The Hairy Bikers: Si King discusses his struggle with illness
The Hairy Bikers return to our screens tonight as they traverse Route 66, one of the most famous motorways in the US, whipping up a number of delicious dishes along the way. Tonight’s episode, the third leg of the trip, sees Dave and Si go in search of Oklahoma’s famous beef. They try the classic T-bone steak, and follow this up by visiting the city’s Vietnamese community to cook the country’s beefy national dish of pho. Later on, they enjoy a series of other delicacies, before rounding off this stretch of the famous highway with some of Oklahoma’s iconic custodians — the cowboys.
Dave and Si have travelled the world combining their two loves — food and motorbikes.
To date, they have produced more than 30 different series for the BBC.
They were forced into a break in 2014, however, when Si suffered a brain aneurysm.
He had suffered from a blinding headache for four days, and was rushed in for life-saving treatment after admitting himself to hospital.
He put all work on hold temporarily to recover from what he labelled “a bit of a shemozzle with my head”.
Si King and Dave Myers ride Route 66.
Dave and Si have been by each other’s side through thick and thin.
He told The Mirror after it happened: “I am fine. There have been no lasting effects — none that you’d notice other than I am slightly madder than I was before.
“No deficit as they say.”
To help his recovery, Si underwent a health regime of gardening, walking and cycling to build up his strength.
Si was just 46 at the time, and spent much of the first few weeks of recovery barely leaving his bed, before eventually upping his exercise as time went on.
He said: “I walk at least two miles a day and cycle when I can because with brain injuries it can be difficult.
Si admitted he wouldn’t have survived had he not lost weight.
“Your stamina levels drop for one reason or another.”
Si purposely postponed a return to work, instead expressing his wish to “keep myself right”.
He said: “The last thing I want to do is fall over on a shoot. I want to make sure I am 100 percent fit.”
As much as Si made light of his experience, the aneurysm nearly took his life.
An aneurysm is a bulge in a blood vessel caused by a weakness in the vessel wall. As blood passes through the weakened vessel, pressure causes a small area to bulge outwards.
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Dave and Si and Isotopes Park, Albuquerque on their trip.
Most aneurysms only cause noticeable symptoms if they burst, according to the NHS.
This can result in a subarachnoid haemorrhage, an extreme condition where bleeding caused by the ruptured aneurysm can cause extensive brain damage and other symptoms.
These symptoms can include an agonising headache, sickness and vomiting, a stiff neck and pain upon looking at light.
Around 60 percent of those who have a subarachnoid haemorrhage die within a fortnight.
Half of those who survive are left with severe brain damage and disability.
The Hairy Bikers in Chicago.
Though it is not expressly clear what causes brain aneurysms, people who smoke and/or have high blood pressure are more likely to get them.
Blood pressure can be lowered by lifestyle changes such as losing weight — something Si credits with saving his life.
Before the aneurysm, Si was the healthiest he had been in a long time. In the Hairy Dieters series, he lost more than three stone, dropping from over 19 stone to 15 ½.
Dave, meanwhile, dropped from 19 stone to less than 15 in the space of a year.
Si told Express.co.uk in a 2020 interview: “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.”
Fortunately, Si made a full recovery and has been back to his brilliant best ever since.
Hairy Bikers: Route 66 airs on BBC Two at 7pm this evening. It will also be available on BBC iPlayer.