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Hypothermia and Trouble
But at least the sausages and chips were good

Dec 93, I was in hospital after having a little trouble with a car driver who couldn't see what was directly in front of her. Anyway, well on the road to recovery and having a cheque in my possession for my old and now deceased bike I decided to start looking through some bike trader magazines for a possible replacement. And there it was! a brand new Yamaha XJ 900 for �3000, so I rang the dealer and arranged delivery - to the hospital.
A few days later it arrived, and caused a little bit of a stir too for some reason? but they were generally quite good about it after I convinced them that I had no plans to sneak off riding it, except around the hospital grounds "just to get used to it".

Having previously lost my right leg (I won't go into all the gory details here) it was a condition on my licence that I had to have a sidecar attached to my bike and this bike didn't have one and the old sidecar was in a million bits on some bypass many miles away. So I was back on the phone to Squire Sidecars and as luck would have it they had the exact model I wanted but it was a recon, the good part was that it worked out less than half price and they'd fit it for me at their factory which is in Bidford upon Avon and I'm in Burnley and in hospital.
Not being one to be easily deterred I gave my mate Ray in Manchester a call and made all the 'arrangements' to get things done. This involved him coming to the hospital early in the morning picking me and the bike up, driving to Bidford upon Avon getting the sidecar attached and then me driving the combo back, but would the ward sister allow such a thing? I decided it was probably best not to worry her with the details and thought it best just to leave a little note on my bed explaining that I'd gone to the hospital shop (just a little white lie, well ok it was a whopper but the end justifies the means or it did in this case).

Anyway the day soon arrived and it got off to an odd sort of a start really, the night before I'd been messing about playing the odd prank despite the nurses threats of revenge which usually came to nothing, but not this time. This time they got me good and proper, they had stored some aqueous cream in the fridge over night then decided to 'cream me' early in the morning, and they didn't miss anywhere!!! at least it ensured that I was wide awake for the trip.

So off we went, we hadn't gone to far when I realised that I was having a lot of trouble keeping my foot on the foot peg and we couldn't stop because we were on the motorway, eventually we found some services and pulled in to see what the problem was. It turned out to be quite an obvious one, the foot peg wasn't lowered and my foot had been resting on the exhaust pipe which was ok to begin with until it got hot and started to melt my shoe sole. So My brand new exhaust didn't look new anymore covered in melted shoe as it was. Luckily I'd used some thin oil on the chrome to protect it and once the shoe had cooled it came off quite easily. We were soon under way once more and made good time arriving a little early. We had planned to go into town while the sidecar was attached, unfortunately the factory was on a small complex which had been built from an old army barracks and was well out in the sticks. And the workshops were tiny which meant that we were out in the cold until it was done.
The thing about hospitals is that they are kept really quite warm, and I'd been in this environment for a good couple of months and being dressed in just jeans and tee shirt and an unlined waxed cotton jacket I was starting to feel the cold a little.

The side car took a lot longer to fit than planned, work wasn't completed until 6:00PM meaning that we had been out in the cold for twelve hours and the temp had started to plummet. As it turned out it was one of the coldest nights on record for the area and the temp fell to -10C in places. Worse still we tried to take a short cut as directed by a lorry driver who made a delivery to the site, and got lost. Could it get any worse? Well yes as it happens, it started to snow quite heavily, at least we wouldn't fall off with the new sidecar acting as a very good stabiliser.
After wandering about who knows where we eventually found the motorway, only for me to end up going the wrong way and it was 15 miles to the next junction. Having turned around and got back on track the snow and cold were beginning to be a real problem for both me and the bike because I doubt I'd ever felt so cold in my entire life and the bike was starting to suffer from carb icing. This meant keeping our speed down but keeping the revs high or we'd come to a halt and have to wait a few minutes before it would start again. By now only one lane of the motorway was passable due to the snow and we were following a slow moving lorry which luckily for us was clearing a path for us.

8:00PM We reached Birmingham, by this time we were stopping at every single service station and filling up with very sweet hot chocolate in an effort to keep warm. Because of the time I thought it best to ring the hospital ward and let them know the situation but my hands were to cold to do it, I ended up asking someone to dial the number for me, and when I got through, well lets just say they weren't very pleased with me and leave it at that.
Progress home was slow and to be honest I can't really remember much about it, I did notice that I'd stopped shivering but moving hurt. It took us another four hours to get back and when we arrived I made the slow trek up the stairs to the first floor ward I was meant to be in. The trek up a single flight of stairs took me 15 minutes!!! and when I made it I went into the dayroom where the night staff were who had obviously decided to give me a hard time and ignore me. But when they looked they noticed that something wasn't quite right and they took my temp, now clinical thermometers have a restricted scale, so restricted that my temp didn't register. So a different thermometer was produced only to give the same result. By this time I'd gone to sleep but they wouldn't let me, I was wheeled back to bed, wrapped in a foil blanket still with all my clothes on and then wrapped in several more layers and a doctor called. All I can really remember is that I wanted to go to sleep but they kept waking me and plying me with hot sweet drinks for most of the rest of the night.

By morning I was shivering again and even after a hot bath and a roasting off Denise the ward sister (which included me being grounded (her exact words)) I was still freezing, so I spent the day with several blankets wrapped around me.
On a serious note, I can understand now that had I tried to sit in a shelter for a while in an effort to get warm whilst I was in that state I could easily have ended up being naturally selected!!!

The day out did have its good points, the sausage and chips we had for our diner in the site cafe were really very good, my bike was now 'run in' and I had my combo outfit. But what did I learn if anything - well I learned not to play anymore pranks on those particular night staff unless I wanted an early alarm call.
But would I do it again? Well the very next day I wanted to go to the hospital shop, no really. But I was grounded, and despite my protest they didn't let up!!!


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