May 24, 2017 editorial comment: I’ve added visuals (photos, articles, screenshots, etc) to accompany my writing. I don’t know why I didn’t just do that originally. However, some of the screenshots are of correspondence between the producer and me after he read this article. Hope the visuals help you as a reader better understand what actually happened and why you shouldn’t believe what you see on TV. It’s programming. (Think professional wrestling or literally any other reality show on TV). Peace—
I want to be as clear as possible: I try to live my life as honestly and kindly as possible. Anyone who knows me really well knows this. As I have said before, I am honest to a fault. I am not perfect. No human is. Faking the blackout in the Naked and Afraid episode in Brazil in a lot of ways went against all my morals, yet at the time it was really my only choice out of a situation which was far more detrimental to my being than anyone could ever possibly gather from watching the television show. However, on hindsight I still truly believe I did the right thing. I am writing this so that I can clarify how fake the show is, as well as reiterate how detrimental media can be to the lives of people who are exploited and are left with no opportunity to defend themselves. It is my hope that in writing this for you all to see, that I can let it go and move on with my life. My happiest days are those that have nothing to do with social media, let alone talking or thinking about Naked and Afraid. I live my life as a healer, a massage therapist, and a gentle companion to my dog and friends. To be seen as a pariah in the eyes of strangers and some acquaintances alike, because they saw a fictional account of a real situation and think they now know me, is beyond frustrating. So here you go…
I was contacted by a casting director for Naked and Afraid. I had never heard of the show prior to that. I don’t watch reality television, nor do I own a television. At the time, I was homeless and living in a truck with my service dog.
Okay…I know, enough cute animal photos…back to what happened….
I was visiting my mother whom I had not seen in 6 years. It was about 20 degrees and freezing fog in Colorado. A job seemed nice. I was doing full-time school online, working on my Theatre degree.
By the way, I actually received a scholarship for Theatre and Opera 14 years ago, to the University of Vermont. I never ended up going because I didn’t know how to come up with the $10,000 of estimated living expenses as a 17 year old who received no parental support, so I moved to Japan instead. I then travelled west to become an herbalist, wildcrafter (someone who turns plants into usable products), and licensed massage therapist, as well as to pursue my many outdoor interests. I would not return to finish my college Theatre degree for another decade, at age 27.
*So, unlike the other participants of this show who call themselves actors because of this one contract, I actually have been a trained actor and model since I was a child. I modelled for an agency known as Rascal’s in New York City starting at age 7, and was in at least one play or musical per year through graduating high school. I then became a professional nude rock climbing model for a publication known as Stone Nudes by age 20, and have participated in music videos, TV (Always Sunny in Philadelphia) and live theatre (Shakespeare and contemporary) as an adult. I participated in youth theatre companies and graduated from a prep school with a double concentration in the performing arts and liberal arts. My latest role was this year as Louise in The Singing Telegram, one of 9 vignettes from Cariani’s dark comedy, Love Sick. Theatre, music, and dance have been ingrained into my life. (Playing dead or close to it in Brazil was as difficult as getting my father to carry me to bed as a kid, except while being groped, given stomach thrusts (not shown on the episode), and injected with an IV).
Within 10 days of being initially contacted by the casting director, I was flown down to Burbank. I was kept in a hotel to do a series of interviews and psychological testing, and told I was not allowed to leave my hotel room unless accompanied by whomever was guiding me around on their schedule. I spent less than 24 hours at the Marriott. I completed a 567 MMPI (Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory) multiple choice test which was then analyzed by a psychologist and a machine, met with the psychologist, met with executive producers, and met with a doctor in a hole-in-the-wall clinic in Burbank. The doctor’s clinic was off-site, and I was informed that I was the only participant who was brought off-site. The clinic had a main entrance, but I was brought through a back door and then was examined by a doctor in a tiny office that was covered in thank-you photos signed by a slew of the most famous celebrities in the world.
I was also told that no other participant had ever made it down to Burbank so quickly, that usually it took months, about 6. Not ten days.
I know some of you are wondering why I would be asked to participate in this show. Well, I am guessing because I have been studying plant medicine for over a decade, and because I am an extreme athlete. I am a long distance swimmer, backcountry snowboarder, and rock climber.
I also signed pages upon pages of contractual agreements, agreeing that the show had permission for “eternity” to use the footage from the show, in any way they wished, that I could not sue them, that I could die, and that they could defame me in any way they wished by portraying me in a false light. I never thought that this would later bite me in the ass.
I was hired. But then something happened: I was informed that my white blood cell count was extremely high. So I detoxed. I ate all-organically, stopped smoking weed and tobacco (I was an occassional fan of the occassional spliff), stopped drinking any alcohol, exercised and did yoga, started swimming 2 1/2 miles a few times a week. And my wbc lowered, gradually. I drove myself to blood clinics at least four times to send the show an update of my wbc. At its lowest, it was still 10,000, which is usually the high point for most people. My guess was that I either had something seriously wrong with me, or it was the fact that I have two autoimmune diseases, which cause high wbc’s.
So this period of time delayed my flight to who-knows-where. Initially, they wanted to send me to Brazil. But the delay resulted in another woman getting sent there. She and my partner met and she turned around without filming. So this again delayed the show. Simultaneously, the World Cup was going on and so visas and plane tickets were slow to obtain. By the time I was cleared to go by the doctor, the initial shoot time for the episode had been delayed by weeks, if not over a month. I was sent a bottle of Malarone, an anti-malaria medication, by the doctor’s clinic in Burbank and told to start taking them two days before flying to Brazil.
On the flight to Brazil, or in the hotel, I got head lice. I arrived there and felt the beginnings of an itchy scalp within one night, about two days before starting the show. I immediately told a medic, who upon examining me said I had literally just gotten head lice, probably on the airplane. I was given lice shampoo and used it twice before we began the show. To be as safe as possible, I shaved all my body hair from the neck down. I prayed that this wouldn’t cause an early tap-out.
My partner and I each brought four survival items with us to Brazil, which is standard for the show (reminder: the early seasons such as this one only allowed one item per person, not one and a half). He brought four knives, and I brought a water filter and three knives. Production decided against the filter and asked each of us if we’d be willing to bring a fire starter. I agreed and said that my father had recommended a magnifying glass right before he passed away. The producers loved this concept, as well as the potential story line that they could then follow. So they sent a production assistant to town to find a magnifying glass. The PA returned with one, as well as a flint on a key chain, and I was told to pick one. Obviously, the glass, as the key chain flint was a joke.
Yes, magnifying water with glass uses the sun to kill microbes. To be more exact, it scrambles the DNA of bacteria and viruses. Protozoa can not be treated this way.
They had us start in the afternoon, informing us that we were to spend the night on the way to the permanent location somewhere in the dunes. This was supposed to be more entertaining for the viewers. We were also told that we would have to redo a lot of Day One’s shots, as Day One and Day 21 were very “Hollywood,” complete with retakes to get perfect shots and cameramen and helicopters flying around. So we did our thing and spent the first night in the dunes with no shelter and no time to set one up. My partner and I couldn’t really sleep that well so we spent most of the night talking and at one point were huddled back-to-back practically sobbing because the wind and the fine quartz sand in our eyes hurt so bad. Then it would rain off and on because the coast was only miles from us, and coastal storms would bring torrential rain to the dunes on a daily or every-other-day basis, which is where the lagoons came from.
On Day 2, we were exhausted. We’d just been exposed to the elements purposefully to give everything more of an edge. We were hungry. And I was taking Malarone, which causes quite a few serious side-effects, so extreme that many people opt out of taking it and risk the chance instead of getting Malaria. Malarone causes intense, lucid nightmares, nausea, weight-loss, dizziness, moodiness, dehydration, emotional swings, and hyper-photo sensitivity (sensitivity to the sun). My partner, however, was never told he should take Malarone. Instead, he had managed to finagle a twice-daily administered Adderall prescription.
So on Day 2, we were told that we needed to camp in a certain part of the oasis, if you want to call it that (please don’t for a second think that an oasis equates to heavenly and fulfilling). My partner and I spent several hours building our shelter together. The film crew set up a tripod and later edited the footage to make it look like he built the shelter by himself, which is not true. We spent hours collecting materials and making cordage together, then tying the cross beams together. For days following that, we were always working on perfecting our shelter together. The floor was very slanted, and I spent about an hour using my legs to flatten it out, while he rested, prior to even building the walls. But the episode’s narrator says he built it while I fell asleep in the sun, which was not true. We each took about an hour off from building the shelter. The show never showed me working on it by myself. Later, the show added a clock at the bottom of the screen to make it look more factual, like he had built it by himself in a certain amount of time, though the footage is actually cut and spliced to make a time lapse. So the clock is just an ingenious way of making it look more realistic, because a person will watch the scene and see the seconds moving, even though my partner is jumping around. They are VERY GOOD at manipulating footage.
On a daily basis, the contestants are asked to step aside to conduct On The Fly interviews (OTF’s). In our case, we would need to trudge up and over a sand dune every time this happened so we could get away from earshot of our partner. Every time I was interviewed, I was asked questions about my father who had passed away a few months earlier. I was asked pointed and personal questions. I was also told to repeat my words every time I referred to the magnifying glass as “the magnifying glass,” and told to repeat and call it “my dad’s magnifying glass.” This was something I agreed to at first, because I have studied theatre my entire life. So to me, I was appeasing the producers by showing them what a good actor I was, which they were asking me to do. But over time, this was a very emotionally unnerving act that actually affected me very deeply, as my father’s death was so recent and I was still deeply mourning.
Side note: Though we were a couple hours drive from town, the town was only miles away over the dunes. Every night, a part of town had a block party and would bump really loud beats which carried over the dunes. You might think this would be cool, which it was at first. But then we realized that the DJ would play the same beat for hours on end, so we would hear this techno or reggae beat off in the distance for hours at a time. The music never stopped before 4 am. So between the music and my partner’s Adderall-induced chattiness, I literally could never find a place with quiet unless I wandered off by myself. This is kind of an odd thing to occur whilst out surviving “in the middle of nowhere.”
On a daily basis, the producer asked my partner and I to talk about growing tensions that he could observe. He said it was obvious. The producer knew very well that I was pissed that my partner was taking amphetamines and sitting on his butt all day. He would sit there and talk a lot. He would get quiet only hours after each time he was given a pill. Meanwhile, I was administered Malarone every morning, along with a 5-calorie piece of Magic Toast (some Brazilian cracker made with lots of air). I also got a bladder infection on Day 2, and was given a week of Ciprofloxacin to take care of it. That sometimes came with a sip of water.
Now, before I go on, I want to discuss the meds. One of the producers kept telling me that I didn’t need the Malarone, and that no one else there was taking it. She told me that I should stop taking it and that if I did, I also needed to say into the camera “I am choosing, by my own choice, to stop taking Malarone because….” However, I was not comfortable with this. I wondered why I was told to take it and my partner was not. I did not know how it would affect me if I stopped taking it, if it would make me more prone to Malaria because of the sudden cessation. The water was also rife with cysts, which are not killed by UV water treatment (only bacteria and viruses are). Knowing that Malaria is caused by a protozoa, which is what cysts are, I took my chances that perhaps the Malarone would help protect me against them. There was so much animal feces in the lagoons (mostly rodent and pig poop from nearby farmers) that every single cup of water had at least one cyst floating in it. And that stuff can get in your brain, which is serious. So I decided not to stop taking it, and see what happened. I will never know if any of that was deliberate on production’s part, but I do see an obvious gross oversight that my partner was never told to take Malarone while I was, and that the Malarone itself came from the show’s special hole-in-the-wall doctor in Burbank. I actually said I would stop taking it if I did not have to say into the camera that it was entirely my own choice, but they said no.
So, after a week of being asked to talk about why my partner was bothering me, but not in a way that actually had to do with why I was mad because production was tired of hearing me complain about his amphetamines, I caved. I guess my partner was also getting the same kinds of questions in his OTF’s, which we discovered later (so yes, the production team is trying to get us to react to each other). On Day 8, after the producer had said several times that I should confront my partner, I did. This resulted in a long conversation, which led to an argument where we were both saying horrible things to each other. Keep in mind that we had been eating very few calories on a daily basis, probably less than 200 a day, and the human brain needs about 400 calories a day in order to not cannibalize itself (I had no fat reserves left, and yes this is what happens when ketosis is prolonged, your body eats its own muscle and organ tissue). We had headaches, and we weren’t getting electrolytes either because the berry bushes were all unripe as a result of the whole episode being delayed for so long. The coconuts were all harvested by the locals, who had rights to the land and would often be nearby playing soccer or hanging out in the lagoon. There was nothing. The locust that my partner gave me was after I had gone hunting for locusts for days, and it fell on a cameraman who gave the locust to my partner and told him to give it to me. This same cameraman was also constantly feeding us ideas to make things more interesting.
So the argument that gets shown isn’t an argument at all, it’s just a tiny spliced part of an entire conversation that led to a two-way argument, and it’s just the part where I am retaliating to my partner and calling him names. He had just called me a bunch of names. But what is shown makes me look like I just verbally accosted him for no reason. Then the show cuts to a commercial and returns and shows the same scene all over again, just to remind everyone how evil I am by calling my partner fat and stinky.
After this argument occurred, the producer was ecstatic. He told me on a daily basis that he loved it, that Discovery would love it, and it would definitely make the cut. Basically, he had convinced me to get into an argument and then reminded me daily that it was going to be used.
I remember feeling so fucking used after that argument happened. I was so hungry, too. I went to the lagoon, where I went on a daily basis to forage. I had had a dream about finding a bird’s nest with three eggs. So I go, and I hear these birds chirping and I see a nest in a tree coming out of the lagoon. I climbed the tree and there was a nest with three baby blackbirds in it. One crawled out and the other two stayed. I was so ravenous, delirious, angry, like a wild animal. I used a small stick and my fingers to snap the necks of the two remaining birds, all while their mom was behind me, flapping her wings in mid-air and squawking at me. It was the most horrifying thing I have ever done. I wanted to die. I hated killing these things without a knife, but I knew I needed the calories because my brain was getting cannibalized. They wouldn’t completely die. It was so heartbreaking. I brought them back to camp, trying to drown them in the lagoon while I was walking, feeling so guilty that their death was not quick. I brought them back, finally dead, and the cameramen stopped filming my partner trying to make a charcoal tattoo and came over to me as I cleaned these things with my bare hands and a twig. They looked like two little mini chickens, so perfect. I skewered them on a stick and used the glass to cook them. But here was the problem: the sun went down there at 6 pm, as it was right on the equator. When I got these birds, it was well past 4 pm. So in the time I had with the sun, they only cured about half-way. They obtained this nice reddish-brown color on the outside but the inside was still raw. I tried desperately to start a fire with the magnifying glass, but the wind had picked up and the sun was setting. A fire meant digging a hole in the sand to block the wind and the sand was wet from a recent rain. I tore apart my palm leaf shirt for kindling and it kept almost happening. So many sparks, it was so close. The cameras were right there, too, in my face, and the cameramen witnessing this almost happening. But I failed. So I wrapped the birds in several layers of palm leaf and buried them in the wet sand, about three feet down, in an attempt to save them through fermentation, as more rain was coming. The next day, they smelled rotten. They ended up being the bait in a fish trap I wove, which was also never shown.
LINK: How starvation affects the human brain (I am adding this link in response to the armchair experts on Reddit and elsewhere who have claimed that the brain does not cannibalize its own tissue. It does.)
After that, I started going to the lagoon every day to look for food. Like I mentioned earlier, I am a long distance swimmer, so movement through water for me is very effortless, much less calorie-dependent than walking on fine sand dunes in the sun. I would search for berries. I found a total of 5 coconuts in the lagoon during my time in Brazil. The first two were found on the same day, after basically being told where they were by the producer. I had to wonder how he knew, but it became obvious to me later as I repeatedly saw members of the crew with wet shorts. The first two coconuts were shared with my partner. If you don’t believe me, check out my Facebook, as there is a photo there of us sitting on the mats I wove eating coconuts together. That photo was only a day or two after our big “divorce,” as they named it.
I also found moriche (in Brazil they are called buriti) floating in the water on two occasions. Most of those were shared with my partner until I had finally decided he was on his own, which was another concept purposefully brought up by production and the cameraman who liked to give us ideas. The orange stain on my mouth during the “tap-out” scene is from buriti fruit. It’s super high in beta carotene.
I also started collecting one of the types of unripe berries and putting them in a basket I made, in the shade, and discovered that they ripened to the point of fermentation that way.
I performed a 24-hour toxicity test on the cacti which was growing around us. This involved not eating anything else and meticulously waiting through each step of the test, before we concluded that it was edible. Again, this would have been prime material for educational purposes and it was all documented on camera— but if it isn’t clear yet, they deliberately omitted every bit of actual survival-related footage in exchange for creating a fake storyline based around drama. Instead, they just show a quick shot of Matt cutting a cactus down and eating it as if it were his own private food source. No mention of me making sure it wasn’t poisonous for him.
I made charcoal and started putting it in between my teeth (there were no hollow reeds sturdy enough to make a straw) while sipping water from the lagoon that had not been treated with UV. This way, I could avoid the sun to purify my water (and on that note, I actually was carrying a palm to use as a shade device in the early days when I was using the magnifying glass to treat the water).
When my partner and I split up our shelter, I opted to dig myself a grave-shaped hole, which is funny in a way because I did actually feel like a dying animal. The hole was about 7 feet long and a couple feet deep, and I covered it with a palm frond roof so that I could lay in it and stay dry and safe from the wind. It actually worked really well, too bad they never showed that either.
The producer told me several times that I had done more than any other female had ever done on the show. So later, after about two weeks when I started to say several times that I wanted to tap-out, he also informed me that if I consciously tapped-out the story would be completely altered and would be, and I quote: “that toad’s story.” He warned me about this. Keep this in mind.
The main reason I wanted to tap out was because I started to lose control of my bladder. My metabolism was way too high to start out (my partner had it right with gaining a bunch of fat beforehand). I was too fit. This is actually why I appear very chubby later in XL, because I purposefully gained over 30 lbs of pure fat and slowed my metabolism way down before going to Colombia.
So, I was peeing myself. I would drink nearly a gallon of water a day at times, but it just trickled out. I would sit there in the sand next to the camera crew and my partner sometimes, listening to him chit chat with them, and drink water and pee straight into the sand. I was really a mess. I wanted to tap out. Seriously, I needed to tap out. And yet I felt so used, so manipulated. To the very core. Everything. Made. Me. So. Pissed.
And then the producer told me that he would let me redeem myself by making a televised apology to my partner for calling him fat and stupid and smelly earlier. But he wanted me to wait until the next day, when the lighting was good. When the crew left, I had a personal talk with my partner, told him how I felt, that I was sorry, and that we were going to have a stupid redo of the apology the next day for the camera crew, which was ridiculous. I wanted him to know that I was really sorry, especially for the fact that we had to do a televised apology the next day, and was just trying to be real with him. So we forgave each other the day before what was televised.
We filmed our apology on Day 16 (the show says 15) and then I went searching for coconuts to no avail. I returned, and then the crew left for their late lunch break. While they were gone, I realized I needed to get the fuck out of there. I was terrified about the next few days, mostly because my body was shutting down. My muscles were so cramped that it would sometimes take me an hour to move from laying position to sitting or standing, and then I would get dizzy. The only real place where my muscles did not hurt was the lagoon, where I could suspend myself in water. So while they were gone, I walked to a spot in the dunes to lay down, I actually let myself fall down, and just stayed there for about a half an hour. Nobody came, so I walked a little closer to camp and did the same thing. My partner called me, came over to me, and called the medic on the radio.
I pretended to be basically catatonic. I let my body go limp, because honestly it was pretty close to that point anyways. They had been checking my blood sugar at least once a day, and it was wavering around 40-60, which is incredibly low for a person. I was pretty close to going into a coma for real. So being limp and playing dead actually felt amazing, in that I was going to get to leave there and I didn’t have to take one more fucking step in that fine, fine sand. I had taken enough extra steps for these people, both literally and figuratively.
I remember feeling one of the female PA’s divine breasts on my head as she held me and they administered an IV in my arm in the dunes. The medic was pushing on my chest and I let myself cave in and let them just keep doing whatever they needed to do, including allowing all the air to come out of my mouth when they did this. I just let my body do what it did being completely limp. Then they got a stretcher out after making the final decision to get me out (which took quite a bit of questioning and requestioning between the producer and the medic). I remember the boom technician was walking on my left side as I was laying on the stretcher, freaking out about the IV that kept coming out of my arm as the poor camera crew carried me out of the dunes, which was quite a hike from where we were camped to where the jeep could get to.
Then the entire ride to the hospital, over the dunes and through the jungle, over the ferry and through the village, they were totally focused on getting the right shots. I remember trying not to laugh when the producer asked if the camera was rolling before going on about what was happening, then he said something like “I think I just lost a piece of my soul.” I remember hearing what a great job the camera guy was doing as he was hanging out the open-sided jeep and filming the epic tap-out. Someone kept pinching one of my nipples.
The producer was joking about pizza and beer. I just did my best to let my eyes roll back and keep a straight face. And the poor medic, who could never say my name right, I felt the worst for him. Because, he was really a good guy, so sweet, and I truly felt bad hearing the fear in his voice that I was almost dead.
When we arrived at the hospital, they moved me inside and then the local doctors stuck another IV in me. Only this time, they missed my vein (I was really dehydrated). My arm started to swell up like Akira. This had happened to me once before, when I was an 18 year old living in Japan and had thumb surgery without anesthesia. It’s excruciatingly painful. That was when I opened my eyes and let myself just fucking scream. It was really a scream that I had wanted to let out for weeks, 16 days to be exact.
They kept me in the hospital overnight, wearing a diaper that I kept peeing in and in a room with other patients and a nurse who was blowing snot rockets on the ground and picking her wedgie and then touching our IV’s again without washing her hands. The show says I walked out of the hospital within hours, with a smile on my face (which was from the producer saying a joke to me at that moment, the following day, to get me to laugh for the camera). If you can keep in mind that the sun goes down at 6 pm, the footage is obviously flawed, as I would not have walked out of the hospital a couple hours later in broad daylight. No, I was picked up by the producer the following day, after a full night of glucose and saline IV’s and two pints of beef stew, which I actually inhaled in the hospital bed.
When I was weighed the next day, I had had a loss of 16 lbs, but the reality is that I probably lost much more than that, as they had not weighed me upon immediately leaving the dunes. 18-20 hours of IV’s and two pints of stew, a bunch of cookies and crackers later, they estimated that I had a loss of 18 lbs, but we will never really know. In 16 days, either way, that is a lot for a small person like me.
So there you have it. I spent the next several days in a hotel, waiting for my partner to get out, eating cookies and doing diary cameras, feeling kind of guilty and incredibly relieved. My partner could barely walk when he made it out, probably because he was soldiering on with no nutrients and a bottle of amphetamines.
Then they had us reunite and filmed me talking about my response to the producers asking me “How does it make you feel knowing that your partner carried your father’s magnifying glass all the way out of the dunes for you?” To which I replied by turning on the water works.
I find it so funny, as someone who does not identify with any particular religion, that such a Christian-rooted sense of guilt versus honor seemed to be so deeply ingrained in the producers’ interview questions, especially considering that they were continuously asking me to use my dad’s name in vain, literally.
Why did I do the XL show?
So, after my episode aired that following September, I was getting all sorts of death threats and I was devastated from how they had portrayed everything. I honestly think that when they know something negligent has happened on their part, they will throw the contestant under the bus in the edit so as to control their ability to speak up and actually be heard on social platforms. This has seemed truer as time has gone on, the more I hear from other female contestants that they were being sexually harassed by their partners, complained to the producers, and nothing was done about it. If the contestant gets a bad edit, then in the case that they try to speak up, people see them as untrustworthy or evil and chose not to listen or believe what they say.
I went off on social media and said what really happened after my first episode. I talked about everything. Discovery retaliated by not allowing me to do the scheduled Facebook live Q&A, as well as threatening me repeatedly with lawyers. Then they showed a Bares All episode that used footage of me in the shower using lice shampoo, talking about lice, and audio that was recorded out in the desert months later. The audio was my response to a producer specifically asking me about why I shaved my pubic hair. The way they portrayed it on Bares All implied that I had pubic lice, or pubic bugs. I was mortified.
I realized that there was absolutely nothing I could do to defend myself, and that Discovery could keep using the footage however they wanted to. If they felt threatened by me, they would surely keep sabotaging me like this with the pubic lice kind of stuff they were doing. Terrified, I wrote Discovery Channel an apology letter for speaking out on social media, saying I hoped there was a way we could all save face, and thanking them for the experience in Brazil (this is making me nauseous writing this).
Within a day or two, I received a request from the production company to partake in the XL episode. I found this to be both bizarre and creepy. I actually had the thought that they wanted me to die. But they were offering me $23,500 if I completed the challenge, which was more money than I had ever had in my life. As someone who lives at poverty level much of the time, this is really a difficult offer to say no to.
So I detoxed, gained weight, ate tons of food, slept a lot. Did some yoga, meditated. Worked. A lot. Saved thousands of dollars for rent while I was gone, as well as a dog-sitter. I also desperately tried to remove the red hair dye I had put in my hair to disguise myself in real life from all the people who were recognizing me. I showed up in Colombia the following February for XL. This time, I came armed with a doctor’s note for salt and electrolytes. I had been randomly pissing blood (and still do), most notably right before leaving for Colombia, and my doctor said it could have been from the severe dehydration I had experienced in Brazil, what with losing control of my bladder and such.
But the producers came into my hotel room a couple days before we started the show and told me that they could not honor my prescription. They said that we all knew that my partner in Brazil had bypassed the system with his amphetamine prescription, which was why they edited my episode the way they did, they said, and that my prescription would be equally unfair to the other contestants.
They gave me the option to go home, or do the show without my doctor’s prescription. This scared me, for multiple reasons. But I could not go home empty handed, if for any reason other than that I literally would not be able to pay rent if I did not try to make some money on the show. I had already been taken off my work schedule by my employer.
On Day 1 in Colombia, one of my partners informed me that one of the other contestants was allowed to take B-vitamins, specifically as a mosquito-repellent, and as a substitute for Malarone (she has confirmed this with me). Malarone again had been given to me and some–not all– of the other contestants. Then we discovered that our third partner had two bottles of homemade tincture that his brother had made him, labeled, “[His brother’s name]’s Blend.” He told us he also got to take this on his first challenge, and that it had a bunch of mosquito-repelling herbs, nice alcohol, and fish oil so he could get all his aminos. He was allowed to take this at-will, as it was always in our camp’s dry bag, off-camera, where we keep the radio and tampons and Malarone pills.
This infuriated me. I could not get over how pissed I was. Furthermore, on Day 1, right before I was dropped off and while I was still blindfolded, the field producer in the jeep with me told me this: “So I’m really sorry. Discovery decided against your fire starter, they said it was too high-tech and they wanted to give you a bow drill instead. I tried to go to bat for you, but they wouldn’t listen,” he said. It was a ferrocerium and magnesium flint, not that high-tech at all. This was unnerving, not because I now all of a sudden had a bow drill, but because we spend months beforehand talking about what 4 items to bring, and this discussion goes between the producers and contestants and is very specific. So the fact that this was being relayed to me as I was getting dropped off seemed a bit fishy and sabotaging to me. So I had my machete and a bow drill.
I had flank pain that was incredibly intense on Day 4, and said I wanted to tap-out on Day 5. The producer asked me to wait one more day before tapping out. On Day 6, we were awakened by medics who wanted to check me out. They looked at me and left to get me antibiotics, as I was in severe pain and had barely slept as a result. I was also offered a piece of cracker that morning to go with my Malarone, which had been overlooked on the days prior due to my choice to take it at night so as to avoid mood swings during the day. So I took a Malarone, and right about when it kicked in, my partner started to tell me that I was lazy and needed to do more (this part was not shown), which led to the “sabotage scene.” This scene again, involved an editorial muting of Luke’s words to me prior to me getting upset. Again, they edited the episode to make it seem like he just said one line to me and I reacted irrationally. He was actually sitting there for about 10 minutes, complaining as I was waiting for the medics to return with antibiotics.
So there you have it. When I revolted, it was not just against my partners. And I am not going to get into the details about that right now, it’s just not that important. I really wanted to throw the cameras in the river, too. I threw that shit in the river on Day 6—not Day 10 like they said—and got kicked off the show. I had been given the option to stay and find it, but really I did not want to go diving in the river that was supposedly full of anacondas. It just wasn’t worth it to me. Plus, I was over it. So there you go. Call it want you want. Call it a TV show. Call it a social experiment. The truth is, it’s much, much more than that. Much more.
Edit: I was told to immediately cease taking Malarone by the doctor in Colombia upon exiting the show. Apparently it is contraindicated for people with a history of kidney problems like I have.
I also would like to add, there were info tidbits demonstrated by Luke that I actually taught him and he chided me for until I left, and then he taught them as his own. One example is of him removing a splinter with a spinous thorn from a tree. I did this and he made fun of me for it. Additionally, they were using resources I was collecting and simultaneously complained that I was not doing anything, for example: all the vines we were using for fish baskets. I would put some down and leave to collect more, and they would be gone when I returned. On the topic of fish baskets, I had made a plethora of logical recommendations which the guys turned down until someone else suggested them, such as: I recommended we weave a large flat basket, instead of a funnel (we each made one), to scoop fish. They declined until a cameraman later said that was what the locals did. Etc.