June 2, 2015

Tina’s Story

Family Motto; “It is good to try”

My name is Tina and, while travelling back from UK in 2010, I became sick in Bangkok. I went to the local hospital, was prescribed antibiotics and travelled home. Some two days later my temperature started to rise so I saw my doctor. I went back again after three days as I still felt unwell. This was the start of my health journey.

I arrived at my local Hospital with a letter saying I was sick in Bangkok and had developed a persistent high temperature. I was admitted to hospital and two days later, although I don’t remember much, I was told I was admitted in ICU and placed on life support for 15 days.I spent a total of 21 days in ICU; ‘swine flu’ nearly killed me.

Tina & David Anzac DayMany tests were conducted during my stay in hospital with the final diagnosis of pulmonary fibrosis with emphysema. I was a non-smoker for nearly 35 years but still lost half of one lung and some of the other due to infection. I spent six weeks in general hospital and two weeks in rehabilitation hospital.

So what next? After months recovering I went back to work as my respiratory specialist said it would be good for me, and he was right! I continued my work as a Local Area Manager until I retired at age 60 in 2013.

My family had a history of serving with the defence forces in UK and Australia in World War One.
My grandfather, was awarded the Military Cross for his courage under heavy fire. I wanted to honour his work in saving lives on the Western Front and with the poor in Sydney. He re-enlisted in World War Two but died from an infected boil because he saved the penicillin for others. My other grandfatheralso served on the front line in France World War One with the Royal Sussex Regiment and then as the Executive Chairman of the London Emergency Committee during World War Two. This was the main reason is why I submitted an application for the 2015 Anzac Day Gallipoli ballot. I wanted to honour those soldiers who served their countries to make our lives safe.

To be able to get on the long flight overseas, I had to provide lung function and high altitude tests to the airlines to prove I was well enough and provide oxygen. I have a Fitbit exercise band which recorded my walking activity for the past 12 months. The insurance company was amazed with my exercise data so I was able to get travel insurance although it was very expensive. The tour company also wanted to know if I was fit enough to keep up with the groTina at Anzac Cove (2)up. They asked if I could walk at least 5km in a day. Once again, I had to provide medical proof to show I would not be a burden.

The 14 day tour of Turkey was demanding and fantastic. The 2015 Gallipoli Anzac Day Dawn and the Australian Lone Pine Services were especially moving. We arrived at Gallipoli at 11am on 24 April, spent six hours in the waiting area and then walked the 3.5km to Anzac Cove in the early evening. As the temperature dropped to near zero through the night, we heard about the sacrifices of the Anzacs and, as the clear dawn broke over the horizon at Gallipoli, the Commemorative Service began. It is hard to explain or express the feelings of that morning, other than very spiritual and moving.

Once the service concluded we started the long arduous trek up to Lone Pine which I did not do as I had developed a cold several days earlier. Instead, I caught a mini bus to Lone Pine. The Australian Government arranged buses for those who were unable walk or did not want to walk as the trek was extremely steep all the way up the hill. Once at Lone Pine Cemetery, we found my partner’s great uncle’s grave headstone, ‘Private D E Rivett’, 22 years who was killed in the Battle of the Nek, Gallipoli on 7 August 1915. The Australian Memorial Service was again very moving, especially the Military Catafalque Party standing absolutely still throughout the service.

After nearly 48 hours without sleep, we arrived back in Istanbul. It took a couple of days in London to recover. We then travelled to France to visit where my grandfather was posted at Villers-Britenneux and Pozieres with the 13th Battalion. We ate dinner in a pub in Albert. I wore my Aussie Gallipoli jumper and hat and the publican came over to our table and he shook both our hands. I was amazed that 100 years on the French people have not forgotten what the Aussie Anzacs did.

Lest We Forget.