Charlie Webster relieved to reach 34th birthday after malaria ordeal
TV presenter Charlie Webster said she feels like "bursting out crying in relief" at reaching her 34th birthday, just months after being critically ill and on life support in Brazil.
Webster, who contracted a rare form of malaria while in Rio for the Olympics and was put in a medically induced coma, said celebrating her birthday is "surreal" after her family and friends were "forced to 'prepare' themselves" for her death.
The sports presenter told the Press Association: " It's really surreal to be celebrating my birthday, especially if I think back to August when I was being told I wasn't going to make it to next week let alone be celebrating that I've made it to 34!
"When I think about my family being told that my chances of survival were slim and my friends were being forced to 'prepare' themselves for the worst, it's almost as if I'm thinking about someone else's life because I just don't know how that could've been me."
She said: "Part of me feels like bursting out crying in relief but also in sheer exhaustion after fighting so hard to be here and to get to this day.
"It isn't until you actually have to fight for your life that you really realise how precious it is. I'm so proud and happy that after all we've been through together I get to spend today with my mum, she's so excited."
Webster marked turning 34 with an upbeat post on social media, along with a picture of herself with a 40th birthday balloon.
She wrote on Twitter: " I made it to my birthday, wearing my presents and look how lovely my brother is. 'I couldn't find a 34 ballon' #Birthday (sic)."
She added: " In August I was in a coma on life support, my family were told my chances of survival were slim. I didn't think this day would come!
"My brother is giggling his head off about the '40' thing! It's not really my 40th, just a joke, I've got 6 years yet! #brothers."
The day before her birthday, she revealed that she was struggling with exercise.
She wrote: "Joined my mum's Pilates class this evening, didn't feel myself, finding exercise tough when I was so strong before, feels like it's not my body."
The former Sky and ITV sports presenter said she "got a little upset" about trying to push herself, but that she is determined to "get 'me' back".
The Team GB ambassador had become unwell during the opening ceremony of the Rio Olympics after taking part in a 3,000-mile (4,828km) charity cycle ride to the Brazilian city.
She admitted herself to hospital thinking she was dehydrated but later revealed that, after her condition rapidly deteriorated, a doctor told her she was "dying" and that she should get in touch with her family.
In an interview with The Sun following the ordeal, she admitted she was left traumatised and that she had a "conversation with Death".
She said she had no words to describe how much pain she was in and that she remembered making a promise to her mother, who ''had a feeling that something was going to go wrong before the race'', that she would not leave her.
She was flown back to the UK at the end of August, still in a serious condition, to be treated at St James's Hospital in Leeds.
Webster, who previously dated Downton Abbey actor Allen Leech, said she had 12 injections before her cycling trip but was told by two different doctors that she did not need any medication for malaria.