Demetrius Goes To Méribel (And Almost Dies)


There was no doubt that Demetrius King was the patriarch of his family business.  Standing 6’ 2”, with his pure white hair and striking blue eyes, he was a force of nature.  He had taken over his father’s business at the age of 34, and had run it for 30 years when he decided to take his entire family on a ski vacation to Méribel in the French Alps.

The King family had never done anything like this before.  Eleanor, the matriarch of the family, raised their four children while Demetrius spent most of his time at the factory.  Max, the youngest of the children, was only fourteen.  Jim, the oldest son, brought his two children.  The middle son and daughter, Chad and Paula, each brought their three children.  All told there were  fourteen members of the King family staying at their chalet in the French Alps.

None of them expected they would spend the last 6 days of their vacation at a hospital 18km away in Moûtiers.

Demetrius hadn’t been feeling well from the second night.  Five years earlier he had been diagnosed with a heart condition.  His cardiologist convinced him to quit smoking. Since then he had gained more than thirty pounds.  But he wasn’t having chest pains, and he wasn’t getting winded walking through the village or on the ski slopes.

His left knee was nearly destroyed the year before when he wrecked his Harley Davidson Roadster.  He walked with a limp – but not enough to slow him down.

But this night in Méribel something was different.   It started with a fever.  He lost his appetite.  He had chronic indigestion from a hiatal hernia – but he was usually able to settle his stomach by drinking baking soda mixed with water before bed every night.  This time the baking soda wasn’t helping.  The pain in his left side was getting worse.  Grace called our 24/7 Qineticare medical assistance line to arrange for a doctor to come to the chalet.

Then it happened.  He felt like he had suddenly been stabbed in his left side between his hip and ribs.  The man who carried his entire family metaphorically on his shoulders for 30 years was suddenly curled up on his bed in a hotel room – almost in tears and unable to move.  The ambulance was there in under ten minutes.  The emergency responders were in his room, moving him from the bed onto the stretcher as carefully as possible.  The pain was unbearable.  Eleanor called her oldest son, Jim, and told him to tell Paula and Chad what happened.

In less than an hour the entire King family was gathered in the waiting area outside the emergency room in Moûtiers – not knowing if the leader of their family was going to live or die.

Jim was on the phone with Qineticare and we arranged a call with his father’s cardiologist, Dr. Kross.  Dr. Kross arranged a call with one of the top cardiologists in Moûtiers in case it turned out that the pain was from a heart attack.  Eleanor was sitting in the emergency room waiting area with her daughter.  Both were doing their best to put on a strong front for the rest of the family – trying to stay positive in the face of uncertainty.

Everybody in the family handled their fears in their own way.  The one thing that gave them all solace was knowing that no matter what happened, they were lucky enough to have access to the best medical professionals in the world – both while they were on their family vacation and when they got back home to Dubai.

After two hours a doctor came out from behind the double doors that led to the emergency room.  “Mrs. King?” he called towards the seating area.  Eleanor looked up, her face pale and drawn, her eyes pleading for good news.  The doctor introduced himself and asked her to step into the office area to the right of the double doors.

“Your husband may need emergency surgery.  We think it’s acute diverticulitis.  We have to make sure the wall of his intestine didn’t rupture.” 

Eleanor didn’t know what to say.

On one hand she was relieved that doctors seemed to think they knew the challenge.  On the other hand she had never heard of diverticulitis, and didn’t know how serious it was, or what had to be done.  Our Qineticare team sent research to Eleanor right away.

The doctor patiently explained that diverticulitis was a severe inflammation of the pockets that make up the intestine.  He said it could have been something as simple as a popcorn kernel that got embedded in the tissue and caused the inflammation.  In the most severe cases the inflammation could become infected and the wall of the intestine could have burst open.

Our Qineticare team did a insurance review to ensure the coverage provided was sufficient in covering a wide range of situations and emergencies. Fortunately, the King family had the best possible medical insurance available – not to mention the money to pay the hospital and doctors directly if needed.

Eleanor was a very smart woman – priding herself on using common sense to solve any situation. 

She was finally allowed in to speak with her husband.  Demetrius prided himself on running his business by hiring the best people he could find for every positioning in the company.  He often told people he didn’t have to be the smartest person in the company – he just had to surround himself with the smartest people.

Eleanor said she thought they should wait for a specialist before making the decision to have surgery.  Out Qineticare medical team sought out a top specialist and arranged for him to go to the hospital. It was a long and painful three hours before the specialist arrived at the hospital.  But it was worth the wait.  He had treated thousands of patients with diverticulitis.  He knew the pain and the symptoms were often severe – but that the pain didn’t mean surgery was the solution.

For the next 6 days Demetrius was laid up in the hospital – going between moments of excruciating pain to barely tolerable pain.  He wasn’t allowed to eat anything.  By the second day the pain had become less severe.  By the sixth day he was able to be discharged.  Our Qineticare team organized his private transportation so he could go directly from the hospital to the airport. His Qineticare team sought out a top specialist and arranged for him to go to the hospital back in Dubai the same day.  His symptoms were almost entirely gone. The antibiotics worked – and he was able to avoid surgery.

He was back at work the following day.

The reason I share this with you is because Demetrius’ story exemplifies three very important medical principles that we use with all our Qineticare families.

The first principle is when a medical situation arises – no matter where you are in the world – you want to have access to the best medical doctors possible.  Your health and wellbeing are non-negotiable.

The second principle is that it is always better to have your health plan in place before an unexpected medical situation arises.  The King family didn’t panic when Demetrius become ill in Las Vegas.  They had the medical infrastructure in place.  And because of this they were able to make level-headed decisions that helped avoid unnecessary surgery.

The third principle is that our health decisions are one of the areas of our lives where we must take responsibility to make our own decisions – based on getting input and opinions from the best medical professionals in the world.  We can’t simply delegate the decision making to a doctor.  We have to become partners with the medical professionals in our own health decisions.

That’s why when I created the Family Health Office model for Qineticare it was built on three pillars – medical, beyond medical and family dynamics. 

Beyond medical and family dynamics are critically important to health and wellbeing – and they may seem less of a priority if you don’t also have the best medical opinions and treatments available as well.

If you have a current medical situation in your family that you might need help with, click here so you can tell us about it.  If we think we can help you, we will schedule a call with you.  And if you don’t have an urgent medical situation right now – and you would like to talk about how to put a world-class medical infrastructure in place before you do – that’s even better.

It will be an honor and privilege to help you in any way we can.

fesial alibhai
Founder & CEO, Qineticare
Author, Four Steps to Flow