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Synchronicity-A Burn Survivor [LEWC]

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posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 10:01 PM
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It was a dark and stormy night...

The night was.. moist...

No, not really. It was early morning, just after 7am. I was getting off work after a long 12 hour shift. Graveyard shifts are hard. Working 12 hours overnight can wreak havock on your mind, body, and spirit, too. Your thinking is foggy, and all you care about is getting home and going to bed. But, working three on and four off is really nice. Four day weekends every week makes it really worth it.

I trudged to my car that mid-June morning, piled in, and turned the key. One week before Father's Day, and I wondered what the kids would get for my husband. I pondered getting him a card as I started the car.The stereo was still on from my arrival some 12 or so hours previously. I was listening with half an ear when I heard the newscaster come on.

"An early morning fire on Wilkin's Mill Road has left one person severely injured and one person fighting for their life..."

I froze with my hand still on the keys, staring blankly at the stereo, as questions, exclamations, fears, memories... everything - flooded through me at a million miles an hour. Almost as if I expected the radio to answer me, to fill in the blanks.

I was wearing a red and white striped, long sleeved shirt and red courderoy pants. Clunky brown shoes. Oh, how I hated those special shoes!

Mommy zipped the purple jacket up to my chin, snugging the hood with the fluffy white cotton fur tight as she would, then turned me towards the swingset in the back yard, gently nudging me in that direction. It was chilly, but Easter was coming soon, and soon, so would the warm spring days.

I ran with a cumbersome yet excited trot of a 3, soon to be 4 year old to it, my eyes set on the slide. How I loved to go down the slide! It was my favorite! I climbed the ladder, seeing my breath in front of me as I ascended the steps eagerly approaching the top.

I leapt with both feet forward, lurching down the slide with a squeal of happiness. The cool wind against my face, I slid down the slide, landing on my bottom down below. Pain seared through me, and my sight dimmed from the indescribable pain as all memories from then on slipped away into forgiving darkness.

Wilkin's Mill Road. The road, I was there. It was my early childhood. I was only two. I closed my eyes as the pain of what this family was dealing with, what they had just gone through, rushed through me like a rush of alcohol sears through your veins when you take a straight shot.

I remembered laying on the floor in front of the large console television, the black and white pictures of the space ship rocketting off into space. I colored in my coloring book, but I paid attention because all the grown-ups spoke so excitedly about what was going on. I didn't understand then, not till much later. They all ran to the door, there on Wilkin's Mill Road, and peered out the door in hopes of catching a glimpse of that spaceship as it roared through the atmosphere and into our history books.

I laid my head on the steering wheel a moment as I was filled with the need to reach out to this family, to let them know they weren't alone, that somehow, I understood. Words escaped me as the stereo played on, seemingly in the far distance now.

My oldest sister, who was 16 at the time, is my idol. She is my hero in every sense of the word, someone I look up to, always wanted to be like, and emulated. Even at the tender age of two, I would mimick her. I would help her do laundry and iron in the little room downstairs across from the utility room where the washer and dryer were.

I remember looking through the windowed door outside and seeing the wind blowing in the tall pines as she would gather the dry clothes in the basket for ironing.I had a little pink highchair for my doll, and we would watch Dialing For Dollars while she ironed and I "helped".

Out of 6 children, I was the youngest. Father's Day was only a week away, and one of my brothers was making a set of praying hands for daddy out of wood. He was so proud. It was almost finished! He needed to do some more sanding, so he was sent outside on the second story balcony overlooking the steep back yard. There he worked away and sanded.

I was dressed in a blue dress with little white flowers mommy had made for me. She sewed a lot of my clothes. There were dump truck loads of rich red dirt around the yard, because the hill was so steep. They were going to level the yard out some to make it safer to play for the children.

"Watch your sister," my brother was told, "I am going to go help your mother bring in the groceries."

With that, Dad sprayed some water onto the wire trash bin, much like the ones you see in the park. We burned our trash back then. He soaked the fire until it was out, then went through the gate to the driveway and began helping bring in the groceries.

I was sitting at a pile of the dirt across the yard from where the fire was, with a red bucket and shovel. I was happilly digging and making hills of my own.

The breeze was blowing, and the fire that was thought to be out, was not. The breeze stirred the fire back to life, lifting live sparks and embers into the air, and carrying them across the yard. One ember landed on my thigh. The polyester material that was improperly marked as "Flame Resistant" and "Child Safe" exploded into flame before literally melting into my flesh.

I raised my left arm to shield my face from the flames, and the leaping flames melted the fingers of my left hand together, even melting my fingernails. The hair on the left side of my head was gone.

People mulled about in the kitchen just off the balcony when my brother began screaming for help.

"Dad! Dad! She's on fire!"

Dad opened the glass doors only to hear my screams and wails of agony, looking below to see me engulfed in flames, my blue dress with the white flowers had already mostly melted into my flesh.

Without even thinking once of his own safety, Dad leapt over the railing, going over two stories below to save his daughters' life. My life.He rolled me in the red dirt, tossing it on me to douse the remaining flames, without regards to the pain of the flames as they licked up both his arms nearly to his shoulders, giving him second and third degree burns.

My oldest sister having seen what was taking place, ran and got a fresh clean blanket, and threw it into the tub, drenching it in cold water. My dad carried me around to the front of the house as my mother frantically ran to him, car keys in hand.My sister met him with the blanket, and they wapped me gently in it. This one action, above all else, had
saved my life. It prevented me from going into shock.

Dad drove while mommy held me. He drove with his wrists on the steering wheel, because his hands were badly burned. He drove fast, with no regard to speed limits though safely, to the county hospital. To his shock and horror, they turned him away.

"We have no burn unit here," they told him, "we have no way to care for a child with such severe burns." Ironically, that hospital now has the largest, best burn unit in the entire southeastern U.S.

With that, he got back into the car, refusing to wait for them to get an ambulance.

"I don't have time to wait!", he exclaimed, "I am trying to save my daughters life!"




posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 10:09 PM
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A police officer that was there escorted him, as he again drove with his wrists on the wheel, gratefully without having to regard speed limits again, thanks to the police escort. They got me safely to the childrens hospital another 30 minutes away.

My parents, upon arrival, were told that I probably would not survive. There was little hope, and they should not expect it. Devastated, they refused to give up or to give in.

Over 75% of my body had been burned in the horrible accident, and this left little tissue to harvest from my tiny body to use for skin grafts necessary for the proper healing to begin.

Both of my legs, though they had suffered some burns, were harvested for skin grafts. There was not an inch of my body that was not either burned or harvested, save for my back and bottom.

I opened my eyes and was looking into the face of an angel. Oh, she loved me. I could feel her love in her eyes, the comfort of her arms around me, the gentle smile on her face. She spoke in soft gentle tones, though I don't remember what she said, I felt nothing but love filling my entire body as I gazed upon her face.

I looked over her arm as I saw her glance beyond me as she walked. There was a big oval metal... thing. The water in it looked like it was boiling, and I could see steam. The lights were so bright!

I looked back to her face because I was scared, and she looked at me again, smiling and speaking a comforting tone. I felt much better again, and smiled back. She bent forward, lowering me into the the boiling water.I screamed at her, no words came, just howls of pain and anger, and screams of feelings of betrayal as the overwhelming pain overtook me before I blacked out. The debridement was just beginning.

She quit, that nurse did, after caring for me. She had asked my parents if she could adopt me. She committed the one tabboo of medical care, she fell in love with her patient. Having crossed that line, and having been refused the adoption, she quit, she felt she had no other choice.

I opened my eyes again, this time I was able to peer down the length of my body, wrapped like a mummy. White bandages covered every inch of me except my finger tips on my right hand and my toes on both feet.I was laying on a bed with no rails. The bed was huge! I lay in the middle and it was very high from the floor. I couldn't turn my head, the head of the bed was raised so I could only peer downward and side to side with my eyes.

The door opened and a pretty young girl walked in. She reminded me of my oldest sister. I watched her very carefully, suspicous this time, of what she would do. I did not know her. She was carrying a little silver metal tray with things on it. Bottles and other things I couldn't name.

She set it on a table at the foot of the bed. She glanced up at me as she did something with the tray, then she grabbed my big toe, rubbed something on it, and stabbed it! The pain was immense, and again I closed my eyes as the now familiar darkness came to soothe me.

I later found out that burn patients can develop an oversensitivity to pain immediately following the burn. She was only testing my blood sugar, and I later discovered that I was on insulin because of the trauma.

I awoke on my third birthday. As I opened my eyes, I saw balloons, dozens of them, floating above me. They were tied to something... Metal rails of a very tall crib. The room was darkened, a soft gentle glow of a light coming from somewhere off in the corner. I closed my eyes and went back to sleep.

The Easter Bunny was HUGE! He was purple and had a white bow around his neck, with big floppy ears with white inside them. He was so big that sitting on the floor, his head touched the cieling and bent forward a bit. Too tall for the hospital room! What a beautiful Easter Bunny!

Mommy wouldn't let me take him home, so we left him for the other children in the hospital to enjoy. That was ok, because I was so happy to be going home! I didn't know then, but it had been almost a year.

I had to learn to walk, talk, and to feed myself all over again. It was like being an infant and having to relearn everything. I wore special orthopedic shoes until seventh grade, because of problems I had with walking again.Many skin grafts had been done, and the only one left of concern was one fresh one under my left arm.

"Get her a swingset," the doctor had told my parents, "it will help her to stretch out that skin. Exercise will be the best thing, as burns will not grow with her, she will need many more surgeries as she matures."

The doctor was dismayed when they brought me back so soon, as going down the slide that day, and landing on my bottom had torn the stitches under my arm, and he had to take me back to repair that skin graft. Thankfully, it wasn't too bad.



posted on Jul, 29 2012 @ 10:18 PM
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My doctor was Dr. Ham. He went on to do great things, he was a great man, wonderful with children, and very loving. He has a chair named after him. He has, sadly, since, passed on.

The Fire Chief Was Fire Chief Ham.

You don't think in terms of who you might have been had this not happened. Especially with one so young. Instead, you just are. You are who you become, because life that day changed, and who you were is now suddenly someone else.

Surgeries, and childhood bullying, cruel names, they become a fact of life. Then, you grow up, get married. Did you ever think you would be one to get married? You have kids. Get divorced. Find someone who loves you very much. You live the only life you know, because it is what it is.

As an adult, it's different. You already are who you are. You mourn the loss of that person, and have to start over. You have to redefine yourself, to rediscover yourself. The person that was will never be again.You overcome hurdles, either way. There is no way to explain being a burn survivor. You just understand what one another has gone through.

I have had people try to help with with makeup to cover up my burns. I am not ashamed, but they were. Don't feel shame or embarrassment for me. Or even sorrow or pity. It defined me in ways I cannot explain nor describe, ways I never thought about because I never had reason to.

It grew with me, and though it changed my life forever, it was never a real focus in my life. Not until now, that is. Ways that I am proud of. Looking back on who I became, I would not wish to change a thing, because I like who I am, and do not know who I would have been otherwise.

A week before Father's Day, 47 years ago today, on Wilkin's Mill Road, another family was sharing my experience. Their experience will define them, too. Perhaps they will read my story and share this synchronicity with me.

*Names have been changed
**This happened June 2012, a week before Father's Day
***This is a true story



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