Andy Fordham, the 2004 British Darts Organization World Champion incredibly lost 10 stone/140 Pounds after collapsing at the World Championships in Lakeside due to Liver Cirrhosis
Andy Fordham, the 2004 British Darts Organization World Champion incredibly lost 10 stone/140 Pounds after collapsing at the World Championships in Lakeside, Surrey last January. After his collapse he was quickly taken to hospital where 18 liters of fluid were slowly drained from his lungs, but on his release he then suffered a minor stroke.
Andy, nicknamed the Viking, was diagnosed with cirrhosis. Doctors told him that more than 70 per cent of his liver has been destroyed and unless he stopped drinking, he’d have only a few years to live.
“I hardly noticed I was becoming overweight as it happened so slowly. It started as a bit of a pot belly, which I kept saying I’d do something about but never did”¦.. It’s not like I woke up one morning and suddenly weighed 31st”¦.
“I never ate a lot, but I ate badly, grabbing convenience foods – takeaways, pizzas, kebabs – because I was always so busy. If I was working behind the bar, I’d snack on peanuts or crisps, and I never exercised. And then there was the drinking”¦..
“Looking back, I realize I was an alcoholic. I couldn’t stop myself. I thought I was in control but I wasn’t. I would start drinking as soon as I went downstairs to open up the bar, at around 11am”¦.
“On an average day, I’d have up to 25 bottles of lager and half a bottle of spirits – vodka, brandy or whisky. Before darts matches I’d drink to calm my nerves. People assume alcoholics slur and fall all over the place, but I never drank to get drunk.”
Andy slowly piled on the pounds and became a massive 31 stone. In November 2004 he was forced to withdraw from a major competition due to heat exhaustion.
“At the beginning of the series, they made us run round a football pitch,” says Andy. “I got halfway and had to stop because I was gasping for air”¦”¦
“The Celebrity Fit Club doctors had me on a special low-calorie diet and persuaded me to swap lager for white wine and soda. I was exercising every day, walking at first then jogging. But as soon as I returned home, I went back to my old ways.”
Despite his health concerns 2006 he was suffering pains in his stomach and lungs – he refused to seek medical help.
“If I’d gone to the doctor it would have meant I had a problem. I didn’t want to admit that to myself”¦”¦.
“I was in complete denial. But I was constantly out of breath – I couldn’t walk for more than five minutes without having to sit down. Even putting on clothes was exhausting.”
Then at Lakeside last January, the inevitable happened.
“I was doing an interview with the BBC that afternoon and during the breaks people kept asking me if I was OK because I was wheezing and sweating. I told them I was fine, just a bit out of breath”¦..
“Then, as I was being led into the competition venue, I started to get pains in my chest and I slumped on a chair, gasping for air. I thought I was having a heart attack.”
Andy was rushed to Frimley Park Hospital, where X-rays revealed that a huge build-up of fluid in his chest had crushed one of his lungs.
“They tried to drain the fluid by putting a needle in my back, but even their longest needle wouldn’t reach because I was too big”¦.
“Eventually, they made a hole in my back and inserted a tube to drain the fluid”¦..
“It was done under a local anesthetic and was quite uncomfortable, but not painful. For the first time, I was frightened. It had finally hit home: I was seriously ill.”
It took two weeks to drain the 18 liters of fluid out from his lungs.
“The doctors told me it had happened because I had cirrhosis of the liver, due to my weight and the drinking. I knew I only had myself to blame”¦”¦
“The doctors said if I didn’t stop drinking I would die,”
Cirrhosis is a condition in which scar tissue forms inside the liver, disabling its normal functions. Cirrhosis is usually caused by chronic alcohol abuse, obesity or viruses such as hepatitis C and B.
A week later he was discharged, only to be rushed back into hospital later the same day after suffering what the doctors believed to be a minor stroke.
“I was talking to Jenny when my speech started to slur and then the left side of my face went numb…..
“When the ambulance arrived I tried to stand up but couldn’t move my left foot.”
Andy was rushed to hospital again, but discharged the same day as the stroke was not considered serious. The stroke was apparently caused by the sudden physical changes that caused some of the fatty build-up in his arteries to break off and temporarily block the blood supply to part of the brain.
“I knew if I didn’t stop drinking and lose weight I wouldn’t be around much longer,”says Andy, father to Ray, 21, and Emily, 20.
Since he stopped drinking, the weight has ‘literally dropped off’, he says. He also uses an exercise bike ‘but the doctors have told me not to go too mad to begin with, because it may put a strain on my heart’. He is also trying to avoid junk food and to eat balanced meals.
Eventually, the build-up of fat leads to inflammation, causing permanent scar tissue which stops the liver from working properly – cirrhosis.
Common symptoms include jaundice – a yellowing of the skin and eyes caused by the failure of the liver to remove toxic substances from the blood – fluid retention in the legs and the abdomen, easy bruising, spider veins (similar to varicose veins) and enlargement of breasts in men.
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