It left scars inside and out for Carolyn, who overcame the struggles through pain and time.
Eleven years may have passed, but realtor Carolyn Lim, 39, said she has yet to fully recover from the effects of a lightning strike in September 2006 which left her in a six-week long coma.
She suffered a traumatic brain injury and even now, sometimes struggles with double vision.
“At that time, it felt like I was living in a nightmare,” said Ms Lim, who also had to deal with depression in the first few months after the accident.
The question of what happens in a lightning strike surfaced after a Nov 20 incident which affected MRT trackside equipment near Bedok station.
While train occupants are protected by a conductive material that blocks electric fields and electric currents from entering, Ms Lim took the full brunt of a lightning strike while windsurfing with friends in the waters off East Coast.
Rendered unconscious, Ms Lim was saved by her life vest that kept her afloat. A friend who saw what happened pulled her out of the water.
Doctors The Sunday Times spoke to said approximately 10 per cent of lightning strikes result in death but survivors can suffer brain and nerve damage.
When she woke up from her coma, Ms Lim could not sit up, speak, swallow, write or walk.
After years of therapy and self-motivation, she said she has mostly recovered, but continues to have slight double-vision and faces some difficulty writing with her right hand.
She also uses a wheelchair when she is out of her home because even a slight bump or someone brushing against her can cause her to lose her balance, she said.
“I was depressed for about six months,” she said. “It was like being trapped in a body I couldn’t control. I used to be an English teacher and (after the accident) I couldn’t even talk or read.”
At the time, Ms Lim was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury, which affected her motor skills. She could only speak a few syllables at a time because her vocal chords were affected.
“I used to be very sporty and independent. Suddenly, everything was impossible to do.”
The nerves in her face were also damaged, causing her right eye to be skewed to one side, giving her double vision.
The turning point in Ms Lim’s life came when her then-boyfriend, Mr William Ng, proposed to her in 2007.
“I told him he was crazy to still want to marry me, but I realised if someone has so much faith in me, I owe it to him to give recovery my best shot,” she said.
Mr Ng, 37, is also a realtor.
He said: “I didn’t think it was a big deal because I thought anyone in my position would still have proposed.”
According to the National Environment Agency, Singapore has one of the highest occurrences of lightning activity in the world, because of its warm and humid tropical conditions that allow thunderstorms to develop.
On average, Singapore experiences 168 thunderstorm days per year, which refers to the number of days in which thunder is heard over Singapore, giving an indication of lightning activity.