An American couple who survived the Whakaari/White Island tragedy can each finally open water bottles, jars and sometimes a 2-litre bottle of diet coke.
Ivy Kohn Reed and her husband Rick Reed were badly burned when they were among tourists and tour guides on the Bay of Plenty volcanic island which erupted on December 9 last year.
Twenty-one people died in the tragedy.
The pair spent two months being cared for in the National Burn Centre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital, before finally being well enough to return to the United States in early February.
In a message posted to an online fundraiser on the six-month anniversary of the eruption, the couple said it might not seem like much to the average person but opening bottles and jars are big achievements.
"The events of that day still feel unreal, yet the effects of that day are felt daily," they said.
Unfortunately, due to the Covid-19 crisis, their treatment has been suspended since mid-March, but they have been working on a home rehab programme.
They are now able to take walks, but going into summer they must take extra precautions.
Ivy said she cannot have any sun on her face and gaiters are "my new best friend".
"To be out walking, I'm in a face gaiter, sunglasses and baseball hat - say hi if you see me.
"Rick has to be out in UV protecting long pants and UV long-sleeve shirts to guard his burns from the sun. This along with our ever present compression gloves is how we will be tackling the summer," Ivy said.
The pair revealed they have just received some good news - the hospital is reopening and last week they met with a doctor and are scheduled for six to eight months of laser surgery, each on the same day, from July.
"Laser surgery is done under anaesthesia as the laser is used at very high power. This isn't your dermatologists' laser," the couple said.
Neither have returned to work, saying their injuries and upcoming treatment make returning to work in the foreseeable future unlikely.
"People talk about a new normal after catastrophic events happen. I can't say we have adapted to the new normal, I can say we have made adjustments where necessary and we are working through OT, PT, therapy and upcoming surgery to make the very best of our situation.
"There's still progress to be made," said the couple, who revealed amazing support from not only friends and family, but from total strangers.
"It takes a lot for me to cry, but the outpouring of support from around the world has had me shedding a lot of tears."
After their release from hospital, Ivy Kohn Reed posted a photo of the pair taken on White Island shortly before the eruption.
In it, the Americans are pictured smiling, with Rick Reed's arm around his wife, while steam rises from the White Island crater behind them.
"This is the last picture taken of us before our lives changed forever," she wrote.
"Approximately 15 minutes after this was taken, the White Island volcano erupted, burying us in hot volcanic ash and toxic gases. We survived, were rescued and spent almost 8 weeks in a New Zealand Hospital receiving critical care treatment.
"Our dream vacation turned into a nightmare that we are still trying to comprehend."