“It is been 23 years and my burn injury still affects me, however, it does not stop me.”
At 2 years old I was burned over 91% of my body in a house fire – but it is not an excuse. It hasn’t stop me from obtaining my bachelor’s degree in animal science while showing and riding horses on my college team, from traveling and hiking up one of the most dangerous mountains in the world, from watching the sunrise at the Grand Canyon, snowboarding in Colorado, or from recently attaining my master’s degree.
However, it has been 23 years, and my burn injury still affects me everyday.
My injury affects me, when I want to write, but I can't because of hand pain due to the tendonitis and arthritis in my wrist that is caused by lack of range of motion and abnormal bone development from my injury.
My injury affects me, when I can’t open up jars, or open up a door because I can’t get a good enough grip due to missing parts of my fingers.
My injury affects me, when I have to wear special riding pants to ride horses so that my legs don't end up with sores that are caused by the scarring on my legs chafing on the horse or saddle.
My injury affects me, when I have to wear custom orthotics, instead of heels or cute shoes because my feet are two different sizes and one requires extensive support and the other easily ends up with open sores on the heel.
My injury affects me, when I almost pass out from heat exhaustion, due to limited sweat glands resulting in an intolerance to temperature changes.
My injury affects me, when I have another allergic reaction due to the overexposure to medications, and medical supplies at such a young age.
My injury affects me, when my jaw hurts and I can’t open up my mouth all the way to eat, due to the lack of range of motion in my face from the tight scarring around my jaw.
My injury affects me, because it is extremely time consuming, and expensive.
My injury affects me, when everywhere I go people wonder what happened, or stare.
My injury affects me, when the unwanted memories flash into my mind.
My injury affects me, knowing that another setback is always possible.
People don’t realize that - my burn injury still affects me, even though I was burned 23 years ago. My burn injury, is not just a burn injury, it is a lifelong injury that has required extensive physical, and emotional healing, constant adaptions, and a daily decision to move forward and not backwards. Ultimately, I have a choice - it can be my greatest weakness and my greatest strength. It is not an excuse. Being a burn survivor is more than just surviving the fire. It requires a life of healing because the challenges don’t stop when the physical scars heal. Healing is lifelong, a choice, and it takes continual work and effort. In order to truly heal and move forward one must heal in all aspects of their life; including physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. Thankfully there is some great resources to help one heal fully if support is needed. One can receive support through support groups and peers in the burn community, from family and friends, teammates, church and religion, professional counseling, and animals.
A burn injury goes beyond just healing the physical scars that are left for everyone to see, it requires lifelong healing because it effects one in all areas of their life, throughout their life, including physically, emotionally, spiritually, and socially. A burn injury is a lifelong injury.
It is been 23 years and my burn injury still affects me, however, it does not stop me.