'Survivor: Kaoh Rong' castaway Neal Gottlieb: I ran four miles two days after my medical evacuation
By Elizabeth Kwiatkowski, 03/31/2016
Survivor: Kaoh Rong castaway Neal Gottlieb was medically evacuated from the game during Wednesday night's episode due to an infected wound in his knee, however, he can't help but question whether it was truly serious enough to take away his chance at winning $1 million.
During an exclusive interview with Reality TV World on Thursday, Neal, a 37-year-old ice cream entrepreneur from Sausalito, CA -- who started out on the Brains tribe -- revealed he was basically in and out of the hospital after being forced to leave the game on Day 19 with a hidden Immunity Idol in his pocket.
"I don't know if I'll ever come to terms with having to leave. It's tough because, on one hand, I felt like I was getting better and I had full mobility!" Neal admitted.
Neal said his wound was "really big," basically "down to the bone" and "very close to the joint," however, he felt fine out there.
"That's one of the frustrating things about it, is I didn't fall into the fire, I didn't pass out, I didn't feel sick. I felt strong and ready to play another 20 days... So whether [the infection] would've gotten to the knee and made me a peg leg, I'll never know!"
After Neal was medically evacuated, he spent a short time in the hospital followed by "a bunch of nights" in a hotel with air conditioning since the conditions at Ponderosa were "not the most luxurious."
"I was in the hospital for two nights. They dug it out, they dug the [wound] in my back out, they put me on an IV drip, and there was no sign of infection by the next day... The morning after I got out of the hospital, I ran four miles on the treadmill! I was feeling good."
Neal then took us back to when the red "bump" first developed.
"It came from within on Day 15, I think that was after the Reward Challenge, out of nowhere and very quickly, I had what looked like a pimple pop up on my knee. It was very painful, so I had to bring the doctor out knowing that I wasn't going to see the doctor at least until the next day and probably not for another couple of days," Neal told Reality TV World.
"I lasted and tried to squeeze it out, and there was really nothing, and it stopped hurting. But it just kept on growing and growing, and then it opened and just kept on -- it was incredible. I was amazed my body could do such a thing. It just got wider and wider."
Things took a turn for the worse on the morning of Day 19 when Neal was getting ready to give a confessional.
"I was playing with a piece of grass trying to get [puss] out and I spent a lot of time kind of playing with the volcano and a big chunk of puss came out. And I could see there was actually a hole underneath the hole. I knew from that moment -- I just knew I was toast," he said, adding that he had already been on antibiotics.
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"I was on antibiotics, I believe, from Day 15 or 16. They clearly weren't the right ones or the most powerful ones... So I was getting that medical attention and it was getting worse."
The sudden end to Neal's game will always leave him wondering, what if?
"There's a part of me that will always think that if I hadn't been pulled, I would've won that damn [game]," Neal confessed.