Whakaari/White Island survivor Kelsey Waghorn says she "almost scoffed" when she was told she'd have to learn to walk again after the disaster.
But after the devastating eruption left her with full thickness burns to 45 per cent of her body, she "literally had to teach" her body to walk again, sharing her progress online.
A video posted on Waghorn's social media shows her walking, aided by a walking frame.
View this post on Instagram
when they told me “you’ll have to learn to walk again” I almost scoffed. “I’ve been walking 20something years, thank you, my body and I have got this. we might be weak and small at the moment, but once that strength comes back, no ‘learning’ will be required.” boy was I wrong. I literally had to teach my body to walk again. “lift and bend knee, shift weight forward, lift toes, place heel, place toes - don’t forget that you have an ankle and can bend that too” if you’ve had skin grafts to your extremities (or even if you’ve been in bed 20something days), when your blood vessels all of a sudden have to increase that blood pressure as you go from horizontal to (semi)vertical, they don’t tend to keep up initially - cue the plum-purple hands and feet. “zombie arms” I used to call them. nowadays, my skin stays that pink-white I got mocked for in high school, and I couldn’t be happier.
"When they told me 'you'll have to learn to walk again' I almost scoffed," she captioned the post.
"'I've been walking 20 something years, thank you, my body and I have got this. We might be weak and small at the moment, but once that strength comes back, no 'learning' will be required.'
"Boy was I wrong."
"If you've had skin grafts to your extremities (or even if you've been in bed 20 something days), when your blood vessels all of a sudden have to increase that blood pressure as you go from horizontal to (semi) vertical, they don't tend to keep up initially - cue the plum-purple hands and feet. 'Zombie arms' I used to call them.
Waghorn spent 10 days in ICU, five of those in an induced coma after the island spewed ash, steam and toxic gas on December 9.
She's has undergone more than a dozen surgeries, with skin grafts to her arms, legs, hands and lower back, with some touch ups on her upper arms.
White Island viewed from the Westpac Rescue Helicopter on 09 December 2019. (Photo / Supplied)
Twenty-one people were killed when the volcano blew, among them Waghorn's colleagues Hayden-Marshall Inman and Tipene Maangi.
"Nowadays, my skin stays that pink-white I got mocked for in high school, and I couldn't be happier," she said.
The 25-year-old told The Rock she burst into tears when she saw that thousands of dollars had been donated towards her recovery.
"I cried my eyes out when I saw it," survivor Kelsey Waghorn told The Rock.
"And I read it as nine grand and it was 94 [grand]."
Her Givealittle page now tops $113,000.
Recently, Waghorn shared a picture of her legs wrapped in "tubigrips".
"If I manage to stop falling over, I can ditch the bandages and tubigrips for some rather tight compression garments, which I'll get the pleasure of wearing for up to two years," she wrote.
View this post on Instagram
fancy hospital socks at the end of some pretty damn good looking banged up pins 😂 here, my donor sites can be peeped on my upper thighs, and my grafts start at “shorts height” down to “boot height”. grafted two weeks after my arms, and taken (mostly) from an already red donor site, (also, gravity), they’re looking nice and red at the moment. a good look for summer. if I manage to stop falling over, I can ditch the bandages and tubigrips for some rather tight compression garments, which I’ll get the pleasure of wearing for up to ~two years 🙃
"I'm covered in scars and relocated skin, and that's okay with me," she wrote in a recent update.
"Everything is healing twice as fast as anyone predicted, and although I have my moments, I am proud of the huge progress I have made."