doing well. Paris is always going to be there, hopefully, you guys get a second chance to explore the beautiful city someday.
Annelle said…
So happy that hubby is doing great! I pray that he continues to heal. Two thumbs up to your travel insurance company, Europ-Assistance! They rock! I will recommend the company to my friends. :)
What an adventure indeed! No wonder Paris is in your heart - so many wonderful people seem to have surrounded you during your husband’s medical need. Thank you for sharing this adventure with us. Blessings to you both.
Jennifer Prince said…
Oh wow! I am so glad that he is ok. And travel insurance can be a saving grace so many times. What an adventure!!
Jordan Rochelle said…
Oh my goodness, I'm so glad to hear that he is doing better now. What a crazy adventure in Paris.
Aliya said…
Oh my goodness. Wow that must have been a lot to handle in a foreign country. Well I'm glad everything turned around and that your husband is in better health. I've also always wanted to go to Paris, its definitely on my bucket list. Thanks for sharing.
Jessica Cassidy said…
Sis Liz, am so glad that your husband is doing fine now. It was indeed a very scary situation when you are out of country especially the City Of Love, Paris it is. Paris, will always brings so much memories of your and your family.
Deli S said…
Sis, glad that you're husband is already well. Your story reminded me to make sure we get a travel insurance whenever we travel.