On a bright sunny French morning in early July, a huge weight descended painfully across my upper body and I suddenly felt very unwell. A few minutes passed but nothing improved and I realised that, completely out of the blue, I had become seriously ill and was having a heart attack.
Fortunately, my wife was able to drive me to a hospital within half an hour or so. Had I ever doubted the benefits of EU membership (which I never have), what followed would have convinced me that it was one of the best things ever to have happened and that those misguided fools who voted to leave the EU in the recent referendum were as wrong as they could be. All I had to do was show my passport and EU health card and, within minutes, I was receiving life-saving treatment. Within just over an hour, I had been diagnosed, given two angioplasties and was tolerably comfortably propped up in an intensive care bed, connected to a battery of monitors, infusion pumps, drips and a very annoying machine that took my blood pressure every few minutes – usually just after I had nodded off! Over the next few days, the number of tubes and electrodes steadily diminished and ultimately disappeared altogether. A couple of days later, I was back home, albeit still a bit shaky.
I now have a couple of weeks to recover before returning to the hospital for further treatment. Obviously, I’m not looking forward to this but my experience thus far has shown me that the French healthcare system not only works well but that it offers a standard of treatment that our own NHS can only envy and that, for now at least, it is available to citizens of EU countries. Unfortunately this will probably not continue for much longer since the great British public does not appear to want it, deeming it more important to find a legal means of practising nationalism and racism.
Enough of the politics – what I wanted to do was to thank everyone who has written, called and emailed with good wishes. Lots of people have been in touch, some of whom I hardly know, and everyone has been generous and positive at what is, let’s face it, a very scary time. You have all been very kind.
Thank you so very much.