After spending an amazing two weeks with a group of friends, exploring and enjoying everything Bali has to offer, I decided to extend my holiday.
Unfortunately with all the distractions and excitement of being on holiday, the thought to extend my travel insurance did not cross my mind. This is a mistake – and an incredibly costly one – I will never make again.
From having an amazing weekend, to being on a boat all day and partying well into the night on Saturday, followed by Sunday with friends in Kuta, I woke up on Monday feeling not quite right. I couldn't keep anything down, not even water, but didn't really think too much of it, telling myself that I maybe just had ‘Bali belly’… until the pain started spreading.
That evening I went to a local medical clinic, not thinking it was anything serious. They gave me a painkiller and suggested I rest at my hotel. But by the early hours of the morning the pain had become so unbearable that I crawled downstairs, begging hotel staff to call an ambulance. I could barely speak by the time I was rushed into emergency at Siloam Hospital. I cannot even begin to describe the pain.
Unfortunately I was not able to contact anyone until late afternoon, and after finally getting hold of family back in Perth with help from the Australian Consulate, my dad Andrew caught the next flight over. I was moved to intensive care and underwent numerous tests and scans.
By this point my belly was swollen to the point that I looked as though I was heavily pregnant. Even on the highest possible dose of morphine I was in excruciating pain. That evening, when all of the tests had come back, a nurse dashed into my room to prepare me for urgent surgery. Fortunately my dad was able to liaise with hospital staff and management.
I was grateful my dad was there. In my weakened and drugged state, I could not comprehend what was going on around me. The swelling was putting pressure and stress on almost every other organ, and the surgeon explained that if I had not called for an ambulance when I did, I could have died.
I was taken in for surgery late that night, thinking I would come out with a small scar ... I woke up to find a 25cm long cut down my stomach, three drainage tubes hanging out of my sides, another tube inserted into my neck, and drips in my arms.
I stayed in the ICU another nine days unable to move more than my arms. The surgeon explained to my dad that he had to cut a larger wound than just to remove part of my pancreas, as he had to explore my abdomen to find out what damage had been done to other organs.
I spent another week recovering in a general ward, supported by my dad and friends. I also had a huge boost knowing I had the amazing support of family and friends back in Australia.
I cannot speak highly enough of Siloam hospital, my surgeon and all the staff. They were amazing, and made sure that everything went well for me. The Australian Consulate was also very helpful in liaising with the hospital and relaying information to my dad.
However, not having travel insurance left my family with a bill of more than $50,000, on top of the costs my dad incurred when he flew over from Perth to help – having to leave my family’s cake-making business behind. My warning to anyone thinking of travelling overseas is to always ensure that you have travel insurance for the entire length of your trip, and to be extremely careful of what you drink.
While I’m incredibly happy to be alive, this has taken an incredible physical, emotional and financial toll on me and my family – and it could happen to anyone.