When you return to me,

I look in your eyes and see the

essence of you.

Regardless of the tortures you’ve seen.

Without words you can

touch me

in a way that

turns me



I am laid bare for you.

In your eyes I see

The real me reflected there.

The me

I want to be.

As the moon reflects the sun

I reflect the good in you.


Ribbon of hearts

Stephanie, Royal Marine Wife.

Ribbon of Hearts.


I always think how we first met makes a funny story; I was out with friends and he was out with some fellow Marines from our home town, Grimsby. There were a fair few of them at the time even though we are six hours away from most camps! He had left his friends, very drunk, feeling hungry and had stumbled into a local takeaway pizza place. It was still quite early in the evening so my friends and I were not drunk at this point, but fancied some ‘cheesy chips’ before having more to drink. I was sat down and this random bloke (my now husband) said to me, very drunk but with complete confidence “You’re gonna be my wife one day, will you marry me?” I laughed it off and told the drunk bloke to go away at which point he grabbed my phone and rang himself with it, so he had my number. I laughed again, got my phone back and we left. I didn’t really think anything more about it until a few days later when I was back at Uni and I got this random text saying “Who is this?” I checked my call log and realised it was the random bloke from the pizza place so I replied with “Your Fiancée”. He was in France for three weeks, so we continued to text for a while until we finally got to go on our first date, and the rest as they say is history.

My first tough battle was Ollie’s second tour of Afghanistan. I didn’t know him during his first tour, but I knew he had been injured, shot in the head by a sniper, but luckily lived to tell the tale and complete his full tour. Also a good friend of ours, Rob, had died in Afghan six months before Ollie’s second tour. I was apprehensive about this tour to say the least. I didn’t really know what I had let myself in for in all honesty.

A few weeks into the tour, on a nice relaxed Sunday. I was spending the day with a girlfriend packing up boxes to send out to Ollie and dressing up in silly Halloween outfits, taking photos to print and add to a Halloween theme box of goodies – just silly things to make him smile. I was at home when he rang and he asked how my day had been. I spent several minutes telling him all about what a lovely day I had and what wonderful boxes he was going to receive. Eventually he asked if my parents were home (I was still living at home with them, having only just started my first fulltime job as a midwife). Then he said he had something to tell me; I felt dread in that instant! Knowing it wasn’t going to be good and suddenly realising he had sounded strange and not his usual self, but I had tried to ignore it thinking it was just the phone signal or something. He explained how he and three other lads had been injured, driving over an IED. He told me he had broken ribs and some fractures. I was in shock and didn’t really take much else in from the phone call. I spoke to his parents and the texts from friends and family started coming through as people heard what had happened. He wasn’t injured so badly that he needed to come home. However, he was injured badly enough that he wasn’t going to be returning to active duty for a few months. This was of little comfort to me and it wasn’t until he was actually home months later that I learnt the true extent of his injuries.

I was in bits, I just wanted him home and it was all I could think about day and night. I waited on edge for every phone call, desperate to hear from him and hear about how the other lads, who had suffered worse injuries, were getting on. I couldn’t concentrate at work and it was like a huge black cloud over me constantly. I couldn’t see it at the time but looking back, from that phone call, I was a mess. My only release was at the weekends, when I wasn’t working I would go out with our friends and pass the time getting drunk. It was a very hard time and one that I only started to get through once I had actually seen Ollie, and had seen for myself that he was O.K and that he had made it home to me.

My second tough battle was a few years later; Ollie’s third tour of Afghan. This time things were very different. After the previous tour we bought a house together, we had our daughter, got married and now, had just had our son. Our son was only six days old when Ollie went on his third tour of Afghan. This time I couldn’t be self obsessed like I had been on the previous tour. I had to function as I had two babies who needed me. It was just as hard, but for totally different reasons. Our daughter, having said goodbye to her Daddy and hello to her baby brother was suddenly having screaming fits every night saying she wanted her Daddy. That was very hard to cope with and I often phoned my parents in floods of tears because I couldn’t console her in those early weeks. I just wanted to cry with her, and I’m sure the hormones didn’t help. I kept very busy. Luckily the night feeds meant I was usually too tired to over think things but when I did get a chance to think, I feared the worst; I wondered how would this affect the kids? Will our Son bond with his Dad? Will he ever get to know his Dad (you don’t like to think of worst case scenario but on bad days it does play on your mind!) Although I had amazing support from mine and Ollie’s family and my friends, I felt essentially alone. I felt that no one knew what I was going through. Although my best friends’ husband was in Afghan at the same time, she lived in Catterick, so it meant support via a phone call, and with both of us having young kids it was hard to find the time to chat in peace. I had friends who lived close by who had babies just a few weeks after mine so we spent a lot of time together as ‘mummy friends’. However, although they were fantastic and very supportive, none of them really understood how I felt. I can honestly say the kids got me through that tour, it was tough but keeping busy and trying to make sure the kids didn’t suffer got me through.

My highest reward would have to be charity based; after our friend Robert Pearson died in Afghan I initiated getting a community group together. We planned a huge Memorial Day and superheroes themed night to raise money for Help For Heroes. We raised about £6000 on that one event. I then became a Help For Heroes rep and the group continued raising money for the charity. I feel very proud of all the work we did. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to continue this since having kids. I found working part time and giving everything I can to my kids (often being both Mum and Dad to them) I just didn’t have the time anymore which is a shame but they are, and always will be, my priority.

I also feel immensely proud of the fact I completed the Commando Challenge along with 22 other Royal Marine Wives, Girlfriends and Mums raising a total of £9000 between us. I would have felt proud of this achievement anyway but I did the challenge exactly a week after Ollie had been involved in the IED incident. I wasn’t in any fit state to be running, never mind running with all the extra bits like the sheep dip! But I did it! I came home with a medal, and the biggest blister ever (thanks to borrowing Rob’s boots which didn’t fit me properly!) I was lucky enough to get a phone call from Ollie the next morning and to be able to tell him I had completed the challenge was fantastic. I was a mess and for several months after that I was a mess, but for that one day I achieved something I could really be proud of.

The tours, the injury, the constant distance and time apart, essentially feeling like I am bringing two kids up alone is what I find hardest for me. But the homecomings and special events are so good! I think we enjoy them more because we have to make the most of our time together. The best memories I have are after Ollie’s third tour of Afghan; I was still on maternity leave, our son was eight months old, our daughter was three and we had about six weeks of just spending time together. We went to Butlins, had a week in Scarborough (thanks to the British Legion) days out, days in the house doing normal things, and to end that time together we were lucky enough to have a big family holiday to Turkey. It was so nice to see our family bonding together again, making the most of our time together and doing normal family things without feeling constantly rushed!

If I’m being honest, I can’t wait for Ollie to leave the Marines, I know the grass isn’t always greener, but I long for more of a normal family life. I’m fed up of the months spent apart with hardly any contact (at present two months done another five weeks to go!) and I just want us to be together more!

Having said that I will fully support whatever Ollie chooses to do. We still live in our home town, so I always have the support around me from family and friends. Although I sometimes wish for something different I can, and will, continue the ‘Marine Wife life’ for as long as it’s needed because it is better to spend hardly anytime at all with the right person than all the time in the world with the wrong person.

We try to prepare the kids several weeks in advance of a deployment or exercise reminding them that Daddy is going away with work for a very long time but when he comes home we will have something to look forward to, (most recently Christmas). The last time we said goodbye our daughter was crying hysterically and it was heartbreaking, I think now she’s older she understands more. We use a plaque we had made to count down the number of days until Daddy is home. When he was last in Afghan we got creative with the last month and painted/ coloured in thirty envelopes and stuck them to a pin board, each envelope had a number on and a chocolate inside. The final bit of the countdown saw us turning each envelope over and eating the chocolates until we were left with all the paintings on show making a sign saying “Daddy’s home” plus the final envelope contained a full size chocolate bar! I seem to remember my daughter cheating and helping herself to extra bits of chocolate so I did have to refill them! We have a Royal Marine teddy which we tend to get out when he’s away too, which I think is nice for the kids. Packing up boxes and sending letters is also good for them to help with. I bought the kids a book which explains that even when someone is away from you there’s an ‘invisible ribbon of hearts’ that joins you together forever. Our daughter has spoken about how she never wants to break the ‘ribbon of hearts’ and that she will always be ok as long as she has the magical, invisible ‘ribbon of hearts’. She tells me how much she misses him all the time but neither of the children like talking to him on the phone for some reason, I think because if they do they realise how much they miss him and it makes them sad

As hard as it is, I do love the ‘Marine family’, that part of the Marines is fantastic! Most of the local lads I knew in Grimsby who served in the Marines have now left and gone on to pastures new, but no matter how long they were in the Marines it’s like they say, ‘Once a Marine always a Marine’; they support each other no matter what. For the Royal Marines 350th birthday and in the summer before Ollie left for a training exercise there was a big local event for the lads to celebrate. I just know when all of them are old and grey they will still be meeting up in the local pub, the Navy Bar, and catching up and sharing ‘dits’ and will still support each other as much then as they do now. That part of the military brings a huge smile to my face and makes me feel like it would definitely be O.K for Ollie to serve as many years as he wants in the Marines!


Afghanistan ~ and why I can’t talk about it in my book!

So, I had my book launch event on Armed Forces Day! It was  huge success! I wasn’t completely ignored! I got to sell lots of copies of the book and also meet so many people with great feedback and positive things to say. So thank you to all who came along….

22/06/2015 - Pic by Lucy Davies Military wife Elizabeth Eager with her new book Warrior Wives which has been published in time for Armed Forces Day. Reporter Sarah Contact Rebecca (Elizabeth) Eager on 401144 / 07933846569

Military wife Elizabeth Eager with her new book Warrior Wives which has been published in time for Armed Forces Day.

I also met many current and former military wives who praised the book which was lovely. One of the older ladies said that she didn’t know how my generation of military wives did it with Afghanistan. She was  what she called a ‘peacetime wife’ and it was hard enough then! Before I had the chance to explain that I don’t focus on Afghanistan in my book she was gone; into the crowd clutching her copy of ‘Warrior Wives’… and I was left feeling like a fraud!

I felt like a fraud because I only did ONE tour of Afghanistan. It was a tough, arduous, terrifying experience. The wounds run deep and if I’m honest I am still licking those wounds which is why I skim over that part of my story in the book…

Let me try and share some memories from that tour: November 2008 Hubby had been gone approximately 8-10 weeks (I lose track of time!) The phone lines and email service had gone down, which by now I already knew meant a fatality… so I waited! Like every other wife/girlfriend whose partner was serving. Watching the news or making sure you can hear the radio in every room… waiting desperately to hear the horrifying, cold, formal words ‘Next of Kin have been informed.’  … because then you know it wasn’t a knock at the door meant for you. Sometimes the waiting, with a constant knot in your stomach would go on for hours, or days, not knowing if every unknown car you saw drive into your street, every ring of the phone, every knock at the door would be the one to break your heart!

Then, when you finally hear those words, you release the breath you didn’t realise you’d been holding for the last two days! And for me, it was ALWAYS with a sob and sudden, hot, fervent tears for the families that had received that knock. Families, wives and girlfriends that I didn’t know – but who would always be much more to me than just ‘Next of Kin.’

So, November 2008 I’d sobbed my tears for an unknown family and continued to check my emails waiting to hear from my husband until 1 am. I went to bed – nothing. I got up early – nothing. I went to work. (Or rather my body went to work, I was ‘present’ – but I wasn’t really present). I came home from work, I burnt a microwave pasta (how? I don’t know!) … and still nothing!!

Eventually after I had gone to bed for the 3rd day in a row not hearing anything. I had a phone call. It was late and there was always a slight delay on the line, so I knew it was him:

“Babe, thank God you’re ok! I’ve been worried sick!”

A long pause… too long! Finally his voice, thick and strange sounding. “It was …” his voice broke as he told me the name of his friend who had been killed. My husband has had a long career and unfortunately this wasn’t the first time he’d told me of a friends death – either in combat or accidents. But I’d always been near him before, or at least seeing him within a few days.

I didn’t know many of his friends on this particular tour because he’d changed units right before the deployment. But I knew of this lad, I knew of the family he left behind. The tears I’d shed the previous evening were not for an anonymous family and those tears quickly burnt my eyes again.

The silence hung between us. I didn’t know what to say. ‘Sorry’ was just not enough. So I cried. and I told him I loved him.

“I can’t talk anymore.” He said “I just needed to tell you I was ok. I love you too.” and he was gone. The dial tone resounded deafeningly in my ears.

phone call

I couldn’t reach him, I couldn’t comfort him, I couldn’t be there for him…. and he didn’t want me to. He needed to get his head together, keep his focus and get on with the job at hand. There was no rest. Barely enough time for a quiet prayer for his friend before he was back on the front line himself.

I sat at the top of my stairs listening to the dial tone and sobbing my heart out. In pain for him. In pain for myself. In pain for the family of his fallen comrade. Stroking my pregnant stomach and wondering if I would ever be able to reach my husband again.

I know he shut me out because he needed too, but it still hurt….

A few weeks later (I always count down deployments in weeks!) I was sat on my sofa, eating a giant bag of Doritos – I was pregnant, and shamelessly giving into cravings, watching X-factor. Another ‘vice’ I could happily indulge in without Hubby’s moaning from the other sofa about the ‘crap’ I enjoy on tele (whilst he secretly enjoyed it himself!) The episode did a ‘special’ on Help for Heroes and The Royal British Legion, and they featured a mini film on Mark Ormrod – the Uk’s 1st triple amputee.

You can see it here

I can honestly say this was the first time I had even considered the possibility of injury. Not because I was naive, or ignorant, but because I couldn’t. I couldn’t cope with thinking about that – the implications were too huge for a pregnant woman to comprehend. But seeing the reality on the screen in front of me was impossible to ignore. I bought the X-factor single, but could never listen to it, or watch the series again. I’d wait until he was safely home, moaning by my side about my trashy choice of TV before I could watch it again!

Afghan was hard and there were many more memories like this; many that I am still not brave enough to face or talk about. I guess as I said – I’m still licking my wounds… and I am one of the lucky ones!! My husband came home to me. He came home and he wasn’t injured. I can NEVER FORGET how lucky I am!


And I only did this ONCE!!!!!!

I did it once for 6 months, 6 years ago and the memories still hurt. The pain runs deep…. There are friends of mine who had to repeat this fear up to 3 times!! 18 months of their life spent in this constant state of panic and apprehension. My children weren’t born when Daddy went to Afghan, they have no memories of who he was before that time. I know people felt sorry for me during Afghan – who wouldn’t? I was alone and pregnant whilst the love of my life was fighting on the front line. But I didn’t want sympathy- then or now.

I was angry about Afghan for a long time. Or at least I thought I was, until I reached out and went to a coffee morning with other military wives and realised that I wasn’t angry about Afghanistan at all! -I was angry about all of it!! The lack of control I had over my life, and the situations I found myself dealing with. Moving 5 hours away from everyone I cared about to spend 60% of my time apart from the person I’d moved to be with….

In the process of learning to be strong I had put up walls and got confused and angry. I didn’t want to be a bitter, angry wife or mother. So I made a choice then, I decided to let it go….. Writing it down, making friends, sharing our stories was all part of that healing journey for me.

Being a military wife is so much more than JUST the Afghan’s! They are hard, there’s no denying that. But people can recognise that is hard. But the bits you don’t see are just as hard. The phone calls from ship, that you’ve waited all week for, to then have intermittent signal, (“Hello? Hello? Babe, is that you?”) the parts of the call you can hear interrupted by a sodding unintelligible Tannoy announcement and then having the call cut short for some unexplained reason, and having nothing but next week’s call to look forward to. The times when they are given a ‘shore draft’ or supposed to be ‘home’ but they spend most of it halfway across the country “on course”. The times that people don’t understand, because after all “we knew what it would be like when we married them!”……..All equally as challenging in their own way.

But the most important reason of all ~ My book isn’t about having people feel sorry for me, it’s NOT about saying how hard it is!

WarriorWives-FINAL cover_Amazon WarriorWives-rear cover

It is about celebrating the good parts of our life. The relationships that are unbreakable! The brotherhood and sisterhood of serving your country – whether on the front line, or in a supporting role at home. The sacrifices from Afghanistan should never be forgotten, but they are already talked about. There are countless emotional movies about it – all of which reduce me to a blubbering wreck, and I didn’t want people to be reduced to a blubbering wreck with ‘Warrior Wives’ – I wanted them to come away feeling inspired, as I was inspired to write it.

I’ve written a book!!! 

Feel the fear and do it anyway!!!

So, I haven’t written on my blog for ooh almost  at least a year! Except maybe a little re blog post somewhere….. 

The reason I started this blog was because I wanted to write- I’ve always wanted to write! And I have stories to tell, (mostly) made up stories that come from my own head, but stories from my own experiences too, and these were what I wanted to share. Once I’d done that, I started to realise my blog was just another pro-crastination tool to stop me actually writing that book!!! Somewhere else (other than my countless notebooks!) to splurge with creative freedom and never actually have to craft it all into a book. 

So I stopped blogging (not that anyone except my mum read it anyway!) I don’t think the blogging world missed me much, let’s put it that way! 

Anyway,around the time I was giving up blogging to focus on a real book, a psychic told me I was scared of success. She said “you want people to like you so much that your scared success will make them dislike you or judge you. It’s holding you back in your business and your writing!” Fear of succeeding was as much an issue for me as fear of failure. 

So I made a choice to write a book I’d wanted to do for a long time. A collections of love stories from real military wives and girlfriends. The strength behind the strong. By writing other people’s stories it made me accountable- I had to finish, because I told them I would. I also decided to do it for charity – another tool of accountability. Who could not finish a charity project just cos they were too busy distracting themselves with their Pinterest world and twitter followers? The modern world with all it’s tools of engagement is a minefield for people like me, who constantly seek approval, and whose imagination is vivid enough to actually disappear a little into my Pinterest life.

Anyway, I had no idea how hard it would be! To write other people’s stories in a way that they liked and that fitted with your book idea, and which did them justice because so many people play down their achievements.  To write for others in more ways than just readers- a brave or stupid move. I’m not sure which yet! 

So for the last year I have been on a merry go round, roller coaster ride with a huge learning curve of self publishing thrown in! (Did I mention I also suffer with vertigo and dizziness? My nan used to call me “dizzy lizzy”) I also have driven my husband quietly insane starting every conversation- “in my book…” (Like the girl in American pie “and this one time at band camp!”)

But it’s done!!!!! 🎉✨🎉💋 I have written my book. I am very close to getting it into print.  

But it’s not over yet…… I still have to learn how to market my book, I have to build up a social media presence. I have to SELL THEM!!!!! 
I also have to edit it, and this is proving harder than I imagined.  

I know People support this project- it genuinely is an awesome idea (I don’t mind blowing my own trumpet here!) but what if they don’t like the finished product. I am sure it will be smaller/ thinner than they imagined ( I only had a limited number of volunteers and had to harass a few old friends to get involved too!) but worst fear of all – what if there are spelling mistakes!!!! 😱

This,to me, is a cardinal sin in books and the self publishing world has unfortunately made it all too common! But here I am about to put my baby into the world and I know how hard it is to get every little error, to make stories sound as though they were written in different ‘voices’, to make similar stories interesting and engaging, to spot every tiny typo!!!!!!!!!! I genuinely used to have to read a dictionary as punishment when I was a little girl- so I know I’m good at spelling- but I am TERRIBLE at typing!! And predictive text makes that 100 times worse……

So after all that look out for my book! 📚 It’s going to be awesome, and please don’t hate on me for typos!! Grammatical errors I am more than happy to discuss! – Everyone needs improvement and educating there ….. But please don’t mention the spelling!!! 

With love and big kisses 💋xxxx

I am grateful, now fuck off.

This!! I’m so there & understand… we should be able to talk about the good the bad and the ugly! xxx

Mama Said

It was some time between midnight and 3am. I was dead asleep. I’d fed the littliest at midnight so it was after that, and it was before he woke up for a feed at 3am. This hardly matters, because that time of night is Hell unless you’re pashing, happy drunk, smoking in a bar, dancing, or on drugs – y’know, generally having a fulfilling life that doesn’t involve milk dripping out of your breasts or playing the fart or shit game.

So, I’m asleep and I feel this tiny hand on my face and then there’s a kiss on my forehead. And for a second I’m confused like – did the tiny one do that? He’s only four-weeks-old? Is he a mutant? That would be amazing. And then I realise it’s my big baby and I pull him into my arms while still asleep and think “oh he’s delicious”. But…

View original post 1,001 more words

A Loving Touch

SPROUT-300-2501A Loving Touch.

What is Reiki and how is it used?
~ These are questions I hear all the time from my clients, and it’s a difficult treatment to explain. Reiki is a UNIVERSAL form of energy healing. (have your eyes glazed over and you’ve started to think I’m a little ‘flakey’??) By UNIVERSAL I mean that it has no Religion, or Dogma attached to it. It can ONLY be used for good and to benefit people or situations and it can be used ANYWHERE or ANYTIME. By ANYONE.
Hold on did I just tell you that ANYONE can do Reiki? Well why then should I, as a complementary therapist, charge you for a treatment- aren’t you doing yourself out of a job?!
Let me explain. Ok, so I’m a complementary therapist I charge up to £40 for an hour & a half Reiki treatment. This is because I HAVE spent time and money on being ‘attuned’ to Reiki and learning its secret symbols and principles. I have been taught how to use these principles and symbols to offer clients a full and relaxing and incredibly beneficial Reiki Treatment.
But it is an inherent instinct within all of us…
When we have a headache, we rub out head or our temples.
When we have tummy ache/cramps we often put our hands on our belly to soothe them.
When we ‘stub’ our toe – we grasp it (whilst dancing around the room/rolling on the floor in pain!) and THIS IS REIKI.
It is the focused delivering of energy to parts of the body; more specifically, focusing the energy of LOVE.
Every mother out there has seen the power of ‘magic kisses’ or the need sometimes for a sore knee just to be rubbed, or a poorly little one held. That in essence is Reiki: A LOVING TOUCH.

Anyone can access the infinite power of Reiki. Whilst it would be wrong of me to disclose the secret and powerful symbols of Reiki, I can tell you some everyday ways to harness the power of Reiki.

~ To help Insomnia
When you have one of those nights where you just can’t switch off, place your left hand on your forehead and your right hand across your navel. (Remember to keep your fingers together- scattered fingers = scattered energy!!) Notice your breathing, how your stomach rises and falls with each breath. Your hands may start to tingle or get hot. Don’t worry if they don’t – Reiki can be very subtle and you may not feel anything, but trust me it will still be working its magic. Stay in this position for at least 15 minutes or until you fall asleep.
~To soothe a headache
Place both your hands on your head with your fingers pointed backward towards your crown/back of your head. Leave a small gap between your hands. It should feel comfortable and not strained. Stay this way for a few minutes and close your eyes if you can. Your headache will soon melt away.

Learning to live with a broken heart….

This is a hard one to write… the whole reason I started this blog was to share how I felt about the following experience, but now I find myself stumbling over the words, or the emotions, or both! Either way it’s been in my draft folder for months…

January 12th 2012: My husband is a way on a course at work to secure his promotion. He’s been away for a while and I have taken on the duties of caring for our 4 month old baby girl and 2 year old son. He took the car with him and I have this memory etched into my mind. I am walking home after having picked up our son from nursery. It’s January so I am bundled in coats and so is our daughter, in the sling around my neck. I knew my son would not quite manage the uphill walk from his nursery so was pushing him home in the pushchair. He was exhausted and fell asleep in his pushchair which somehow makes it seem even heavier. The baby has been asleep the whole way her hat slipping down to cover her eyes…

After the 1st colossal hill was defeated and I walk along a relished 5 minutes of flat before tackling the next mountain of suburbia, I started to curse my husband for taking the car. He was selfish, he didn’t NEED it for his course, he could have got the train… he never thought of me struggling to manage with TWO little ones. This was so typically him! By the time I reached home I was angry, sweaty, with freezing hands, a runny nose and an aching back. Trying to wake two grumpy children and appease one with a biscuit and the other with a dummy. My mobile started ringing before I had even taken the smallest one from her cosey spot snuggled into my heart. I ignored it. It rang again as I put her in her bouncer chair and tried the dummy, and this time I saw it was hubby so I answered it – with a tirade of abuse about how selfish he was for taking the car when I NEEDED it! In his patient, admirable way he always lets me finish my rages…. and then he told me!

‘Well, you don’t have to worry about me having the car any more…’ He said.

‘Why? What’s happened?’ Thinking briefly he’s finished the course early, he’s coming home to help (my prayers have been answered!) Then just as quickly – Oh God! He’s been in an accident, the cars written off,…

He explained that whilst sat in the classroom, he had suffered an unknown seizure. He had felt chest pain and blacked out and lost consciousness. He was told he trembled/shook. They suspected epilepsy. And because of that, they had taken his driving license away for 6 months and sent him back to his unit with a weeks sick leave.

I was left reeling.

I couldn’t quite comprehend what I’d been told. He’d never been sick as long as I knew him!

He didn’t even take paracetamol if ever he got a headache (which was rare!) All the things I’d thought and said to him about being selfish were going around in my head. He was 350 miles away with no way of getting home…he was sick. He needed me and I had yelled and complained and I had no way of reaching him (no car, 2 kids, and 350 miles between us!!) It was dinner time and the kids were getting hungry, so somehow on autopilot I fed and bathed the children and put them to bed. I called him again, but he was distant and quiet, he was exhausted and needed to sleep, he said. Although I felt he was shutting me out, a punishment I deserved for the way I treated him. The children were asleep so I poured some wine and spent hours researching epilepsy in adults on Dr Google… the horror stories, the possible causes, the fear everything…. Our life was turned upside down.

He came home to me the next day, after arranging for a friend to drive 700 miles in a round trip to pick him up. I apologised for the way I had spoken to him, he wasn’t selfish. He was the love of my life and I couldn’t lose him.

I cried. We both tried to comprehend what had happened.It wasn’t that easy…..

It took four months for him to finally see a neurologist and have an MRI scan of his brain to check for tumours, during which time he couldn’t drive, be deployed, hold a weapon or generally do his job. I ferried him to and from work, often with two pyjama-clad, children in tow. He suffered from fatigue and constant headaches. We had no idea what was going on. He lost confidence and we didn’t go out much ‘just in case’. We had no idea what had caused the seizure or why it had happened, so until the Dr’s gave us answers we wanted to stay safe and that meant mostly in our ‘bubble’ – our home.

The neurologist saw him for 5 minutes and categorically confirmed he didn’t have epilepsy. His brain scan confirmed that there was nothing unusual about his brain to cause any kind of seizure. But because of the chest pain we were referred to a cardiologist. This is where things got really complicated.

We had to wait a further 2 months to see a cardiologist. I TRIED very hard, but failed to avoid Google. My son was born with a heart defect, I started to wonder if they were connected, I knew the structure of the heart inside out and joked that I could probably pass some cardiology exams based on what I had learnt on the internet, both with research for my son and now my husband.

But the jokes only hid the pain! – How could the two men, I loved most in the world, how could they both have broken hearts?

I was plagued by stupid, selfish guilt that I used to deflect from my own selfish worry and heartache. But when we saw the cardiologist we were reassured he had probably just fainted he was very fit and healthy, his exercise tolerance test was normal and had great results! Bearing in mind they are usually done on over 50’s, not fit, healthy Military men. He wore a ‘Holter monitor’ (mobile heart recorder) for 48 hours which showed no anomalies. We could see light at the end of the tunnel, it was just a faint  that everyone had over reacted to. Just a few more tests…

26th July 2012; it’s hot and I am wearing cut off denim shorts that are barely visible beneath my flowing bohemian vest top. I spent 30 minutes curling and preening my hair to look ‘undone’ and messy, because I was going on a date with my husband to celebrate our 6th wedding anniversary. My father in law had come to visit and take care of our now, ten month old baby and entertain our, now 3 year old little boy. But first we had to visit the hospital for some more of these basic tests. We were confident that this whole ordeal would soon be behind us. I drove him to the hospital in stoney silence. (He was frustrated at still not being able to drive his own car, so to avoid arguments, we avoided talking to one another in the car!) But we parked up and I held his hand as we walked into the vast hospital complex, talking about where we should go for a lunchtime beverage and meal afterwards to celebrate our 6 years together.

The lift wasn’t working and being military he had to report to the military personnel office on the tenth floor. He LOATHES being late for anything, so he ran up to the 10th floor, and back down to the 7th where I waited and we went into cardiology together. He walked straight into his Dr’s room and no doubt because of the run upstairs his heart rate was elevated so they gave him beta blocker medication to slow his heart enough to do an Angeogram scan of his heart and arteries. A normal procedure. I waited in the waiting room, surrounded by the other, elderly, cardiology patients. We were the youngest ones there that day. All went well. The Dr noticed no anomalies, there were no blockages in his arteries, his heart was formed normally. He came to sit in the waiting room next to me…. and very soon went deathly pale. He told me he felt really sick and weak, he needed to lay down. I told a nurse who asked him if he could walk, he nodded and she gestured for him to follow her, he took 3 steps past me and collapsed on the floor. A male nurse quickly lifted his feet in the air and grabbed his wrist to check his pulse. He let go of his legs and checked his neck for a pulse, then he called for help. He said something but all I made out was “cardiac arrest” I couldn’t breathe…There was an alarm sounding somewhere, an emergency assistance announcement over the tannoy…I didn’t hear it properly… I couldn’t stop looking… He looked so pale. So big, so muscular, so lifeless and so still. The same male nurse started chest compressions, Dr’s were rushing in, a man with a defibrillator, a screen was hurriedly pulled in front of him but I could still see his arm jerking with each of the compressions. (See my other post The day you died!) A lady, not a nurse or friend but a stranger, put her arm around my shoulders and sat me down- she spoke to me about my children and I think she stopped me from going into shock.

They hadn’t finished the 30 chest compressions before his heart was beating in rhythm again, albeit slowly.

He was kept in Hospital for a further 5 days, our actual wedding anniversary (29th July) was spent doing crosswords on a hospital ward. He was monitored constantly but they could still not find a reason for what had happened. Arrythmia was the most likely cause, perhaps Bradycardia (slow heart beat) perhaps Tahcycardia (fast heart beat),  Wolf Parkinson-White Syndrome, Sick Sinus Syndrome were among many other possibilities that were mentioned and subsequently ‘Googled’. But NO answers.

I was advised to undertake some form of basic CPR training in case this should happen again. As they couldn’t find a reason – they also couldn’t prevent it. So, I sat in a hot, stuffy hospital office as a nurse demonstrated basic CPR. I swallowed hard and pushed the memories of his body laying lifeless just a few days earlier and struggled to concentrate. She had bought a pressure pad resuscitation doll, to demonstrate exactly how hard I would have to press on his chest to have any chance of saving his life. As I watched the lights flicker from red, when I wasn’t pressing hard enough, to green, My arms ached and tears ran down my face. Tears that both the nurse, and I, politely ignored. I fixed my make up before returning to my husband’s bedside.

‘Don’t worry love, you’re in safe hands now!’ I joked.

He had to have a Internal Loop Recorder inserted into his chest to try and monitor what was happening with his heart should he black out again. They needed to ascertain what was happening before they could treat/prevent it.

I couldn’t comprehend why this would happen to us. To him.

Why now? After everything we had been through. He had survived Iraq, Afghanistan, and he was supposed to be ‘mine’ now! We had two years of no deployments to look forward to. This was OUR TIME. Time to raise our family and be together. A time not to miss each other or worry… boy did we take that idea for granted.

I entertained every possible, crazy, idea and possibility – like this was the result of some rare tropical disease he must have contracted on his recent deployment… Or maybe this was some bizarre physical reaction to his lifestyle, maybe it had got used to the adrenalin from tours and adventure training. Perhaps his heart was ‘war -weary’ , tired of battles, and separation, and loss, and glasses raised to dead comrades. I know I was tired of all that. To love a warrior is a hard task, but to be one is something else.

We still don’t know why.

I ask him sometimes, when I feel brave, ‘How does it feel to live with a broken heart?’ Sometimes he’s sweet and he smiles and says ‘It’s not broken if I’ve got you.’ Sometimes he stares into the distance and pretends he hasn’t heard me. I don’t push the subject. I think I am lucky –  it’s not so much learning to live with a broken heart as it is learning to live with the fear. The snuggling into his chest to listen to his for heart beat and check the rhythm, listening for his breathing when I wake in the night.

Two years on, and we are determined to move on with our life and put this behind us. We have no definite answers, and this MAY still come back to haunt us in the future, but for now and the last 2 years, we have had no blackouts, no need to perform CPR on the love of my life. The worry is easing and the fear is becoming, slowly, easier to live with.

The truth is that heart disease and Arrhythmia affect more young people than you would realise. According to the Charity Cardiac Risk in the Young  ‘Every week in the UK at least 12 young people die of undiagnosed heart conditions.’ Even the footballer , Fabrice Muamba suffered a cardiac arrest during a televised FA Cup match between Bolton and Tottenham Hotspur, from which he recovered despite his heart having stopped for 78 minutes.

I wrote this post not for attention or sympathy or even fundraising (although there will be links at the bottom of this page!) but to raise awareness, not only of what we went through but of what others face. Writing it all down is my way of drawing a line in the sand and moving on.


DON’T BE IGNORANT about heart disease and heart conditions, as I was. I thought it only affected smokers or the elderly or the obese. My son was born with a heart defect that caused heart failure (this means his blood wasn’t oxygenated enough, making him sleepy and weak) If he had the open heart surgery they were discussing, he would forever after have been labelled as having ‘Heart Disease’ because of the scar tissue. Thankfully it didn’t come to that!  And my husband was in the peak of physical health, when this all started.

GET AN EDUCATION: Go to a first aid course and learn basic CPR – you really could save someone’s life.

DON’T TAKE LOVED ONES FOR GRANTED! Our time here is so precious. Happily ever after doesn’t last forever, but it is captured in those small little moments of perfect; Sunday mornings in bed before the kids run in, an afternoon beer in the garden after cutting the grass, birthdays, holidays, wedding anniversaries…….(our 8th is in a few days and will hopefully not be spent in hospital this year!)

I am trying to turn a negative two years around and provide some positive karma, so I made a new years resolution to do fundraising for charity. This year I am focusing on the Royal Marines Charitable Trust Fund and here is my justgiving link if you want to support me:

Next year I will be doing events to raise funds for the British Heart Foundation and STARS, but in the meantime if you would like to donate to these very worthwhile charities here are the links.

British Heart Foundation:

STARS (helping people with syncope/blackouts)

Cardiac Risk in the young