Cheryl On Malaria Ordeal: 'I Was Relieved To Be Dying'
Chezza has opened up about her traumatic illness in her new book...
Cheryl Colehas revealed how she was told by a nurse that her death was "a possibility" during her 2010 [uuid=8e855feb-1619-4c8c-a337-a70d24d6b35e]Girls Aloudstar claims she became delirious when suffering from the disease and believed that doctors were trying to kill her.
The 29-year old also says her illness brought her closer to dancer Derek Hough, who stayed by her bedside throughout her stint in hospital.
Speaking of her ordeal, the Call My Name singer writes: "It’s more than two years since I had malaria — and now I feel sure I had it for a reason.
"It’s almost as if it was God’s way of forcing me to stop and get off the roller coaster ride my life had become. It made me take a good look at myself — and that’s what I’ve done.
"For four days Derek and I had been on safari to Tanzania in June, 2010. We had 5am starts, heading out with binoculars in a rickety jeep.
"We weren’t disappointed — we got to see lions, leopards, rhinos, elephants, buffalo, giraffes, and impalas. Derek had suggested it as we were animal-lovers."
She continued: "Normally I wasn’t this spontaneous but my whole world had been turned upside down and it felt like all the rules had changed. I had no husband, no responsibilities, so why shouldn’t I?
"On the last day we got a rusty, smelly old plane to take us to Nairobi. From there we booked a BA flight to Heathrow, which would get in at 7am, in time for me to judge The X Factor auditions.
"There was no airport lounge and we sat on these plastic chairs for three hours waiting for the flight. When we finally took off I noticed three mosquito bites — two on my foot and one on my face. All of them were really painful.
"Five days after getting back I had a Vogue cover shoot. The nail varnish was super strong and I sat there feeling nauseous and wanting to vomit. I lay down and was out cold for an hour.
"I woke up drenched in sweat. Even my hair was soaking. My lips were purple and my fingertips blue. I wondered if it was a combination of flu and exhaustion."
The gorgeous Geordie recalls: "When I got home I collapsed on my bed. Derek found me and took my temperature — it was 104°F. A blood test at home confirmed malaria and I was rushed in for treatment in the early hours.
'This is serious, and I mean serious,' the doctor said. Meanwhile Derek told my mam to get a train down from Newcastle straight away.
"All the while I was crying and drifting in and out of consciousness. I heard Derek tell the doctor, 'We’ve just got back from Africa — could it be related?' Derek had been paranoid about malaria in Tanzania, taking his tablets religiously.
"I took them while we were away and for a few days after. The area we stayed in was not a malaria danger zone and I wasn’t concerned.
"I remember waking up in the Cromwell Hospital, delirious. That was when I started accusing the doctors of trying to kill me. They had been trying to take my blood again as soon as I arrived.
"They were also covering my body in freezing, wet towels to try and lower my temperature, but I flung these back at them. First they were struggling to find a vein, then there was blood pumping out of my wrist.
"My face was so puffy my eyes were like slits, and I was so swollen I looked nine months pregnant. A guy held an oxygen mask on my face, but I said: 'I know what you’re doing. You’re all trying to kill me. Don’t think I’m stupid.'
"Both lungs were filled with fluid, my liver three times normal size and I was five minutes from needing life-long kidney dialysis. I didn’t know that then, thank God.
"They put a catheter on me and I heard someone say: 'If she doesn’t get rid of some of this fluid in the next 24 hours, we’ve lost her.'
"I heard my mam’s voice, and then somebody told her: 'She may have left it too late.' 'She’ll be fine,' my mam replied calmly. 'Cheryl’s a fighter.' She never, ever flaps."
Cole went on: "I had the worst strain of malaria, falciparum. It was attacking my liver and new blood cells. My malaria count was rising rapidly. The parasites in my liver were doubling and I was taken to the Hospital for Tropical Diseases.
"A young woman was tending to me when I came round in intensive care there. She explained they were waiting for me to pass water, 'That’s a vital sign. It will show your kidneys are still prepared to flush waste from your body.'
"It was so frightening and I felt exhausted. I just wanted to go to sleep and make everything stop. I can clearly remember asking the nurse if I was dying — and feeling relieved when she said: 'It’s a possibility.'
'Make this end,' I thought. I just had nothing left. Afterwards I told mam: 'I’m gonna write me will. Bring paper, I need to tell you what to do.' I was matter of fact. I was so over it by now — too tired to take any more.
"I was given loads of different drugs and I couldn’t take the oxygen mask off or, within minutes, I couldn’t breathe. Derek slept on the floor beside me, refusing to leave.
"He began blaming himself, saying we’d never have gone on safari if he hadn’t wanted to see a lion. 'It’s not your fault,' I said later when I could talk. 'It’s me that said, ‘Let’s go’.
"When I thought about it, I was sure it was the mosquito bites at the airport that did this as they were so extreme — but we’ll never know.
"At last a few drops of urine appeared in the bag I was attached to. It was what we’d been waiting for. By my third day in intensive care I felt less poorly.
"And by the end of the fourth day I was ravenous. I was now well enough to leave intensive care, although the doctors said I’d need a further week of respite care in the London Clinic.
"I did a lot of thinking there, making connections I’d never thought of before — and they disturbed me.
"I thought back to when I was a teenager, taking out a £100 loan to get my Popstars audition outfit. Then in the blink of an eye I saw myself buying £800 Christian Louboutins. 'Who the hell am I?' I said to Derek eventually. My whole life had been like a mad roller coaster ride.
"Being in here was just the latest example. You couldn’t make it up. I’d had enough. I wanted to be floating around on the carousel, not watching my knuckles turn white on the roller coaster. I just had to work out how to change my life."
Chezza then expressed her admiration of Dancing With The Stars hunk Derek, saying: “I would often watch the show and Derek was my favourite dancer.
“Every time he came on I said to Ashley, ‘That guy is such a great dancer. He’s the best one on there’. Derek was amazing at the tango and a world champion of Latin and ballroom.
"Later he agreed to dance with me in the video to my song Parachute. But I could never have guessed how important Derek’s friendship was about to become to me.
“He asked me to visit him in LA some time. And a few weeks later in February 2010 — as revelations about Ashley broke — I did again.
“I felt I could trust him and talk to him about anything, because he just was so dignified and well-mannered and easy to be with."
She adds: “I was used to being surrounded by girls, but I was now starting to get very mistrustful of women, which is probably another reason I confided in Derek. He’s one of the most kind and sensitive and gentlemanly men I have ever met.”
Cheryl: My Story is due for release on 11th October.