WARNING: Graphic images
A quadriplegic man who lost the use of his limbs after diving into shallow water at a Sydney beach in 2016 has revealed how he suffered horrific injuries during a morning coffee run.
Scott Hoare, 30, placed an insulated cup on his lap while heading home from a cafe across the street two weeks ago — but the lid was loose and hot liquid seeped out without him noticing.
"A couple of weeks ago I got my normal morning coffee from the cafe across the street.
"I have a really good insulated cup that I use so that I can sit it in my lap while I push home, but it only works if the lid is on properly (obviously!).
"Anyway, the lid wasn't on right and the coffee seeped out onto my leg, but I couldn't feel it, so didn't know for about 12 hours until I got into bed. ," he wrote in a post entitled "Setbacks" on his popular Facebook page, Lift with Scott.
"After we found it, we went to emergency, and a few days after that, when the severity was obvious, I was admitted straight into the severe burns unit for a skin graft."
The strength and conditioning coach shared graphic images of the huge burn marks across his legs, apologising for the "gruesome" photos, news.com.au reports.
"I've said it plenty of times in the past, but if the worst part of a spinal-cord injury was not being able to walk, I'd probably be able to deal with that just fine," he wrote.
"The worst part was that it happened the week before my exams! I knew I would be in there for a while so got my study set up, moved from home straight into my hospital room and tried to not miss a beat."
Scott, a university student and coach at Athletes Authority, has made remarkable progress since his devastating accident two-and-a-half years ago, but he is honest about the dark times he has endured.
He was placed on life support and spent seven weeks in hospital, requiring a triple nerve transfer on his arms to regain control of his hands.
His now-wife Angie proposed two days after he woke up. They moved to a new apartment, and he started getting back in the gym for his rehabilitation.
But he struggled with his recovery, suffering an "emotional breakdown" in the first month of rehab when his body weight dropped from 95 kilograms to just 75kg. "It was a quantitative measure of the damage that had been done and really rattled me, so I hadn't weighed myself since then," he wrote.
Now he's back up to 90kg, mostly through gaining upper body muscle from weight training, which he documents in Facebook videos. But at 188cm and without the use of his legs, exercise is a real challenge for Scott. "Unless I cut my legs off there's not much I can do about that, so the goal is to just keep chipping away," he wrote.
In May, he shared a photo of himself two weeks before the accident in a "long, cathartic post" about some of the negative thoughts he had been experiencing.
"When I saw it I felt a little bit numb," he wrote. "I used to have these feelings of sadness and regret when I saw photos of me from before that time, but as time passes I kind of just feel nothing, which is probably even sadder. I've been having a pretty rough time lately, working hard to evade the thoughts of loss and pretty much desperation that come with acceptance."
Scott had just been switching to using an intermittent catheter, and he admitted it had been a challenging step. "Every time I need to go the toilet someone has to help me. Which means that someone has to be with me pretty much every second of every day. It's really hard to describe what that level of dependence feels like. To know and understand what that does to a 29-year-old male's psyche when about a year-and-a-half ago I was this guy in the photo.
"It's got me feeling like I'm in this kind of weird purgatory — better than being dead but not really living a life."
Despite the "little fiasco" of the serious burns, Scott is overwhelmingly upbeat. "The nerve transfers are really starting to kick off, and I'm getting some finger pinch and triceps are starting to happen on both sides, which is beyond refreshing," he wrote. "I've been smashing it in the gym with my strength work and am hoping to permanently do away with the hoist to get in and out of bed within the next few months."
Scott's honest posts about his fight to regain his strength and enjoy a fulfilling life after a catastrophic accident have gained him 3400 followers who commented they were "blown away" by his courage and determination.
In one eloquent paragraph from his May post, he explains his experience of how everything changes after a serious injury.
"There are two teams of people in the world," he wrote. "One team is relatively carefree, they're overly optimistic and they have no idea how brutal life can be. The other team are a little different. They speak in different tones, appreciate different things and know exactly how harrowing life can be.
"The thing that fascinates me most about this little idea that I've had in my head is the fact that you go from the first team to the second in about one moment. It's a phone call, a letter, a car smash, it comes in a million different ways, but it all results in that sick, hollow feeling in your stomach. You can't believe it. You hear about it, reading the news or consoling a friend on the unexpected death of a family member, but you never knew what it meant. I really miss that time, being on that first team."