Terry B
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Terry B
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30 Aug 2014

Why Terry won't be riding this Sunday (but you should still support the 7,000 that are and LLR)

Sorry for the break in communications. I did the Prudential Ride on Sunday 10 August – an age ago, it seems – with 25,000 other riders.

The course was shortened to 86 miles as a result of tropical storm conditions, but it was certainly an experience – as was that final sprint down the Mall at lunchtime. My overall time was 5 h 10 m, but I was stopped by the side of the road for a quarter of an hour waiting for friends to catch up and I got rather cold.
Back home, I spent a happy afternoon watching the professional race in the sunshine on TV, and a lot of Monday cleaning the bike and my kit.

I felt unusually tired on Tuesday and then, on the morning of Wednesday 13 August I recognised the signs of an upper gastro-intestinal bleed like the one I had in Malawi five and a half years ago. Emailing Suzanne, who was already on her way back to UK, I called a taxi and took myself to the A&E Department at St Georges Hospital, Tooting. To cut a long and gory story short, I’ve been there most of the time since. The excellent staff found it impossible to pinpoint the initial bleed by either endoscopy or laparotomy (the proper term for cutting one’s stomach open) but the bleeding spontaneously stopped. I seemed to get better on drugs and, five days later, on Monday 18 August, I was sent home rejoicing (weakly) straight from the High Dependence Unit with 27 staples in my belly. I had an unusually happy couple of days, not least because I was noticeably high on anaesthetics and painkillers.

Alas, I was back at A&E with Suzanne on the evening of Thursday 21 August – with either the same elusive bleed again or another one. This time the medics tried an interventional technique – radiological embolisation – going in at the groin with a probe and ‘flying’ up an artery to the likely site of the bleed. Once there they use dye to highlight where the leaks are and then pump out a clotting agent to plug the holes – awfully like mending a leaking car radiator with porridge or (slightly better) Bars Leak.

Things were ok for the next three days or so, with lots of visitors and jolly staff. Then, some time in the early hours of Monday 25 August I woke up in total panic in what felt like a very deep, dark hole. I was literally paralysed – probably it seems as a result of a big arterial bleed in my stomach.
I struggled for what seemed like hours to get my breathing under control and eventually managed to hit the call button. Yet another set of very competent nurses and doctors assembled to work on me as I started throwing up increasing quantities of blood. Suzanne, my eldest son Sam and later my brother Oliver assembled yet again in the early hours of Tuesday morning and somehow managed to watch the horrid scene and be supportive. Now, the size of the bleed at last allowed the medics’ special CT scan to pinpoint the source, and I had another – and I hope final – radiological embolisation, this time under a general anaesthetic.
I woke up from the op on Monday afternoon in ITU, very disoriented, but I've made rapid progress since then – so rapid in fact that I’m now back home in Wandsworth.

But... but – oh dear – I’ve had to admit that I’m really not unstoppable; I can’t ride 100 miles on Sunday as planned or indeed even get on the bike. All is not lost though: my brother’s friend Ben Childs will be riding with him in my place. And I intend to be at the start at Ham House on Sunday morning to send them off.

So… please, please continue to support the 7,000 London Bikeathon riders this Sunday, and Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research in its aim of beating blood cancers, including myelofibrosis. And while you’re at it, please consider giving blood. It’s easy and does you no harm at all. I'm very conscious that I owe the NHS 12 units of packed cells, two units of platelets and four units of delicious fresh frozen plasma this time round.

Thank you!