I was in Thailand for a kickboxing training camp when a slight injury meant I had to take some time off.
Still wanting to fill my days, I decided to volunteer for an orphanage development charity for a few days. Big mistake.
The first day went well. Hard, but well. The job was to build a new wall around the orphanage so that it looked a bit less like a concentration camp. I was in charge of digging the trench ready for the foundations. The heat was intense, making the work extremely tiring.
The second day was much like the first, until it came to moving a stack of tyres. I grabbed some and lifted them up, but suddenly felt a sharp pain on my shin. I dropped the tyres and looked down to see two drops of blood and an angry-looking snake.
I shouted over to the Thai surveyor and the co-ordinator, who ran over. The surveyor looked at me as if I was a big baby and said I didn’t need to worry. Apparently it was just a golden tree snake, which isn’t poisonous. The English co-ordinator, however, wasn’t having any of it and took me to the local hospital.
After a quick once over, the doctor gave me a bag of multi-coloured tablets that he said were anti-inflammatory and pain killers. I took his word for it and headed home. Mistake number two.
That night I had a bad fever and hardly slept, while the following day my leg was even more swollen.
However, I did feel a bit better so decided to follow the co-ordinator’s advice and give the pills a few more days to kick in. Mistake number three.
The fever came back that night. I got no sleep and spent all night throwing up. Not only that, but my leg had swollen up to the size of a football, part of it had gone black and I couldn’t walk.
I couldn’t get to help as I was in so much pain and had no energy to move.
Luckily, the girl I was travelling with came to check on me. She took one look and said it was time to go to a proper hospital in Bangkok. She packed up some essentials, threw me over her shoulder and carried me to the bus station.
Four hours later I had a group of Thai doctors giving me funny looks whilst poking my leg. They said I’d got a flesh-eating bacteria called necrotizing fasciitis from my infected bite.
First thing in the morning I was under the knife. They cut two massive chunks out of my leg, claiming there was no other way to remove the bacteria.
After five weeks in hospital, a skin graft, a week of physio and a lot of watching Thai soaps, I was finally allowed to leave and head to Oz. I knew I was lucky but didn’t realise how much so until I went to get my dressings changed in Sydney.
Unravelling my bandages, the doctor stared at me in amazement and said I was extremely lucky to still have my leg! Apparently 75 per cent of people who get that bacteria end up dying.
If it had climbed just a few inches higher they would have had to amputate my leg to stop it closing my organs down!
After another month of visiting doctors, I’ve realised the one good thing to come out of it – I now know to make the most of every day while I still can.