Accident survivor shares story to inspire others
Man who fully recovered from horrific crash writes book to help fellow victims
Mr Jason Lim does not recall the events leading up to the moment his motorcycle blew up, only that he was cruising down the streets of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, in July 2014.
The crash left about 20 per cent of his body scorched by third-degree burns, both of his knees dislocated, and his collarbone cracked.
When he came to about a month later, he found himself in the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) with metal rods sticking out of his legs, and he had no idea how he ended up there.
This led to a 44-day hospital stay and a journey of nearly two years to find out what had happened.
Mr Lim, who had been on a solo backpacking trip, later pieced his story together with the help of friends, family and a pastor, who tracked him down after he went missing in Cambodia.
A car had knocked him over in his first night in Cambodia, and he picked up his bike to give chase, only to crash after the other vehicle braked suddenly.
Mr Lim, 26, will launch a book tomorrow on his experiences to inspire others, including victims with trauma.
Part of the proceeds from book sales will go to The Straits Times Pocket Money Fund and a non-profit project, Alongsiders.
"I don't have trauma, but I know what it is like to wake up to your life completely changed," he said. "I couldn't get out of bed, use the toilet, or shower by myself... I lost my dignity, independence, and freedom."
The accident left Mr Lim, who had just finished national service, with hospital bills of some $250,000.
When he was discharged from the hospital in a wheelchair, his mother quit her job as a teacher to care for him full-time.
For four months, it took four hours to help him shower as his wounds had to be cleaned and dressed.
While Mr Lim has fully recovered, he goes for annual check-ups and avoids high-impact sports to not wear out his knees.
Mr Lim, who has been working on the book full-time and giving talks, also started a website telling his story to encourage others.
He was helped by organisations, such as the Burns Support Group, which facilitates interactions between survivors and medical professionals to help with recovery. Mr Lim said there are now efforts to set up a trauma support group involving SGH staff and other survivors.
Dr Poh Seng Yew, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon with SGH, said it is important for patients to hear of the recovery experiences of other victims.
"For patients with massive injuries, they often fall into depression and get less involved in recovery," said the doctor who treated Mr Lim's knee joints.
For university student Sean Suen, meeting survivors like Mr Lim was proof he could recover well and live life to the fullest.
The 25-year-old recalled the night in June last year when he fought for his life alone in waters off Tioman island, Malaysia.
"It was a diving accident... and (I) hit a ferry's propeller underwater," said Mr Suen, who had been on an advanced diving course.
He was the last in his group of five to return to the jetty.
"No one knew I got hit... I had to fight for my survival," he said.
Mr Suen had a fractured thigh bone, dislocated left hip and a puncture that almost reached his small intestines. By the time he was air-lifted to Singapore for treatment, his wounds were made worse by seawater.
He spent three months in SGH, where a social worker introduced him to Mr Lim.
Mr Lim said: "When Sean told me his story, I was smiling.
"I finally felt like I was not alone, and when I shared my story, I could see him lighten up and start to smile.
"I think he felt the way I did."