Michael Skupin — the 38-year-old pig killer from West Lake, Mich., ousted from Survivor: The Australian Outback after burning his hands in a campfire mishap — admits that the last thing he wanted was to be near his wife and three kids while he recovered.

"It was so important for me to come back [home] whole, because I didn't want my wife to see how I was," the cocky software publisher told Jane Clayson on Friday's Early Show. As a result, he declined executive producer Mark Burnett's offer to be flown back to the states, choosing instead to remain Down Under and undergo treatment at the country's top burn center. "I went through physical therapy and occupational therapy, and I would work my hands out until they bled and [the doctors] would say, 'Stop Stop, you can't do anymore.' I was so determined to get home whole so that my wife and family could see the whole progress, the whole progression of what happened."

In last Thursday's episode, Skupin inhaled too much smoke and passed out face first into the campfire he was building — severely burning his hands as well as portions of his arms and face. (CBS, which aired gruesome footage of skin hanging off Skupin's injured hands, posted a viewer warning prior to the dramatic sequence.) "I kept looking at my hands and thinking, 'How am I going to still play this game? What am I going to do? What gloves can I wear?' I was not ready to give up."

Skupin wasn't the only one staying focused on the game. Burnett acknowledged that as the unfortunate incident was playing out, he still was thinking like a producer. "I'm... responsible to CBS to make sure the cameras keep rolling," he said. "Both things are in my brain at the same time, multi-tasking — taking care of him and making TV."

And although Skupin called his nonsurgical recovery nothing short of "a miracle," he did concede that he hasn't "built a fire since."