The Hairy Bikers: Si King discusses his struggle with illness
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Returning to our telly screens tonight for The Hairy Bikers Go North on BBC Two the two travel the entire width and breadth of the North, beginning in Lancashire. Yet, a Northern road trip seemed impossible to pull off when Simon was rushed into hospital for life-saving treatment back in 2014. To make things worse the chef almost ignored symptoms after what he thought were just headaches.
Usually referred to as just Si, the chef opened up about the lead up of his brain aneurysm after experiencing severe headaches.
Simon’s illness gradually got worse over a four-day period, and when the severe headaches ceased to get any better he thought to himself “I am in trouble here”.
Talking about the sobering experience, he told Express.co.uk: “It was very sobering when my consultant said, ‘Look, you made a serious decision by taking yourself to the hospital’. But I did just think about going back to bed because I felt very exhausted.”
Although tempting, the decision to not go back to bed actually saved the chef’s life. He continued to say: “[The doctor] said to me, ‘If you went back to bed you would be dead’. So that was it.”
Taking time after surgery to recover from the condition, he revealed that even after the surgery he suffered with fatigue.
“The problem with an aneurysm is the level of fatigue you go through during recovery.” Simon said. “You simply can’t do anything. It used to take me all day to make one cup of tea when I first came home out of hospital.
“It was astonishing. I just slept so much.”
The NHS define a brain aneurysm as a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the blood vessel wall. As blood passes through the weakened blood vessel, blood pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards like a balloon.
Symptoms are often very sudden and the condition has the potential to cause extensive brain damage.
These symptoms include:
- A sudden agonising headache – it’s been described as a “thunderclap headache”, similar to A sudden hit on the head, resulting in a blinding pain unlike anything experienced before
- A stiff neck
- Sickness and vomiting
- Pain on looking at light.
One thing that Simon credits for saving his life is his drastic weight loss. Admitting he “didn’t think he’d survive” if he has remained morbid obese.
Before the aneurysm struck Simon was feeling the healthiest he had been in years after losing more than three stone on a diet.
Luckily the chef had no long-lasting damage from the condition and continued to get check-ups and treatment for a while after his surgery. He said: “Now I go for check ups. It is a continual treatment and I will need some more. It was a life-or-death thing. It was critical when I went into hospital but now it’s not. It’s good they have fixed it.”
Treating a brain aneurysm depends on whether it has burst or not. Most aneurysms do not rupture so treatment is only carried out if the rupture risk is particularly high.
Factors that affect whether treatment is recommended include your age, the size and position of the aneurysm, your family medical history, and any other health conditions you have.
When treatment is required, it usually involves either filling the aneurysm with tiny metal coils or an open operation to deal it shut with a tiny metal clip.
Although the risk of rupture is low, some risk factors including smoking, high blood pressure and a family history of brain aneurysms may increase your risk of not only rupture but developing a brain aneurysm in the first place.
Some experts believe that as many as one in 20 people are affected by aneurysms while others think the figure is much lower. However the condition is more common in people over the age of 40.
The best way to prevent a brain aneurysm or reduce the risk of it growing any bigger is to avoid activities that could damage your blood vessels.
These include the following:
- Eating a high-fat diet
- Not controlling high blood pressure
- Being overweight or obese.
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