The princely couple were on vacation at Chateau de Cayx, and had given an afternoon interview to a local newspaper to discuss their love for the region. In the evening, they were joined by the cousin of Prince Joachim whose family lives nearby. As Prince Joachim starts talking to his cousin, Princess Marie notices that something is seriously wrong.
- "It was so close to a tragedy that could have changed our lives forever. We are very grateful to be together today and to be able to tell you about it'" says Princess Marie
The prince congratulates his wife on the way she handled the situation
- "She was amazing! She went into military mode… I know that with Marie I have a support full of resources, love, compassion and confidence", he says and says that she saved his life by reacting as fast as she did.
It was a hot and sunny day when on July 24, 2020, something unexpected happened to Prince Joachim and his family. He suddenly started to feel bad, and it quickly sounded an alarm for the princess. This is the first time the prince and princess have explained how the fatal hours unfolded after Joachim was hit by the blood clot - and how the weather turned out afterward. "
- We couldn't wait to talk about it, but when I started to think about what I wanted to say, it was really, really hard to go. come back to it. I didn't know I would be affected again, but I was.
- I could hear him talking nonsense. And when you know my husband and know how he talks and articulates, then you know it's completely unusual. For a second, I thought maybe he was teasing, but when I look at him, I know right away that it is very serious .
- I didn't feel anything. When you have thought of a sentence, you have already heard it formulated within yourself, and as a result, it appears clear and distinct. So I am confused when she asks me to repeat. When I look at Marie, I can clearly see from her expression that something is wrong. But I don't feel anything.
- I immediately knew there was something wrong with her brain. I could see his facial paralysis, it was - it was very, very horrible. These are images that are in my head forever.
- What is striking is that I remember everything. I have no pain and I have no power failure. I remember hearing the ambulance arrive, it approached me, I was put on a stretcher and I was tied up. They put on measuring instruments and drops and talk to me all the time. We're speeding down to Cahors, and I know this trip like the back of my hand, so while I'm lying there I know exactly which route we're taking.
They arrived at Cahors hospital between 9 p.m. and 10 p.m., and Prince Joachim was immediately rushed for a CT scan.
- I remember that too. And then it became clear to them that they did not have the capacity to treat me in Cahors. They told me that it was very bad and very serious and that I will have to go immediately to the emergency room with the specialists in Toulouse. At this point, it was probably 11 p.m. to 12 p.m., and I went by ambulance to Toulouse. I also know this road inside and out, but for the first 10 minutes maybe I dozed off. And then I was out.
- It was really horrible. I couldn't be in the ambulance and I didn't have a car in Cahors. Therefore, I had to find a car as soon as possible so that I could drive after him. It wasn't long before I gave them my cell phone number so I could find out a bit about what happened when I couldn't reach. They told me that his condition was getting worse and when I asked them what was the worst thing that could happen, they didn't talk too much about it. But they were very worried.
Prince Joachim arrived at Toulouse hospital at 1 a.m. and was in surgery from 2 am to 8 am where he underwent a thrombectomy.
- When it happened, I needed to be focused and responsible. But suddenly I just had to sit down and wait. You are really upset because you can see the footage of the accident for yourself over and over again. And you are a completely helpless person who cannot do anything. I was afraid we would lose him as a person. His physical paralysis worried me much less, and what was important was to save his brain. His ability to speak and think.
- I knew he couldn't react immediately, but I just had to see him. So I went to see him and stayed with him for two minutes. He doesn't remember it, but I asked if he could smile at me - and when I saw he could smile on both sides of his face, I felt like I could finally breathe.
- It was so close to a tragedy that could have changed our lives forever. We are very grateful to be together today and to be able to tell you about it. I'm so grateful that he can smile and recognize me.
- I had no idea of the time. Like Marie said, I can't remember the first time she was in the room with me. But when I woke up at noon the next day, Marie was standing right next to me - I remember that. It was a very special moment because even though I hadn't fully understood what was going on, I was well aware that I had evolved on a razor's edge. The first thing I said to her was, "You saved my life!" I was incredibly lucky ”.
- I experienced how Marie, with immediate insight, handled the situation, and that she, with her quick response and actions, was the one to take charge until I was handed over to the paramedics from Cahors and sent to Toulouse. She was amazing! She went into soldier mode. "
Speaking directly to his wife, he said:
- One thing is that you handled the emergency situation. But everything that in military language is called logistics, you also handled in the days that followed. So: the children had to be looked after by your mother, at least six hours a day when you were in Toulouse, the dog had to be looked after, food had to be bought, etc. Within 12 hours of the incident, you made contact with your mother and you were in control.
- And I know that with Marie I have a support full of resources, loving, caring and confident.
- It was only when I left that I saw other people than Marie. So coming home and seeing the kids - that was… Sure, I knew they were in good hands, but being able to see them, hold them, touch them - yes, recognize them and talk to them. If that had gone wrong, they would have brought a patient home on a stretcher - or at worst, they would have to go to the hospital forever to visit their father, right? It was lucky that I could still hold them back, touch them - show them that I was back…
- Children - yes, you have to watch out for children. There is no reason to scare them with the prospect of bad news if one ends up doing well.
- As to how we felt afterwards, it was actually a bit tricky. I was afraid to leave him alone. I was afraid it would happen again. Because what if it happens when he's alone? It was not easy. And every time I looked at him, the images crossed my head. All the while, I saw the footage of the accident in front of me. It was hard.
- Usually Joachim is the strong Viking, who is never, never sick. But all of a sudden, the one who was always the strongest is weak. Now it was actually me who had to be the strongest. It was strange, but also good because it's part of being together: you always have to be there for each other.
Prince Joachim added that "changing roles" can actually bring something positive.
- I have been exceptionally fortunate, and perhaps it is precisely for this reason that my post-traumatic phase was prolonged. I'm not talking about symptoms of stress or the like, but there are thoughts that keep coming back. There are things from childhood, adolescence and experiences that come back in a new light because they have now settled in a different way. And then the certainty that you cannot calculate the probability of my luck: from Marie's reaction to the accident to the surgery and how we have been luckily close to some of the top specialists in this field in France, if not the whole world. Everything was the result of good and happy circumstances. It all depended on a higher entity. The experience of being surrounded by the right people every step of the way - the experience of, let's put it like it is - pure luck. It's all part of the post-traumatic experience ”
- You should NEVER think it's just over. You just don't have to think of it as just dizziness. If you are able to do it on your own, call 1-1-2 or call for help somehow. Don't think he can be shaken or fall asleep. You owe it to yourself and certainly also to your loved ones to take it seriously "
- It helps a lot to be able to talk about it, but the odd thing is that it's hard to talk to someone who hasn't experienced it themselves - who hasn't been in the situation. It really must be someone you know well. Because it's very intimate to talk about something like that, and it's extremely important that you get your hands on someone who understands what you're talking about.
- On a micro-scale, there can also be a form of therapy for Marie and I by talking about this day and the whole process in this way. We hope we can help shed some light on things, but it can also benefit us.
- It was very touching and a huge support for me to hear from all those who immediately expressed their sympathy in the general public. We were not alone and there were a lot of people who thought of us - it was absolutely fantastic and a huge help.
- Yes, it was very, very comforting. Also, there was someone immediately who said, listen now - he is the patient, but there is also a loved one next to him who is also in pain.
- It's hard not to think about what could have happened, and I think we have learned that it is terrible for the person affected, but right next to them there are loved ones, for which is equally terrible. You must never forget this.
- Families, you have to think of families and be there for them.
Supporting families is one of the missions of the "Danish Brain Foundation", as the Prince noted at the end of the interview:
- Precisely! An organization like Hjernesagen has a big role to play, and that's an important message to get across.