Doddie Weir: ‘I nearly died after eating a piece of toast’
Scottish rugby hero Doddie Weir has revealed he almost choked to death on a piece of toast while he was overseas due to the impact of Motor Neurone Disease on his body.
The 49-year-old former internationalist has admitted he had become too “complacent” shortly after arriving on a family holiday in Majorca.
Weir, who was treated in hospital after the “choking incident,” said he could have been in “serious trouble” had he not been with his wife Kathy.
Weir discusses the impact of two falls on his confidence levels and awareness of his condition during a new BBC Scotland documentary about his battle with the incurable disease over the last three years.
Filmed over the last two years, One More Try, which will be shown on Friday, explores the impact of the disease on the Edinburgh-born star and his close friends and family, as well as the success of the charity he set up in the wake of his diagnosis, which has raised £4 million to date.
Weir and his wife, who are interviewed by former internationalist and broadcaster John Beattie for the documentary, discuss their “frustration” and “desperation” with the lack of help and support from the health service, with the former player saying he had been focused on trying to “make a difference” for other sufferers and their families.
Weir tells Beattie: “The symptoms affect all areas of the body - your walking, your hands, your shoulders, your breathing and your swallowing. At certain times I probably do swallow a bit more consciously. It’s important to keep swallowing - if you don’t you’re in a bit of trouble.
“But you get a bit complacent. I had a choking incident in the first five minutes of being on holiday from eating a little bit of toast. I thought I was being a bit clever.
“I’ve got to cut my food into little pieces now. I had a banana sandwich but was still a bit hungry. I had a couple of pieces of toast on my plate. I used a fork to eat the first piece but with the second one I thought I’d be fine and put half a slice of toast into my mouth.
“The first one went down OK, but the second one got stuck in my throat. I had to ask for quite a bit of serious help from my good lady but shouting: ‘Help me, I can’t breathe.’
“If Kathy hadn’t been there and wasn’t able to thump me on the back I could have been in serious trouble. That was just about getting a bit complacent. I’ve just got to be aware about the condition I’m in.”
Kathy Weir tells Beattie: “Some people say he shouldn’t keep doing so much, but his belief is ‘use it while you can.’ It’s probably not a bad way to look at it. It’s important for us, as a family, to keep things as normal as possible.”
Weir’s sister Kirsty adds: “Doddie makes us all fine. He is quite protective of us. We only know what we need to know. We just take every week and every day on its own.”
Weir, who breaks down as he discusses plans he is making for a 50th birthday celebration next year, admits he he has found the support he has had from his friends and family “mind-boggling and difficult to take sometimes.”
He added: “The big do which is probably keeping us going now is my 50th in July, which is my goal. I get a bit more tired now and I have to watch what I doing so I don’t fall over but I’m trying to keep smiling, keep positive and enjoy life.