The trip to the supermarket that took 9 days, changed my life and turned around my business perspective…
It is March 26th, 2020, and it has been roughly about 10 days that I was feeling shit – diarrhoea, tired, feeling weak, fever, sweating – and the last few days I was starting to have a deep cough.
My wife Mónica, always worried about me and wanting the best for me, has already been telling me for some days to go see the doctor at the Emergency unit of the hospital, but I never been keen on visiting doctors.
In the morning of March 26th, the 12th day in confinement, she asks me to do some grocery shopping in the local supermarket (at that time my wife was still not driving any car, BUT she does now!!!) as food at home is getting scares, and she convinces me to go first to the Emergency Room of the hospital instead of going the pharmacy (what I wanted to do) and after that go to the supermarket. I finally concede to her and I leave home saying to my wife and my two young boys Alejandro and Alberto “I see you later, love you and boys, I will be back in a few hours” not knowing what is about going to happen later that day…
About 30 minutes later I arrive at the Emergency Room of the hospital, and I decide to park the car in the paid parking of the hospital because I do feel like walking a lot. I pick my iPhone, my wallet, and my iPhone cable and USB charger because I know that in the Emergency waiting room there are sockets (which will probably be the smartest thing that I will do that day) and I enter the Emergency unit, not knowing at that moment that I won’t be able to go out that door later that day.
I register at the entry desk, and very quickly they call me at the triage and I tell them what is going on. Very quickly I see the emergency doctor and she decides that I need to undergo some tests. After several tests (blood, long scan, etc.) and spending about 4 hours in the waiting room (calling my wife for the shopping list, playing some Sudoku, reading the sports news… basically what you do when hanging around in a waiting room), the emergency doctor calls me in her office.
I think to myself ‘Alright, tell me what I need to take and then I will go to the supermarket and go home’, but this thought is quickly bursts as the doctor tells me that I have bilateral pneumonia and that I have possibly COVID-19, which needs to be confirmed during the next few days. I say to myself, ‘Oh shit, and now what???’ And she continues “Erwin, for the certain level of seriousness of your case, you will need to stay here in the hospital for the coming days.” “But” I say “I can’t stay here because I need to buy food for my family as my wife does not drive. I need to go.” “Erwin, you need to stay here. You can order food online. I cannot let you go, but you do not have to worry.” ‘Right’ I think. “Please come with me!”
She takes me out of her office and I tell her that I want to pick something from my car, but she does not allow me. She takes me to the Emergency room and she puts me down in a chair where a nurse puts me a transfusion. I am in a kind of chock and overwhelmed. Things start rushing through my mind and I am worried not only about myself but also about my family. I pick up my phone and I call my wife and I tell her that I need to stay here in the hospital for a while. She completely freaks out and her levels of worries skyrocket as never before. She asks me what is going on and I tell her that I have probably Covid. Her levels of worries break another record, but lucky for me the emergency doctor just appears again in the Emergency room and I ask her if she can talk to my wife who is completely worried and stressed out. Luckily, she accepts, and she able to explain the situation to my wife, that she does not have to worry, and most importantly she is able to calm down somewhat my wife.
After a short while, I am taken up to an individual hospital room, and after been installed by fully protected nurses (transfusion), I calm down but I start to worry. I have probably Covid, I am forced to stay in the hospital, and having followed the news over the last few days and weeks with all those people dying of Covid and those that are in intensive care, where will this end for me? I start thinking ‘and if I get worse, where will this end?’ I’m getting emotional and I call my wife again to calm her down, but she notes that I am worried. I start to cry because I feel like helpless, not knowing what is going to happen and not able to influence about nearly anything. Finally, I tell her that we need to accept the situation, and that she does not have to worry about me as things will turn out ok and that I will find a way to get food home.
After calling my wife, I call my only sister Saskia and then my business partner Juan Manuel to let them know what is going on. And then things get quite around me and my mind starts wandering around. A lot of whatifs, like for example – What is going to happen to my family if I don’t make it – What is going to happen to my businesses, if I cannot dedicate time (of course I did not bring my MacBook, why should I as I would be home later on, right!) and so on.
And then I am starting to think about the most current practical things around my situation. I am here in the hospital room with just the cloths that I have on, my Timberland boots and my iPhone cable and USB charger. Nothing else, why should I…right! So, I call a nurse and I ask if they have some slippers, underwear, etc. Luckily, they find some white slippers and they bring me some toilet necessities, but no underpants. The nurse tells me “Just get naked under the blue/greenish hospital dress” and I decide to do so. In normal times, I would call someone to bring me some stuff, but we are not in normal times, no one can visit me. So, I decide to wash my current underpants (thanks mum for teaching me) with some soap and hope that it will dry before I leave the hospital.
The next few days, as dust settles down, and I have nothing else to do than just lay in the hospital bed, I don’t have any difficulty to breath, so things are probably not getting any worse and I start feeling a little better. So, I relax more and start looking again at my future, and I come to the conclusion that it is time for some changes.
For one, in general health has never been any major issue for, except for the occasional optical knee surgeries due to too many sports when I was junior, and I lived life without any health restrictions, but I decide that, at 49 years old, that I should take my health more serious. Check!
(Since then, I have bought a static bicycle that I use on a regular basis!)
For two, worry less about the small things, as at the end, they are really on that important and there is always a solution. In case of the food, I am able to get food home, and Antonio, my father-in-law, is able to send the fishmonger to our home with fish and bread. Another check!
(Small things do not worry me any longer as there are much more important things in life! And I enjoy life much more!!!)
For three, I realise that how my business life is running, this is not making me happy anymore, and that it is time things. I had that feeling already before, but now being here in the hospital bed, I have time to think it through, but I cannot get quite my finger on it how to do it.
(Well, I can assure you that I have it now completely clear!!!! I tell you more about it here…)
And for four, bloody hell, I have been smart by bringing my iPhone cable and USB charger with me. How would I be able to communicate with the outside world without mobile phone (hell, I know only 1 phone number by heart, Mónica’s mobile).
(Now, every time I need to go to the Emergency unit for someone of my family or myself, before I leave the house, I take my iPhone cable and USB charger!!)
It is March 31st, and I am getting gradually better and better. One of the nurses come in and he hands me over 2 papers, and my heart starts beating faster, I get emotional and I get a big smile on my face. He just has giving me 2 drawings, one from my oldest son Alejandro and one from Alberto, the youngest. I thank him and I call immediately my wife Mónica and I thank her and the boys for the drawings.
And I ask her how she pulled it off. It turns out that she spoke a few days before with her friend Rocío, who happens to be the marketing/communication manager at the hospital, and Rocío gave a fax number where the boys could send a picture and the hospital personnel would print it out. How small things can move you in difficult times.
And finally, on April 3rd, 2020, I get great news from the doctor. I have cured enough and after lunch I will be discharged from the hospital. Of course, I call my wife, and after lunch, I get dressed. Yes, my underpants are dry and even though my clothes are not completely clean, I feel clean with my cleaned underpants.
After I pay a hefty parking fee, I leave the hospital but before going home I need to finish what I set out to do on March 26th, namely getting some food!!!
The next weeks and months, I recover physically step by step, and I realise how lucky I have been that I went to the Emergency unit just on time as I sometimes still imagine what would have happened if I would have ignored my wife and would not have gone to the Emergency unit, what would have happened instead? In June 2020, I do a breath test to see how my longs are doing, and the result shows that I still have a long capacity of 106%, 6 percentage points above the average. So, I wonder, what would have been my long capacity before COVID-19?
Businesswise, I make some important decisions that will change how I manage my businesses and how I can help other entrepreneurs in achieving the same business model that I use today. I need to thank first of all my business partner Juan Manuel for his support and for us making the necessary changes in our business model, and secondly, I need to mention the EPIC program from Roland Frasier and his team of advisors that allowed me to put together all the different pieces into the business structure that suits me best.