ATTACK FLASHBACKS: Shark victim Matt McIntosh visits Shelly Beach with his wife Leonie, and daughters Jessie, 3, and Summer, 6
ATTACK FLASHBACKS: Shark victim Matt McIntosh visits Shelly Beach with his wife Leonie, and daughters Jessie, 3, and Summer, 6

Shark attack victim goes back to work, not water



SHARK attack survivor Matt McIntosh still has flashbacks of his attack, but that has not stopped him returning to work months ahead of schedule.

Matt, 26, of Goonellabah, has been back working in his job as a carpenter for the past eight weeks, just over three months after a shark bit his foot at Ballina's Angels Beach on February 3.

"They said it was going to be about eight months until I go back to work but the doctor was pretty happy with how everything was going and said that I could go back to work just doing, you know, light stuff," he said.

And although he is still not 100 per cent, "I've adjusted to it with my work and it's fine. My boss is great.

"I just wanted everything to get back to normal because just being at home was really getting me down," he said. Despite his faster than expected recovery, Matt said he had no plans to get back in the water any time soon.

"More so just because I don't feel confident enough to be able to surf with it," he said.

"And also, it sort of freaks me out a little bit. Maybe just not being 100 per cent keeps me away from it at the moment. When Christmas time comes around I'll probably be out there.

"I have flashbacks all the time. Thoughts of it, what could have happened. They've been playing shark bloody shows on TV recently. It doesn't do it justice." Matt was lucky the shark didn't break his bone or he would have lost more blood and possibly his foot.

He was in a cast for three months then underwent extensive physiotherapy.

"They did a nerve study and they said the nerve that was injured, that was severed, is completely gone and the chances of getting my feeling back in my foot are very slim, like 50 per cent," he said.

Nonetheless, he will see his surgeon, Dr Richard Hudson, in the next two weeks, to conduct another nerve study to determine if the nerves are healing, and discuss microsurgery options.

"It's worth my while doing it if I can get some sort of feeling back. But it's not hindering my life at all. I haven't changed anything. I can still walk, run. I'm fine. I do a lot of heavy lifting at work and it hasn't slowed me down at all.

"The doctors were pretty positive and everything so I didn't get any negative thoughts of it at all. I just wanted to get out and get on with getting back to 100 per cent.

"The morning that it happened it was dark and gloomy and the fish the smell in the air bait fish and the birds and everything, were just bad signs, signs all around.

"You see it, look at it now and you think 'why did I go out there', but because I'd been doing it for 13 years you become naive to it.

"You don't even think about all that sort of stuff, all you're concentrating on is the waves. It'll be all right. Give it a few years, I should be over it.

"At least I've still got my foot and I'm still here. I've got my family and everything. I'm more thankful for that I suppose."



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