Lisa Heafield Ibbotson, 46, from Scunthorpe, Lincolnshire explains how her paradise holiday turned into a nightmare...
Just as I was waking up, I heard my phone buzz.
Heart skipping a beat, I leapt up to read the text.
It was from Nigel. We’d just met on Facebook, after he randomly added me as a friend.
We got chatting and there was an instant connection. Within days, I was falling for him.
When he asked if I wanted to meet up, I didn’t think twice.
I was worried we wouldn’t have the same chemistry in real life but, if anything, it was even stronger.
‘I know it’s early days, but I think I love you,’ he told me.
‘I feel the same,’ I said.
And just like that, we were smitten.
Two weeks later, Nigel moved in.
I introduced him to my kids, Thomas, 28, Jade, 27, and Laura, 24, and they liked him straightaway.
‘It’s great to see you so happy, Mum,’ Jade said.
And I really was.
For years I’d sworn I’d never get married, saying it was just a piece of paper.
But a few weeks later, Nigel proposed – and I said yes.
Some of my friends thought I was crazy.
After all, I’d only known him for a few weeks! But I knew he was The One.
So in August last year, we had a small register-office wedding, followed by a party.
Everyone had an amazing time.
The next day, we jetted off to Krabi, in Thailand, for a two-week honeymoon.
When we landed, I was blown away. It looked just like the brochures, with white sand and beautiful turquoise sea.
We’d booked to stay in a luxury wooden hut right on the beach.
That night, as we sat down to a beautiful meal, I felt like the luckiest woman alive.
‘I’m so happy,’ I smiled.
‘Me, too, happier than ever,’ Nigel replied.
For the next few days, we relaxed around the pool, sipping cocktails.
Then we hired a kayak one morning and planned to spend the day exploring the tiny islands all around the coastline.
We soon discovered a beautiful island that was deserted.
We got the kayak ashore and Nigel hopped out. Meanwhile, I almost fell over as I tried to get my legs out.
‘Come on, clumsy!’ Nigel joked.
After an hour or so, we set off to find the next island.
As we arrived at the shore, Nigel was already hopping out of the kayak.
I tried to do the same, but my legs had turned to jelly.
Eventually, I clambered out, but then I collapsed.
‘Come on, stop messing around,’ Nigel said.
But I was out cold.
It was two days before I came round – in a hospital bed in Phuket. I’d no idea where I was or what had happened.
‘You had a stroke, love,’ Nigel explained.
He said when I’d passed out, he’d panicked, thinking he had no way of getting help.
Luckily, two other visitors came along and then set off to find assistance.
‘I couldn’t wake you up,’ Nigel told me.
All he could do was sit with me, worrying, until a boat came to rescue us 40 minutes later.
Back on shore, I’d been rushed to hospital, where I’d been ever since.
Later, the doctors came round to explain that they think the stroke was caused by a blood clot that probably formed on the long flight.
‘You were lucky to survive,’ the doctor said.
It was all such a shock. I’d always been healthy.
At the time, I couldn’t string two words together, so I just burst into tears.
Nigel hugged me tightly, his own eyes brimming over.
I’d only just started my new life with my new husband – and it was almost cut short.
Thomas and Laura flew out to see me shortly afterwards, and it was lovely to have family around me.
The doctors out in Thailand were determined to help me learn to walk again before I left, which I did.
I spent two weeks in the hospital before flying home.
Nigel and I can’t thank our parents, family and friends enough for helping us through such a tough time.
I’m still on the road to recovery, but am making good progress. My speech has improved a lot and I can walk without any problems now.
I’m gutted our honeymoon was cut short so dramatically – but we’ve booked a trip to Singapore for later this year to make up for it.
I know I’m incredibly lucky to have survived, and I plan to enjoy every second with Nigel – because you never know what’s around the corner.