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‘Let me walk again’: Giants star opens up on alarming mystery illness

“I think it was a Wednesday night and it was getting better, then just totally turned,” Taylor said. “And it came into this really painful, I don’t know, it got completely worse and I was there without any painkillers or Panadol.

Sam Taylor has missed the past four games after a frightening illness.

Sam Taylor has missed the past four games after a frightening illness.Credit:Getty Images

“I just needed to do things, but I was in so much pain and couldn’t move. My whole body. That was like in the middle of the night and I couldn’t sleep. I just remember laying there, still in pain – not moving but in so much pain. That was one of the worst nights I’ve ever had.”

Housemate and teammate Jackson Hately left food for him but could offer little other assistance due to the possibility Taylor may have contracted coronavirus. Any urge Taylor had to eat was tempered by the thought of having to climb up and down the stairs to use the bathroom. He lost 10 kilograms.

The sleepless night at home was one of three moments that stand out for the 21-year-old, who has become a key member of the Giants’ defence. The second came in hospital when he was feverish, his body “jumping up and down” as he was having his bloods taken.

“I was just there, shaking,” Taylor said. “And they were just taking blood out of me into this massive bottle. I was nowhere. I was on so many painkillers, couldn’t really sleep, couldn’t really move.”

Doctors had initially suspected Taylor had contracted an autoimmune disease, which would require daily medication for the rest of his life to control. After the blood tests, he was told he may have had a bacterial infection that could have entered his body through a scratch, blister or even his teeth.

“They still don’t know what sparked it,” Taylor said of the infection to his wrist, ankle, hip and lower back. “So that’s something I found so bizarre and strange.”

The third moment is not for the squeamish. If needles make you jumpy then look away now.

In order for doctors to pump antibiotics through him, they had to place a peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) through a vein in Taylor’s arm.

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“They numbed it,” he said. “I was still awake. They had all the paper and cloths over my arm – and I felt the needle go in then this tube had to go through. The tube was about 40 centimetres [long], going through my whole body.

“I felt it sliding down my body. And it was just disgusting. I felt – he had to push it through as well with his hand, he started massaging it to get through. He just kept pushing it down and down my body. And I just felt so violated.

“It took me like five hours to get over it because it was just that terrifying.”

After about a fortnight in hospital and another four or five nights at the home of Giants welfare boss Dylan Addison, whose place does not have stairs, Taylor is back home now that he can walk, albeit with discomfort. The PICC line is due to be removed on Thursday.

Taylor had some “depressing” moments last week upon hearing the compacted schedule would cost him more football but harbours ambitions to be back for the final month of the home and away season.

Even if it costs him the season, this ordeal has given Taylor a different perspective on life.

“Honestly, going into the hospital I was like, ‘Can I please just walk again? Can I please just sit up and be able to go to the toilet?’ Things like that, I just couldn’t do,” he said.

“There’s a lot more appreciation of the little things, people who can’t walk or are disadvantaged in that way. It was such a hard thing to go through.”

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