I am running 19 races throughout 2018 for the 19 days I was in hospital, raising money towards a new Critical Care Unit at Kings College Hospital.
Most people who know me are aware that I was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (a hole in the heart) in 2012, which was repaired by open heart surgery in 2015. After a long but rewarding recovery, I went on to run the London Marathon a year later in April 2016, fundraising for the Royal Brompton where I had my treatment.
However... Months later in October 2016 I began struggling to walk due to cramping from what I thought was pulled calf muscles. On November 21st I ended up in Kings College A&E, where they were unable to locate any pulses in my feet and a doppler scan found that the main arteries in both legs behind the knees were completely blocked. I was diagnosed with bilateral Acute Limb Ischaemia - a very serious and unusual condition in someone as young and otherwise healthy as me. A full body CT scan revealed that for some reason my heart had sent out blood clots around my body that had traveled to my spleen, right kidney, a finger and both of my legs.
I ended up having 4 angioplasty surgeries across 4 days (all of which I was awake for), and during this time my condition progressed from Acute to Critical Limb Ischaemia. I spent 5 days in the Jack Steinberg Critical Care Unit where I had to lie completely still, gradually losing feeling in my legs and feet, in a lot of pain with very vulnerable infusions going into my femoral arteries. Thankfully the last procedure was successful, and on the 4th day they finally managed to regain pulses in my feet which meant that my legs were no longer at risk.
After learning to move my legs again with lots of help from physio, I spent a further week and a half recovering on the ward before convincing the doctors to let me go home and sleep in my own bed! I hobbled about on a walking stick for the next 2 months, then spent the whole of 2017 recovering, physically and mentally, whilst returning to Kings for weekly hospital tests and appointments (and back to the Royal Brompton for extensive heart checkups). Unfortunately, despite exhausting all options across 5 different departments at 2 separate hospitals, no official diagnosis was ever found for the cause of the clots.
We would later learn that patients with progressed stages of Acute Limb Ischaemia usually require amputation and the condition carries a significant mortality rate. I count my blessings every single day for our wonderful NHS and the skill of the Vascular teams at Kings who managed to not only save my life and both of my legs, but who are one of the only units in the country to offer such specialist treatment that doesn't require invasive surgery.
My experience during Critical Care is the inspiration behind my fundraising, as I received incredible care during a really awful and terrifying time. CCU was traumatic, painful and isolating, but the staff were warm, kind, compassionate and friendly. They provided amazing support for my family & boyfriend Russ, who were thrown into a scary and unpredictable situation just as much as I was. When I was wheeled out of the CCU, in my drug induced state I declared to them that I would run some races one day to say thank you!
So here I am, asking for your help to help me keep my promise and give something back. I will never be able to thank everyone at Kings enough, but raising some money towards a new Critical Care Unit that will not only benefit future patients & their families, but also the staff who work there is the least I can do.
The new Critical Care Unit will have:
- 121 beds (double the current capacity)
- A unique roof garden with outdoor life support
- Floor-to-ceiling windows with beautiful views
- Large bed-side touch screens and tablets to keep patients connected
To read more about these amazing plans, visit this link: https://supportkings.org.uk/get-involved/kings-critical-care-appeal/
The aim is to run 19 races in 2018 and at least one a month - a big challenge for me considering I'm a recovering heart AND leg patient now too! Russ & I have several booked throughout the year, here is the list:
1. January 28th - Crystal Palace 10k
2. February 18th - Greenwich Park 10k
3. March 4th - The Big Half
4. March 25th - Hyde Park Spring 10k
5. April 15th - Victoria Park 10k
6. May 5th - Peckham 10k
7. May 13th - Great Bristol 10k
8. May 28th - Vitality London 10k
9. June 10th - Warwick Two Castles 10k
10. July 4th - Chase the Sun Clapham 10k
11. July 8th - Bath Two Tunnels 10k
12. August 29th - Chase The Sun Wimbledon 5k
13. September 2nd - Brixton 10k
14. September 15th - Kew Gardens 10k
15. October 14th - Wimbledon Common Half Marathon
16. October 27th - Lee Valley VeloPark 10k
17. November 11th - Crystal Palace 10k
18. November 24th - Lee Valley VeloPark 10k
19. December 9th - Regent’s Park 10k
The idea of doing this has motivated me throughout my recovery, so I would be really grateful for anything you could give towards this cause. Thank you so much for your support x
You can also donate by texting 70070 with the code:
HCCU50 £5 (or whatever amount you choose)
While I have you here - please take just a few minutes to have a look at the risks, signs and symptoms of blood clots, it could save your life:
Helen is running for a new Critical Care Unit at King's College Hospital
Raising money for King's College Hospital Charity because they performed limb saving treatment on me in 2016
We fund equipment, facilities and research to make the best care possible for patients
Charity Registration No. 1165593