Thursday, August 31, 2017


Little did I know that the day of my brother’s wedding would be the beginning of a particularly traumatic week, not only for our family, but for the U.K. and the rest of the world, too.

The Man and I and our two sons were visiting my family in Connecticut and had been there for about six weeks. The wedding was the final weekend of our visit. On Monday we were due to fly back to Manchester just in time for the boys to start the school year.

The wedding was on a beautiful Saturday in Killington, Vermont where my brother and his bride had a ski lodge. I could write a post about one of the strangest, most comical events in our family’s history, but this is not the right moment to recount that bizarre tale.

After the ceremony, we retired to the hotel to change and get ready for the evening festivities. Just before we left we heard on the news that the Princess of Wales had been in a minor traffic accident, but that she was not seriously injured. We went to the celebrations and had a very enjoyable time. Pictures show lots of dancing and delicious food. One picture my boys and their father are arm in arm smoking cigars—Robert was 14 and Andrew almost 16! In addition, the picture shows that Robert is suffering from Bell’s Palsy – the aftermath of a recent and very unpleasant bout with the flu. Shortly after the picture was taken – it was around 11.00 pm a couple of wedding guests were passing us and asked if we had heard the news that Princess Diana had died…

Sunday morning many members of the family met for brunch in Woodstock, Vermont. Another beautiful day. Of course there was a lot of talk about the Princess, but it was strange because due to the hour of the news none of the papers had any information and because we were catching up with various family members and rehashing the wedding of the day before it was all a bit bizarre. After brunch, we had to leave to get back to Connecticut because the following day we would be leaving for that plane.

The next day, back in Connecticut, The Man was packing up the car when he was seen by my parents’ neighbour and very good friend Sabine. She immediately came to wish us bon voyage. Strange, but I especially remember that she was looking amazing in a blue dress and sun hat to match! We were all chatting away when she saw Robert – and his Bell’s Palsy!  And she exclaimed, “He has Lyme Disease!”

Lyme Disease is very common in that part of Connecticut. I do believe that every single person I know there has had it at one time or another. We had asked the doctor in the family about the Bell’s Palsy and he had said that it would wear off within a few weeks, but he was not familiar with Lyme Disease because he was from a different part of the country. In as much as we were about to get in the car and fly away to England the chances were most unlikely that any doctor in our surgery would have known Robert’s palsy was due to that devastating tic.

Upon our return to the UK we were immediately in touch with our doctor. Fortunately for us, our doctor our doctor admitted he didn’t know anything about Lyme Disease and though he thought it unlikely that Robert had that, he was going to call the hospital in Liverpool for further advise. The hospital called the head of tropical diseases – who was away on vacation! He said to get Robert in immediately for tests as Bell’s Palsy would be a neurological reaction to the tic bite. 

The test results could not confirm Lyme Disease, but did show that there was an element in the results that could not be explained and led to the decision that he probably did have it and that immediate and massive doses of antibiotics were required – over a period of several days.
These several days lasted throughout the period and just after the funeral service of the People’s Princess. Initially, we went to the doctor’s surgery for his doses of medication and after a day or two they arranged for two nurses to come to the house each day to give him his intravenous solution of antibiotic. The Palsy began to disappear from the first dose of the drug. But even now, twenty years later, Robert feels an occasional twinge from that time.

So, a very strange period in the life of our family was matched by a very strange time in the life of the nation. It was kind of like when for some reason or another you stop breathing.