Having Faith Is The Healing Process – The year of 2002 was when everything happened to me: I was married to my wonderful husband, gave birth to my beautiful son, graduated from College with a Marketing Management Diploma and life seemed perfect.
Until the summer of June 2002 we lived at my parents’ house. One evening my brother-in-law and his girlfriend stopped by, so my husband decided to cook dinner. He began with some oil in the saucepan on the stove and then turned to prepare what was going in the pot.
All of a sudden out the side of my eye I saw a fire on the stove. Immediately I jumped up and ran to the stove to put the fire out. I frantically looked for the baking soda, but grabbed a handful of flour instead, to throw on top of the fire. Within seconds the fire shot up to the ceiling directly in front of my face.
Afraid I might burn my parent’s house, I grabbed the saucepan with my left hand and tried to bring it outside, but since the flame was so high and hot, the oil spilled out of the saucepan ~ and I slipped. The oil poured all over my left hand and wrist so I instantly threw the pan onto the kitchen floor and ran to the washroom to put cold water over my hand.
As I was staring at my hand I kept on asking will my hand be okay? Will it look the same? I asked about my son, to be told that the visiting girlfriend was also burned on her legs due to the pan hitting the floor when she stood up to carry my son away from the oil.
The fire fighters arrived and came in to see me in the washroom, talking me through all the way so I didn’t faint or go into shock, when they discovered my legs were also burned so poured water on my legs to stop the burning. The paramedics arrived and took me to Royal Columbian Hospital, but I was not immediately admitted so remained covered in a sterile blanket and in shock for an hour, with my supportive husband by my side.
As the Royal Columbian didn’t have any beds I had to be sent home and this is where the horrific story of ‘hospital jumping” begins. I was told to see a surgeon at Eagle Ridge Hospital in Port Moody the next day. This surgeon looked at my hand and said he could not do surgery for a week in spite of the serious degree of the burn! My family who were with me feared the infection that might occur if my burns were not treated right away.
I was sent home again, to await the care of home care nurses who never came. Sadly, I was now not able to care for or hold and breastfeed my 2 month old son. The next day my mother, who was a nurse called St. Vincent’s Hospital and again the medical team cleaned my burns and I was sent home again. Now in desperation our family doctor was contacted and referred us to the VGH Burn Unit.
The next day we arrived at VGH ER and I was finally admitted to the one last bed in the Burn Unit.
I was at the Burn Unit for 2 weeks and the first week was terrifying as I was often alone unable to feed myself, as my husband or parents were caring for my son. The worst experience was my first bath. The feeling of cleaning of the scars was so painful as well as the pain of getting in and out of the wheelchair.
Some days there were obviously good when family and friends came to visit, but other times painful as the burning sensation got worse I had to call for morphine. I tried my best to stay away from drugs as I was still breast-feeding my son. But after a long and thoughtful decision I realized I too had to care for myself. So I decided to stop breast-feeding, as I needed drugs to relieve my pain. Surgery followed with skin grafting on my left hand and wrist as well as my left leg and parts of my right leg. With good results I was told that in a couple of days I was able to go home. Before leaving the OT explained about the importance of wearing pressure garments which is not easy in the beginning. Today, however I would say to ALL burn survivors that these pressure garments are very helpful and to wear them knowing the benefits!
Now, the mobility in my left hand is the same as it was before I got burned with the help of exercising the hand, and as my job requires me to use a keyboard. I believe that the healing of my scars turned out better than I expected because of being positive every day, giving thanks that I am alive and in faith.
Looking back at my recovery I never realized the importance of the help around me from the firefighters and paramedics at the scene, the nurses and doctors at the burn unit, small words of encouragement from family and friends but most of all the faith I found within myself. Looking back at everyone ~ these were the heroes to my recovery.
I have a beautiful family who I love very much and give me inspiration everyday. Today I have more value to life more than ever before. Never would I have imagined myself as someone to look up to or inspire. Given this experience I now have every faith that burn survivors can get through it regardless of their situation. It is a gift and joy to being part of the adult burn community; there are so many opportunities to share, for families to come together and enjoy our lives.
Now I am an Ambassador for the burn community, and support those similar to me and able talk to them to say “having faith in yourself is a part of the healing process”.