When you’re young, it can be really tempting to be as daring as you possibly can be in an attempt to impress your friends.
And this is especially true when drink and drugs are thrown into the mix. It goes without saying, but the more you drink, the more willing you are to do things which could put your health and even your life at risk.
This is the reason alcohol makes us behave so stupid:
Very few people know this better than 28-year-old Sam Ballard, who became severely disabled after a drunken dare cost him his health.
The heartwrenching story starts back in 2010 when Sam was a 19-year-old rugby player for Sydney.
He was sitting with a group of his friends drinking red wine when someone brought a garden slug to the table and said: “Eat it, I dare you”.
Sam obliged and swallowed the slug and despite his mother, Katie Ballard’s prior beliefs that he was “invincible” and could overcome anything, her teenage son’s life changed beyond recognition.
The man she once described as “my rough-and-tumble Sam” immediately fell ill and was taken to Royal North Shore Hospital where he was given a devastating diagnosis.
He was told that his body had become infected with rat lungworm.
The worm is typically found in rats, but slugs and snails can also become infected with rat lungworm if they eat rat droppings containing the dangerous parasite, known as Angiostrongylus cantonensis.
In most people, no symptoms arise after being infected with Angiostrongylus cantonensis, however, in rare cases, it can even lead to a serious infection in the brain.
Sam was told by doctors that he had contracted eosinophilic meningoencephalitis which initially seemed like it wouldn’t be too problematic as many people recover from the condition. In fact, at first, Sam also seemed to be recovering well, however, he then lapsed into a coma for 420 days and ultimately became a quadriplegic.
Sam’s mother, Katie, tried to remain as optimistic as she could and in late November 2011, she wrote on Facebook of her hopes that Sam would be able to “walk and talk again” and retain the same humorous disposition he always had.
“Sam is doing really well. He is still the same cheeky Sam, and laughs a lot. He will walk and talk again (thank god) but the time factor is was we don’t know,” she wrote.
Later, however, Katie said this about her son’s current state: “It’s devastated, changed his life forever, changed my life forever. It’s huge. The impact is huge.”
When Sam was released from the hospital three years into his illness, he had no choice but to use a motorized wheelchair.
Almost a decade later, Sam is now 28 years old and has to be cared for by his mother and fed through a tube. Sam’s friends continue to support him, but in reality, there is very little they can do to lessen the impact of his current state.
Sam regularly suffers from seizures and struggles greatly to control his body temperature.
And although it would be wonderful for the family if there was some sort of light at the end of the tunnel, things just keep getting increasingly dire.
In 2016, Katie applied to the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and her son became eligible for a $492,000 grant which was a much-needed source of income for the family and their sky-high nursing care costs.
Unfortunately, last September without any kind of warning, the NDIS texted Katie informing her that a review of her son’s grant had slashed his package to around $135,000.
The awful thing is Sam is in need of 24-hour care and as such the family are deeply indebted to a nursing service, owing $42,000. For this reason, the huge reduction in the allowance for her son will hit the family very hard.
According to The Daily Telegraph, the National Disability Insurance Scheme are “working closely with the Ballard family” to increase the grant.
We can only hope that the family are able to secure an increase to their grant, because with their current situation, they are very much in need of as much financial help as they can get.
We wish them the best of luck for their future and particularly Sam’s health and happiness.