Speedway star Theo Pijper today told how what he thought was a bad dose of the flu almost killed him.
The 32-year-old Dutchman said he was lucky to be alive after being rushed from his home off Willowbrae Road to the ERI coughing up blood.
Doctors then revealed that rather than flu, he had in fact contracted pneumonia.
He said: “The week it happened, my wife and two sons were suffering from flu and when I went to the doctor he told me I just had flu as well.
“But when I got home from the doctor’s I went to bed at four o’clock in the afternoon because I felt so tired and four hours later I was in an ambulance on my way to hospital after I was coughing up blood.
“I didn’t know what was going on, they had me in hospital right away, but once I was there, they got straight on it, because they knew what they were doing.”
Doctors told him he had sought help just in time, and he was kept in hospital for a week after his emergency admission in mid-February.
“I was told had I left it 24 hours longer my lungs would have filled up with blood and anything could have happened after that, it could easily have proved life-threatening, looking back it was so scary,” he said.
He had been told it would take up to two months for him to recover, which would have wrecked the start of his 2012 season riding with Edinburgh Monarchs.
But after recovering at home, he confounded the predictions of medics – and went against the advice of his wife – to take part in a practice session at Scunthorpe last week.
He said: “My wife told me it was far too early to go to Scunthorpe but I needed to know if I could do it. I did 16 laps and didn’t feel tired and I felt good afterwards and now I’m looking forward to our first meeting at Redcar.
“The medicine I got from the hospital was heavy duty stuff but I’ve finished it now. I’ve to go back for a check up just to make sure I’m all right.”
He now hopes to be fit for the Monarchs’ league cup tie at Redcar Bears next week, and is putting his near-miss behind him. “I’m still here and that’s in the past now so I don’t really want to think about anything like that too much.”
Monarchs co-promoter John Campbell said he was amazed by the rider’s resilience. “What happens with speedway riders is they dismiss all ailments and injuries and the like and carry on as if nothing has happened, so his approach doesn’t surprise me, but from being very, very seriously ill to riding a motorcycle competitively in about a week from now is quite a turnaround in about four weeks.”