Ben Gibbons thought he was suffering from another bout of gastro.
He had been in and out of hospital and his GP between Christmas and New Year in 2018 but it was when his eyes began to yellow that he knew something was seriously amiss.
An MRI scan showed his bowel had burst and 45 minutes later he was in surgery.
“The doctor said to me a couple more hours and I would have been dead,” he said.
Ben spent a week in Bendigo Health’s Intensive Care Unit, months of “horrific recovery” and a colostomy bag, which made doing what he loved – playing the Double Bass – all the more difficult.
"I could only really play for five minutes at a time because of the stoma," he said.
The ordeal was caused by a contaminated piece of chicken.
Ben had a campylobacter infection, which caused the weakening of the bowel lining, and ultimately the burst.
The former music teacher at Girton Grammar believes the experience was a timely reminder of his mortality and has changed him for the better.
“I’m thankful for it if I’m being honest. It’s taught me that life is precious and not to be messed with so you’ve got to make the most of it. I was a pretty frustrated guy at times before it all happened,” he said.
He hopes his story will encourage more people, and men in particular, to seek medical assistance at the right time.
“I was, you know, a typical Aussie bloke in a way. I didn’t think much of it at the start – how wrong I was,” he said.
Ben had his colostomy bag removed at Bendigo Health earlier this month, which he hopes will draw a line under his health scare.
“The staff have been fantastic and extremely supportive, I’m so grateful for all they’ve done, but I hope I don’t have to see them for a while,” he said.