VTE Champion campaign at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust @LG_NHS

“It is estimated that every 6 seconds a person dies
 from VTE globally, also 1 in 4 deaths are Thrombosis related”

(This sentence takes 6 seconds to read, in that time another life is lost to VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) it is as simple as that.

As a Trustee of Thrombosis UK, I had been asked to attend Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust. The Trust has initiated an internal campaign called “VTE Champion”. The nurse behind the campaign, Julie Bridges had herself lost a parent to Thrombosis in the 1960’s. The campaign is based within each ward at the Trust, selected nurses and Health Care Assistants are tasked with championing the awareness of Thrombosis amongst their peers and colleagues. With bespoke and focused training the nurses and HCA’s will be the “go to” people on their individual wards and will bring a wealth of awareness, care and treatment to patients who are suffering with a DVT, Pulmonary Embolism.

So it was talk time ……

I had taken with me some of the many things that keep me ticking over. My injections, sharp bucket, INR self-testing equipment and various medications. I laid these out on the table. I talked about my “journey” and how I’d ended up stood there in front of them. The good times, the bad times and the amazingly dark times. The Kübler-Ross model (5 stages of grief)

  • Denial
  • Anger
  • Bargaining
  • Depression
  • Acceptance

Were discussed at length, along with the effect the “journey” had on a wider circle (my wife, family, friends). The result of my survival has been an enormous strain on those that I hold so dear, trying to explain to the nurses and HCA’s that at times I felt like the lucky one, purely and simply because I hadn’t had to see what was happening to someone I loved in the way that they had.

I then went to the bundle of medical goodies on the table. “With the NHS at breaking point financially, I pointed out just how vital their work as VTE Champions will be.

Ignore and don’t diagnose a DVT:

  • Warfarin for life £65,000
  • Pain medication £85,000
  • Injections £220,000
  • INR testing £195,000
  • Prescriptions £56,000

or

Awareness and diagnose a DVT:

  • D-dimer test £3.50
  • 6 months warfarin £60.00

Not only will the VTE Champions save lives, but save vital finances that will stay within the NHS.

It’s amazing just how fast an hour goes by, the interaction and interest shown by all those who had attended was superb. The questions were insightful and one’s that I know need to be asked, as without the access to real life information all the amazing nurses and HCA’s would be lead by an idea that is sterile and without empathy and real understanding.

Surviving such a condition is only the start of things. The nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust are in daily contact with the patients, their loved ones, friends and colleagues. The relationship between the nursing staff and HCA’s and their patients is crucial and one of the most vital contributions to recovery.

When I left the ICU at Hinchingbrooke NHS Trust, I had a short stay on one of the wards. I had left a secure, safe and trusted environment, where the nursing staff knew me, my condition, my history, and care was given in a professional and caring way. The first time out of the ICU, the nurse who was handing over said “This is Mr Westerman, came in query of Shortness of Breath.”

All the sense of safety, care and trust had vanished in one sentence. Query Shortness of Breath, should have been “resuscitated 3 times on the way to hospital and in the ICU”, the shortness of breath, I guess was technically correct, as I wasn’t breathing….!!

This short, personal and real event, showed the nurses and HCA’s at Lewisham and Greenwich NHS Trust, the impact that they have on a patients care, and ultimately their recovery (physical and psychological).

The “VTE Champion” nurses and HCA lead campaign is a wonderful initiative. It will save lives, it will improve patient care, and it will more than likely save money.

I was extremely proud to have represented Thrombosis UK and to have seen first hand exactly what steps Julie Bridges and her team of VTE Champions are taking to help their patients, colleagues and peers in understanding and recognising the signs, symptoms and effect of VTE (DVT and Pulmonary Embolism) throughout the Trust.

Such a simple idea, maybe your hospital should start their own “VTE Champion” campaign.

Do you know the signs of a DVT. Pulmonary Embolism? Find out HERE

http://www.thrombosisuk.org

http://www.charityoars.org

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#Charity A proud afternoon supporting ‪@ThrombosisUK‪ at @BerkoFC

Thrombosis UK had been approached by the family of Tomo, a 38 year old chap who had sadly passed due to a Pulmonary Embolism in 2015. A charity football match at Berkhamsted FC had been organised and the day was all about celebrating the lives of two popular members of the community. Tomo and Matt (Matt sadly passing away through cancer earlier this year).

So the “Tomo v Matt celebration football game” kicked off. With the crowd cheering on, goals being scored and the atmosphere building, the days excitement and fun was superb.

During the game I’d had the opportunity and pleasure to meet and chat with Tomo’s mother (Pat) and his brother (Lee). There’s a fine balance of emotions when you meet the families of those who sadly didn’t survive from Thrombosis. The families always have so many questions to ask, sadly too often the questions remain the same; “Why did this happen?” “Why didn’t the doctors/hospital diagnose the blood clot?” “What could we have done?” “Did they suffer?”

I had survived a massive pulmonary embolism in 2011, if it wasn’t for good fortune, luck, whatever you want to call it, it’s fair to say I wouldn’t have been stood there that day talking with Pat and Lee. Words at times can carry little comfort or empathy, but as I chatted with the family, learned more about Tomo, his passion for life, his personality and his love for his family, the work of Thrombosis UK in raising awareness of Thrombosis, aiding research within the health services and the support and care for survivors and families of those who have lost a loved one became even more important.

The final whistle went …… Tomo’s Team (4) v Matt’s Team (3) a wonderful exhibition of football, sportsmanship and friendship. The support was amazing.

After the raffle (didn’t win a thing, not even any Imperial Leather talc…!!) It was time for a few words;

With friends and family of Tomo and Matt all around, It never feels easy to be stood there knowing that those listening have lost their friend, brother, son and uncle. However today the atmosphere in the room was so warm, the memory of the two friends that all those held so dear made the time in front of them an amazingly positive experience.

Talking about the general publics’ awareness (or lack of awareness) of a DVT, the signs to look out for, or the questions to ask your GP or hospital is a key message to get across and one that Thrombosis UK are working hard to promote.

So after the applause had stopped …..

The response from everyone present in relation to the vital work of Thrombosis UK and to the understanding of just how passionate we are about raising awareness, improving research and enhancing the care of survivors and their families was a tremendous result for the day.

Just before I left I had a chat with Helen (Tomo’s sister in law), it proved to be a poignant chat. Importantly, Helen asked what else could be done to stop things like Tomo’s blood clot happening again. Simply, it’s about #awareness Events like that at Berkhamsted FC allow Thrombosis UK the opportunity to support those people raising awareness. As Helen herself said; “If today’s event helps save the life of one person because they know the signs of a DVT, then Tomo’s passing will not have been for nothing.”

It was a pleasure to have been able to meet Pat, Lee and Helen along with Kiran who had helped organise the event. All of the friends of Tomo and Matt were splendid in their support and with such a supportive community the memory of Tomo and Matt will live on a long time.

Awareness of the signs of a DVT is crucial:

  • Unexplained pain can be the only symptom
  • Swelling, including the ankle and foot
  • Redness or noticeable discoloration
  • Warmth

So from a rather dodgy, broken cricketer and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Kiran, Pat, Lee and Helen for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.

www.thrombosisuk.org

www.charityoars.org

Drive up as if you’re meant to be there …! Meeting @YCCCDizzy

Earlier in the day the Charity Oars had been to meet 1980’s and 1990’s England Wicket Keeper, Jack Russell.

We’d also arranged to meet Jason Gillespie @YCCCDizzy later on at the ground of Northampton CCC @NorthantsCCC … Sounds like something that should go without a hitch …..

Well, as we were on our way to the County Ground, we were informed that Sky Sports Cricket @skycricket would be there broadcasting the game and that it might prove “tricky” to get in, especially with an 8 foot oar….

“What should we do?” asked the very patient, supportive and dam gorgeous Ellisa; also my wife. You know the look that says; “you’re not going to be able to get the Charity Oar in, even drive in, let’s try and do this another time, we will get caught.” All in a look, a look that I love….!

So here’s what happened.

We arrive at the main gates, security everywhere; “Can I help you?” asked the security chap.

“No it’s OK, I’m Westers, here to meet Dizzy and Wakers.”

“Do you have any paperwork or identification?”

“No, but I have this…. (pointing to the 8 foot oar)”

“Oh, OK then, in you come, you know where to go?”

Eh voila we were in…..!

Then, we casually walked up to the players balcony, a “huge” security chap looked a tad bemused … Then, as if by magic (akin to Mr Ben) one of the Northants team walked by, “Westers…. How are you?” The tension was eased, at which point the amazingly supportive Catherine appeared….!!

So there we stood behind the Sky Sports Cricket team, keeping out of the way. Jason walked past, gave a well timed nod of recognition (to the Charity Oar, not me alas…!)

So there we were, for the game, right behind the broadcasters, the teams, a great view, chatting away to players and broadcasters. It was all just a tad surreal, but soooooooo much fun.

Whilst there we got chatting with Holly, the floor manager, and were able to meet and chat with Michael Atherton @Athersmike , Nasser Hussain @nassercricket and Rob Key @robkey612 they all very kindly signed the Charity Oars.

Sadly, Yorkshire won the game (I’m a Northampton CCC chap) anyway, the person we were there to meet, Australian pace bowler and tormentor of many an Ashes team was now heading our way.

Having represented Australia at Test and ODI from the late 1990’s up until 2005, and with best Test figures of 7 for 37, and ODI figures of 5 for 22, it’s fair to say he had some talent….!

It was genuinely nice chatting with Jason after the game. He had an understanding of DVT’s and spoke openly about a friend who had suffered a Thrombosis, luckily the DVT was discovered at an early stage.

Awareness of the signs of a DVT is crucial:

  • Unexplained pain can be the only symptom
  • Swelling, including the ankle and foot
  • Redness or noticeable discoloration
  • Warmth

So from a rather dodgy, broken, with a tendency to bowl down the legside cricketer and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Jason for taking the time to sign the Charity Oars and for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.

www.thrombosisuk.org

www.charityoars.org

Dam fine as a keeper, totally superb with a paintbrush @jackrussellart

We had tried to meet up with England Keeper and batsman Jack Russell for a little while, then on the 29th July, Jack was exhibiting his work at friend of the Charity Oars, Dean Headley’s charity cricket match.

Growing up and playing cricket in the late 1980’s and 1990’s Jack was a formidable keeper and “stubborn” batsman. Not my words, but the words of the one and only Curtly Ambrose….!! Now for someone like Curtly to praise a batsman so highly says a great deal.

In 1990 Jack was one of five Wisden cricketer’s of the year, with Wisden stating; “At the beginning of 1989, Jack Russell had played only one Test for England, and was not considered a good-enough batsman to merit a place in the one-day squad to face the Australians. By the end of the year, he was the only Englishman who could justifiably expect a place in anyone’s World XI”

So we returned for the 3rd year to catch up with Dean and Si Jones, and of course Jack….!

It was absolutely great to meet Jack and to have time chatting with him. He was an absolute top chap and we chatted for a while, almost forgetting the reason I was there was to have him sign the Charity Oar….! Of course, if Ellisa hadn’t taken my debit card, I might have also walked away with a piece of his artwork. If you do get the chance, please have a look at his art, it’s sublime.

The day at Stamford was as always a great success. Was wonderful to meet up with Dean Headley ‪@deanheadley585‪ and Simon Jones @si610 again, and to enjoy the cricket in a wonderful venue.

To have the support of such a sporting icon like Jack is a wonderful thing. When we started the Charity Oars (2014) we never knew just how amazing the support would be. The more people we meet, talk to, quite literally can save a life.

Awareness of the signs of a Pulmonary Embolism is crucial:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest pain (might be worse upon deep breath)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Light headiness or passing out

So, from me a slightly broken, dodgy cricketer, and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Jack for taking the time to sign the Charity Oars and for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.

www.thrombosisuk.org

www.charityoars.org

jack-russell1

Let the Charity Oars parlez with Paul @PaulYoungParlez

In the 1980’s a good friend of mine (Dan Morgan) styled himself on Paul Young, I mean, the hair and everything….! I still firmly believe Paul had the far better vocal skills….!

Since 2014 the Charity Oars have travelled and met some amazing sportsmen, women, Paralympians, actors, actresses and Boris Johnson. Then after a rather humorous walk down memory lane with some old friends from Devon, talk when onto music from the 1980’s, and just how “good” was it..? Well during the chat, Paul Young’s name popped up so a quick “Google” and voila. Turned out that Paul was in the process of releasing a new album “Good Thing

 

So we got in contact with Paul, and not only was his album launch taking place, but he was also part of “Los Pacaminos@lospacaminoscom and they were shortly performing in Luton. So a plan was put together. Seemed rude not to take in some Charity Oars work and maybe catch a few tunes…!

 

As we strolled through the centre of Luton carrying an oar, I believe we were well noticed. Sad that Luton has so few oar carriers these days…! Then walking with an air of confidence we made our way backstage, we did feel a bit as if we were then in “groupie” mode, but we carried it off with aplomb.

Was really great to meet Paul and the “Los Pacaminos”, we chatted a way about the signs of Thrombosis, had a Casamigos Tequila (good old George Clooney), felt a tad showbiz, all in all a great evening.

To have the support of such a musical icon is a wonderful thing. When we started the Charity Oars (2014) we never knew just how amazing the support would be. The more people we meet, talk to, quite literally can save a life.

Awareness of the signs of a Pulmonary Embolism is crucial:

  • Unexplained shortness of breath
  • Rapid breathing
  • Chest pain (might be worse upon deep breath)
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Light headiness or passing out

So, from me, my good friend Dan and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Paul for taking the time to sign the Charity Oars and for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.

www.thrombosisuk.org

www.charityoars.org

A hearty “Thank you” to Matt Lucas @RealMattLucas

The wonderful (at times) thing about Twitter is the way in which people in high profile situations, can and often are accessible, even to two wooden oars….!

The @charityoars had been in contact with Matt for a short while, just the right amount of time to keep things professional and not look like a stalker…! Matt’s schedule was (and rightly so) hectic. America, UK, filming … The chap probably at times had trouble working out which continent he was on.

If you look at the projects Matt has been involved in since 2015, it’s hardly surprising it was proving tricky to arrange for the Charity Oars to meet Matt; Pompidou, The Labyrinth, Alice through the looking glass, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Doctor Who, to name a few projects.

Well, we finally found a tiny break in Matt’s schedule, and with the very kind and professional help from his assistant (Emily) we travelled down to have the Charity Oars meet Matt.

To have the support of such a respected actor is a wonderful thing. When we started the Charity Oars (2014) we never knew just how amazing the support would be. The more people we meet, talk to, quite literally can save a life.

Awareness of the signs of a DVT is crucial:

  • Unexplained pain can be the only symptom
  • Swelling, including the ankle and foot
  • Redness or noticeable discoloration
  • Warmth

So, from little old me and the Charity Oars, a huge thank you to Matt for taking the time to sign the Charity Oars and for helping Thrombosis UK to continue their vital work.

http://www.thrombosisuk.org

http://www.charityoars.org

matt-lucas

@charliemartell1 Row Row Row Your Boat…!

Row, row, row your boat gently down the stream, merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, Life is but a dream ….!

What wonderful memories these few words bring back, rowing a boat slowly down a stream, no doubt in the sunshine, with the wind blowing softly through the tree’s as the ripples made by the oars float off into the distance.

#Blissful

Not quite the same scenario for Charlie Martell.

Firstly the “row, row, row your boat” is partly correct, however it would be more along the lines of “row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row, row your boat.”

The “gently down the stream” should in all fairness say “violently, up and down 6 meter high waves across 3,716 miles of ocean.”

Not too sure if there is a Charlie Martell appropriate turn of phrase for “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.” I’m guessing the closest would be “merrily I see land…!!”

The line “life is but a dream.” It doesn’t matter if the dream is big, or if the dream is small, but a dream is still an ambition, a challenge, a goal and so much more, and life should be a dream.

So far this crazy (inspirational), mad (heroic), silly (admirable) chap has taken part in a race to the North Pole, Rowed across the Atlantic Ocean, taken part in The Real Boat Race which is a 500-mile, six-day rowing challenge starting In London, at The London Eye, and ending at the Eiffel Tower in Paris. Crews have to navigate two of the world’s most historic rivers and must also cross the English Channel – the world’s busiest shipping channel. Charlie attempted to row the Pacific Ocean (only to be beaten by Typhoon Mawar). Charlie is now planning to take on the Pacific Ocean “again” in 2018 …! To top it all off Charlie is part of the team “Flying for Freedom” who are mounting a daring expedition, which will be undertaken by eight wounded and injured servicemen. Its objective is to focus attention on the urgent need to build self-sustaining activities that get our injured veterans back into work and daily life.

The Expedition, which is organised in partnership with Help for Heroes, will show their ability not their disability as they each fly by microlight to the South Pole.

So let’s recap … North Pole, South Pole, Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean and a jolly jaunt from London to Paris ….!!

So, when you have the opportunity to meet and chat with such an inspirational person it seemed the right thing to do. As you know the whole Charity Oars campaign is about gaining support from sportsmen, women, television, film stars and people who are inspirational within the community. Charlie Martell certainly is an inspiration.

So off we popped to Paddington station, trying not to look too suspicious or out of place. Standing casually by the “meeting” sign with an 8 foot oar, I seemed to fit in rather well. True, a couple of the other people were standing there with flowers and presents, I dread to think what they thought I was up to…? Answers on a postcard to ……

Well up walked Charlie, a cheery handshake and off we went for a coffee …!

To accomplish all of the adventures that he has undertaken to date, and the support he’s had from his many sponsors and most importantly the charities that he has supported along the way, is a testament to all that is right with the world.

Now this is the part that I’m hoping the lovely Ellisa skips past (of course she might not get this far I do tend to waffle on..!) Well, as Charlie and I chatted on about life, adventures, mentoring, life challenges and other such admirable subjects, the conversation came to “what happens once the Charity Oars are auctioned off?” Well, according to Charlie “The Atlantic is an achievable goal…!”

So who’s up for a row?

It’s all too easy as time passes (a sad truth I’m afraid) to just stop and think you’re done and there’s nothing left out there to drive you, to push you, to stop you living…..!

Well along with Charlie, I couldn’t disagree more….! After surviving Typhoon Mawar, the “normal” response you’d think would be “nope, not doing that again…!” But no, in fact Charlie’s response was; “What if we experience bad weather again? I’m certain it will happen, but I hope it’s not of typhoon strength. If Blossom and I were to find ourselves in a typhoon again, I’m confident we would not only survive again, but would come out of it relatively unscathed and able to continue on our journey.”

survivor     səˈvʌɪvə/

noun: survivor; plural noun: survivors

a person who survives, especially a person remaining alive after an event – A person who copes well with difficulties in their life.

Survivors come in all shapes, sexes, colours, heights and sizes. Survivors come from all professions, communities and backgrounds. Now here was someone who had survived a typhoon, and countless other “adventures” personally and professionally.

In the journey so far, the Charity Oars have met some truly amazing people, I mean “truly” amazing. The bizarre circumstance of sitting in a coffee bar at Paddington Station, chatting with a double Guinness Record holder, a chap who has rowed the Atlantic, nearly the Pacific (dam that typhoon), been to the North Pole as well as soon heading to the South Pole, and wants to look for that next adventure, well how could we be anything but in awe…..?….!

It truly was an honor to meet such a chap, who’d of thought all of those years ago I would have been chatting to a Double Guinness Record holder? Not I …!

So, oceans, polar expeditions, an apparent gentle row from London to Paris, now chatting with the Charity Oars …. How amazing is Charlie’s life?

So from a son of a RN Commander (I really wasn’t ever going to follow in his footsteps…!!) all those orders…!! I’d like to give a huge “salute” of thanks to Charlie, for all he’s accomplished so far, for all the amazing adventures in the future, for all the amazing support he’s given to charities and individuals and for the inspiration he gives to so many people. The Charity Oars say …

#Thankyou #TopChap