’Reborn’: Dad’s incredible fight with rare disease
MOST people would look at scales and be frightened to see a three-digit number. Not Sam Hambly.
Instead, the day he saw two digits for the first time in 10 years, tears began to fill his eyes.
"It was like the last eight years' training hard, eating well was all for nothing," he said.
June this year will be a month Sam will never forget. With tingles in his feet, a bad taste in his mouth and a numb cheek, his life was in danger.
"I just assumed I was working too much or my boots were too tight. But I couldn't drink water or even cordial and Powerade," Sam said.
"The numbness travelled up into my calves and hands. When I woke up the next day, the left side of my face was drooping."
And 72 hours later, his nervous system shut down and he became paralysed in the face, arms, legs and body.
Multiple tests revealed Sam had Guillain-Barre Syndrome: a rare auto immune disease where your immune system attacks your nerve cells, starting at the feet and spreading to the upper body.
In the space of a few days, he went from a 106kg 27-year-old who trained five days a week, squatting 180kg and benching 190kg, to lying helpless in a hospital bed for the next five weeks.
He watched his weight plummet to 89kg.
"That was a massive thing for me, as someone who spent the last 10 years training to get to where I was and lose it all. They were preparing for me to go into a coma, it was terrifying," he said.
Less than two months ago, Sam was unable to move an inch of his body.
A nurse by his bedside had to remind him to breathe. His eyes were taped shut and his fingers held his lips open.
He said he felt like a helpless toddler.
"It strips you back to bare human. The way I was walking, my one-year-old was walking better than me," he said. "I asked when I could go back to work and they said 'it's months mate'."
But the odds seem to be in his favour.
Sam's sheer determination to resume his life as a plumber, dad to Darcy, two-and-a-half, and Leo, 18 months, and husband to wife Amy, saw him discharged from hospital early and back in the gym twice a week reaching a major milestone like no other.
"They said I was going to be in hospital for 10 to 12 weeks, but we're at day 68 now and I'm back," he said.
Sam is slowing learning to walk again and using only 30 per cent of his muscles due to nerve damage.
He still has little-to-no feeling in his feet and hands and his face is 25 per cent paralysed, but doctors believe he should make a full recovery.
"This is all I love doing, exercising and gym. The fact I'm getting better every week it's like I'm reborn every week."
While he's only able to bench press up to 40kg compared with 190kg before, he won't let this incident get the better of him.
Sam will be in rehab for at least 12 months.
He said if this experience had taught him anything, it was that the freedom to walk, talk and eat was something he'll never take for granted.
"And I definitely know now that I married the right woman."