Thursday, January 31, 2013

#11 The Healing Process

So after a month at home with my mom and stepdad, ( I hate to call him that, because he was more of a father to me during that one month than I have ever known, and I now call him Poppy) I returned to Birmingham to live with my roommates. I came a very very long way in a short amount of time, my doctors even raved about my healing. If only everyone had a mommy like mine. Mom did everything for me, it was like I was a small child again, except a lot more vocal! This process was so agonizing. And I am not a fan of pills, so this process for me was more excruciating than it would be for someone who took their pain medicine.

**Fun fact -> Some studies show that pain medicine can slow the healing process.**

I was so excited to move back in to my apartment and be reunited with Brandon and friends, little did I realize on move-back-in day how attached to my momma I had gotten over the past month. I was absolutely terrified. I balled like a baby when she had to go. And independence was a lot harder this time than I remembered it being the last time I moved to Birmingham, five years earlier.

I adjusted. I called mom a lot and spent a lot of time frustrated at myself because I still had a hard time doing things on my own. I couldn't open doors, most less jars or even ziplock bags. I was dreadfully frightened of the kitchen and had small panic attacks every time I heard the slightest sound. So, I started therapy. My doctors told me that I may not need therapy, it was a personal decision. I would have NEVER rehabilitated properly had I not. Heck, I had to have a second surgery and I was taking therapy. Who knows what would have happened had I not been treated properly and neglected therapy! Choosing to take physical therapy and give it my all 3 times per week and do my exercises and rehab outside of therapy, was the smartest thing this gal has ever done!

UAB did not have a physical therapy place that I could treat in so my doctor told me that I could go anywhere. When I asked for further clarification because I had no idea where physical therapy clinics were or if it mattered which one I went to, Dr. Thomas responded, "they'll all be about the same, just pick a place that is convenient to you."

Now, if any of you know me personally, you know that I have been known to have some pretty bad luck. That being said, this freedom of choice that would directly affect my healing process terrified me. I prayed and prayed and prayed that I would find a good therapist and as I went to the gym one day soon after, I spotted right beside my gym, Brookwood Outpatient Therapy. I walked inside and had no idea what I was doing, but without a prescription (because my doctor did not give me one) I stumbled upon two caring wonderful god-sends Mrs. Vivian Williams and Mrs. Cathy Humphries.  With these two wonderful women I began therapy.

Therapy was hard. I am still in therapy. Like I said before, I can not imagine where I would be without it. Therapy helped me mentally, emotionally and physically. And, yes, therapy was expensive. But it is one thing I could not do without. I did exercises as simple as jumping on a trampoline to work on my stamina and my skin graft area behind my knee, and massages that would make me cry. I still do all of my exercises and stretches, 1 yr and 10 months later.

My scar tissue constantly gets tight. (My therapist has warned me that this may be my norm from here on out.) Since the injury I have developed other complications like arthritis, bursitis and thoracic outlet syndrome due to the trauma that my body has experienced.

If you are going through this know that you will need a strong support system, mine was my mom and my, now, husband (the Brandon dude I keep referring too). It is not easy and can be discouraging because progress is very slow, like "turtle" slow! But keep your head high, your hands lifted, claim your healing in Jesus' name, ask for prayer, and do your exercises.

I will post my exercises throughout this process soon! Things I was doing at this point were squeezing putty, doing knob drills (twisting and opening bottles and jars), using the elliptical and doing a lot of stretching and getting massaged. Buy yourself a light, hand-held massager with a rotating head in case whoever you have rubbing on you gets burned out, because it will happen! After 2 years my husband is REAL tired of rubbing my arms. On his behalf, he rarely wines when I ask and I ask almost everyday! :)

#10 Hospital and Healing Photos

This is what I looked like at the hospital. Because Brandon and I were not married he was not able to sit with me in the emergency room. Mom and Scot (my stepdad) were not able to get to the hospital right away, because all of the roads were closed due to a massive snow storm that occurred the night of my injury. My mom and stepdad finally arrived and this is how my parents first saw me. My face was so swollen I could not see and so dehydrated I could barel talk. I was without pain meds for the first 72 hours.

Before surgery took place those bandages that you see on my arms had to be removed. This was the 2nd most excruciating pain I have ever had. I was without pain meds and bandages that were a day old, removing those bandages ripped the skin, scabs, fluid, dried blood and ooze off my tender arms.

After surgery............
The green/brown sleeves were  vacuums for my arms after the surgery to help the fluid drain.

Below is my face after surgery and then my skin graft area on my upper thigh.

Sometimes God puts people in your life that act as your protector/comforter/friend for a brief moment in time. This young lady was truly my guardian angel during this time in my life. She was God's angel put here for me. She was a familiar face in mass chaos, light in darkness, a friend in a strange and terrifying place, Katie DeBord. She is the older sister of one of my dearest friends, Ashley DeBord Hardin. I dont believe in coincidences, I believe in the will of the Lord and His grand plan.

After the bandages came off.....

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

#9 The price to pay for being burnt

The price of being burnt is complex and on going. Some never fully recover from their burn, mentally and physically. The monetary burden of being burnt.

Today, 2 years later, I can talk about this. My parents (mom and stepdad) and I am still recovering from the monetary burden of me being burnt. Bills are still coming in two years later! I am still in physical therapy two years later! I was just released from the burn unit last month! A burn is a long healing process. It makes you realize how wonderfully made we are as humans. It may take a while and it may not be pretty but when burnt down to the muscle, over joints, through the contractures, through the unattractive healing process, God heals!

We have spent thousands of dollars in bangages, co-pays, medicines, braces, therapy, massages, and garments. Without my parents i could not have healed as beautifully as I was able too. God always provides a way. In the burn unit through numerous visits I was given the chance to talk with many other burn victims and though it was hard for them as well, God always provided. My mom worked two jobs, while raising and providing for three other children and two step children. My mom is a provider. She is the most selfless and giving person I know. Not everyone is blessed with a mom like mine, but everyone faced with a difficult situation is provided a way. It is not easy, not matter your path, but you will make it through.

Tips to savings and healing:
It goes without saying that good insurance is key. I did not have good insurance. Most importantly, find a therapist that is passionate about helping you through this difficult time. I have been with the same therapist for the duration of therapy. You are not bound to seeking therapy at the hospital or to a specific therapist. Your doctor and insurance must approve your therapist of choice.
My doctor did not provide me a therapist nor did he tell me I needed one. You WILL need a GREAT THERAPIST. Mine has been my saving grace, and is the only reason I am as well as I am today!
Shop around for every treatment and garment or brace recommended WITH your therapist.
Therapy is in itself expensive, so work hard to make the most of your time with them.
Have your therapist assign you homework, and anything that you can do before, after or outside your session is good to take advantage of outside of your therapists time.
Invest in a at-home massager, so you or someone in your home can massage your scar tissue outside of therapy.
Look at your spending as an investment for a better you. And take care of yourself! Put your healing 1st! Do not set yourself back by not doing your excersises, research or doing something silly like going out in the sun or over-doing it in your daily activities (if something is too much or too hard, do not work through it risking set backs, relax, breathe and stretch it out. Do not over-do!)

#7 It's been a while...

Hey guys - Sorry It has been so long since I last post. The year of my life has been absolutely hectic! Since my last post I became very ill due to a sickness developed during treatment of my burns, I got engaged and married the love of my life, recovered from the sickness just recently (November 2012), started a new job, decided that life is too short to live in misery, and am pursuing my photography business full time (
My intensions are to pick up where I left off with the blog and walk you all the way through my experience, until I am well. How long until I am well? That is yet to be known. Astonishing how five seconds can have such an impact on your life.
I urge you to begin following me again as I take you through the rest of my journey and share my story with friends and family, you never know who just might need to hear this story one day! I know I never thought I would...

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

#8 The good, the bad, and the ugly

Through all of the pain, agony and suffering, there was good. I learned to understand what my body, mind and spirit was going through. It was a harsh reality. Everyday felt like a nightmare that I could not wake up from. never once did I pity myself or ask God why.

The questions I did ask God was, what am I to learn from this? Where am I to go after this? How will I conquer this? What is your plan for me?

The most frustrating part of this whole process was that God was the only one I could seek to mend me emotionally physically and spiritually, because my doctors gave me no counsel on what to expect and how to endure this process. My mother and I spent a lot of time online and asking others to learn about the burns and different ways to bandage and re-bandage, bathe, cover myself, keep my body temperature regulated, deal with my anxiety, stress and desires for human interaction and to be outside of the sterile room.

Learning to deal with not being able to bathe myself or use the restroom on my own were two of the most humbling moments through this process. I was 23 and had no privacy and yet too much privacy. The other humbling factor was that "life does not stop for you." I had no one to talk to about what I was going through that could relate. I wanted so badly to be back to my normal self and be able to talk to my friends about more than how I was doing. I did not want pity. I wasn't even sad for myself at the time. Now, that I reflect on that time, I am very sad for me. I realized during this time that most of my friends and family were superficial. I learned that most people that I called friend were only a friend to those that they could hang out with, and who were not an inconvenience to their schedules and status.

On top of everything I had never in my life felt ugly, until now. I never thought I was the prettiest girl in town, but now I could not look at myself in the mirror. I looked like a nightmare. I had holes and dots all over my face from the surgical procedures. My face was as red as a beat. I couldn't do anything for myself, even type, change channels, walk or eat.  I felt disastrous. Yet my parents, siblings and boyfriend were more encouraging that ever. My few true friends still told me how beautiful I was. Ans through God's grace I still knew that my beauty on the inside prevailed. My positive outlook on my healing and progress radiated beauty. Through all of the bandages and handicaps I was gorgeous!

The good that came from abandonment, pain, suffering and questioning was my relationship with God. I drew nearer to him, my mom, stepdad, brothers, sister and my boyfriend (who is now my husband) like never before. God and Family is all one needs in life. With God and Family you can find all of the love and comfort one could possibly desire.

Psalm 23:1-6 "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

Monday, February 20, 2012

#6 Loneliness

It has been a while since I posted, life just keeps surprising me...

Post #6 is going to leave the hospital scene and talk about recovery.

After being dismissed from the hospital which took 2 days, and 2 allergic reactions to different nurses giving me Loratab (the first nurse who discovered this apparently did not tell the nurse who came on shift after her about my allergy and her previous experience).  I was not happy about leaving Brandon in Birmingham, who had just moved up to be with me 2 weeks prior, or my puppy, Sasha. But I did what was best for me and went home with my mom to be taken care of. My mother and I have never communicated well and the fact that I was about to become the greatest inconvenience she had known yet was a dreadful thought.

I had to be at home for a month recovery. I could not use my hands or arms, which impaired me to go to the restroom alone, feed myself, or even flip channels. I could use my fingers so about half-way through I began working from home to exercise my fingers and wrist. Throughout this time, I was praying for peace, healing and patience. In the 4 weeks that I was at home I can count on one hand the family members and friends that came see me. I can count on one hand the people that called. I cannot count on two hands the people that I called and told that I was home and asked them to come see me. Out of those I called 2 came to see me. Five called to check on me whenever they has a second. Any many never called back. Friends and Family, you learn really quick who the ones are that care or are willing to put someone else before themselves. I longed for certain friends and family to come and they never did. I was not asking for pity from anyone, just a few minutes of their time to see a friendly face. I remember crying and begging my mom to let me go to WalMart. For those of you who dont know me, I strongly dislike WalMart and find it pretty nasty, I also am a very active person that thrives on being outdoors.  While healing, my number one priority is sanitation as an infection could cause a MAJOR set back.  I was willing to risk my health to see the likeness of another person besides my mom and stepdad. Of course, my mom was not, so there I sat for 3 weeks bound to a recliner, the bath, and the bed, INSIDE, with only Brandon, my boyfriend, (and in my absence since last post is now my fiance!) visiting on the weekends.

My stepdad at this time had been married to my mother for a year. He was a vital part of my recovery. He took me in as if he had been there my whole life, he fed me, let me walk around in my boy-shorts, took my to the bathroom (humbling moment), came home at lunch everyday, and sat with me, when no one else would.

When you are down, there is only once place to look, to God. This time in my life is the darkest place I have ever been in.  I, for the most part, am pretty hard to bring down, but during this 4 wk period and even now, I have to stay VERY close to God in order to keep the devil out, because these feelings, this restraint, this loneliness will bring you down.

I actually had, not just someone, but an admired and respectful leader in my "home" church tell me that God only gives you so many chances before he gives you a reality check. My mentor had told me that God allowed this to happen to me because he feared I was straying from the Lord's path in my life. That, my friends, rocked my world. I cried for days and still have not forgotten those words that so deeply pierced my heart. This man that I had looked up to in church as the father of my church family and a mentor of my spiritual health spit on me, while I was down. He never even came to see me. In times of pain, you remember the most of others.

Today, I live my life by always doing my very best to be there when it counts.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

#5 My 23rd Birthday

My 23rd birthday will never be forgotten, though I feel like I skipped this birthday because I spent it in the hospital, my eyes swollen and my hands, legs and arms constricted by drainage contraptions. You see, when you are burned and have to have your skin grafted there are two main objectives, hydration and acceptance. Your body is constantly send water (ooz and puss) to the skin as healing properties in effort to save and accept the new skin. Because of this predicament I had to wear these large suction wraps on my hands that are kind of the same idea as the warming gloves you put your hands in when getting a manicure, except that they function nothing like that and are much less appealing to the eye. They were a poop brown color and make a sound like someone slurping through a straw all day and night. Humorous, but not pleasant.

On my birthday I was blessed with the appearance of many friends and family who, mostly, traveled to see me and to let me know they loved me. As I previously stated in a post, I reeked of burnt skin and hair, dried blood, and ooze; despite my aroma or appearance, every person who came to see me came close to say they loved me, missed me and were praying for me. Wow, talk about guardian angels and a shield of protection, on that day, in that moment, I felt joy in a moment of sadness, because of the blessings and gifts of my friends and family's presence I was able to experience that day. The Lord blessed every person that came in my room with a filter of emotion. I could not see distress, anguish or worry in anyone's eyes, though, now I know it was there. Now, as I talk to everyone who came to see me that day, they all say that despite my appearance I sounded like I hadn't missed a beat and they all thoroughly enjoyed being with me that day! When I think back on that day, I am in awe of the hand of God that was inside me lifting me up in front of friends and family to give them courage, understanding, peace, and, most importantly, hope. My friends and family all tell me how they could have never have imagined how terrible I looked that day when they came to see me, but as they laid their eyes upon me, I greeted every person with a smile, joy and tears. I cannot put into words how happy I was to see everyone that day and how much it meant to me to see their faces. I had been thinking about all of them as I had laid in that hospital bed, claiming that I would see all of their faces again, as I knew I was coming out of this dark cloud of pain.

Today, I am still waiting to rekindle those flames with my friends as they once were, but my healing is yet to be over. I will turn 24 in 1 month and 2 days and am still in recovery. 1 year ago I could have never imagined just how long it would be before I rekindled the flames of my friends as they used to be.

The fact of the matter is, those flames will never be as they were. Everyone is changing, moving, growing; each of us choosing different paths as we lead our lives separately, developing into the adults we have chosen and are willed to be. I thank God that I am not able to rekindle those flames as I am a changed person. God has changed me for the better. Shaping me by every incident, every breathe, every choice, every sin and every achievement for the kingdom into the woman I will forever be for Him.

Everyday there are those who live their lives as we are promised tomorrow and then there are those of us, the intelligent ones, that live our lives as though our next breathe is not guarnteed. I am thankful to my Father that he gives me my next breathe with every breathe I breathe, sometimes I need that next breathe to repent as I am by no means perfect, but never the less I am thankful. God placed a mission on my life at 16 years old to be a winner of souls for him. This testimony along with many others that I have conquered in my short lifetime are just the beginning of my mission. I look forward to the breathes that lie ahead and will forever more thank my Lord and Savior, my Father for smothering that fire so that 3 Christians on fire for God may tell the story to others as a testimony for the glory of His kingdom.

I am looking forward to my 24th birthday and am excited for what is in store for me in this upcoming year. I am thankful that I survived this past year and look forward to telling you just how I did that. I encourage each of you to take every breathe as a blessing, and count your blessings around you as your friends and family are gifts from God, cherish them and be thankful for them, be thankful for every breathe they breathe as well.