When Joe woke up in the hospital two weeks after an industrial explosion at his workplace, he was recovering from
burns over 65% of his body. His family had been told that if he survived the first two weeks he had a chance of
recovering. With every reflective surface removed from his room, Joe had no idea what his severely burned body looked like.
Joe's injury was painful but he found the recovery much more excruciating. With so much skin loss, he could not maintain his own body temperature and large heaters had to be placed in his room to keep him warm.
One day, Joe discovered a mirror on the underside of his dinner tray. What he saw was unrecognizable and afterwards he wouldn't talk or eat and would not accept visitors - even his wife. For weeks he showed no emotion. It was as if he was living in someone else's body.
As months went by Joe slowly began to accept his scarred body but kept a picture of himself from before the incident, the person he considered to be the real Joe.
He had to wear a full body pressure suit for 13 months. The stares and comments were hard to take and made him want to fight. It took several years but Joe eventually became comfortable and confident with his appearance.
Through it all, Joe realized there are two distinct recovery processes, the physical and the emotional. The physical recovery takes place in the hospital, while the emotional recovery takes much longer and takes place in the real world. He has learned that when faced with a life-altering injury you have two choices. You can let the injury beat you or you can choose to live life to the fullest. Joe chose the latter.