Sunday, March 4, 2018

Update On Me

**WARNING: THERE ARE GRAPHIC PHOTOS OF A SECOND DEGREE BURN IN THIS POST**. I will post another warning before you get to them, so you are safe to read the part below- a recap of my injury. The first few photos are safe for all readers. :)

This is going to be a long post. No, I'm serious. You might want to grab a bowl of popcorn (wait, this goes into details about a burn injury, maybe you don't want food). But I highly recommend a bathroom break before you start this (unless you are reading this on your phone while in the bathroom, in that case, I don't want to know). Moving on....

So, last time I posted was on the afternoon of January 18. That evening after work I decided to make spaghetti for supper (because pasta is my favorite and one of the four meals I can actually make). When I went to drain the spaghetti into the colander (which was in the sink), the potholder started to slip and I didn't want to burn my hand on the handle (oh if only that had happened instead), so in an attempt to adjust the potholder, the entire pot of boiling water spilled onto my leg. Now, when I make spaghetti, I make a whole package and freeze the rest to use later. So, this wasn't a small pot, it was a 5-gallon pot. THANKFULLY, I was wearing sweatpants (which I found out later kept my burns from being third degree) so the water didn't have direct contact with the skin.

As soon as it happened, I ripped off the pants (which I found out later was the right thing to do, that way they didn't stick to the burn). I called 911 and the wonderful operator told me to unlock my front door then get into the shower to run cool water over the burn until the ambulance arrived. This is where I would love to tell you how calm I was, but I was hysterical. Before the paramedics arrived I started freaking out that I wasn't wearing pants (the operator calmly told me to find some shorts to put on). If I hadn't been freaking out, I might have thought of this on my own. Lol. The only shorts I could find were my Wonder Woman PJ shorts so when the good-looking paramedics arrived, I was in those PJ shorts, a Mark Twain sweatshirt, and had makeup running down my face from crying so much. Just my luck. Lol.

They helped me down three flights of stairs to load me into the ambulance. Fun fact, NOT my first ambulance ride. In 2008 I was in a car wreck and was taken to the hospital via ambulance. Needless to say, I was kinda going into shock at this point. I was frantically texting my sister, a few friends, and my boss (because when you live alone, there are people who need to know what's going on). Another funny side note, the only shoes the paramedics could find were my furry boots, so that is what I wore to the hospital. I'm sure it looked cute with my shorts. Lol. Yes, only I would take a photo inside the ambulance. Stop judging. Lol.

They took me to Parkland Hospital where a wonderful group of doctors and nurses took care of me. I was still hysterically crying, until the morphine hit. At that point I started to calm down some. I asked for some morphine to take home with me (they said no). Lol. They also waited until the morphine hit to give me a tetanus shot. To be honest, I didn't feel it (I wasn't feeling much of anything with the morphine). It was super cold outside and since I was wearing shorts, the paramedics had wrapped me in a blanket that was on my bed. It got some blood on it while they were putting in the IV, but thankfully it washed out. :)

After a while, a doctor came in to talk to me. He said he knew it looked bad (which it did), but it wasn't as bad as it could have been. He asked me to explain what had happened. This is when he told me that having sweatpants on saved my upper leg from a third degree burn (which would have required skin grafts). He also said that I was lucky the water only went on my leg. If I had poured the water back instead of forward, it would have gone on my face, chest, and probably stomach. He said that would have been third degree and I would have been admitted into the hospital for a good while. He also said I was lucky the water only went on my upper leg. If it had gone on my lower leg, even with the sweatpants on, he was was convinced that portion of the leg would have had third degree burns (and needing skin grafts). He said the thigh area has more fat and skin, so it was the best case scenario if I had to get a burn. My only response to this was to tell him NEVER to use the words fat and thigh in the same sentence to a woman. We will blame the morphine for my snark.

He also warned me that even though second degree burns aren't as bad as a third degree, it is the most painful (because you still have feeling in your nerves. A third degree has killed all nerve endings so you feel nothing). He warned me that it was going to hurt until it healed. Thankfully I was still on morphine at the time so I didn't freak out on him (I freaked out later after I got home and the morphine wore off). Lol. 

After talking to the doctor, a burn specialist came in to clean the wound. This was not fun to watch or feel. Another funny side note, this doctor's name was Dr. Cook. So yes, a doctor named DR. COOK helped clean my COOKING burn. 

Not gonna lie, the next few weeks were HORRIBLE. I've been told a burn is the worst kind of pain, and if it's not, I don't want to feel a pain worse than that. The hospital only gave me Tylenol 3 for the pain (which is a joke- that's just Tylenol on steroids, it does no good). Also, I had to have the burn cleaned and redressed every day. I'm a squeamish person-which is why there are all sorts of warnings on this post about the photos below- don't worry, I'm going to make it so you will have to scroll a while to find those photos, they shouldn't just pop up, so you won't have to see them unless you want to. 

The accident happened on a Thursday night. That Friday night, a friend and her mom came over (her mom is a retired nurse) and she was gracious enough to clean and re-bandage my burn for me. Then for the next seven days, a wonderful friend hired a home-care nurse to come over every day and take care of the burn. SHE WAS A GOD SEND! If you are in the Dallas area and need a home care nurse, please leave me a comment with your email and I will get you her information. She was amazing. I was sleeping on my couch (I use the term "sleeping" lightly because I was averaging about 3 hours of sleep a day due to the pain), so she changed the sheets on my couch every day for me. She also did a load of laundry a few times. And she was so gentle cleaning my bandages. One time the gauze got stuck to the burn and she spent 35 minutes getting it off so it wouldn't hurt. 

For the first two weeks, the pain when I just stood up was HORRIBLE. I can't even begin to describe it. I could usually find one position lying down with my leg propped up where the pain was somewhat bearable, at least for a while. There was one day where I couldn't find relief no matter what I did. I pretty much cried for six straight hours because I was in so much pain. When the burn started to heal and the skin started to grow back, that was awful. Again, no words to describe the pain.  

A week after my accident I went back to the burn center at Parkland for a follow up (a sweet lady from my Sunday School class drove me). At that point I didn't have to have daily cleanings anymore. They put some sort of a foam pad on it (Mepilex) and I had to keep that on it for a week. Then the following week when I went back for my second follow up-another couple from my church took me that time. The doctor said at that point I didn't have to keep it bandaged when I was home, but I had to keep it moisturized and I would want to wear bandages if I wore pants or leggings (because it was still tender). They said it has healed as much as it will for now, it takes about six months to a year to completely heal. They told me to use unscented aloe lotion on it, but a friend gave me coconut oil and that stuff has been AMAZING!! I highly recommend it. 

Oh, side note. The day of my second follow up, I found out I had pink eye in not one BUT BOTH EYES. So, I had to get eye drops for pink eye. When it rains, it pours. Lol.

Despite all of this, I cannot even begin to described how I was blessed during this time. But Rachel, you had no skin on half of your leg, how can you possibly say you were blessed? Hey, I'm glad you asked, let me tell you. First of all, like I mentioned before, the water only went on my upper right leg. I've been told the burn shouldn't leave a scar (although the skin will be discolored). Hey, that's fine with me. It's a conversation starter. I like to talk (in case you haven't noticed). I don't even want to think about if the water had gone on my face or chest or stomach. 

I am also blessed because I have an AMAZING support system in my friends. If you don't know me personally, it's super hard for me to ask for help. Even when someone says "hey call if you need anything" I have a hard time doing that, so this whole experience was humbling. I finally got to a point where I could call and ask for help. I knew I had great friends to rely on, but man, they really stepped up during this time. I had a friend set up a meal train so people could sign up to bring me food every day. I had friends come over just to visit or watch a movie with me. A few times a friend came over to stand outside my bathroom door while I tried to wash my hair and basically take a sponge bath. At that point I was sitting on the edge the tub, making sure my right leg didn't get wet. I was having to bend over slightly to use the shower sprayer. I had to have someone there in case I fell. I'm sure it would have been easier to just have a friend in there helping me, but well, modesty and all got in the way. It was hard enough asking someone to stand guard outside the bathroom door. About two weeks after my injury, a sweet friend bought a shower chair that allowed me to sit sideways and keep my leg outside of the tub. This gave me more freedom to shower unsupervised and it was less uncomfortable than leaning over the tub. I actually just took my first shower without using that chair yesterday. I am making progress!

I will say that having friends over helped me forget that my leg felt like there were 1000 hot needles poking it. I had friends deliver flowers, food, Dr Pepper, bottled water, gifts, books, cookies (OH SO MANY COOKIES, I gained about 50 pounds in three weeks from all the cookies). I had friends who live out of town send gift cards to have food delivered. The Wednesday following my accident I had a doctor friend make a house call (yes, a house call, in the 21st century) and she prescribed me some stronger pain meds and an oral antibiotic (which was good for about five days, then I had a bad reaction to one of them, I think to the antibiotics). I'll spare all the gory details, but I will say it's hard to throw up when you can't bend your leg. I just hoovered over the toilet and prayed I didn't miss. Sorry, TMI. 

My church family was also a blessing. They called, texted, emailed, sent snail mail get well cards, sent food, and came over to visit. My pastor's wife brought me lunch one day. I am a firm believer in prayer and I know I have a great group praying for me at my church.

My company also blessed me while I was out on medical leave. I was off work for three weeks on bed rest. The company actually sent me flowers (which was nice). My HR department got me set up on short term disability (which means that I got paid 100% of my salary during this time). My boss and coworkers also checked in on me frequently to see if I needed anything and to see how I was doing. Funny- when it happened I kept thinking, oh, this won't be bad, I'll be back at work on Monday, no big deal- I'll just keep my leg propped up while I sit at my desk and work. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. If I had only known the pain I was going to be in. Even when I finally returned to work, I still had to keep bandages on under my clothing, so I limped around for about two weeks. And for the first week I had to keep my leg propped up because it still hurt to have pressure on it. 

I'm happy to report that now I don't have to wear bandages under the clothing. I still have to keep it moisturized, but at least it's now actual skin. The human body is amazing that the skin just replaced itself. It basically looks like a bad sunburn right now. That new skin also feels different than the rest of my skin (it's kinda rough feeling), but in time that will change. There are days where I think it's looking a lot better, then the next day, it's back to not looking so good. I just have to be patient. I also have to be sure to always wear sunscreen when I'm outside (I'm pretty pale, so I was doing that before this happened anyway), but I have to be extra careful with this new skin. I also can't soak in a hot bath yet. I miss bubble baths. That will be a joyous day when I can do that again!

Okay, I know this was super long and probably more information than you wanted, but I know some of you have asked, and some of you I only talk to via this blog, so you had no idea what was going on before now. Thank you all for everything!! XOXO

Okay,  so if you are squeamish, or just don't want to see photos of the burn, stop scrolling NOW. 


No seriously, stop scrolling.

You have been warned.

You cannot yell at me because you saw these photos if you are still scrolling.

Last chance.

You sure are brave.

Okay, so here they are. I'll start with photos from the hospital. Yes, my leg was swollen so pay no attention to my fat thigh:

This was what my bandages looked like for pretty much the first week- burns seep. A LOT. No really, A LOT:

This was 24 hours after my accident:

More from the first week. The nurse had to measure the burn at one point for her notes. Yeah, this was NOT a small area that got burned. There was also a lot of bruising around the edges. We are going to say that my thigh looks fat because it was still swollen. I cannot confirm or deny that is the reason:

I know, this is so gross, but hey, you are the one who scrolled down:

This was one week after the accident when I went for my first follow up at Parkland:

This was when they took off the Mepilex pad after my second visit:

The area was flaky for a few days, then got better, then went back to being flaky. It was basically like how a sunburn peels before it heals. Hey- that rhymes: :)

The past week there was a purple area near the top, it looked bruised but didn't feel like it:

This photo was taken yesterday. Today the area near the top felt like your skin does when you are recovering from a sunburn (a little burning but not unbearable). The purple area is still there but not as dark as it was earlier this week:

Overall, I'm pleased with the progress. I have to go back and look at early photos to see how far I've come. I'm hoping the red/pinkness fades, which I'm told it will. My swimsuit modeling days are over though. Lol. Let's be honest, I enjoy Whataburger way too much to be a swimsuit model. Lol.

Thank you for reading this incredible long post. And if you are reading this, wow, thanks for sticking it out until the end. You are a trooper! Much love!