Fred Saxon’s Road to Recovery

I have had knee problems for many years, but after hassle from my family I decided to train to walk and jog the Barcelona 10k on New Year’s Eve 2011, which I managed to finish ok, despite being beaten by a sausage dog wearing a Barcelona shirt! 

I continued in 2012 with 3 10k races (Lincoln, Bupa London, York and the first ever 5k race at Gateshead prior to the Great North Run event the following day). I also bought a road bike after this to go on rides with Oliver and Jacqui. 

Just after Christmas of that year my knee went completely and after seeing my Consultant in early January 2013 he gave me no option but to have a Total knee Replacement. The operation took place on the 25th April and to say it was painful afterwards was an understatement. However the drugs soon got to grips with that, but for some unknown reason I was not interested in having anything to eat. All the food tasted the same, as though my taste buds were in my knee!

I had intensive Physio and did my own at home to try to get the best result possible. After 6 weeks I went back to see my Surgeon who was very pleased with my knee and suggested I start to build my Quads to support my knee by light gym work and static biking. The next day I put my bike on the turbo ready to start on the Saturday. I woke up with slight breathing problems and thought I had tweaked my right side during the night The breathing improved during the day after taking a few Ibuprofen so went to bed as usual.

The next morning the breathing and the pain was worse, with Oliver suggesting I man up before he went off to do the Rother Valley Triathlon with Jacqui as his support! When they came back I was in a right tackin  so I decided to contact the Out of hours Doctor who suggested I go to the surgery which was at the A and E Dept at the Hospital. The Doctor examined me and was not sure what it was, but thought it might be muscle spasms and suggested I take a strong pain killer which I did when I got home. I fell asleep for most of the afternoon and when I woke up I could hardly breath at all so Jacqui dialed 999 for an ambulance.

A first responder turned up and gave me 5mg of oral morphine to ease the pain and as I was unable to move he sent for an ambulance to come and take me to hospital. On arrival at A and E I was taken straight into the resus area where a Consultant was waiting to take a look at me. He took blood before examining me and asked for the results asap. They arrived back within half an hour and he informed me that I had a Pulmonary Embolism and was by no means out of the woods. He gave me anti-coagulation injections in my stomach straight away and said the next 48 hours would be critical as he sent me to the Medical Assessment Ward. Once there the Doctors were like bees round a honey pot, putting IV drugs in one arm and at the same time taking blood out of the other. Jacqui and Oliver left me there about 1:30 am to get some sleep and it was not very reassuring when the nurse asked them for a mobile number in case they needed to call them anytime in the night! That morning the ward Consultant arrived and said I needed a CT Scan to determine what was wrong with me. This took place early in the afternoon and within 10 mins of arriving back on the ward he confirmed I had a PE along with Pneumonia. I was put on more anti coag drugs including Warfarin, which I found later on I would be taking for the next 6 months.

I was sent home after 3 days still having difficulty breathing but was attended to at home by the home nursing team, who came every day for a week taking my obs and giving me Clexane injections in my stomach to keep my blood thin. 

When they stopped coming the district nurse came every 2 days to take my blood to check that my INR (blood value ) was within 2-3 range. However most of the time it was not and I had calls from the Coag unit at the hospital to increase my Warfarin dose. I have subsequently learned I should have also had Clexane injections to prevent further blood clots! They also said I could not do any exercise for 3 months until my lung improved. This was a disaster; what about my knee rehab?! 

After 2.5 months, however, it was always sunny so I decided as I was mega bored to start riding my bike again. Over a few weeks I gradually built my distance up to doing about 12 miles every other day or so and felt better breathing outside than in doors and it was far easier than walking at the time. I also decided to join North Lindsey Gym to do light lower body work to build me up and was inspired every time I went after talking with Alan Rayment – what a warrior he is. 

Around this time Jacqui and Oliver talked about doing the Barcelona 10k again on New Years Eve. I said enter me if only for the pink t shirt!. Late October Jacqui had a shoulder problem which resulted in her having an operation for a shoulder impingement in mid November after we came back from a fabulous holiday in Egypt. Bad news though, her surgeon told her she could not swim or run for 2 months! I said I would try to get fit for it so we could walk together. Jacqui has also been admitted to hospital twice for severe headaches during this time which left her drained.

We live in a circular village and the total distance round is 1.2 miles (therefore 5 times round + a bit is 10k). I started going round once or twice a week in about 17 mins (bearing in mind the last time I had done this was September when I walked with my stick and it took me an hour!). I have also been to the swimming at the pods and become a LincsQuad member. 

Since then I have gradually increased the distance I walk and on Boxing Day I actually did 5 times round in 85 mins. The race stipulates that you have only 90 mins to complete it or you get picked up by the broom wagon! Jacqui and I were aiming for a finish time around 85 mins which would be a major feat for us both considering what we have both gone through this year. I was also looking forward to renewing my rivalry with Barcelona dog! 

We arrived in Barcelona in the early afternoon of the 30th December, caught the train and Metro to our hotel in Llacuna. Once we had checked in, we caught the Metro back into the centre of Barcelona to the Central Shopping Centre to collect our running shirts (a fetching luminous green this year) and race chips. The centre was built inside the original bull ring and still maintains it’s original façade.

We returned to the hotel and went out for our evening meal and back to bed. The next day New Years Eve (race day) we went on the city tour bus for 4 hours looking at the many sights that are around Barcelona to preserve energy. On the way back to the hotel to get changed we stopped off to have a pizza (if it is good enough for the Brownlees it is good enough for the Saxons). We booked a taxi to take us to the leisure centre, which was the bag drop off point, but arrived rather earlier than expected so hung around a while before heading to the start. We still had plenty of time so stood inside a cafe to keep warm. 

As start time approached Oliver went into his pen whilst Jacqui and I went into ours. The race started at 5:30 pm (temp approx 10 degrees) we crossed the start line 12 mins after the hooter had gone off. We had set a pace time on the watch of 8.5 mins per kilometer so started walking fairly briskly. 

I was disappointed that it was not as we’ll supported as the last time we did it however between 4 and 5K we encountered a rowdy mob with mega phones who ran next to us just like the Tour de France hill climbs! This gave me a real boost as I was starting to flag a little. With continued walking, gentle jogging and lots of assurance from Jacqui we managed to maintain and in fact improve our pace so that by the time we crossed the line we had completed the race in 83 mins, 2 mins ahead of plan! 


I was not able to renew my rivalry with Barcelona dog as he did not take part this year but was beaten by 2 greyhounds, which is nothing to be ashamed of! After the race we went back to our hotel only to find there was no hot water for a shower, so it was a quick dip under the cool water and dressed ready for our evening meal at a restaurant nearby where we stayed. We had intended to go back into the city centre to watch a firework display at midnight, but all three of us were tired so decided to buy some cakes and watch the display on the T V in our room. 

On New Years Day we left the hotel about 9:30 am for a stroll on the front and walk on the beach and it was quite warm and pleasant. We bought a hot drink and sat overlooking the sea eating biscuits and having our drink. About 11ish we went to a beach side restaurant and had “Patatas Bravos ” (or as I call them, brave potatoes) for brunch, walked back to the hotel and made our way to the Airport for our flight back to Newcastle. 

We all had a great time and considering what I have gone through I am very proud of myself. 

I will try to continue to document my recovery on my twitter account @silverfox1867