On the 26th of June I began to feel quite horrible whilst at work, which is a rarity in my 18-years at St. James Boys School as a director of sports. Once I arrived home my wife grew concerned. We worried about sepsis due to my recent wrist surgery three weeks prior. We decided it be best I get checked out at A&E at Saint Peters.

After scanning my wrist and running various tests, the medical team confirmed I had an infection, but not sepsis, just a fever. They prescribed painkillers, and the last thing I recall is stepping into a cab at Saint Peter's to head home. My memory was quite distorted till I awakened in Harefield a month and a half later. As my health rapidly worsened, my timeline needed to be rebuilt using the recollections of my wife and the medical staff.

My health took a sudden and alarming downturn when my wife noticed that my hands and feet had become translucent, and I experienced a rapid heart rate and cold sweats. Things took a worrisome turn, and it was later confirmed that I had a stomach-ache, which was attributed to my digestive system shutting down. On the 1st of July, I was rushed back to Saint Peter's Hospital, where the medical team began the process of trying to diagnose what was happening. After a few days, a fortunate call to Harefield Hospital was made. The medical team at Harefield recognised that my symptoms might be related to my heart, although they weren't initially sure. They urgently recommended: "You need to get him here now." On the 4th of July, I was blue lighted to Harefield Hospital.

My ejection fraction, which measures how well the heart is functioning, plummeted from 50% on the 2nd to a critical 17% on the 4th. It continued to decline until I had to be placed on life support machines. It was a dire situation, and had it been a day later, I might not have made it. On the 5th, I was put on ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) and remained on it for 9 days. On the 6th, they implanted an impeller, a catheter-based blood-pumping device. My doctor, Alex Rosenberg, later explained that I experienced a severe medical crisis, essentially falling off a cliff. Everything seemed to go wrong, and the medical team had to act swiftly. At this point, I was diagnosed with Myocarditis and pericarditis, and my heart had swollen to the size of a football. Soon after, I began to experience multi-organ failure.

I had lost about two and a half stone in skeletal muscle, leaving me barely able to move. I felt trapped and helpless, just lying there. Most of the treatments the medical team administered felt like Hail Mary attempts, hoping for the best. They threw every possible antibiotic at me in the hope of addressing any potential issue. Additionally, they used a substantial number of steroids to revive my heart. Miraculously, it seemed to work, and my condition began to improve.

Due to the organ failure, I was place on dialysis, which was more emotionally difficult than physically. It lasted 12 hours, making it difficult to get any sleep. It gave me nightmares. The most difficult aspect of dialysis was the regularity. I couldn't chat, interact with the nurses, or do anything else. They had to do it at night in the ICU, which meant turning out the lights so the patients could sleep. However, with the lights constantly flickering this made it challenging. Thankfully my last dialysis session was on the 24th, as my body was starting to recover well, completing a total of 10 days of dialysis across 5 cycles. I vividly recall the evening when I woke up and found a childhood rugby buddy visiting me. I was completely bewildered, thinking: "What on earth are you doing here?" It was a struggle to grasp the reality that I was in a hospital. I couldn't move when I first regained consciousness. It took a lot of work merely to move my hand a tiny bit. They gradually helped me regain some mobility, getting me to sit up and, finally, out of the bed and onto a chair with the assistance of around 10 nurses. 

The hospital's staff was simply outstanding. My wife was experiencing everyday mental battle while I was unconscious. They not only had to care for me but also support her through the constant reminder that: "If this doesn't work, he's dead," repeated four or five times. I couldn't believe how much I had lost in just a month. Essentially, they had to reteach me how to walk because I had lost that ability. I even had to relearn how to swallow since I had forgotten how. It was a painstaking process. I was finally discharged on the 18th of August.

My first goal was to walk my youngest son to school on his first day of reception. What should have been a 15-minute walk turned into 45 minutes, but I made it. I've chosen to raise funds for the Harefield Haemodialysis Appeal, and, with the support of St James Boys School, I embarked on the demanding Three Peak Challenge. Our team consisted of four staff members and 13 students, aged 15 to 18. This challenge involved conquering three mountains, covering 23.5 miles, and ascending almost 10,000 feet in elevation, all within a challenging timeframe of 26.5 hours.

To support Ben's fundraising efforts for the Harefield Haemodialysis appeal and make a difference in the lives of critically ill patients at Harefield Hospital, please click the button below.