Tim Marshall shows the severe facial injuries he suffered in a surfing accident in Bali. He may lose sight in his left eye.
Tim Marshall shows the severe facial injuries he suffered in a surfing accident in Bali. He may lose sight in his left eye. Jason Dougherty

Surfer thought his time was up

TIM Marshall was under water off a remote surfing beach on the east coast of Bali, bleeding heavily from wounds to his head.

He couldn’t move his arms to grab his board, and through his foggy haze thought that was it – he was going to die.

Three weeks later and back home on the Sunshine Coast, the builder and former Maroochydore rugby player is coming to terms with the fact he may never see properly out of his left eye again.

“I’d like to see out of that eye, but at least I’m breathing,” Tim said yesterday after his latest surgery to remove a bone fragment.

“It’s better than being dead, which is what I thought lying in the water. I thought my days were up. I was just lying there. I didn’t know what was happening.”

What had happened was that Tim had been struck by his board, a fin hitting above his top lip, slicing through the middle of his nose, under his cheekbone and out near his left eye.

The orbit was smashed and his skull fractured in three places, causing bleeding and an air bubble on the brain.

An experienced surfer, he had entered the water expecting the four foot surf to rise. It did, peaking at around eight feet.

He left it dragged by his wetshirt by a surfer on the beach who had spotted his distress.

BY that stage Tim was vomitting blood and losing vast quantities of it from the gaping wounds to his face.

Fortunately his girlfriend Kate had left him a phone.

He used it to contact her and the Balinese driver they had hired, who were not far away visiting a zoo. An ambulance would have taken at least an hour and a half to reach them.

Tim was whisked to Bali’s excellent international hospital where he underwent surgery that night to relieve pressure on his brain and to stitch his damaged face back together.

Tim was familiar with both the hospital and the surgeon. They had met two years previously when he had presented with his chin sliced open and in need of 50 stitches.

He has nothing but praise for the hospital, its doctors and its nursing staff. He is doubtful the level of service could be replicated here.

Last week, safely back home, he had further surgery to remove the bone fragment and to insert a steel plate behind his nose.

Will he surf again? He has just reluctantly cancelled a trip planned for June to the Mentawis with his mates.

“I would be going, but no one will let me,” he laughed. “I want to go surfing now.”

At the moment the lid of his damaged eye will not open properly. When it does he sees double.

“There are two perfect pictures, but one is at 45 degrees like it’s sliding off a wall,” Tim said. “They think they can fix it but it will take a fair while. I may have to learn to work with just one.”

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