Message to myself – “do not despair”

Close followers of this blog will perhaps have noted that my “first day” blog post from Taipei Cycle Show was nearly 12 days ago and there has been nothing since.

Yes, there were some memorable experiences on the following days which I need to write about in due course, however right now life has decided that I have other priorities.

If I say that the most searched cycling expression on Google from this computer in the past few days has been “cycling and deep vein thrombosis” it should give you the clue.

While in Taipei I suffered some pain in my leg which was followed by a frightening episode where I woke up on the hotel room floor after a faint and then spent 24 hours in hospital having a big range of tests for thrombosis or embolism. Those proved inconclusive so I was allowed to fly home to Belgium two days later. However it didn’t end there, because on Monday when I reported to my doctor for a follow up she listened to my ongoing symptoms for a few minutes and instructed me to go to the Emergency Unit “immediately”.

And now I have a diagnosis, three blood clots were found in my lower leg.  Deep Vein Thrombosis, the dreaded DVT, probably caused by inactivity on the first flight, but maybe only growing big enough to see after a second flight. That probably makes me incredibly lucky, because I perhaps shouldn’t have flown back, but my insurance company did insist on wheelchair transport through the airports and a ticket upgrade, despite no firm diagnosis from the first incident. Did I have an embolism in Taipei? Did I dodge the risk of a serious incident on the flight back? Unfortunately I don’t have a clear diagnosis from the doctors on those points, however these thoughts are still hovering in the back of my mind even as I write – I think I should probably be very grateful.

However I am not very good at “grateful” when it comes to illness. That is unfair to those around me who I know are worried and relieved that I am at least home (could have been in Taipei for a month) and that I have probably escaped from something serious. I know, I know, I should be using this time to reflect, look after myself and catch up.

I think my problem probably starts because I think “this shouldn’t happen to me”. Non-smoker, not overweight, regular exercise, how the hell can this happen? My body is a thing to be disciplined, to be beaten into shape, to be trained and pushed. It may be aging a bit but I get deeply resentful when it fails. That means anything keeping me away from work and travel, and even worse if it stops me doing physical things like cycling, walking and odd jobs around the house and garden which are my mental relaxation as well as my exercise.

This is the worst part. The prognosis for deep vein thrombosis is to take the anticoagulant medication, to take it easy for a week and then to “wait and see”. How quickly will the pain in my leg take to go away? Will I be clear of clots in three weeks’ time when I get a follow up scan? When can I make a transition from keeping mobile to gentle exercise and maybe even cycling round the neighbourhood? When will I be able to travel again? The temptation to spend quite a lot of time on the internet looking at medical forums when I am bored is extremely high, but as ever the overload of content just seems to add confusion, not clarity.

So when I should be feeling grateful I cannot help but feel an underlying sense of frustration, a bit of hopelessness because right now there is nothing I can do, nothing to plan, nothing to bend to my will. I just have to wait. I hope I will be able to go back to some sort of light desk based work next week, but even that isn’t clear.

“I do not despair”

That is what it says at the top of the blog. That has to be the plan. Accentuate the positive. Carpe diem.

The long-term prognosis for a DVT caused by inactivity seems to be very good, it seems that in 3-6 months this could just be a very painful lesson learned about managing my health when traveling. Exercise is encouraged and all could be relatively normal.

So for now I apologise again to my family and my friends and my colleagues for giving you a scare.

I thank you for all the love, friendship and support that I had in Taipei when things were pretty horrible and that have carried on now I am home.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

I apologise in advance for the fact that I am probably going to be a bit of a grumpy old git for a time, I promise to try and behave. When you say to me “just take it easy for a few days” I may not like it, but I am listening, honest.

Photo by Kevin Mayne

I must take advantage of the fact that spring is here and I can watch the garden come to life and our wonderful view is turning green before our eyes.

Professionally all sorts of people stepped into the space in Taipei and delivered a great outcome for ECF and of course I know you will still be doing amazing things every day for cycling all over the world. Thank you.

ECF event at Taipei Cycle Show

Dear reader I will catch up with some outstanding content for the blog and hopefully in a month I will have some new live content to share.  I have a small backlog of unpublished material that should stop me being bored and maybe I will create a little resource for fellow cyclists about what I learn during my recuperation, but I won’t bore the rest of you with that I have got the story off my chest.

As this is mainly a cycling blog I will just say “see you on the other side of the hill.”

“I do not despair”

21 thoughts on “Message to myself – “do not despair”

  1. I am not going to “like” this post Kevin as I am very shocked, and definitely “dislike” the fact that such a fit and active young chap like you can get DVT. it’s certainly a warning that anyone can get this, and a warning to those like me who are sitting at a desk all day. I send you my best wishes for a full and speedy recovery, and for patience and understanding for your family! 🙂


    • Thanks Brian. I am on a new drug that moves on a bit from the rat poison, hopefully just for 2-3 months if I am a “good risk”

      Fingers crossed.


    • Thanks

      I’ll settle for a brisk walk right now – but this spring weather sure seems to be going to waste!


  2. With your lifelong thirst for knowledge this should be a great opportunity to catch up on some obscure aspect of astrophysics (or similar) that has always intrigued you. Just avoid the conspiracy theory forums …


    • My fingers keep taking me to places of new knowledge like how to build a deck or digging out garden paths, all of which are currently as useless as those university days spent photographing sunspots.

      A conspiracy theory or two of my own might be fun – maybe I should try and start some.


  3. Look mate, having a garden chair with a view like that, just sit in it and get well! (I shall join you mentally in the recovery room and we have an entertaining grumble about not being able to do things for a while.)



  4. Hi Kevin sorry to hear this. If it’s any comfort Roland has had 3 DVTs, one just after we met and a second just after Louie was born 22 years ago (thanks for that!). The first wasn’t diagnosed for months although he’d had a pain in his leg for ages so I urged him to go to the doctor, who referred him to the hospital in 6 weeks!! They kept him in immediately. He was about 29, extremely fit and active and had NEVER flown. It’s probably some mysterious blood condition but they can’t test for it as he’s now on Warfarin forever. He’s as fit as ever and we rode 35 miles off-road yesterday and did LEJOG last year. So there is cycling life after DVT but keep taking the Warfarin! And get active again as soon as you are able.


      • Thanks Julie

        Never was one for the cycling vanity anyway, it never took hold for someone with the riding style of Chris Froome but with zero ability.

        So I will be grateful for your encouragement and positivity – and next time I see Roland we can compare aches and pains like older blokes do.


        Liked by 1 person

        • Also majorly annoying having IRN levels checked regularly and having to avoid things like broccoli, grapefruit, cranberry juice and large amounts of alcohol! Funnily enough his levels tend go awry just after Xmas necessitating weekly Dr visits but luckily we live very close to the surgery. Also has to keep hydrated. Otherwise, very normal life.


  5. Hope you are back to your ‘old’ self soon. I was told by a doctor pal that you should always wear those tight surgical stockings on long flights to prevent DVT. We even sometimes wear them when we know we’re going to be trapped in a car for a long time. Good luck!


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