Jock Barnes recuperating at home in Lennox Head after fracturing two vertebrae after a fall off a balcony in Bali.
Jock Barnes recuperating at home in Lennox Head after fracturing two vertebrae after a fall off a balcony in Bali. The Northern Star

Dream trip to Bali turns into hotel nightmare

JOCK Barnes was woken by a stranger running a sharp instrument along the inside of his foot.

Terrified, he started shouting and struggled to free himself, but men held the Lennox Head surfer down grimly.

The men were Indonesian doctors who were treating Mr Barnes at a hospital in the Balinese capital of Denpasar after he had fallen head-first off the third storey of the Okie House Hotel at Kuta.

Mr Barnes fell while he was sleepwalking, and his last memory before waking battered and bruised in the hospital was going to sleep in his comfortable hotel room.

Incredibly, the 26-year-old survived the 10-metre drop, however, he fractured his C7 and T1 vertebrae, needed 17 staples in a gaping head wound, and suffered some minor bruising and scratching to the rest of his body.

As reported in The Northern Star last week, Mr Barnes was airlifted from Bali to the Royal Perth Hospital on May 10, one day after the fall.

He returned home to Lennox Head on Saturday and is expected to make a full recovery.

But the whole experience remains confusing for the former World Qualifying Series competition surfer, because he can't remember how it happened.

Mr Barnes was on assignment for Australia Surfing Life magazine.

"I left at 9am from Brisbane to Singapore and then to Bali, and I got to the hotel about 9pm," he said.

"I remember getting comfortable, laying down and going to sleep, and then waking when there was a sharp pain at the bottom of my foot.

"I started yelling 'Who are you and why are you in my room', but the doctors held me down and said I've got a big laceration on my head and to stay still."

As Mr Barnes lay in the Bali hospital his parents, Susan and Steven, called on former Lennox resident Karne Faint, who now lives in Bali, to check how their son was and how the accident occurred.

"It wasn't until he came to see me that I realised how serious things were," Mr Barnes said.

"He told me what happened as he had gone to the hotel to pick up my stuff and looked down from the balcony.

"It looks like I hit two pergolas on the way down.

"I actually ended up in the neighbouring property on someone's doorstep.

"It was loud enough that the neighbours came out and found me.

"They told the hotel, who then bundled me into the back of a taxi to hospital."

After some initial tests at Denpasar doctors feared Mr Barnes would never walk again, even though the part-time surfing journalist had movement and feeling in his limbs.

His travel insurance company then flew in two doctors from Singapore, and their prognosis differed from the Indonesians. They then arranged for him to be airlifted to Perth.

For three days Mr Barnes underwent further testing in Perth and there were thoughts he might need surgery.

But finally the good news arrived, along with his first meal in days, that he would just be in a neck brace for six to 12 weeks and should make a full recovery.

"I was absolutely ecstatic to hear that," Mr Barnes said.

"Because everything had happened so quickly, and I didn't have a single memory of what happened, it was hard to digest such a life-altering thing."

Since his return to Lennox Head, family and friends have told Mr Barnes stories of his sleepwalking past.

He believes his episodes are brought on by stress, or by sleeping in unfamiliar places.

He hopes to manage the condition better in the future.

Until he does, some friends have joked that he should tie himself to his bed with a leg rope.

"My mother is adamant that I'm not sleeping any higher than on the first floor of any building from now on," Mr Barnes chuckled.


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