We have been away a while! We wanted to properly update you on what’s been going on and address the elephant in the room… ‘What happened to China?’ Ad most of you know, we were supposed to move across the world (again) last August!
Ah, August 2021. The month that was supposed to be the first few weeks of our new life in China! Let’s start off with the main reason for this blog post; we are still in the UK…aaand it’s January 2022. So, here’s what happened…
These past couple of months have been some of the most challenging of our entire lives, let alone as a newly married couple. With the dreaded ‘Dubai experience’ (we moved there and HATED it) and months of COVID lockdowns finally behind us, we felt fully prepared and fierce in taking on this new exciting chapter in our lives. Our teaching jobs in China were confirmed, contracts signed after months of negotiations, suitcases 70% packed and we were ready to book our flights (and mandatory quarantine) to arrive at our new home in China.
What went wrong you ask? The biggest curve ball life has thrown us yet!
In mid-June, my father became suddenly ill with a chest infection. Having always suffered with terrible asthma, our first fear was that he had somehow caught COVID, despite religious isolation and meticulous safety precautions. Let me tell you, despite his asthma he is literally the fittest person I know, getting up at 6am and walking for miles each day with his dogs and then going out to cycle 20 miles before lunch.
A few days into this mysterious illness, which was being treated as a chest infection because COVID had been ruled out, he was so short of breath that he was rushed into hospital. I visited several hours after his admission and will never forget the things I saw that day in the intensive care unit. I won’t go into detail for both our sakes, but I’ll just say thank god for the NHS.
The next 24 hours transpired to be the hardest of my life. Late at night on Father’s day, of all days, we were told to prepare for the worst and asked to come in to say our goodbyes. His infection had turned to Pneumonia, his body had gone into septic shock and he was not responding to any treatment. They could still not find the cause of his illness!
As I write this, the whole thing still feels like a big blur of hospital visits, panicked phone calls, terrible thoughts and even worse night terrors.
By some miracle, the next day he began to stabilise. He was still extremely unwell, but the machines were able to keep him alive. Within this time, he was accepted for life-saving treatment on an ECMO machine at a hospital in London. From my limited understanding, this machine pulls out blood from the heart, takes it outside of the body, oxygenates it and then returns it to the body. It takes on the role of the lungs, his of which were completely out of action due to the pneumonia, in order to give them a break and some time to recover. Within this time he also developed bleeds on his brain, needed a blood transfusion and dialysis because his kidneys had shut down, too.
It is beyond my understanding how things seemed to fall into place from this point forward, but I will forever be grateful that they did. It has totally changed my perception of luck, chance and fate.
It was in London where we finally found out what had caused this horrendous string of events. Legionella Longbeachae, a very rare bacteria in the UK which is found in bags of compost. We were in absolute shock, to think that he had isolated for LITERALLY A YEAR to keep himself safe from COVID, to end up with something with such similar symptoms from planting potatoes in the garden!!
Over the next couple of weeks, we had to make the incredibly upsetting decision to cancel our China plans and to remain in the UK. We were now effectively jobless, homeless and plan-less for the next year!
There was never any question that extended travel was absolutely off the table for us for the foreseeable but we had no idea what to do instead! All of our time, energy and money had gone into a new life in Asia, so the prospect of staying in the UK felt like a massive step backwards and, if we’re honest… a little depressing. We had already handed notice into our jobs, sold our cars along with most of our belongings. We really had to think fast and start from scratch.
Anyway…fast forward to January 2022, we are renting a lovely little house and working three jobs whilst we save for our future abroad. Lloyd is still teaching whilst I’ve moved on to work in a management role with a tuition company. We both work the weekends in a play scheme for children with severe special needs and we regularly tutor with any time in-between!
We really do believe that everything happens for a reason and we embrace each day that we are alive and well. Whilst the events of the last year will forever be in the back of our minds, we won’t let it stop us from moving forward!
So, to answer the question, China is certainly not off the cards for us.
However, I have just been accepted to study for a PGCE in September, which means I will be a fully qualified teacher alongside Lloyd, by July 2023. This will make teaching salaries in Asia even more appealing and hard to resist. So, whilst we are in the UK until at least July 2023, we are happier and more grateful than ever. We no longer consider ourselves ‘stuck’ in the country, we simply enjoy each day and experience everything that we can.
…You just never know what could be around the corner.
Of course, we are also taking lots of trips in the meantime, until we are able to move abroad. We still have lots to share with you guys and we hope that you will remain with us for the ride, despite the sudden change in direction!
Stay tuned for our next trip in February 2022…Iceland here we come!!