Cricket: I thought I was going to die - James Taylor

By Sam Morshead

James Taylor. Photo / AP
James Taylor. Photo / AP

James Taylor has spoken publicly about his close encounter with death for the first time, revealing how his heart rate rose to an astonishing 265 beats per minute and doctors told him it was a miracle he'd managed to walk into hospital.

The former England batsman, who was forced to retire from the game last month after being diagnosed with a rare heart condition, candidly revealed the horrendous details of his ordeal, which came in the hours after he pulled out of Nottinghamshire's pre-season clash with Cambridge MCCU in April.

Taylor arrived at hospital seven hours after first feeling the effects of what would later be identified as Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Arrhythmia, and quickly discovered how extreme his case was, with medical professionals saying his heart had completed the equivalent of six marathons since the same morning.

"When I went in I was sick everywhere again. The nurse saw me straight away, hooked me up to something and then rushed me straight through to whatever it is the serious stuff goes down," Taylor told Sky Sports.

"My heart rate when I went in was 265 beats per minute, which is four beats per second.

"The curtain of the ward opened and all the doctors came flooding in. That's when I thought 'this is serious now'.

"He (the doctor) turned to me and goes 'did you walk in here' and I said yes. They turned to my girlfriend and said 'did he really walk in this hospital?'.

"If people are out of rhythm, they'd be on their back in a matter of minutes - as in passed out. I thought I was going to die at 10.30 and this is at about five o'clock.

"They said one it was a miracle I was still standing and, two, if I wasn't as fit as I am then anything could have happened. And if my missus hadn't forced the issue then anything could have happened.

"To put it in perspective, they said: 'You've effectively done the equivalent of six marathons in five hours', with what my heart had done."

Taylor had been taken ill during the warm-ups at Fenners earlier that day and retreated to the Nottinghamshire dressing room.

"It was about four degrees, really cold, and I knew something was wrong when sweat from my head was pounding the floor and I was proper wet through," he said.

"Then my chest started to tighten up, my throat started to tighten up and I couldn't breathe.

"That's the first time I thought I was going to die. I stuck my head down the toilet, which wasn't pretty.

"The physio had to pull me out because someone hadn't flushed it.

"My body was packing up but I can remember everything. That was when I thought I was going to die.

"I tried to hide it from the guys. They just thought I was ill. It was in quite a public area so I was conscious enough to not let other people see what was going on."

The 26-year-old got a lift back to Nottingham but was without his personal effects, left behind at Fenners.

"I curled up at the bottom of the stairs at Trent Bridge for my mum to come and pick me up," he said.

"I lay on my sofa at home and the whole couch was vibrating and echoing, from my heartbeat. My house is 24 degrees and my hands from the wrist down were Baltic. I crawled upstairs and I was sick everywhere.

"I was almost too embarrassed to go to hospital. My left shoulder was starting to kill, which is a sign of a heart attack. My missus, behind my back, rang the doctor. I was telling her not to because I was seeing him in an hour and a half's time."

Josie's decision to call for medical advice was crucial, with doctors able to stabilise her partner prior to a 16-night stay in hospital.

"They said they'd probably have to put me to sleep and shock me out of this rhythm," he said.

"I was about 30 seconds from being put to sleep and shocked and then it went straight from 265 to 65. I was back down for a few minutes and then I was sick everywhere again, which was delightful.

"I felt a bit better because the agony in my chest had subsided."

Taylor is currently hooked up to a portable defibrillator, which he described as looking like a 'very nice camera' attached to his hip, but in time he will undergo surgery to fit an internal device.

Now, he's looking to the future, starting his life once more and learning what his body can take.

"Knowing the backing that I've got made those few days after my world had been turned upside down and effectively ruined my life were priceless," he said.

"I'm still opening letters now and it took five or six days answering the messages I got.

"It shows 99 per cent of the world is a great place and people are amazing."

- Daily Mail

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