My Fitness Journey

Part 9: The Day I Accidentally Overdosed


This week has been very strange, to say the least. In a moment, I’ll tell you about what happened the day I accidentally overdosed, yesterday to be exact, but first, let’s go back to Tuesday.

Chris Brophy in a suit, because sometimes, he likes to look nice!

Me in a suit, because sometimes, I like to look nice!

I got to the car at 8:20 am ready to take the kids to school, but oh-no, it didn’t want to move (the car, not me!) The battery was dead, not just in need of a quick charge, but completely dead and never wanting to provide a single amp of energy ever again. I called the RAC to come and rescue me but they quoted 90 minutes which meant that I would be late for an interview I had that morning. To cut a long story short, they arrived at 10:20 am, installed a brand new battery for a wallet-busting £122 and left me at 10:40 am. The kids got to school at 10:50 am and I walked through the door of the interview room at 10:59 am! Talk about pushing it or what. The day ended well because I got the job… hooray! But the week got a lot worse hereafter.

I woke up as normal yesterday morning feeling pretty good and excited for the day ahead. I took Raspberry K2 pills which are made by Forza and were sent to me to trial by a PR firm in London. Incidentally, the PR firm in question sent a number of Forza products to trial which I had reviewed here last week.

Forza quote on their website that this product has “Safe and Natural Ingredients”. Natural… probably.  Safe… not for me, as you’re about to find out in just a second.

I should point out (without getting too technical) that raspberry K2 (ketones) are popular pills in the dieting world. They contain a whole load of ingredients that I am led to believe assist with weight loss for folk just like me! I know they work because I took some of them by a different firm back in August when I started on my fitness journey. They contain Choline, which contributes to the normal breakdown of fats within the body. Vitamin K2 supports bone health, according to Forza’s website, but one of the key ingredients is caffeine, and boy does that zap the life right out of you for reasons I’ll explain shortly.

The back of the bottle advises that you take 2 capsules in the morning and 1 early afternoon with a full glass of water. They state that you shouldn’t exceed the daily recommended dose…and I didn’t! They state that if you’re sensitive to caffeine, you might want to start with just 1 tablet. I did exactly that earlier this week!  So, as three is the maximum per day, I knew I was not over the limit by taking two, which is exactly what I did at 8 am yesterday morning. I felt ok. No problems at all and went off to do what I usually do every day, but made sure I was ready for exercise around 11 am.

Forza Products that I don't recommend!

The Forza Products that I don’t recommend!

At 10:40 am, I thought I would trial some other Forza pill that was sent to me. These are T5 Super Strength Pre-Workout Food Supplements that are used by everyone from the regular gym- goers to experienced athletes. The ingredients in T5 also aid weight loss and boost energy levels which therefore increase your performance. Again, there’s the usual notice on the bottle to advise on how you should take them. “Take 1 capsule approximately 20 minutes before exercise if you’re a first-time user, or take two if you’re a regular user”. Last week I had taken 1 pill and had no strange side effects at all…so….

… just to recap, I took two Raspberry K2’s at 8 am and two T5’s just before 11 am. This is exactly what is suggested on the bottles, so I shouldn’t have any adverse effects should I?

I did my workout as normal 20 minutes later and really enjoyed it, then showered quickly. I sat down at my breakfast bar in the kitchen and ate two fried eggs and a small amount of steak… tons of protein! Then for around 15 minutes, I sat there watching some videos of 90’s music on YouTube.

When I’d had enough of listening to the very cheesy and catchy L.S.I by The Shamen, I stood up and suddenly felt really dizzy. I could see okay, but I felt unsteady on my feet, and for the 30 minutes which followed I found myself holding onto walls as I moved around the house. My legs were like jelly but then were quickly becoming quite stiff.

My heart rate was good because I have a Garmin Forerunner 235 watch which monitors all of that for me. My heart rate had peaked at 147 BPM during exercise but it was mostly around 100 during the past four hours. Nothing to worry about at all, but I noticed myself getting more ill, feeling almost faint at times.

I just had this feeling I’d taken too many pills, despite knowing deep down that I had only taken Forza’s recommended dosage. What suddenly occurred to me was whether I shouldn’t have taken these two different products together. Okay, I didn’t take them at the exact same time, but within 3 hours of each other; the K2’s at 8 am and T5’s at 11 am-ish. So I staggered to the kitchen cupboard and found the pill containers and looked at the ingredients, directions and advice on the labels a second time.

It was the caffeine content that jumped out at me. It states that Raspberry K2 pills contain 200 mg of caffeine each and the T5’s are 370 mg per serving. So although my head was all over the place and the room was spinning a little, I grabbed my iPhone and looked on the Internet for emergency advice on what I suspected was a caffeine overdose. In some ways, looking on the Internet for advice is a bad thing, because everybody likes to exaggerate and tell you that you’re dying, and it’s that kind of advice that made me consider emergency treatment. So in some respects the drama-queen who wrote the blog that I read, may well have saved my life as it prompted me to take quick action!

They recommended I drank lots of water and used the toilet to wee and poo out as much of that caffeine as possible. Sorry to sound gross! I did make it upstairs, but I remember crawling back down on my backside because I was now incredibly dizzy. I was also heaving as though I wanted to be sick. Then, I slumped at the bottom of the stairs and thought to myself “Chris, you must have had around 1000 mg (1g) of caffeine!!!”

To put things in perspective here, a cup of tea is around 11 mg of caffeine, with 32 – 39 mg in a Pepsi, 75 mg in a can of Red Bull and 40 mg in a mug of coffee. So let’s put my maths skills to use here. If I’d taken 1000 mg of caffeine in just 3 hours, I had the equivalent of 25 coffees, 31 Pepsi’s, over 13 Red Bulls or 90 cups of tea.

Chris Brophy in Hospital 19th January 2017

Chris Brophy in Hospital 19th January 2017

It’s no wonder I felt so rough. People say you’re very alert after taking in loads of caffeine, but I was the opposite. I literally felt like I was knocking on death’s door. I considered calling an ambulance, but instead rang my other half who raced home with her mother in the car, and took me straight to the hospital. She took one look at me as I was slumped against the bottom of the stairs and said,  “Oh…my….god… right…come with me now!”

My heart rate was increasing, I was feeling sick, getting overly emotional, had a terrible migraine, was very light-headed and shaking badly! So as you can imagine, I thought I was dying. After all, that’s what us guys do well. We can’t sneeze without feeling like our nose is falling off and can’t have a cold without wanting to write out a will in case our time has come. Man Flu is a terrible thing you know!

I checked in at the reception desk at the hospital and I could barely speak. My speech was terrible and my right arm was trembling, plus I was still sweaty, with a  throbbing headache, dizziness… you name it, I had it.

Four hours later and I’d been checked out, had an ECG (heart scan), blood and urine test and was ready to be sent back home. Thankfully, many of the negative effects had worn off but I still felt a little drowsy and light-headed. The nurse had confirmed that I had taken 955 mg of caffeine, which is 555 mg over what they consider to be safe. A person shouldn’t really take in more than 400 mg over the course of a day, but I was pushing on a thousand.

Chris Brophy's Discharge Note

Chris Brophy’s Discharge Sheet: Accidental Drug Overdose

As it was rush hour when I left the hospital, I thought that rather than waiting 20 minutes for a taxi, I may as well walk home! Yes, that was a big risk really, I could have passed out, but actually I was so full of energy that I made it home in 20 minutes. That’s 15 minutes less time than I thought it would take. So…the benefit of these pills are that they give you enough energy to walk home from the hospital in record time, after nearly OD’ing on them!

I’d like to state once again that I have tried raspberry ketones and T5 pills before off Amazon made by a different firm and I did not experience any negative side effects whatsoever. Although to be fair, I was told to only take one of each in the morning, and one of each in the afternoon. With these ones by Forza, well, they don’t see a problem in taking twice that amount, but what they failed to say on the bottles, was that you cannot take these two products together. The notice is there on the website, but that’s of no use to me who was sent these by a PR firm, rather than placing an order via the web. Maybe Forza will consider making this clearer on the actual bottles in future.

Once again, I did not take more pills than were recommended by Forza, I simply took two high caffeinated products at the same time, and it is that which caused me to accidentally overdose.

The PR company who sent these to me should consider putting a safety note with the packages they send out, rather than bunging a load of health products in a box and simply posting off to people they don’t know! This clearly isn’t necessary when dealing with protein shakes, but when you’re sending out dangerous pills to bloggers you don’t know and haven’t a clue how medically fit they are, then you’re risking legal action, especially if the user ends up receiving emergency hospital treatment just like I did. It has been known for caffeine OD’s to be fatal!

I will be contacting both Forza and AOB PR for their comments shortly.

Update 21/01/17: Two days later, and I am still not 100%. I’m moving around and clearly able to see what I’m typing here, but still experiencing headaches and light-headedness. Currently resting up for the weekend and continuing on my fitness journey next Monday. Look out for a weight-update and new images coming later next week!

Update 24/01/17: Had a phone conversation with Sean from AOB PR who was extremely apologetic and concerned about me. We spoke about the incident and he agreed that it should have been made clearer to me that two products should not be mixed. He intends on making all future recipients of these products aware of the dangers of mixing multiple products at the same time. I kindly asked that he contacted existing clients also, just in case they haven’t started taking them yet. He understood that the effects of taking in too much caffeine can cause the body to react badly, as it did to me and that in the worst cases can be fatal. I understood that they knew of the dangers of mixing products, and accept they should have told bloggers in advance of this. I am pleased that they have responded so quickly to my complaint.  Forza is being contacted about the incident by the PR firm as I strongly believe they are at fault for not making it clear on the bottles that products cannot be mixed! Sean said he will get back to me but it will “probably be a few days, possibly later in the week”.

Update 25/01/17: Six days later: I am still experiencing occasional light-headedness and migraine. I seem to wake up feeling as tired and grumpy as I have been since 1974! However, around midday, I start to feel a little unsteady and the migraine appears. It’s hard to tell whether this is related to the overdose or whether it’s a cold/flu/bug on its way. The doctor who looked after me when I was admitted to A&E said that I had slightly high white blood cells and asked if I’d had a cold recently. Not since a week before Christmas was my reply. So who knows why I am feeling like this almost a week after my overdose. I have a doctors appointment booked for 2nd February.

Update 01/02/17: I am still awaiting an update from Sean O’Brien, company director of AOB PR. I did not receive the expected phone call from him late last week regarding his conversation with Forza.

Forza have not made contact with me personally.

I am still unwell. I just can’t shake off this headache that I have had for two weeks since the overdose. I will be visiting the doctor tomorrow.

Update: 04/02/17: Contacted Sean at AOB PR as I did not receive the call he promised. Was told I’d receive a call on Tuesday. That did not happen.

Update: 12/02/17: Still no further update from Sean O’Brien. I can only assume that he considers this dealt with now. Sadly, Forza themselves haven’t provided me with an apology and it is unclear as to whether they will take action to prevent incidents like this happening again.

I will now take legal advice on the matter.


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