Bobby Martin in Action in The Mezdra Studio in Bulgaria
Bobby Martin is a veteran radio music presenter, who was one of the original Radio Caraline disc jockeys – the offshore pirate radio ship, moored in the North Sea – and has spent his life spinning disks. Playing the most popular recording artists of the last forty years, many of whom continue to be personal friends, this is his story. But it is also an account of his unfortunate medical experiences in Bulgaria and the sub-standard aftercare treatment he received ~ Editor
My wife Rosie and l had a successful business operating a Radio Station in Spain, but with the financial crash, everything changed for us.
Our daughter had recently moved to Bulgaria, and constantly told us how great it was. At this time we knew very little about the country, but she then told us that she intended to adopt children there, which gave us an extra incentive to relocate. We packed up the radio equipment, and along with our afternoon presenter, made the journey to Bulgaria by road.
We were immediately impressed with the friendly and kind nature of the Bulgarians, as well as the beautiful untouched countryside. There were of course some shocks – people still had outside toilets in the villages – local shops had little stock, and the roads were full of potholes.
Eventually we found an amazing 4 story property in a beautiful little village – it unbelievably had 3 inside toilets – close to Mezdra, in the Vratsa region. We then started broadcasting in Bulgaria.
Our radio station became very popular for expats and Bulgarians alike, and actually, we also had many listeners from around the world. We soon became local celebrities, and appeared in many Bulgarian newspapers and TV programmes, including ‘The Slavi Trifinov Show,’ one of the biggest TV shows in the Balkans. We were invited to many events and our life was great.
Bobby on The Slavi Trifonov Show
A few years had passed and Rosia and I were invited to Sofia, to appear on a breakfast TV show. We decided to leave early, have breakfast, and park our car at the Radisson Hotel. But, as we were driving, I began to feel ill! We pulled over and when I told her that l needed a doctor, she suggested we return home, which was about a half hour drive away. I knew l wouldn’t make it, so Rosie took over the driving, and with luck on our side, we only had a few hundred metres to drive, for the turn off where there was a local hospital. I had stopped breathing at this stage.
I am told by Rosie that the doctors ran with me, pushing my trolley into a recitation room, where they brought me back to life. I was then transferred to Sofia, to a hospital Trauma Ward, where they informed Rosie that I had had an epileptic fit.
This particular ward was a complete shambles, with a totally mad professor; or so l was later told! But, I remember nothing of this. My wife was then told to go shopping, to buy me a cup, plate, spoon, toilet roll and pampers! Both our daughter and a couple of great Bulgarians friends assisted, one of whom was from Bulgarian National TV.
Rosie told me she was so upset with this particular Professor that she wanted to get me out of there fast. Our friends and our daughter persuaded her not to overreact, which was a good thing, because that night I had another heart attack. When she arrived to take me home l was in an induced coma awaiting her permission for a transfer to the Tokuda Hospital. That afternoon l had an emergency triple bypass.
Ishkren our friend, and my daughter, waited with Rosie for the result of the operation. ¨No news is good news¨ Rosie would often say, little realising that the Bulgarian equivalent to this saying, is quite the opposite. Ishkren informed us later! Poor guy!
Bobby Martin with Trust Global Radio
Once l had left intensive care, it was expected that a member of the family should stay with me to assist the nurses to look after me. The heart operation was a great success, and the arteries taken from my leg. Sadly, this is where my problems began, because, in our opinion, the stitches were removed too early, after just six days!
We left the hospital and went back to our home near Mesdra with no arrangement for aftercare! I was still obviously very ill, and knew that we needed to find a local doctor, to dress the wounds on my leg. Although various doctors and nurses arrived to give advice, nobody seemed to understand that my leg needed some serious treatment. Eventually we did find a local surgeon, who spoke a little English, who attended me daily, and at some cost. Each and every person was paid daily. AND then – walking to try to have a coffee – the pain in both of my legs was total agony.
It seemed that I had a thrombosis in both legs, so it was back to the Tokuda Hospital, where they kept me in, and put stents in both legs. For me, to tell everything would take a book, but once more l was sent home with no aftercare, and back to the surgeon!
My wounds were becoming infected. All this started in November, and we were now in March. We had experienced a lot of snow, and it had been very cold! Rosie knew that without help I was not going to recover, so she decided to clear the house, put me in the car, and drive back to the UK
The relief at being back in the UK and receiving FREE treatment, was overwhelming for us both. I think at this time we knew my leg was too infected to be saved, but the medical staff tried their best. Six months later after being diagnosed with Septicaemia l had my leg amputated.
Bobby & Rosie Martin
At last, l was out of pain. We have never tried to work out just how much my Bulgarian medical treatment cost, although the heart operation was covered by insurance, and also some of the other treatment. It became a constant battle for Rosie to convince the hospital that we did not have to pay, as we were in the system, and properly insured Finally, the cost of the medicines which I needed, was horrendous.
We visited Bulgaria that August, and met with some great friends. We are very limited where we can stay, although it is a very friendly place, but not friendly for disabled people.
We both love the country and love the people, and we would love to still be living there. Our daughter and our grandchildren live there, because another part of our story is that our daughter and husband adopted two beautiful Bulgarian sisters from a Bulgarian orphanage.
I am not sure what advice we can offer, not to allow this to happen, to others who want to make Bulgaria there new home. I guess don’t get ill is one bit of advice, although on reflection, the medical treatment itself was not bad, but the aftercare was a problem.
This story is obviously condensed, and really we could write a book about the whole experience and maybe one day we will. I now have a prosthetic leg and l am beginning to walk again. I am also able to do the thing l love the most – obviously with the exception of my daughter’s family – and that is MUSIC, and I now record shows for several Radio stations in the UK, including the local hospital.
By Bobby Martin