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With cast of "Benidorm" from Xmas Sprcial
To date, two of the six episodes of "Benidorm ER" have been screened - Wednesday's 8pm in UK (9pm Spanish time) on Channel 5. Camera crews follow unfortunate Brits on holiday as well as some ex-pats as they enter the private Hospital Clinica Benidorm. However, it must be pointed out that only "locals" with private health care insurance go there - otherwise they have to pay for any treatment they have.

In episode one they followed local expat Karen Ravenscroft, better known as Kinky Karen in Benidorm. She was attending the hospitial as a private patient to seek advice and diagnosis for a severve back problem which was causing her excrusiating pain.

I was curious out find out more so met up with Karen to see how she was and the outcome of her hospital "investigation" - which she told me was actually filmed last summer in July/August (2011).

She came to Benidorm on a 2 week  holiday with her parents back in 1997 and during that time met Andreas - back then a male dancer known as "The Bullfighter". At the end of the holiday she went back to Blackpool to hand in her notice at the nightclub where she worked "Too Hot to Handle" and returned to Benidorm. She perfected and performed a fire act at many of the clubs in the town and was even featured on a weekly television show here.

After two years she got engaged to Andreas but broke it off after discovering his infidelity and fled back to the UK. She worked in Manchester for a while then moved down to London, where she worked at "Secrets". Whilst there she met a girl who wanted to open a similar club in Lanzarote and so together they took the plunge and went for it. She worked there for a year but missed Benidorm and so decided to move back here. Then in around 2001 her ex-fiance went into the Spanish Big Brother - as massive in Spain as it is in the UK. As always with journalists they uncovered that he had been engaged and tracked down Karen to get her side of the story. Now, this could have gone one of two ways ... fortunately for Karen it literally catapulted her to stardom. She was interviewed on many Spanish television stations and that resulted in literally hundreds of photo shoots and magazine deals - she appeared on the covers of "Best Magazine", "Men & Motors", "Daily Sport" and was on the television series "Benidorm or Bust".

 Throughout 2001/2 she had 18 months of what Karen said was "utter madness - I was flying around Europe doing magazine shoots and television shows but never got to actually see any of the fabulous places I visited". It made her realise that Benidorm had everything that she wanted and so she gave up the jetting around, which sounds great but is totally exhausting and went back to performing her "exotic shows".

Karen is a total fitness freak and was working out at the gym daily on top of which she did kick boxing ... but it was all to take its toll on her health. She started getting serious back problems and had to take 4 months off work as she was in so much pain - plus totally give up all exercise. It was at this point that Channel 5 picked up her story for the documentary that is currently being screened. She wanted to get a quick diagnosis and so went to the Hospital Clinica Benidorm for speed where she had an MRI scan  revealing a hernia on her spine which was crushing the nerves going down her right leg - which explained the crippling pain she was experiencing. The doctors there told her that she needed to be operated on and were talking of fusing some of her spine ... quite a serious and frightening procedure and that only 1% of such cases result in such severe damage, as she was experincing. As if that wasn't frightening enough they also told her that if she didn't have the operation  she would be in a wheelchair within 6 months!

Remember this was filmed LAST YEAR and I met her this week in the Daytona Beach Bar on Levante seafront where she walked in with her 2 doggies - her babies as she calls them!  So Karen went to seek a second opinion at the Social Security hospital (Spains NHS equivalent) at Villa Joyosa. There she was told a similar diagnosis but she then started investigating for herself what this procedure would actually entail and the risks involved. Her research found 9 people with the same condition - 8 had this operation and are now worse than before and 1 died! As you can imagine it has somewhat put Karen off so she went down the alternative route which is where you see her being filmed with a crystal healer. She also visited a White Witch who has put "health spells" on her - I must admit at this point I was finding it hard to keep a straight face but then as she pointed out "when you're in so much pain you are willing to try literally anything". She was also having treatment with a chiropractor as well as taking "bucket loads" of medication which was costing her thousands of euros and money was running.

She had no alternative but to go back to work - however she has  adapted her show to 20 minutes and limits herself to what she can do. By pure coincidence -( or is it) she had a phone call from Villa Joyosa hospital last week, informing her that she had an appointment for her pre-med the following day. Her operation was being scheduled for 10 days later -with  no further consultations with the doctor or surgeon to ask exactly what they were going to do! Unsuprisingly Karen did not attend her appointment .She will monitor how she gets on over the next 6-12 months. Karen still has pain but it's bearable. Whether it was infact the "alternative" therapies or just her change of lifestyle that has helped is unknown, but she certainly won't be rushed into surgery. "Let's face it - last summer they told me that I'd be in a wheelchair by Christmas if I didn't have this op" she told me. Makes you wonder doesn't it .... does the doctor always know best!

With Karen, Taijah & China
Having recently been laid up in bed I can totally sympathize with Karen - its probably one of the worse things. Channel 5 crew were persistant in asking to film her performing one of her shows for the series, so despite the pain she was in, managed an adapted routine - which was filmed at "Broadway". "I just hope that they show it now after all the hassle - they even had to get the audience to sign disclaimers". She hasn't been informed if and when they will be broadcasting that particular segment so will be watching with curiosity.

"So what does the future hold for you" I asked. Well, Karen is working on an illusion show which she plans to introduce to Benidorm, maybe next year - "not close up card tricks and things like that - proper illusion and maybe incorporate my fire show ... it'll be like nothing you've seen before in Benidorm".
Karen currently works at the Daytona Beach Bar on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and once into the season will be working at the clubs in the English quarter. She is available for private parties and bookings including Stag & Hen events and is offering readers of this blog,a special discount. You can contact Karen on 669 370 183