The Hairy Bikers: Si King discusses his struggle with illness
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The Hairy Bikers Go North returned last night for a fifth episode. Dave and Si have reached West Yorkshire on their tour of northern England, where they hear the amazing stories of some of the country’s best food producers. The pair meet, among others, a woman creating authentic Indian ready meals and a pair of Syrian refugees who have launched a successful business selling halloumi.
They also whip up a series of delicious dishes including a Full English Shakshuka and some curried faggots with masala potato and dhal.
Dave and Si have been by each other’s side for the last 30 years, journeying across the world enjoying some of the finest delicacies on offer.
They also went on a journey together when they both embarked on an impressive weight loss journey in 2012, after a doctor told them they were morbidly obese.
They shed more than seven stone between them as Dave dropped from 19 stone (120 kg) to 15 stone (95 kg) in a year.
Si, meanwhile, dropped 3.5 stone (22 kg) and credits the weight loss with still being alive today.
Si, 55, suffered from a brain aneurysm in 2014, which he calls “a bit of a shemozzle with my head”, and admitted he nearly ignored it and went back to bed.
However, his decision to go to hospital instead saved his life, with a doctor telling him if he had gone back to bed, he would have died.
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel, caused by a weakness in the vessel wall, and usually occurs in the heart or brain.
If the blood vessel ruptures it can cause extensive brain damage and in some cases it can be fatal.
When he was back on the road to recovery, he told The Mirror: “I just started getting a severe headache.
“Over a four-day period it got worse and worse and worse. I thought, ‘Oh my god I am in trouble here’. So I went and had a procedure.”
He recalled watching England’s Six Nations rugby match with Ireland, when players “started falling off the screen”.
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Si called a taxi to take him to Newcastle’s Royal Victoria Infirmary, but doesn’t remember much of the journey.
He explained: “I don’t really remember the journey, I just recall the driver talking about Newcastle United. Everything became really heightened, his voice seemed so loud, then I became really photosensitive, the light was painful to look at.”
Sensitivity to light is a common symptom of an aneurysm, alongside a sudden agonising headache, a stiff neck, sickness and vomiting.
The treatment, he said, was “life-or-death” and doctors made Si “sign a load of forms to say I understood I may make it, or I may not”.
In an exclusive interview with Express.co.uk, Si recalled a later conversation with the doctor that stressed the severity of the situation.
He said: “It was very sobering when my consultant said, ‘Look, you made a serious decision by taking yourself to the hospital.’ But I did just think about going back to bed because I felt very exhausted.
“[The doctor] said to me, ‘If you went back to bed you would be dead.’ So that was it.”
He spent four days in “intensive therapy” and thankfully there have been no lasting effects.
He told Express.co.uk last year: “If I hadn’t lost the weight I don’t think I would have survived.
“The problem with an aneurysm is the level of fatigue you go through during recovery.
“You simply can’t do anything. It used to take me all day to make one cup of tea when I first came out of hospital. It was astonishing. I just slept so much.”
Si has, thankfully, made a full recovery since. He has been making a series of solo TV appearances in recent weeks while Dave is unwell with coronavirus. Si said last week Dave is “getting there” but he had been hit “a little bit harder than any of us were anticipating”.
The Hairy Bikers Go North is available on BBC iPlayer.
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