As the blackness receded and Jesse Ryder regained consciousness after 56 hours in an induced coma, one of his first thoughts was, "Oh, God, not another issue!"
Issues and Ryder have gone hand in hand since the burly batsman burst on to the New Zealand cricket scene in 2008.
Late-night drinking, a hand slashed when he stuck it through a toilet window, more late-night drinking, verbally abusing team manager Dave Currie ... no wonder he thought he was in trouble again.
But this time the next "issue" - inadvertently taking a banned drug - was still some time away. Before that, he had a bigger struggle on his hands, namely fighting for his life.
In late March, Ryder was rushed to intensive care with a suspected fractured skull and a serious lung injury after being attacked in the early hours of the morning outside a Christchurch bar.
He spent 56 hours in an induced coma while fans, friends and strangers held candlelight vigils as word spread that one of the country's most talented and polarising sportsmen was in a precarious state.
Ryder, seven months on and by his own admission not a "deep and meaningful" person, realises how lucky he is to be alive.
"After being told what happened, you start thinking a bit. I mean, we've all heard the stories of guys hitting their heads and dying after being punched and falling to the ground," he said.
"I look back and think I am lucky not to be dead."
The 29-year-old still has no recollection of what went on that night in Christchurch. His last memory is of going to a bar with his Wellington team-mates; the rest he's pieced together based on eyewitness accounts.
"It was just black. I just woke up all of a sudden after 56 hours or so, I think it was, just bang, like that," Ryder said of regaining consciousness.
"I remember waking up and trying to pull the tube out of my throat and then someone had to stop me from doing that.
"But, yeah, I couldn't really believe it. I didn't know where I was, what had happened. Someone told me I'd been jumped, hit from behind and had whacked my head."
Ryder's long-time manager and close friend Aaron Klee was one of the first to reach his hospital bedside and initially feared the worst.
"I didn't know what I was going to find so that was pretty scary," Klee said.
"I've joked with Jesse since then that the 56 hours he was in a coma was the easiest 56 hours I've had managing him because he didn't argue or make my job difficult!
"Thankfully we can joke about it now given how well he recovered.
"Fronting the media on day two was one of the hardest things I've ever done. The emotions were still pretty raw and I did the interview at the police station.
"We still didn't know what his condition was, so it was really hard to say whether he was going to be OK or not."
While Ryder was in intensive care, messages of support came flooding in from everywhere, including Prime Minister John Key.
For someone accustomed to being a public villain, Ryder still can't believe the concern so many people showed for him.
"The support was amazing. It was ridiculous, really. I was still getting letters and stuff months after I returned home," he said.
"I would love to actually take this opportunity to thank all the people who supported me through that time. It was overwhelming."
That support would prove crucial for Ryder who was about to embark on one of the toughest periods of his life.
After spending six days in Christchurch Hospital, he was discharged and returned to his home in Wellington under the cover of darkness, helped by a commercial airline that allowed him to bypass the usual terminal process for checking in.
The next morning, his doorbell started ringing and members of the media camped outside his house hoping for a picture.
At one point he remembers "losing it" after being followed by a particularly persistent photographer through Lower Hutt.
But behind closed doors, he was struggling too.
"At first, I just couldn't walk properly. My balance was just so off and I was struggling to walk and the weakness was crazy," Ryder said.
"Just walking to the bathroom and back, I'd be breathless, you know, taking in big, deep breaths.
"It took ages to get back to normal."
And in the middle of that rehabilitation he was told he'd failed a drug test.
After taking a pill to help with weight loss during the previous season, one of Ryder's urine samples revealed traces of banned stimulants 1-Phenylbutan-2-amine (PBA) and alpha-diethyl-benzeethanamine (DEBEA).
He was contacted about the failed test in early April - days after returning home to Wellington - and the only saving grace was that the news didn't break until August, by which point he'd served the bulk of a six-month ban.
Ryder said he took a supplement, Gaspari Detonate, "maybe five times and the last of those times was maybe a week out from a competition game".
With a doping ban coming not long after the Christchurch attack, Ryder could be forgiven for feeling the world is against him.
Some of his "haters", he admits, will now label him a drug cheat. But the reality is he was taking a pill he thought would help with weight loss, checked with a number of people and online to see whether it was OK and believed there was no issue.
His major fault, the Sports Tribunal said in its ruling, was that he should have checked it with Drug Free Sport New Zealand. A potential two-year ban, however, was reduced to six months after Ryder proved he had taken the substances by accident and not in an attempt to enhance his performance.
Still, even if his ban was reduced, he can't help but be "frustrated" that he was once again made to look like a bad guy, especially after taking a product that, according to Helen Poulsen - a forensic scientist who testified at his hearing - produced "a stimulant effect not much different to a strong cup of coffee".
"I find it frustrating really," Ryder said.
"You do all the research and you find there is nothing wrong with the product. The one mistake I made was that I didn't ask Drug Free Sport New Zealand about the product.
"But if I had asked them, they would have basically said they couldn't find anything wrong with the product but that taking it could be a risk."
Strangely, after everything that's happened - or maybe because of everything that's happened - the one-time "wild child of New Zealand cricket" is actually feeling pretty good about life.
"I'm probably in the best head space I've been in for two years," Ryder said during a wide-ranging interview at his new apartment in Dunedin.
"I'm a lot more relaxed about things these days and it's a good way to be."
Still, while Ryder looks refreshed and in good shape physically, he is not yet fully back to normal. He has no problem hitting a cricket ball, but it's the little things that still cause him grief.
Sitting in the corner of his place, and already gathering dust, is a giant flat screen television, which has no plug or remote. When he made the move down south from Wellington on October 1, he forgot to pack them. It's a constant reminder that he's still on the mend.
"I get really forgetful about things even these days," Ryder said. "Like moving down here, there is so much stuff that I totally forgot to pack.
"It's just the simple stuff that you forget. Sometimes I'll be talking to someone and we'll agree to meet somewhere then I'll forget what time we were supposed to meet and things like that."
While battling to overcome injuries has been tough, Ryder now has his cricket career to focus on. At the time of the attack, he was more than a year in to a self-imposed exile from the New Zealand cricket team.
His last appearance for the Black Caps was almost 20 months ago on February 29, 2012. He quit the team following the fallout from another of those "issues" - accused of breaching team protocol by drinking when injured.
Unhappy with being, in his own words, "hung out to dry" by then New Zealand coach John Wright, Ryder took an indefinite break from the national team. He also admits he came close to quitting the game completely at that time.
But if there's one thing that's hard to go past it's that Ryder needs cricket as much as cricket needs him.
For the last six months, thanks to his doping suspension, he's been unable to even train with his Otago team-mates.
But now that his ban is over, all going well, he will return to action with the Volts in their Plunket Shield opener against Wellington in the capital in a week's time. From there, he wants to win back his place in the New Zealand team.
Today is also the first day in six months that he will finally start earning a salary from cricket again.
Ryder has often talked about how money does not drive him. He "came from nothing" and while he appreciates the massive earning potential he has in cricket, he's not solely motivated by it.
But by his own estimates, his decision to quit international cricket last year, the attack and the drug ban has cost him "a good $800,000 or so".
"But I'm not worried about it. I've just been cruising along of late on what I've earned.
"I've saved a bit over the years and it will be good to get back to having a stable pay cheque again soon," he said.
"But, yeah, my philosophy on money is that you can't spend it when you're dead. There's no point having a whole lot in the bank when you go."
Ryder also hopes his return to cricket will finally mark the end of an era where his name has been on the front pages of papers as much as in the sports section.
"It's just been something with me that there's the cricket side of things but then, at the same time, everyone seems to be interested in the off-field stuff," he said.
"It's just something I've got to live with. I mean, I know I haven't exactly been an angel over the years.
"But hopefully in the next year or so people will get over my past. It gets boring reading the same shit over and over again and guys bringing up stuff that happened years ago."
Moving to Dunedin is also part of breaking the cycle of his life.
"I really needed a change," he said. "I spent 10 years in Wellington and I think it got to a stage where it was a bit of a day-in, day-out type of thing.
"Dunedin is a nice, chilled out city and everyone just seems to go about their business. I'm really enjoying it."
Within an easy walking distance of Ryder's central Dunedin apartment is a pub.
Once upon a time, that could have been a temptation. But now, he feels he's in control of that part of his life.
"When I looked at it [drinking], I never said I was going to stop for me. I would just say it because I was sick of everyone nagging me," he admitted.
"If I want to have a drink, I'll have a drink. And for the rest of the time I won't drink. It makes it a lot easier. It means there's no pressure around it or anything like that.
"But there will be a time where I go out with mates for a catch up and have a beer or two or three."
With everything that has happened this year, Ryder is desperate to focus on cricket, which will probably seem like a breeze after all he's gone through.
"After this year, you could probably say that I've been through the worst things you could go through, for my career at least anyway," Ryder said. "The drug thing, that could have been my career over if I'd been given a two-year ban, which had been a possibility. Then with what happened in Christchurch, that, too, could have easily been the end of it for my career.
"Coming through that, well, yeah, that took a while. The lung damage and the head and stuff took a while to get over. I wouldn't look at it like I've been given a second chance at life. I'm just lucky, I guess."
And as every cricketer knows, a little luck can be the difference between failure and success.
- © Fairfax NZ News