It was Christmas time 1997 when my husband Stuart and I set off for France to spend Christmas in our out-of-the-way cottage.
We left Friday, driving down to the south, when Stuart started to suffer from earache. A cold developed and on the Sunday a person we knew who spoke English gave us the name of a doctor, who gave Stuart antibiotics.
On Monday he was fine working away on the garden but in the early hours of Tuesday morning he became delirious. I called the doctor who arrived at 7.30am, who then called the ambulance which took us to Fréjus Hospital, by which time he was unconscious.
I was at that time alone and I stayed in A&E for four hours, not being able to phone anyone as the phones needed a card and the hospital would not give me one.
Stuart was then taken to intensive care and I had a quarter of an hour walk around the hospital to get to a pay phone.
My children arrived that evening and we were then told Stuart had pneumococcal meningitis. The chief consultant stayed with Stuart all the time but he told us on Christmas Day that there was no hope and the life support was switched off.