Another sunny day in Marrakesh and my plans were (unsurprisingly) to pack as much in to my last few hours as possible. I wanted to visit the Jardin Majorelle, created by/for Yves St Laurent, and pick up some last minute gifts in the medina. I had breakfast, and returned to my room to check out. From doing up my shoelaces, I sat up and felt something uncomfortably familiar… my heart was racing. Bugger… an SVT episode was not what I needed whilst abroad! I took the decision I always take, which is to ‘wait and see’ … maybe it would just stop, maybe I could use one of the management techniques to stop it… In any case, I thought I’d start my day and hope for the best.
Accompanied by fellow group member Diane, I walked the 0.5 miles to the Jardin Majorelle, queued up & paid the entrance fee, and went in. It is undeniably stunning and exceptionally tranquil. We were there relatively early, and by the time we left the tourist numbers were growing and it was less easy to enjoy the scenery. Nevertheless, we ambled round, stopping a few times for me to catch my breath and check my pulse… It was still racing.
We caught a taxi back to the hotel, and I took the decision that I was going to need medical help to resolve the SVT episode. It was supposed to be group leader, Youssef’s day off… but he stepped up to help me navigate the intricacies of the Moroccan healthcare system!
We arrived at the Clinique Internationale de Marrakesh at around 11am and ‘checked in’. I had to hand over my passport, and was then whisked immediately to a side room for assessment. Clearly it wasn’t good, as within minutes I was in their ‘resus’ equivalent, wired up to monitors and showing a heart rate of 202bpm. Bloods taken, cannula inserted. Then the discussions started regarding bringing down the rate… in French. I was very glad to have the ability to converse in a common language even if my vocabulary for heart-related medical procedures was at times limited!
I was seen by a senior doctor who advised they were going to try an IV drug to bring down my heart rate. A half hour infusion, and the rate was heading south of 100 – they were as pleased as me! The cardiology consultant arrived, and more discussions in French ensued. She did an echocardiogram and pronounced my heart to be in good shape apart from the over-beating! Then came the thorny question of being admitted for overnight monitoring. I was absolutely not up for that. I politely but firmly declined to be dressed in a hospital gown, agreed that I would not fly that day (I’d effectively missed my flight anyway), but was resolute in my negative response to being kept in. It went down like a lead balloon and many and varied personnel tried to convince me otherwise. But to be honest, I just wanted to regain control and be in a position to book a flight home to the land of healthcare (currently) free at the point of delivery!
So, at about 3pm l had to sign a self discharge notice, and it took another full hour before they deigned to begin unhooking me from monitors. To my astonishment, they point blank refused to remove the cannula until I had paid the bill and presented them with a receipt!!! Talk about being held to ransom! Anyway, £650 on the plastic, cannula removed, passport retrieved and taxi back to hotel.
I spent a quiet evening at the hotel, and didn’t actually go anywhere else in Marrakesh apart from to the airport the next day. In the light of the health drama, I decided to forego my planned stopover in Lisbon and fly straight home – huge thanks to my amazing daughter for helping to sort out a new flight. Huge thanks also to Youssef and Diane for being on hand and coming to help with my discharge, and to my French teachers for equipping me with the facility to successfully deal with this emergency! Boo hiss to AXA emergency line for making it bloody difficult to access my insurance cover on the spot… Demanding payment of policy excess and proof of flight details before you will deal with someone who is in a foreign hospital bed hooked up to a gazillion things is at best unhelpful…
It would be fair to say that my last day in Morocco definitely did not pan out as planned! But I’m home safely now, feeling okay, and can unhesitatingly confirm that in spite of the dodgy start and end to this trip, I have had an absolute blast. I loved Morocco, I loved travelling, and I’m definitely going to be doing it again soon. Or as soon as my ticker permits!