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Originally published Friday, December 18, 2009 at 3:52 PM

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'Survivor's' Shannon Waters: 'I was wounded in every shape and form'

Renton's Shannon "Shambo" Waters talks about the extreme deprivation she experienced on "Survivor: Samoa." Waters was voted off the show Dec. 17.

Seattle Times staff reporter

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She may have been all smiles on the show, but "Survivor" sure took its toll.

Renton's Shannon "Shambo" Waters was voted off the CBS reality-TV show Thursday after having spent more than a month on Samoa, leaving only five contestants left. On Friday, the 45-year-old recounted her arduous experience over the phone.

Q: What was being on the show like?

A: Absolutely horrible, except for the lifelong friends I've made out there. We were hypothermic for days and days on end. We went without water for days. We went without food for longer than a week, again and again and again. ... There's nothing you can do but get through that day ... and wait for the sun to come out the next day, and pray to God it doesn't rain, and pray to God that you're going to find a couple crabs, or you're going to have the strength to open up a coconut.

That's the one thing that it did not depict on this series, the tragic depravation that every single one of us went through and the conditions that we lived in. ... We weren't given rice, because we had coconuts ... and the coconuts gave us diarrhea ...

Q: What did you miss most?

A: I couldn't eat for several weeks, because I was on a liquid diet, as were most of us who made it far in the game. I missed chocolate more than anything ... but just feeling safe and being warm. ... It really breaks your body down. Your kidneys shut down. Your brain starts to go into primal mode. ... I was wounded in every shape and form.

Q: Anything you would have done differently?

A: No, I went out there to do my absolute best, represent the United State Marine Corp to the best of my ability, make my family proud, and my bosses at Bargreen-Ellingson and all co-workers. ... It's a pretty awesome and overwhelming responsibility to have little kids look up to you and want your autograph. ... This is my opportunity to spread the love and try to shed some good going forward from the horrible experiences that we lived through.

Q: In the show, fellow contestant Jaison said you acted like you were 7.

A: We were blasted out of our heads on kava juice [known for its sedative and numbing effects] ... That's what showed on camera, just me being a complete and utter goofball.

Q: Was the show's portrayal of you accurate?

A: They made me look ... like I had no clue. I had a clue. Mixing up Eric's and Brett's names from Day 1 on the show really didn't help me out. ... It made me look like I really didn't know what I was talking about.

Q: Anything you learned from the show?

A: I guess what doesn't kill us, makes us stronger, because I'm still living. I felt like I was damn near halfway dead.

Marian Liu: 206-464-3825 or mliu@seattletimes.com

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