Archive for October, 2008

Week 18 and beyond – Catastrophe!!!

October 12, 2008

I will not be running the New York Marathon this year! I may never run a marathon!

Since I last wrote I have had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from an artery in my leg. This was really very serious and quite frightening.   It started with a sudden cramp like pain in my leg which prevented me doing my training run a couple of sundays ago.

When the pain continued through to the next day and my foot started to feel numb and tingly with cold toes I phoned NHS Direct. They told me to get to my nearest A&E. The A&E Doctor at Hammersmith Hospital looked worried, used phrases like “circulation compromised” and sent me to Charing Cross Hospital with a note saying he couldn’t find a pulse below my right knee!  At this point I was getting very worried indeed. At Charing Cross Hospital I was given a scan and then a Doctor called me into a room to discuss the scan. His first words were:

“It is not good news.”

I thought, “Aaaaarrrrrrrggggghhhhhhh!”, as you do when a doctor says that sort of thing.

He then said, “You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November.”

At this point I started to see myself like the piano that the jazz cats in The Aristocats are playing when they sing “Everybody Wants to be a Cat” when it goes crashing down through the building…

“it’s not good news” CRASH through the floor.

“You certainly won’t be running a marathon in November” CRASH through the next floor.

I wonder if I will ever run again. CRASH through the next floor.

Or walk? CRASH through the next floor.

Or live?!! CRASH!  “Aaaarrrrrgggghhhh!!!”

Anyway the upshot is I had a blood clot blocking the artery in my right leg. It was successfully removed in an operation the following day. The top theory for the cause of the blockage is that there was a kink in my artery near the back of the knee and the “huge muscle build up” (honestly, their words not mine)  I developed from my marathon training pounded against the kinked artery during my many miles of training.  Although not common, this does have a name: Popliteal Artery Entrapment Syndrome. (So there is a medical term for the back of the knee!)

So you could say that I was having my own credit crunch crisis (which all went crazy while I was in hospital). A “liquidity” problem in my right leg caused the muscles to “go bust” which could have led to a serious physical “meltdown” if the “Darling” team at Charing Cross hadn’t “bailed out” my failing vascular “banking system” with a “multi billion” something “rescue package” to “pump liquidity back into the system” and prevent “Icelandic”[that’s enough now].

I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.

However, I am very disappointed about the marathon. In fact, it was all so distressing I tried to pretend that it was not happening to me by growing a beard to make me look like someone else:

me trying to look unlike me

me trying to look unlike me

But it didn’t work.

And apparently, I was also thinking about you all. Shortly after my operation, I said to Helen, my wife, “I’ve got an idea for the blog. I’m going to go all Tristram Shandy. Black Page.” (Helen says this hilarious idea was made even more hilarious by the fact that I was attached to a number of machines which were inflating and deflating various pads and bags around my body in amusing ways and (because it was so soon after the operation) that it took me five minutes to say those 16 words because I fell asleep twice during the telling!):

Tristram Shandy's Black Page

Tristram Shandy


Later as lay in my hospital bed and I stared at the clock on the wall opposite as it ticked slowly slowly slowly round to 3.10 am (I didn’t sleep well in hospital) and the wind whistled round the building outside and I thought about not running the marathon and all the work I had put in to the training, I thought that tumbleweed across the desert might be a more fitting image.

tumble weed

tumble weed


Yes, self pity, I’m afraid. But overall I am feeling very lucky to be alive and walking and in one piece after this experience.  Life is very wonderful.

And many of you will now be thinking, “Gosh, that sounds like a very frightening ordeal, Allan”. Yes, it was thank you. “And I am really pleased that you seem to be OK after all that.” Yes, me too, actually. “But can I ask about the sponsorship money I gave you through justgiving? Now that you will not be running the marathon I sponsored you to run, what happens about my money.” Ahh. Yes. I’m glad you asked me that. Because I checked up that situation. And here is what the justgiving FAQ page says:

“I’ve pulled out of the event – can my donors get a refund?I already have donations on my page…

We can’t refund donations made to your fundraising page because they’re processed immediately and paid directly to your charity. It’s what makes Justgiving so efficient!

If your donors would like a refund, please ask them to contact your charity. We give refunds only in exceptional circumstances, with the charity’s written approval. ”

For some, I guess, that will be “not good news”, as a doctor recently said. So it seems to me that the very generous and kind people who donated money to NCT for my marathon have a few options:

  1. Ask NCT for your money back.
  2. Leave your money where it is but insist/encourage me to do something else, eg, reach my weightloss target of 73kg (which would be about 26lb down from when I started so those of you who sponsored me £1/mile could now sponsor me £1/lb!)
  3. Leave your money where it is in the hope that I will be able to run the New York marathon next year instead (I would like to run the marathon next year, but not sure it will be medically possible – the doctors weren’t encouraging on that point.)
  4. Leave your money where it is because it is really quite impressive that I have run 356.81 miles (574.23 km), (most of them before 6.30 in the morning!) including a couple of runs of 18 and 20 miles,  since I began keeping a record 18 ish weeks ago. And NCT is a very worthwhile charity.

You can vote on your preferred option by adding a comment below.

So this may well be my last blog posting. Unless I (or you) can think of something useful I can do (over and above the 350 miles of running) to justify the sponsorship. So thank you for reading. I’ll let you know if there is more to say…

I have run a lot
I have written a lot too
I hope you had fun.