While the world was focused on the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, a drama was unfolding that would shock everyone. On May 24, a day before the ceremony, Prince Harry suffered an accident that left him in pain. He was seen wearing black slippers, and his left big toe was covered in an open wound. It soon became clear that something was wrong. Harry had to be rushed to the hospital. There, doctors told the palace that they were unable to identify the exact cause of the injury. They also said that it might be necessary to amputate Harry’s toe. This was heartbreaking news. The wedding had to be postponed. A public plea went out for information on the accident. Many theories arose. Some bloggers said it was caused by a glass shard, others blamed a piece of gravel thrown up by a car, and still others thought it was an unfortunate slip and fall. But the truth would not be known for a while. In the meantime, the curiosity factor grew, and so did the number of people seeking information about the injury. One of them was Hollywood actor Robert Pattinson.
Pattinson, who is one of the best-known faces in Hollywood, grew up in England and has featured in films such as the Harry Potter series and The Walking Dead, has been keeping a relatively low profile since suffering serious injuries from a motorcycle accident in 2013. After the accident, he had to have his right leg amputated. Today, he uses a wheelchair and walker. When he does venture out, he wears a prosthetic leg. At 49, he is still waiting for the other to heal. So while the world was distracted by the wedding preparations, Pattinson was trying to come to terms with his new limb deficiency and injuries. He needed some down time. It was at this point that he decided to take a trip to the beautiful island of Bali in Indonesia. He booked his return flight and settled into his new home in Indonesia. During his time on the island, Pattinson took a stroll down the street one evening when he noticed a bunch of bananas hanging on a tree branch. At that moment, he decided to climb the tree and eat one of the fruit. As soon as he bit into it, he felt a tingling sensation. He put the rest of the bunch in his mouth but spat it out almost immediately after. Something was wrong. He tried to walk home but was unable to. The next day, he went to a nearby clinic where a doctor diagnosed him with Chagas disease, a parasite-borne illness caused by a parasite known as Trypanosoma cruzi. According to the CDC, Chagas disease is present in 21 states and is commonly found in areas where there is poor hygiene and a lack of available medical care. In rare cases, it has been known to affect the heart, digestive tract, and esophagus — all of which are situated in the center of the chest. In the most severe cases, Chagas disease can be fatal.
Pattinson eventually recovered from the accident and began working on his fifth book, Wild Life, which is due for publication later this year. The memoir, co-written with fashion journalist Carine Roberts, is an intimate portrayal of his life and the challenges he faces. When it comes to discussing the accident and his recovery, Pattinson is extremely private. He doesn’t grant interviews or go on social media to publicly discuss his injuries. Instead, he prefers to keep a relatively low profile and lets his work and fashion-related interviews do the talking. One of the few times he did speak publicly about the incident was on the red carpet after the premiere of his film, The Lost City. When asked about the accident by Entertainment Tonight, he said:
“I fell over a little stone really, it was just there, and it cut my foot. And the next day I noticed it was swelling up. And then I noticed it was getting bigger and bigger, so I went to the doctor. And he said, ‘Oh, it’s going to need to be amputated.’ And I said, ‘No, no, no. I can’t have my leg amputated. That’s how I got the disease.’ And he said, ‘Well, it needs to go. And you’re going to have to learn to walk with a prosthetic leg.’ And I said, ‘But I want my leg back.’ And he said, ‘Well, you’re going to have to wait. You’re not in a rush. This is a chronic disease, you’re not going to get rid of it. You’re just going to have to learn to live with it.'”
Pattinson’s doctors weren’t sure how long it would take for him to recover fully from the disease. Even now, nearly two years after the accident, he still has symptoms. In the meantime, he has been forced to adapt his lifestyle and work methods. In an effort to remain active, he exercises regularly using an adapted bike and leg iron, and he writes and self-publishes books using his left hand. Although he has dealt with tragedy, it seems that Pattinson, the eternal romantic, has found a way to turn lemons into lemonade. He recently opened up to Rolling Stone about how his life has changed since the accident:
“Of course I have limitations, but what I do have is options and opportunities,” he said. “I had very little confidence and self-image issues, which I’ve worked through. I’ve definitely grown a lot as a person, and that comes with the territory of getting older.”
Despite his personal setbacks, things seem to be going well for Pattinson. He has an impressive fashion collection and regularly collaborates with famous fashion designers. In March 2020, he was named one of GQ’s 50 best-dressed men in fashion. In April 2020, he was featured on the cover of Vogue, alongside other famous faces such as Paul McCartney and Kendall Jenner. And although he doesn’t like to dwell on the past, Pattinson did admit to Rolling Stone that he is incredibly grateful for all the opportunities that his accident has given him. He said:
“It’s just been so incredible to see how much my life has changed because of it. And I’m just incredibly grateful. I wake up every day and try to make the best of it, and it is what it is. I’m still waiting to see what’s going to happen,” he said. “I think my expectations were so high that anything less was going to be hard to deal with. But now that it’s almost two years since the accident, I’m just trying to make the most of it and live my life as normally as possible.”
It is clear that Prince Harry’s injury had a profound impact on the actor. Despite his fame and fortune, Pattinson admitted to Rolling Stone that he still thinks about the accident every day. So much so that he had to take a break from working on his book to deal with his emotions. He said:
“I think about it a lot, particularly when I wake up in the morning. I’m trying to keep it in perspective, but it’s not easy,” he said. “I think about what could have happened if I’d have kept my leg, and then I think about the disease, and what it does to you. All of that, I think about every day. And it comes with the territory of getting older.”
Why Is This Episode Different?
While most episodes of Locked Up focus on the trials and tribulations of a group of famous and powerful people in prison, this week’s episode is a bit of a departure. We are going inside the head of serial killer John Wayne Gacy, better known as the Green River Killer.
It is estimated that Gacy killed at least 33 people, possibly up to 97. He was convicted in 1978 for the murders of 33 boys and men, and was sentenced to death. But his crimes never became public knowledge until after his execution in 1994. Only then did police discover the bodies of 33 victims buried in a massive grave at the Illinois State Penitentiary. Gacy’s wife, Betty, was the first to discover the bodies when she went to check on him at the prison. Afterward, she called the police. Gacy killed his victims both before and after his arrest. The corpses of many of the men he killed were so poorly preserved that it took scientists years to determine their exact cause of death. Some of those who died were buried on the site of a former gas station, while others were dumped in a cornfield or a heavy snowdrift.