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Randen Montalvo reveals what happened after his “Survivor 46” medical evacuation

Randen Montalvo reveals what happened after his “Survivor 46” medical evacuation

The "devastated" player revisits his "brutal" exit from the game.

Randen Montalvo was sitting in a pretty good spot on Survivor 46. He was on a tribe that came in first place in every single challenge. He had an advantage in the game. He had an ally that desperately needed him in Venus Vafa. And he had bigger personalities around to hog the spotlight and keep his threat level way down. Unfortunately, at some point, Randen needed to sleep, and that ultimately took him out of the game.

Randen complained about waking up with prickly sensations in his arm and leg, and eventually his right hand and wrist became numb and he was unable to grip anything. The show’s doctor examined Randen, and at first believed it to be lower pinched nerve that they would have to keep an eye on. However, after consulting with other medical professionals, Dr. Will became concerned about the possibility that the signs could be due to a much more dangerous bulging disc in the neck area pushing on the nerve. The only way to know for sure would be to get an MRI, and to get an MRI, Randen would have to be pulled from the game — which is exactly what happened.

So what went down after Randen walked off the beach? What was the end result diagnosis? And how has he dealt with being medically evacuated out of the game? We asked the third one out of Survivor 46 all that and more.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Randen Montalvo of 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Randen Montalvo of 'Survivor 46'

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: When did you first notice you were having an issue?

RANDEN MONTALVO: It was the night before what you see on camera. That night we had a really bad storm and I was having a huge problem sleeping. I was delusional. The storm just wrecked us in general. So that night itself, I was struggling to get some sleep, and during that moment, I woke up and I realized that when I was sleeping I felt a very sharp pain behind my neck, and it was like a lightning bolt.

And I remember seeing everything very blurry, and then I thought it would go away. And when I woke up, I had no feeling in my arm and I had a massive headache throughout the night. It felt like the biggest migraine ever. But when you're playing the game, I was like: I don't want to show weakness. I don't want to tell people I'm having a problem right now because I was just so determined. But it was the night before what you saw on camera.

And we actually have an exclusive deleted scene on EW where folks can see the storm itself. It looked pretty gnarly. So Dr. Will comes, he checks you out. Did they look at you again at the challenge?

They did. They checked me at the challenge as well, and they pressed the back of my neck where the spine was, and I screamed — not wanting to scream by the way — and I was like: Okay, my wife's in medical. I knew immediately once I had a swelling near my disc and then my right side, I was adding up things very, very easily. And that's when I knew that I was potentially going to get pulled from the game.

So when you saw Jeff Probst walking up your beach, what were you thinking?

I'm devastated. I'm so mad. You know what this funny thing is, is that I'm mad that I disappointed my tribe more than myself. I was mad at that point. And here's the reason why: because I knew that we were going to make merge because we kept on winning. The odds are very good for me. I was like: I'm going to make merge. This is what I've always wanted. I see this man come up on a boat with his cargo shorts and I am heated because there's only one person with a problem and it's me.

And I knew it. I was telling everybody, “Be strong, be strong, be strong.” And it was devastating. It was probably a moment I will never forget, but I tried to be as strong as possible. I knew that my kids and everybody was watching. But if you watch that scene, I mean, that was an exercise in a lot of self-control. That's all I can say.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Tevin Davis and Randen Montalvo on 'Survivor 46'

Anything else we didn’t see in regards to how that all went down?

Well, the only thing I could say is that when I was saying bye to everybody, as I'm hugging them, I gave everybody a unique message that was how I felt about them in that moment about their game. You do see me hugging, but it doesn't show the audio. I said to each and every one of them how I felt about them in the game. And that was a hundred percent genuine. That was not game. That was just how I felt about the person. And it was all genuinely good. I understand that we're all kind of not our genuine selves at some point, but that's something that I cherished in that moment.

Did you think at all about trying to slip Venus your advantage, because Probst told me that you could have done that at any point until the words actually came out that you were being pulled?

Okay, so this is very hard to understand, Because what happened was, I had told Venus that, “Hey, I know my time is up. I feel it.” I could see what's happening. You get to feel the ambiance. So I asked her, “Do you want it?” She said yes. I said, “Then I have to get to my coat. It's in my coat. We have to get there." But for some reason in the universe, I could not get to my blazer, and she can't go get it. I have to give it to her.

I was trying my hardest, but I didn't know that I could have done it up until that point. I would've done it in secret. I would've done it when I would've said bye to her. I would've done one of these [mimics secretly transferring an advantage in a handshake]. I would've never done it blatantly. So that was the goal, but I did want to give it to her. It didn't happen. There was a lot of variables. By the time he came on the beach, it was not very clear to me how I was going to be able to do that in that moment. It was very intense.

Yeah, because he's not telling you, “Hey, Randen, until I say the words, you have a second to hand anything off…”

I don't know! I don't know the rules. As far as my knowledge, it's never been done before with somebody giving a Beware Advantage to somebody. But I felt like I did not want that to go away in the garbage. I didn't want it to go away. I'm like, “Hey, listen, V, you're my alliance right now. You're my wild card. Take it, because these guys are good. If you go to Tribal, they're going to vote you out.”

I wanted the game to be interesting. I wanted her to go far. I kind of understood why she was playing and that was very impactful to me. So I was like, “Here, take it and run with it. It's no use for me now.” And it just didn't happen.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Soda Thompson, Hunter McKnight, Tevin Davis, Liz Wilcox, Randen Montalvo, and Venus Vafa on 'Survivor 46'

Robert Voets/CBS

Soda Thompson, Hunter McKnight, Tevin Davis, Liz Wilcox, Randen Montalvo, and Venus Vafa on 'Survivor 46'

Take us through what happened after you left the beach.

A very intense boat ride and a very intense self-reflection of my whole game. I was very disappointed. I was cursing a lot about myself because I felt like I'd rather have gotten voted out than get medevaced. I was like, “Vote me out, man. I don't want be a medevaced!" I just didn't want to do that.

But I was scared when they told me about the spine, because when I got on the show, the first thing I said is, “I don't want to get poisoned and I don't want to get paralyzed.” Because I'm a risk taker and they were going to have to drag me out of the game. I would've done anything I could to maintain my status in the game.

And then they told me there was going to be a helicopter and MRIs. It was the most scary moment when they said that there was a chance that I can be paralyzed if I don't get emergency surgery. So at that point, I was so mad at the game and they're telling me, “Switch gears. This is your health now.” And I'm like, game, game, game. I want to go back. And that's that mentality you have. It's like, I don't want to lose and I wanted to fight, but it became real when I got off the boat and I was heading off to medical and to the MRIs. That's when it got really real really fast. And they were going to call my wife and I was going to go to Australia for surgery. It was serious. It was very scary.

So what was the official diagnosis after you got the MRI? What did they say was wrong and what did you have to do?

It was nerve wracking. I had a very long MRI. It felt like hours and they kept on doing scans and I'm in a room with a bunch of neurologists on camera and it was scary as hell because you see my neck in 3D and you see everything and they're looking at a swelling pressing against a disc. And then I had another issue underneath my arm where it was it like a compression and all of it was leading up to temporary paralysis.

So the swelling they felt like would go down with anti-inflammatories and not require surgery. But they said that had the swelling been a little bit more, they would've flown me to Australia essentially. And shout out to CBS. They did everything. I never felt in danger, even though I might've been in danger. I always felt taken care of, and the medics and everything were amazing.

They looked at it and they immediately put me on anti-inflammatories and I went into therapy for my arm. And I would say within a couple of days the swelling started to go down and they started monitoring it. And then I felt okay, thank God, because you can't repair a disc. It's a very serious thing.

<p>Robert Voets/CBS</p> Randen Montalvo, Hunter McKnight, and Tevin Davis

Robert Voets/CBS

Randen Montalvo, Hunter McKnight, and Tevin Davis

Were you surprised that Venus of all people seemed to become your biggest ally in the game?

Lemme tell you something: She has an army on social media that is no joke! So I'm glad I'm on the good graces of that army now. But anyway, in the game of Survivor, sometimes it better to know your enemy than not to. And at the beginning of the game, we were both very alike in what we were trying to do, and people that are alike tend to rub each other the wrong way sometimes. And that's where we were.

We were on the outs and we're kind of alike, coincidentally. So we didn't agree on everything because I'm like: "My strategy is the same as yours, but I want Soda out, and I want this person out, but you want this person out." And it was just really chaotic. But what changed me is we kept on talking, started developing a bond, and I was like: Okay, this can work if we have a general consensus of what we want to get out of each other.

But I felt like we had an understanding of each other up until that point. And it was worthwhile to diversify my island portfolio. I was good on this side with Tevin and Hunter, and Liz was kind of along for that ride. And then I was good with Venus just in case we made merge. I would have both outlets, because nobody was solid on the Hunter and Tevin side that I was in with them. They were like, “Oh yeah, we cool with you,” but I didn't get the confirmation, and Venus was like, “I'll work with you.” And I needed that dependency because Soda already failed me in the first episode by not keeping my troll with the Parvati line.

No one can ever know, but how do you think you would have done at this game had you stayed considering your position in the tribe, the advantage you have, and your tribe is winning all the challenges?

I think I would've gone pretty deep. I think if I had gotten to Q, if I had gotten to some people on Siga, I really would've had a lot of options at that point because when you meet these people out of the game , you kind of have an idea of how you would bond with them. And I bond pretty well with guys like Q and guys like Ben and other people. So I think that I would've gone pretty far.

I think the Beware Advantage would've became an idol for certain. I would've gotten it. And I think the game would've been very interesting. I would've loved to stay Nami strong, but I don't think that's the reality of where we were headed based on the constant Survivor paranoia. What's so crazy is we didn't even go to Tribal! Every day somebody's turning a palm tree and it's like, “We're voting out Jeff Probst.” I'm like, “How are we going to do that? You don't have a non-Tribal vote. What is going on right now?” It was crazy.

<p>cbs</p> The Nami tribe on 'Survivor 46'

cbs

The Nami tribe on 'Survivor 46'

Anything that didn’t make it to an episode that you wish we got a chance to see?

I would just tell you in episode 1, you see me say bring up Parvati, right? And I did message her and I gave her context. I said, “Sorry for invoking the name of one of the GOATs.” But it was troll. I needed to test Soda, because Soda was selling real estate to everybody. I wanted to work with Soda first. That was my instinct coming off the boat. She reminds me of a family member of mine and I had to give a test.

People think that I was saying that maybe because of some superficial reasons, but it was really just to test Soda really quick with a quick troll to see if I can trust her. And it proved my point. It came right back to me. As soon as it came back to me, I just looked at Soda at that point and I was being nice, but I knew at that point I could never work with Soda for the rest of the time on Nami, because she couldn't keep that little troll. She couldn't keep that little thing. So then I shifted to other people to work with immediately.

How much of the “What if?” game have you played in the past nine months?

It's brutal. It's brutal because I look at the game and I'm like: Man, where would I would've fit? How would I have impacted it? Would my alliance with V sour? It probably would have at some point. I am well aware of that. How would it have worked out with Tevin? There are so many variables of the game, but one thing I am a hundred percent certain of is that I would've gotten far in the game. I would've, 100%.

What was it like watching it all play back on TV last night?

Brutal. I've never seen myself crying and emotional, and neither has anybody who knows me, actually. So it was really hard for me. My social media right now is insane. I've made a couple of posts, but there are so many people giving me love and showing me love, and it's impactful.

Survivor's a powerful brand. I've got people all over the world telling me, “We want you in the game. If they brought back Bruce, they'll bring back you.” Everybody's story is different. It's been a very humbling experience and I'm trying to take it all with stride. Watching yourself break down mentally and physically is one of the most humbling things you can watch while you're still wanting to be competitive. So it was surreal, but I'm appreciative of CBS and Survivor.

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