Mark’s fight for life

Mark Briggs on a fishing trip.

By Matthew Pearce

Rockhampton father of four Mark Briggs will spend his 55th birthday in the Rockhampton Hospital this weekend but his family hopes to have him home soon.

The long-time friend of the Indoor Sports Arena has faced the fight of his life over the past month, pushing his way back from a debilitating condition that saw him sedated and intubated for six days.

The cause of Mark’s illness is unknown but his wife Samantha Briggs said her family believed it was related to the AstraZeneca vaccine.

“Mark recieved his vaccine on 15 June and that night he had pain in his shoulder blades and just felt really unwell,“ she said.

“He took some Ibuprofen and by the next morning he didn’t feel too bad so he went out to his seven-day shift at the mines.

“On the last night of his night shift he got a really sore throat and a bit of a headache. While driving home the following morning he had pain between his shoulder blades and down the right side of his back again.

“By the time he got home he laid down to have a rest because he wasn’t feeling great and he started getting chest pains.“

The family called an ambulance and Mark was taken to the hospital on 23 June – but tests found nothing so he was sent home.

“He felt horrible and sick all that Wednesday night and at 5am Thursday morning he woke me up and said, ’I’ve got really bad pains in my arms and I can’t move them’.

“He was taken back to hospital and has been in hospital ever since.“

Mark was diagnosed him with myocarditis – inflammation of the heart muscle and the heart lining.

“They were just treating him with an anti-inflammatory for that but he was in so much pain,“ Samantha said.

“He couldn’t breathe and he just deteriorated so quickly and ended up with severe pneumonia, an inflamed liver and some kidney failure.“

Mark was in Rockhampton Hospital for a week before being transferred to the Prince Charles Hospital in Brisbane.

“He just couldn’t breathe, everything was shutting down, he had heart failure, he had lung failure, he had kidney failure. He had to be sedated and intubated for six days.“

Eventually Mark’s condition improved and he was transferred back to ICU at Rockhampton Hospital.

“Mark is breathing with the help of a high flow oxygen machine and can can talk to you a little bit, he can say a couple of words,“ Samantha said on Tuesday, July 20.

“He still has 500ml of fluid on the outside of his lungs and fluid and consolidation on the inside of his lungs.

“His liver’s still inflamed, he has a 39.9 degree temp and blood clots in his legs.

“The doctors aren’t looking for a diagnosis anymore, they’re just trying to keep on track of his symptoms.“

On Wednesday, Samantha said Mark’s condition had deteriorated overnight and he had again been sedated and ventilated.

Samantha said she appreciated the help of the Indoor Sports Arena, who will hold a fundraiser on 6 August to help the family.

“Because Mark was a casual worker, he’s got no income coming in,“ she said.

“I’m going to have to get our downstairs bathroom renovated because he needs to have access to a shower that we can wheel him in on a chair.“

Samantha said it was expected to be about six months before her husband could walk by himself and at least 12 months before he got back to “some sort of normal“.

“It’s going to be a long road ahead for him,“ she said.

Indoor Sports Arena sport coordinator Amanda Hill said Mark’s involvement with the centre went back “a few decades“.

“I started here 10 years ago and he was already inducted into our Hall of Fame at the centre at that time,“ she said.

“Mark and Sammy played in our last season of volleyball and Mark’s kids are also very active members within our ISA family.

“The fundraiser is our way of helping this family who have been with the Indoor Sports Arena for a long time.

“It’s just something that lets us show our support and our gratitude for what they’ve done for our ISA family.“

The Briggs Family Thundering 3s volleyball and Fast 5 netball fundraisers will kick off at 6pm, 6 August, at the Indoor Sports Arena, 37 Hollingsworth St, Kawana.

Members and friends of the Briggs family are asked to nominate a team of three and come dressed in their favourite Broncos attire.

“We want to get as many people here as possible, including people who might not know the centre exists but are friends of the family,“ Amanda said.

“It’s an opportunity to lighten the mood and do something for the Briggs family while having a fun night playing beach volleyball and netball.“

If you’d like to support the Briggs family, go to www.mycause.com.au/p/257240/briggsy-be-better