Survivor: Caleb Reynolds on his medical evacuation and what you didn't see
'That's when I really freaked out,' says Caleb of what happened after he was evacuated
Jeff Probst called it “the most frightened I’ve been in all my time on Survivor.” So imagine how it must have felt for Caleb Reynolds. The man dubbed Beast Mode Cowboy was one of three people to collapse during Wednesday’s Survivor reward challenge, and his condition was the most serious. Caleb was simultaneously panting and unresponsive and had to be medically evacuated via a helicopter. But what happened next?
An emotional Caleb called into Entertainment Weekly Radio (SiriusXM, channel 105) to fill us in on everything that went down, and you can hear it all right now on the InsideTV Podcast. Where did that chopper take him? What does he remember? When did he start to feel better? What was it like watching it play back on TV? Caleb answers all that and more, and you can hear the entire conversation by clicking on the audio player below. Here are some of the highlights.
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On when he first noticed something was wrong:
“It was pretty much after the challenge. I felt well. I felt strong. I’m guessing it was due to adrenaline. I wanted to win and it was this thing in my head, you can’t stop. You have to continue pushing until you win [second place]. And then pretty much what I did after we won, I fell to the ground, laid on my back, and said ‘Yes.’ And at that moment I started getting really dizzy so I stood up and started to walk towards the shade ’cause I knew that was what was going on. I wasn’t sweating any more. My skin was dry. I started to get dizzy and there was a little spot of shade. And that’s really the last thing that I remember. I don’t remember anything else after that. I was getting really sick. I had a headache and my eyes were getting really blurry. That was it.”
On watching the episode on TV:
“It was a bit emotional. I have a house full of my family and watching them see … ” Caleb trailed off, beginning to cry. “Sorry, I’m getting emotional now about it. Just watching my family all in tears and Tai and all my tribemates in tears, I was like ‘Wow, I can’t believe this actually happened.’ But it was emotional. I didn’t know what I went through. My family didn’t know what I went through. I could only just tell them, ‘Hey, I fell out. That’s all I can remember, and I woke up in a helicopter. I don’t really know anything else.’ So sitting down and watching it and realizing this is what I went through was kind of tough. It sucked that I had to leave that way.
“But to be honest, that’s the only way that I would leave. That’s the ultimate for me, to know that I left it all out there in the jungle and I couldn’t have done nothing else. I gave it my all and that was the outcome. But watching it last night, it was a little hard. It was emotional, but knowing that I’m okay now and in really good health now, I’m much happier. You know, if it was live I can only imagine. I’m sitting next to my mom last night and she’s just bawling, and my family from other states are calling and crying and saying how hard it is to watch, and I can only imagine. But medical was on top of it and practically saved my life.”
What happened after he got in the helicopter:
“I woke up … well, I didn’t wake up, but I was in and out throughout the helicopter ride. One thing is I remember is I woke up and Dr. Joe had his hands on my chest, but there is one thing that I remembered which was the necklace I had around my neck which was — my girlfriend at the time, it was her daughter’s birth stone. And I remember she said, ‘If anything happens to you, make sure this comes home.’ And I woke up and I reached for that necklace, and Dr. Joe grabbed my hand because I had an IV in it and he didn’t want me to bend it or anything. So he grabbed my hand and pushed it back down. At the time I remember trying to say, ‘I need my necklace,’ because it wasn’t on my neck. And I started crying and …” the former Big Brother contestant began to tear up once more. “I was like, ‘Why am I here?’ And he goes, ‘I had to pull you from the game.’ And I was like, ‘No. I don’t want to go back. I’m not done. I …” Caleb trailed off, overwhelmed.
On what happened after the helicopter ride:
“I was out again. The scariest part was somewhere in there they transferred me to an ambulance. That’s when I really woke up, and I see nothing but a bunch of Cambodian people with masks on and they’re all looking at me, and that’s when I really freaked out. I had no clue where I was. I had no clue why I was there. I started asking these people, ‘What is in me?’ Because one IV has some orange stuff in it, one IV has some clear stuff in it, and none of them spoke English and I started to really freak out. And I remember at one moment I told them if they didn’t tell me what the orange one was I was taking it out. And they pretty much again had to grab my arm and say, ‘No, it’s okay.’ So I just lay down, pretty much in tears.
“And then I ended up in the hospital and I was in ICU for about five days until my muscle density and everything else that was going on and all my vitals that were low or high just got back to somewhere normal and they released me.”
On when he started to regain some of his strength and feel somewhat normal:
“They had an American doctor there. He came in the second day and I was on my seventh bag of saline. The doctor came in and said, ‘How are you feeling?’ That was probably the third day. He said, ‘You’re through seven bags of saline. How many times have you went to the bathroom?’ I said, ‘None.’ And he just couldn’t believe that’s how dry I was. I think it was the third day and he said, ‘You’re starting to look much better and your face is starting to fill out again.’ “
On what happened after the hospital:
“I came back to Ponderosa for a short time, but due to the heat out there, it was just best to not leave me out in the heat with that having just happened. Also, I had another family emergency back home, so they just felt it was better that I came home early.”
On if he wants to pay Survivor again:
“My bags were already packed last week. If that’s the opportunity they’re going to give me, I’m full force and ready to rock and roll and go give it all I’ve got again.”
To hear the whole conversation — including Caleb’s thoughts on his unlikely bromance with Tai, and how Tai’s boyfriend feels about it — click on the audio player below. But that’s not all. We also spoke to the eliminated Alecia Holden, and you can hear everything she has to say about bring bullied by Scot and Jason on the Brawn tribe. Was the abuse even worse than what we saw? Has Alecia had any contact with them since she returned home? Was she at a disadvantage by being put on the Brawn tribe? Listen in to find out and hear why Alecia thinks Scot and Jason threw the challenge to get her out.
And then we also have an interview with The Walking Dead director/exec producer Greg Nicotero, who takes us through that intense last episode. He also reveals the A-list celebrity whose head made a cameo in the episode. Any Walking Dead fan will want to make sure to check out the chat.
You can listen to the whole podcast above. Or, since we’re on iTunes, you can subscribe for free and take the podcast with you. No iTunes? No problem. You can also download the entire podcast right here. To send a question to the InsideTV Podcast team, follow us on Twitter @InsideTVPodcast. And to hear more interviews and television discussion and debate, check out Entertainment Weekly Radio on SiriusXM, channel 105.