Written by Zoë Holloway, August 30, 2016

There’s no denying that this year’s contestants on Australian Survivor are doing it tough – and a true testament to this is Peter Fiegehen choosing to leave the island ahead of potentially being put forward for elimination.

OK! spoke to the 62-year-old air traffic controller about his decision to leave the show, and just how tough the survivors are really doing it…

What was behind your final decision to leave the show?
Before I went onto the show I did what you are supposed to do – train heavily for the show for six months – but then we got to the island and two days before we launched onto the beach I ate something and got gastroenteritis. I didn’t hit the ground running I hit the ground crawling backwards.

So were you thinking about leaving before you even started?
I wasn’t well but I wasn’t looking at leaving then. I was hoping that I’d get better. There’s no medical centre when you are a castaway on the beach. I ended up not eating at all, so I didn’t have the colourful aspects of gastro because I wasn’t eating anything at all.

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How long did you go without eating?
I lost eight kilos in 12 days. I averaged about 20 calories a day.

You had no appetite?
I had no interest in eating, and when I did I felt sick. They tried to force me, like Kylie was trying to force the stuff down my throat, I’d be heaving. It was very weird that they didn’t vote me out. The problem was the risk, nothing was changing and it was looking like it wasn’t going to end up very well. It wasn’t being treated, it wasn’t diagnosed.

Was there a doctor on the set?
Yes, but that was if you broke your leg or chopped your hand with a machete, which I managed to do on day one. They will bandage you up, but not for that type of illness. I had to make the decision on my own and that was to leave before I had to leave in a wooden box.

So how do you go about leaving?
I spoke to the game people and we spoke about leaving and extended that twice, so there was plenty of lead in. There were options for this which we found out afterwards – you can pull someone out for 24 hours under the rules, and we’d forgotten that, so it’s been a great dilemma for me since. I think the 24 hours would’ve definitely fixed the problem. There’s massive regrets.

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Did you go to hospital?
No hospital. There’s a period from when you leave to when you catch the plane of about 1.5 days.

Were you back to normal once you got home?
Refeeding is almost as difficult as starvation because if you refeed you should be on a program, and if you aren’t you can actually kill yourself if you don’t do it properly. I’ve never had such pain before. I was curled up in a ball on the floor twice when I started eating, but I’m fine now.

What’s next for you?
I’m training up for the next big thing – Everest Base Camp in the next four weeks.

 

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