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  • Writer's picturemark6314

Stop the truck.

Just an ordinary day. 0400hrs alarm, drag my arse to the bathroom and let the day begin. For the best part of 30 years as a Hgv driver, early morning starts have been the norm.

Get started and getting a head start on the rest of the world.

I never minded getting up early and to be honest life on the road was always a pretty good one.

Enjoying the solitude of my truck as I drive to shops and distribution centers around the UK.

Music has always been a big part of my day

. So with, In my opinion, the best playlists to hand I would drive for hours just listening to and discovering new music all day long, stopping occasionally to make a delivery.

Perfect job right.

Today was different.

I remember waking at 0200hr for the obligatory toilet trip that just happens when you are of an age, and just feeling different.

My right leg was not as it should be and generally I felt a bit shit, back to bed I went without thinking too much about it.

As is quite normal, I woke at 0359hr and switched the alarm off before it started screaming at me and started my day. Still feeling a bit shit and with this feeling in my leg like I had trapped a nerve.

Bag packed and on the short walk to my truck my leg was clearly a problem, tripping over curb stones and dragging my right foot. At that point I should have just gone home but I'm a worker. I enjoy work, never called in sick, never late, just pushing on to get done what needs to be done.

Sure I have had times where I felt rubbish and wanted to stay in bed but I'm always there.

I think a lot of my work ethic is down to the feeling I have that I don't like to be let down by people so wouldn't dream of letting people down myself. I'm a great believer in treating people how you wish to be treated.

Just stop the truck was on repeat in my head as I headed down the M27 bound for Chichester on the south coast. I just forgot what to do. With a slower moving truck in front of me, I knew I had to overtake it but I was buggered I I knew how to. Then there was just this voice.

Mark! Pull over and call an ambulance.

My internal voice was screaming at me. Something was very wrong and I had to do something about it.

In my "hobby work" as I Like to call it, I contract as first aid and safety cover for running events for various running event companies so I have a generalised understanding of symptoms and illness. So with a quick run though of my symptoms I decided it was a very good chance I was having a stroke.

I needed help and I needed it now. In all fairness, I probably needed it when I first woke up.

999. What service do you require.
Ambulance please. I'm having a Stoke.

Now for you to understand just how difficult this phone call was, you probably need to know a little bit about me.

Without blowing my own trumpet too much, I am probably one of the fittest men I know. With a massive passion for trail running and all things out doors.

I take part in Ultra marathon distance trail running, having completed 100 mile races. My passion is mountains and love nothing more than disappearing in to the hills of south Wales and pitting myself against the elements or taking my two daughters on trips away to conque mountain ranges somewhere in the country.

I also own an events company.

We host many local running events in Hampshire and Wiltshire. I also work as safety and first aid cover for a few other event companies spending days at a time as part of amazing teams, route marking extreme races in the the national parks around the UK.

I love my sport and knew deep down that one day soon I would be giving up the lorry driving to follow my dream and working full time on my hobby work, but now I am sat in the back of an ambulance on the side of a motorway having what i thought to be a Stroke. WTAF.

Chris and Kyle the paramedic and ECA who came to my rescue were just incredible. 2 middle aged guys, very calm and friendly. Reasured me that all my stats where quite normal but they would take me to Southampton General hospital just to get me checked out.

I'm not one for crying much but I know I had a cry in the back of the ambulance. Not because I was in any pain but because suddenly my immortality was in question.

I have lived a very full life and I AM invincible.

The sensation in my right let is still a concern and I explain to the doctors about a numbness and wierd twitching sensation.

MRIs and CT scans follow and the doctors inform me that there is some disagreement between the STROKE team and the NEURO team as to what's going on in my head.

Then It came.

Mr O'Meara. After many scans the teams have found a leasion on your Brain. You have a brain tumor.

Well that escalated rather quickly.

The next week in hospital was the biggest roller coaster ride of my life so far. From deap sinking depressions to tranquil acceptance. My life quite literally was flashing before my eyes. I didn't know how serious anything was as I had to wait (in hospital) for the neurological team to discuss my case and decide what happened next. Turned out nothing was going to happen for a very long time.

7 months pasting total with just one follow up MRI and finally a consultants meeting where Carol and I told them that

It was just not good enough. Something needs to be done and soon.

We discussed the option of private surgery but were eventually reasured that we were quite high on the list and advised to wait for NHS treatment.

7 months waiting In limbo was never in my life plan. I couldn't work and initially I believed that I was even to ill to venture outside for fear of having a siezure. One month of solitary confinement until I was eventually invited to join some people on a regular 5 mile run that they do every Wednesday morning.

Big up the "Perham Collective"

Then. Just as quickly as it seemed to stop, my life began again. This lovely group of wonderful people pick me up very week, we run 5 miles then enjoy breakfast together and it's just the perfect morning. Lots of laughs and well intended piss taking. I believe that had it not been for these people, my frame of mind would be in a completely different,darker place today.

So it turned out that I could still run, I got back in the gym and my fitness journey began again. Other than my ability to drive my life was pretty much as it was before. Clearly I can't just disappear in my lovely SUV to hills but enjoying running again was definatly a game changer. I did unfortunately lose my contract work but my events company was going OK and for that I was very grateful.

So 7 months on I am 2 days away from hosting my favorite event of our calender. The Testay Ultra

And 5 days away from competing in a 200 mile race across South Wales.

Then the phone call came.

Hello Mr O'Meara. This is the MRI department in Southampton general hospital. We need you in for a pre op MRI and a psych analysis please. Tomorrow 🙄

Talk about timing.

Thursday morning: MRI

Thursday afternoon: Nueropsychology analysis.

Friday morning: 50 miles of a trail race to route Mark.

Saturday all day: Race day

Sunday: Clear up and pack event away.

Monday: Brain surgery. 🧠

Perhaps it was ment to happen that way. 🤔 if you sit and think about something long enough it will eventually turn in to a worry.

Needless to say, I wouldn't be competing in the Wildhorse 200 just yet. A quick phone call to Rhys Jenkins (Race Director and friend and my entry is deferred until such a date that I'm fit to do it) thanks mate.

So I'm not going to go in to that much detail about surgery but let's just say it went as well as we could have hoped for. I'm not out of the woods yet and I'm under no illusions about my recovery and future treatment.

I'm home under strict instructions to do nothing for ages. You can only imagine how bored and annoying I am becoming.

I have a wonderful family and am very fortunate in that I'm looked after by Carol, Lily and Megan.

And so the journey begins.

I have to start again. I have very limited sensation in my right side (completly dead) the consultant has assured me it will eventually come back but I'm not going to sit around and wait for that.

I am going to blog about my progress in the hope that It pushes someone else going through adversity to push and to set and achieve goals.

My goals are. Get fit again, get running again and compete in the Wildhorse200 in April 2024.

If you sit and think about something long enough it will become a problem.
Set goals and get after them.
Don't think. Do

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15 apr. 2023

Thank you for sharing such a personal story. Best wishes on your recovery - and ride out the frustration and boredom xx


Peter Richardson
Peter Richardson
15 apr. 2023
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Amazing and life affirming story, thanks for sharing and best wishes for a speedy recovery 👏💪👍

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