Just over two years has passed since former Hurricanes and Worcester Warriors player Michael Fatialofa suffered a spinal cord break that led to total paralysis from the neck down.
The medical jargon named the permanent injury as a C4 vertebrae fracture and spinal contusion. He was told to prepare for a life in a wheelchair but stunned the rugby world with his recovery.
What really happened was that a young man's life had been changed forever.
Wife Tatiana - who had married her high school sweetheart less than three months earlier - would prove to be a huge factor in her husband's recovery.
A few weeks after the January 2020 injury in England, Michael defied all odds by taking one small step in front of the other.
Fast forward to today, the couple are enjoying a life in paradise; after making the decision to move to the Cook Islands earlier this year.
"When you come close to death, you think about what kind of life you want to be living," Tatiana says.
"God has come through and we really are living on prayers. I truly believe that."
The journey back to her motherland began when their world started to crumble all around them - yet again - on their return home to New Zealand, just as the Covid pandemic started to take hold of the world.
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"Michael's dad died and then my nana died ... we just went through some dark sh*t together."
A phone call to her own father would prove to be the answer to all their problems, when he suggested that she book a flight to Rarotonga to take a break.
Tatiana is deep in explanation when she is cut off by a rooster's noisy crow.
"Oh yeah, that. That's my alarm clock in the mornings - 50 of them," she laughs.
Tatiana was on the next flight out two days later and was enjoying daily swims, hikes and the slow-paced and calming life the islands are famous for.
"I was smiling every day. There's food falling off the trees and I was going on hikes.
"I FaceTimed Michael and he said: 'Why the hell are we not there'?"
People were happier, there was no rat race rush like that back in New Zealand, and there was a calming effect that was happening over Tatiana.
This was where she needed to be and more importantly, she realised this was the perfect place for Michael to recover both physically and mentally.
His injury playing for Worcester followed a successful New Zealand career, with the hulking 114kg, 1.98-metre lock winning a Super Rugby title with the Hurricanes.
"He's gone from being an elite rugby player to a disabled man. I knew that ultimately, Michael was coming for himself. He could go off the grid.
"There are some things that only your motherland can heal."
Living life to the fullest in island paradise
Since moving to the Cook Islands in January, they have thrived.
For Michael, the move has been even more extraordinary; enjoying life outside of Covid lockdowns overseas and recuperating in the ocean and lush surroundings.
He also has the chance to be treated normally by locals who know his story but still give him the privacy he craves.
Overseas, even in New Zealand, he avoided going to the pools because he stuck out immediately as "the brown boy".
"Here, everybody looks like him," Tatiana says.
The other day, while out swimming with turtles, the lifeguard at the beach took it upon himself to come out to help Michael.
"The lifeguard recognised Mike and came over with [a look] that said: 'Bro, I've got you'. That guy just towed him the whole time."
Tatiana has been chronicling their new life on video-sharing site TikTok - everything from their home-made fresh fruit smoothies to time spent walking on the sandy beach or visiting the family taro patch.
Her videos are popular, with many people acknowledging that they provide a daily escape of a dream life.
Asked about what was next on their plans, Tatiana excitedly reveals she has just picked up a job with the local tourism group on the island.
Other than that, the ultimate dream is to one day open what she describes as a centre that is a one-stop hub for wellbeing; connecting the goodness of healthy nutrition, culture, physical and mental health.
They will travel when the world is right-side up again. But the decision has been made.
"For us, this is it. In terms of our primary base, it will be here. This is home."*