Juan Carlos Iglesias: “I was about to die several times, they gave me up”

  • The restaurateur recounts the situation he is experiencing after saving his life in the ICU, in which he was admitted due to covid, to the gastronomic journalist Pau Arenós in the series ‘Mesa para dos’

More than an interview, a life lesson. That’s the talk he keeps the restorer Juan Carlos Iglesias with Pau Arenós during this new installment of the ‘Table for Two’ series. Without mincing words, the man who, with his brothers, Borja and Pedro, created several of the best restaurants in Barcelona in recent years (Tickets -now it is Teatro-, Rías de Galicia, Espai Kru -now it is Rías Kru-, Casa de Tapas Cañota…) recounts the hell he is living after get covid and miraculously save life in the icu.

After listening to the conversation (impossible for your heart not to shrink), Iglesias can only be defined as a survivor. He has lost the family business and has persistent covid and very serious sequelae Derived from those weeks in which even the doctors themselves gave him up for dead. “They didn’t give two bucks for me,” he recalls.

Businessman got infected in march 2020, just at the beginning of the pandemic, when, as he himself points out, half of those who entered the ICU died. “I was about to die several times, they gave me two resuscitations. It has changed my life completely,” he sums up. In fact, a doctor his wife had contacted on her own managed to visit him and notify him that they had to admit him to intensive care. His alarm was crucial. “They performed the tracheostomy on me right there . Then they told me that if it had taken half an hour longer, I would have died.”

“I want a Fanta”

At that moment they saved him, but no one believed he would get out of that alive. This is how Iglesias explains it: “They gave me up, they sedated me to die and left me in an ICU waiting for me to die“. But the miracle happened when one of the people who was on duty heard her say “I want a Fanta”. When she told the doctors, they did not believe her; face down and with the ‘tracheo’ on… But yes, I did he had said, and he repeated it when they got closer.They decided to save him no matter what.

“They told me that my case made them change the way they triage a bit and they decided not to give up on anyone because they had stopped giving me the drugs considered the best for that disease at that time,” he recalls without an iota of anger. rather with resignation. “It was inevitable at the time.”

Stroke, vision loss…

He is alive, but the price he has paid is very high after having undergone two tracheotomies. “As a result of that he had seven trachea operations because it closed on me and I couldn’t breathe, that’s how I was for two and a half years. It was a nightmare. I also had a strokedue to traffic problems I have completely lost vision in one eye and 70% of the otherI have stayed touched by the kidneys, the lungs, the heart…”. And he suffers some terrible nightmares.

After leaving the ICU and returning home, he was referred to his CAP, from where he was referred to the Bellvitge Hospital. “It is one of the best things that have happened to me in life,” says Iglesias, who I had never visited public health and since the covid I have not returned to the private. “I have had the immense fortune of having entered an innovative multidisciplinary care program that has pulled me out of the hole I was in”.

Whatsapp group Los Chunguitos

There, several doctors from different specialties treat patients with persistent covid like him and share their knowledge to improve health. In that program he has made new friends, whose WhatsApp group is called Los Chunguitos. The bonds of friendship they have created after eight months of treatment are so strong that he considers them “friends until death.”

And even so, Juan Carlos Iglesias is happy. His tears during the talk with Arenós are, as he himself admits, of “happiness”. “I am much happier now than before the covid despite how extremely hard I’ve been through. Because I have discovered my wife and my children he says through tears. Before, with work, they went unnoticed and now I don’t miss a thing about them. I am happy with any little thing that they tell me. When they show up at home I feel like the luckiest and happiest man in the world.”

“From poor you get out working”

Not even the second derivative of the pandemic, the economic one, which destroyed the family business, erases that shy smile of joy at knowing that he is loved by his loved ones. And that the restrictions that forced them to close their restaurants made it unfeasible to get ahead with them. Salaries and rent to pay, banks that refused to change the conditions of their credits… “we were forced to file a bankruptcy in which we lost all our savings and those of our parentswhich we reinvested in the company”.

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And in that moment of absolute crisis, a new life lesson. “When we told our father that we were going to lose everything, I thought that we were going to kill him with disgust at 84 years of age, and the only thing he said was: ‘Calm down, children, I have been poor for a third of my life and from poor you get out workingand if I left without knowing about hospitality, for you, who are very good at what you do, it will be very easy for you, we will start again'”.

The Iglesias restaurants have reopened with the Iglesias in charge, but the owner is the businessman Manuel Lao (Cirsa), a family friend for 40 years, when he frequented their restaurants as a customer. A gesture that Juan Carlos deeply appreciates. He regrets being unable to work as before and not being able to help his brothers in this new stage, and he misses the clients and friends he has made over so many years. But he has the consolation of having rediscovered his family. A treasure worth more than anything else.