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
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
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!!!