Why’s that truck driving through my living room?
It’s an old fashioned bright red tow truck; and it’s just driven out from behind the TV, across the living room and has left via the bay window!
That’s when I knew I was in trouble. I was hallucinating!
What I didn’t realise was, just how ill I was.
What happened next was like a nightmare.
My wife finally persuaded me to go to the doctor; it’s only flu, I told myself. I was very wrong! I was fortunate that my wife had already booked an appointment for me earlier in the day; knowing I needed it.
So, I’m sitting in the doctor’s surgery and the doctor has gone into hyperdrive. Why? I ask myself. Well, my oxygen levels were so low that she put me on 4litres of oxygen immediately and called an ambulance. I still didn’t get it; but I was getting worried now.
I vaguely remember calling my wife and saying I’m off to hospital… She wasn’t surprised at all. She knew I wasn’t well.
In the ambulance, I remember wondering who the siren and the flashing blue lights were for. The crew were friendly and calming.
As we drove towards the hospital, I was really struggling for breath and beginning to feel very out of it.
I think I must have flown into A&E, the doors crashed open and I was in a bay right away.
The A&E medical team seemed to be making such a fuss… oxygen, injections, cannula, drip and drugs for something or other. No, I didn’t really understand all the fuss.
After what seemed an age, they had me stabilised. Then most of the team left. The nurses then observed from a distance.
It was then that I started playing with my pulse rate. Something I’ve always been able to do. I was playing chicken with the continuous beep. A few times, I managed to get it so low that the alarms went off and a nurse hurried over to see if I was ok.
I was thinking; maybe I’m dying… I wasn’t in pain or stressed. I felt I could just go, and it would all be over.
Fortunately, my wife came in at this point. I felt I had a reason to stay.
It’s strange how my thought process was working. Turns out that I was in septic shock, had infections, the flu, and the biggy; a Pulmonary Embolism. In fact, the MRI scan the next day, showed I had loads of clots on my lungs. They looked just like two bunches of grapes.
According to the doctors, I was lucky to be alive. I remember feeling ok but struggling to get a decent lungful of air.
After all the fuss on my arrival at the hospital, it was a relief to be transferred to a small ward and calm down. I was still popular with the nurses and doctors. They kept coming over and checking me; or stabbing me with another needle! One of the drugs is injected into the belly. Well, I thought, they can’t miss that. But it still smarted. The resulting bruises were most uncomfortable.
The next day I was sitting up in bed, still attached to the oxygen, and the canula sticking out of my arm. The good thing was that the oxygen could now be at a lower rate of flow. My blood oxygen stats were stabilising.
Everything had calmed down and I had time to reflect on what had happened and what was going on. It was then that I had a massive pity party — I felt very sorry for myself; was my life over? What would happen?
It was at this point that I decided I needed to take charge of what would become of me. I needed to change. It was all down to me!
I hope this inspires you, dear reader, to make the changes for the better, in your life.
Before I share how, and what, I changed in myself, I’d like to go back in my life; way back… How had I arrived in this sorry state?
I’ve always been on the large size. Throughout my formative years, I didn’t exercise as much as I should to cover for the amount I ate. I could blame my mother, who was always ready with food; but I choose not to. It was all down to me, although I didn’t fully appreciate at the time that it was my decision to make.
From the age of 3 I enjoyed regular sailing trips. Racing in sailing boats and yachts became my chosen sport. Sailing requires more strength than agility. At this I excelled.
I shunned all aerobic forms of exercise, not for me all that puffing, running sweating stuff. As I sailed bigger and bigger boats, my weight and size increased too — Until I became ‘broad of beam’. The beam is the widest part of a boat — and my beam was certainly wide.
Jump forward to 2007. Prior to this, I always seemed to be healthy, no serious issues. After a mild chest infection in May, and having been prescribed some antibiotics, I was soon on the way to recovery when the doctor decided that I needed an MOT of sorts. The full check-up.
What they found was most worrying; I had Thrombocytopenia — a blood condition to do with the number of blood platelets. I was put on a number of medications, from which I became very ill. Although I felt awful, I didn’t give up. I was still working, but at a reduced rate.
The medications did not seem to be helping at all. The specialist even said they could take out my spleen to ‘see what happens’. Not on your life matey!!! I put a firm NO on that idea. The medication was starting to make me unwell — I reacted badly to a number of the drugs — and nothing was increasing my platelets.
By the end of 2007 I decided that these medical interventions had to stop. The specialist finally agreed, and we came up with a plan to come off all meds just before Christmas. 2008 was a much better year health wise.
The one thing I didn’t change was my weight. That was fine, or so I thought.
Fast forward to 2013, I required an operation to remove my gallbladder. This was totally my own fault. I knew it was because I wasn’t eating healthily. But I didn’t think of it as a significant issue.
By now I had become morbidly obese — 22 stone. I even had to have my suits made to fit me. I couldn’t find a 58inch chest off the peg. I only just managed to get in for my operation.
But I still didn’t see the need to change. Oh, I wanted to be slim and fit. But that wasn’t me. I was in denial. As a friend says — No sh1t Sherlock!
So we’re back in the ward… It was during the pity party, that I had the epiphany. Time to change Me! It took this near-death experience to choose to be triumphant over my obesity. Sometimes it’s only the trigger for change that is missing. I had found my Why.
I started as soon as I came home after nearly a week in hospital. If I was going to survive; no, that wasn’t going to do — I wanted to thrive! I would need to make changes to me. Both physically and, more importantly, mentally. I was morbidly obese, had significant blood clots in my lungs, a very high type 2 diabetes reading, and had trouble breathing.
Over the first week, I studied what sort of diet would be right for me. I soon found some really useful lessons. Rather than join some fad diet, or group, I read that it was simply about portion control. Also, my plans required a certain amount of dedication and determination. Without this change to my mentality, nothing would change — like all the other times I said I would get fit and healthy.
I won’t pretend it was easy. At first, I felt so empty and hungry. Not just for food, but also for the act of eating. It showed that I was eating for the sake of it.
The diet was a good start. But I wanted to really lose weight; to become fit and healthy… and fit into normal clothes.
So, at the end of February 2019, I started walking. The first outing was rather a challenge. 55 minutes to shuffle around the block. Not even a full kilometre.
Over the following weeks, I kept up the effort and my walking gathered pace and distance.
By March, I was walking about 3 to 4 kilometres nearly every day. The weight began to fall off.
I remember telling friends that the walking was great — but no running. Running wasn’t for Alex.
By the beginning of May, I had lost 5 stone and could walk quickly enough up a local hill.
Such was my resolve that I decided to jog a bit on the downwards slopes. No running mind you — Alex didn’t do running.
Well that attitude soon changed. I found that I was enjoying the challenge of running a little further every time out. Very soon I’d joined up all the runs into one.
It was time to extend the distances. 3k became 4k; then I reached 5k. Me, running 5k! who’d have thought it.
Then it was all about getting faster. First a 30 minute 5k, which seemed so hard. As of the end of September2020, my PB is 24:55 — the sub 25 minute 5k target.
Now I’m writing this, and it’s November 2020 — My current goal is a Half Marathon in under 2 hours; yes 21.1k in under 2 hours. The training is going well (puff puff). It’s not easy, but anything worthwhile is never easy. To date I’ve run 17.6k by following a program I found. It seems the most pragmatic one I’ve seen — suits me. Keep it simple.
This all sounds great, but there have been setbacks along the way. Some health related and some CBA (Can’t Be A-sed). The real test of character is the ability to get through the hurdles and keep plugging away. I’ve had plenty of aches and pains in my legs. But I rest a bit, then get out there again.
Where do I get my inspiration from? When you see someone like the 8 year-old boy with Cerebral Palsy, let go of his walker for the last 50 meters and complete a triathlon unaided. He even fell down a couple of times getting to the finish line; yet he just got up and kept going till the end — now that is something else! It shows that anyone can do something amazing when they set their mind to it.
So, what do you want to achieve? What are you prepared to do to realise your goals?