August 12, 2010

Setting Goals

After a burn injury many survivors think that it's the end of the world and that all hope is lost. They think that they will never be able to live a normal life again. Setting goals is important as it will help the survivor to return back to the society and living a normal life again. A survivor should start by setting goals that are achievable and are not too hard and not too easy to achieve. Start with the easy goals and take small steps, one at a time. These steps will build up and you will be amazed later at what you have achieved. Have a plan to achieve the goals and don't let setbacks prevent you from progressing. Reward yourself after accomplishing a goal no matter how small the goal was. Continuously assess the progress you are making toward achieving each goal and see what steps are needed to reach your next plateau. After achieving each goal you will feel empowered and this will create positive feedback and enhance self esteem. With time you will see and feel the power of accomplishment and how this will speed up your recovery.

August 10, 2010

Skin Donation

The skin is the largest organ in the body. The skin has many important functions (see the skin). Skin can be donated for, and used by Patients with severe burns and patients with other injuries. The donated skin is transplanted to these patients which helps to decrease the pain, acts as a barrier to prevent infection, prevents body fluid loss and helps in body temperature regulation. The donated skin can be use as a temporary treatment for patients with severe burns and as the patient's own skin heals, it can be grafted on the burned area as a permanent covering.

The person will make the decision to donate his or her skin in the same manner as other organ donations. This decision will not effect the medical care given to that person before his/her death. Every attempt will be made to save the person's life and the skin will only be taken after the death of the person.

Donating skin will not cause body disfigurement; the skin harvest is composed of a very thin layer of skin taken from the abdomen, back and legs. The person who donates the skin (the donor) should not have any transmissible disease such as hepatitis.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

August 9, 2010

Burns due to Hot Tar

Tar is used in paving and in the commercial roofing industry. Tar is heated and used while it's hot. Hot tar can cause serious burn injuries. For example hot tar may come in contact with the skin through splashing or spilling. When it comes in contact with the skin, hot tar solidifies and sticks to the skin leading to serious injury. Workers carrying hot tar containers on a ladder are susceptible to falling the ladder in unsafe conditions leading to burns and other serious injuries. Freshly applied hot tar is slippery and as it cools down, it becomes sticky. This can cause a tripping or slipping hazards. There is also the risk of fire. Hot lugger and kettle are used to prepare hot tar. Vapors created from use of this equipment are flammable. Great care should be taken to avoid contact with an ignition source.

If there is a burn injury from a hot tar, cool the burned area with water, cover it with a dry clean sheet and seek medical attention (see chemical burns). Avoid removing the tar with a chemical substance. Personnel should be trained on how to apply first aid measures to injured workers. If a worker slips and falls or there is a suspicion of other injuries beside burn injury avoid moving the person (assuming they are not lying on the newly paved hot tar) as extra movement may lead to additional injury. In case of eye injury, flush the eye with cool water and seek medical attention.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

August 6, 2010

Survivor Story

From the book "I will not be broken" by Jerry White.

Survivor X was disabled during the civil war that took place in 1978 in Eritrea. In the beginning he was saying "Now my legs are injured, what is going to happen to me?" But this didn't keep him down. He quickly got rid of these thoughts because he realized what happened to him, has happened already and he can't change the past. He stopped thinking about what happened to him and instead started thinking about what he can do. He started thinking about going back to work and taking control of his life, because if he doesn't do that, nobody is going to do it for him. All the bad thoughts that were in his mind were gradually diminishing until they were completely gone.

He now takes care of his elderly mother, and helps cultivate the land for elderly and challenged people in his area. In return for working their land, he shares the produce with them and also get to keep a share for himself. Survivor X doesn't see himself as a challenged person because he was able to work and give back.

August 5, 2010

Everything is Possible

There is a purpose in life for every person and no matter what happens in life, every person has to dust him/herself off and stand on his/her feet. It may not be easy in the beginning with all the physical and emotional trauma associated with burn injuries but no matter what you are going through, it won't last forever and you can choose a fresh start whenever you decide to. So it's your decision to change your life and start living your life again. Don't stick to the past, live for today. The good old days will not return again but the days ahead of you may be better than these old days.
The important thing after a burn injury is that you are still alive and you can rebuild your life. Set a goal and don't let the pain from the injury set you back from accomplishing your goals and dreams. Don't let negative thoughts seep into your mind because they will have a negative effect on you and will pull you backwards. When you are in pain, reach out to friends and family as they may be able to help. Make the best of each day in your life and leave the past to the past. Fight back with a positive attitude and a strong will.

August 3, 2010

From "Survivor Corps"

Survivor X was living with his wife and two daughters and supporting them by working as an administrator when civil war erupted in Ethiopia. Everyone was asked by the government to fight even those without military training. Survivor X went to fight and while he was on patrol, he was beaten badly and shot thirteen times by revolutionaries. As a result he lost his arm all the way to the shoulder and nearly bled to death. The survivor recalls that the nurses didn't dress his wound as they thought that he wouldn't survive, they just were watching him die, but he survived. When he returned home, his wife told him that because he was an amputee, she couldn't live with him anymore and left him taking their youngest daughter with her. He was soon living on the streets because his savings were confiscated when a new government took over in Ethiopia.

Despite what he has gone through from hunger, disrespect, constant abuse and fatigue, he didn't give up. He was told about survivor corps by another war survivor he met. The survivor joined a support group for survivors and got connected with one of the partners of Survivor Corp to receive financing and training to operate a small business selling dry goods from a kiosk. The survivor with this business was able to rebuild his life; he says "I became strong emotionally and psychologically. My income also increased. I started to live independently. I respect myself, and now, others respect me as well." The survivor now peaks with people without disabilities telling them not to judge people with disabilities without knowing them, they are just like people without disabilities.

August 2, 2010

The Effect of Sun on the Skin

The sun plays an important role in the manufacture of vitamin D. The sun has ultraviolet rays which can be harmful to the skin. There are three types of rays, Ultraviolet A, B and C. Ultraviolet A rays penetrate the skin more deeply than ultraviolet B. it's responsible for wrinkles, skin tanning and premature aging of the skin. Ultraviolet B rays affect the epidermis which is the outer layer of the skin and is responsible for sunburns. Ultraviolet C rays are absorbed almost completely by the ozone layer. Both A and B rays can harm the skin and can cause skin cancer.

Wrinkles:

The skin is held together in a smooth and a firm way by a protein called collagen. UVA rays damage collagen leading to the formation of wrinkles.

Tanning:

People often believe that tanning is healthy but it is not. A tan actually means that damage has been done to the skin. Melanocytes are the cells producing melanin which is the pigment responsible for skin color. When the skin is exposed to the sun the melanocytes produce more melanin to protect the skin and this pigment creates the tan.

Sunburns: (see sunburns part I, part II).

Skin cancer: (see Basal cell carcinoma, Squamous cell and melanoma).

Prevention:

  • Decrease sun exposure and avoid exposure to sun during peak hours (between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.)
  • Wear protective clothes such as long sleeved shirts, long pants, a hat and sunglasses.
  • Use a broad spectrum sunscreen with a sun protection factor of at least 15 or greater. Apply the sunscreen to all exposed areas 30 minutes before sun exposure, reapply sunscreen every 2 hours and after sweating or swimming.
  • Check your skin for any lesion that recently appeared or any changes in pre existing lesions
.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

July 30, 2010

Having a Burn Injury Lawyer

Burn injury is one of the most painful experiences that a person can ever encounter. As some of these injuries result in scarring, it will remind the person of that painful experience for a long time. Some people lose their lives as a result of their injuries while for others; their lives will be changed forever.
Due to the length of the recovery process and rehabilitation, the cost of treatment, the loss of earnings and belongings and the emotional trauma, burn victims have to go through a lot. Some burn injuries are the result of negligence. Negligence is the failure to do something, or doing something in a substandard manner. The basis of a lawsuit may be a landlord's failure to provide tenants with a reasonably safe hot water delivery system, open and accessible egress from an apartment to allow escape during a fire, proper installation of gas burning appliances, as well as many other theories. It's important to consult with a burn injury lawyer as soon as possible. You may be entitled to compensation depending on the cause, severity and the extent of the injury. Hiring an experienced lawyer is important as this lawyer will explain to you your legal options and your rights.
Kramer and Pollack, LLP: (see the link) are VERY well versed in all aspects of representing burn injury victims. They have handled a multitude of burn injury cases ranging from hot water scald burns, to stove tipping cases to explosion cases. They are competent, experienced and very thorough.

July 29, 2010

Home Burn Remedies

First degree burns part I, II are minor burns and can be treated with home remedies. Second degree burns and third degree burns part I, II. need medical attention.

The first step is washing the burned area with cool water. Avoid using ice as it can cause further damage.

Home remedies include:

  • Applying Aloe Vera gel on the burned area. Either from the plant itself or using over the counter products.
  • Applying Vitamin E creams or oils on the burned area.
  • Applying egg white to the burned area.
  • Applying honey to the burned area.
  • Applying St. John's wort oil to the burned area.
  • Applying toothpaste on the burned area.
  • Applying a cut potato slice on the burned area.
  • Applying a cut onion slice on the burned area.
  • Applying mustard on the burned area.
  • Applying yogurt on the burned area.
  • Applying soybean paste on the burned area.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

July 28, 2010

Survivor Story

From burn survivors throughout the world

Survivor X was living happily with his wife and his three boys. On one day in May while he was alone at home, he was trying to clean his yard and garage from the litter that had accumulated during the winter. He lived in a rural area that allowed to incinerators to burn trash. He started a fire with trash from the yard and as he started to clean the garage, he collected boxes and papers and placed them in the fire for destruction, there were several empty oil containers, somehow he picked a full container of injector cleaner and as he placed it in the incinerator it exploded in his face.

He remembers seeing the skin melt from his fingers as he was trying to put down the fire from his face. When the fire was out, he went inside the house and called 911, they arrived after 5-10 minutes. He was taken by an ambulance were he passed out. In August he was brought out of the drug induced coma and he was allowed to go home at the end of September.

He suffered third degree burns over 48% of his body from the waist to his eyebrows. His nose was burned away and one ear was completely gone as well as most of the other. He lost one eye because of scars covering the pupils; his vocal cords and larynx were damaged because of the flame inhalation. He has battled for seven years with polyps in the larynx affecting the amount of air he inhales. He lost all his fingers and thumbs and had the large toe of his right foot removed and placed on his right hand to give him an opposing grip. He has ongoing surgeries for reconstruction and polyps. The surgeries are not as frequent, but at this point he doesn't see an end to the surgeries.

The survivor says "for me the most important asset I have had in recovery was my family. They have been there with help and encouragement and most of all love". He is not the same person now. He learned tolerance, patience and compassion. He also says" the ability to laugh at ones self when things are not going well may mean the difference between being a survivor and being a victim. The road to a happy life is a lot shorter for the survivor than for the victim".

July 26, 2010

Carbon Monoxide Detectors

Carbon monoxide (CO) is a colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. It is quite toxic to humans and other oxygen-breathing organisms. Carbon monoxide poisoning happens when enough carbon monoxide is inhaled. (See carbon monoxide poisoning)

Low levels of carbon monoxide are always present in air. It can also be produced from incomplete combustion of flame fueled devices such as fireplaces, furnaces, stoves, vehicles, space heaters and others.

Breathing carbon monoxide fumes decreases the blood's ability to carry oxygen. Low levels of oxygen can lead to cell death, including cells in vital organs such as the brain and heart.

A carbon monoxide detector is a device with an alarm that is designed to detect elevated levels of carbon monoxide, the detectors can be AC powered, battery operated or hardwired. The AC powered unit may have a battery backup. As the weight of CO is almost identical to the weight of normal air, the detector can be installed near the ceiling or on a wall. The detector shouldn't be placed near a fireplace and shouldn't be installed near a smoke detector so that you are able to distinguish between a CO and a smoke detector alarm when there is an emergency situation.

CO detectors should be present in every home and each level needs a separate detector. If you have one CO detector it should be installed near the sleeping area and make sure that the alarm is loud enough so that you can wake up when it sounds.

When the alarm sounds, don't panic, try to stay calm because the alarm is intended to sounds before you experience symptoms. Evacuate the house, gather all the members of household out to a safe area where there is fresh air. Check if anyone is experiencing symptoms of carbon monoxide poisoning (see CO poisoning), if yes than call 911. Ventilate the area and identify the source of the carbon monoxide and make sure that your appliances are checked by a professional as soon as possible.

Prevention of CO poisoning:

  • Install a carbon monoxide detector on each floor of your home. Test and replace the detector according to the instructions of the manufacture, check the batteries according to the manufacture instruction.
  • Check the battery once per year.
  • Inspect and properly maintain heating system, chimneys and appliances.
  • Use non electrical space heaters only in well ventilated areas.
  • Don't use a gas oven or stove to heat your house.
  • Don't burn charcoal inside your home, garage, tent or camper.
  • Don't leave cars running inside the garage.
  • If you are using a kerosene heater indoors, make sure there is good ventilation

When buying a CO detector consider the location you want to install the detector in, the power source and the installation ease.

This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

July 23, 2010

Choose Life

From the book I Will Not Be Broken by Jerry White.

After a major trauma, many think that it's the end of the world, that everything has gone and that there is no point of living anymore. Life will continue. Choosing life means trying to forget about the past and deciding that you will not to be held hostage. Life has many good things to offer and all bad things will be memories. Willing to try, thinking positively and looking always forward toward the future will give you the strength to move forward. Taking small steps at a time are key and results will be amazing. Every survivor can be an inspiration to others of what can be accomplished if you set your mind to it and never give up. Most burn survivors can return to a productive and healthy life.

A woman whose husband was disabled in a civil war, as he was trying to help a fellow friend, although living in extreme poverty, and her husband's difficulty finding work, still she sees that they are living a happy life. She says "I am here living. We are missing a lot of things, yes, but we can live like that.. What belongs to love is love and whatever this poverty in our house, we are living according to our means with our three children here at home".

July 16, 2010

Discharge

Some patients when burned will need to be admitted to the hospital while others don't. When a patient with burns is admitted to the hospital, he/she will be assessed in the burn unit by a team called the burn team. According to the assessment, treatment will be provided to the patient. With time, most patients will improve and at some point a discharge plan will be set for the patient. The patient will be examined by the treating physicians and other members of the burn team before the patient is discharged. In almost all cases, the burn team makes the right decision.

In some cases:

  • If the burn team decided to discharge you from the hospital but you think that you are no ready to be discharged, (either you are not feeling well or for some reason you think that you shouldn't be discharged) and you disagree with the decision to discharge you have to tell the team that there is something wrong with you, and you are not feeling well enough to be discharged. If the team still thinks that you should be discharged you can contact the patient's services representative or anyone who you think can help. Tell them that you disagree with the burn team's decision to discharge.
  • When the burned patient is a pediatric patient, this makes the situation harder as these patients can't speak, communicate, or express their feelings. Parents usually know their children better than anyone else. If your child has been ordered to be discharged but you feel that he/she is not doing well eg, he/she is not playful, not eating well, doesn't hold eye contact, the wounds don't look well or any other reason that leads you to think that your child is not ready to be discharged, you have to tell the doctor in charge or any of the burn team staff that you think your child is not ready to be discharged. If you don't get a satisfactory response you have to seek other channels. Contact the patient's service department and communicate your concerns. Write down the names of the people you speak with and what they say in response to your concerns. You should not be intimidated... Make your feelings known firmly and respectfully.


This information is not intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice; it should not be used during any medical emergency or for the diagnosis or treatment of any medical condition. Call 911 for all medical emergencies.

July 14, 2010

Face Facts

From the book "I Will Not Be Broken" by Jerry White

No matter what trauma you are exposed to, you have to face the fact that it happened, that it is in the past and you can't change it but what can be change is the future.

When the writer was in the hospital after losing his right leg in a landmine explosion, when he had to wheel himself down to the lunch hall during the recovery time, at the beginning he didn't appreciate that he was the one who is doing that. He would think to himself "don't they see the bloody stump?". But he did it and wheeled himself. When he reached the lunch hall he met a lot of people who were exposed to a different kind of trauma. He remembers an old guy who had been in the hospital for months going through rehabilitation having a prosthesis above his knee, telling him "don't worry you'll have your own fake leg one day". These people helped him to get through a very difficult time.

Being in the hospital, Jerry had to face the fact that he lost his leg and he had to deal with it. He started to appreciate his stump. He had six months of rehab to go through. The staff really helped him. If the staff was too sympathetic or pitying, he would probably have sunk into a funk, Jerry says.

People react differently to trauma, some will have intense emotions, some will react with denial, anxiety, frustration, guilt, anger, hopelessness, depression, etc. Dealing with these feelings is the way to get over them and proceed to recovery. Feeling self pity is normal but when it progresses it will lead to negative effects on the survivor. At one point a survivor has to stop feeling self pity and start to move on with life by accepting the facts. For the writer, the key to preventing self pity was outing it. Every survivor has the options and choices to change his/her life to the better by focusing on the things that they have and the things that they can change and do rather than focusing on what they lost or can't change.

July 13, 2010

Reaching Out

From the book I Will Not Be Broken by Jerry White.

Humans are social in nature and can't survive without communication and socializing with others. Some people isolate themselves and retreat into a shell after being exposed to trauma thinking that they are protecting themselves. Reaching out to others and finding people who can understand what you are going through is essential. Surprisingly strangers that we don't know can be of great help and support to us while people we are close to may disappoint us. There will always be people who are willing to help and support us and they are always there when we need them.

The writer benefited a lot from social support while he was in the hospital in Israel after stepping on a landmine. This accident led him to lose one of his legs; he said "with so many people coming and going, it was clear that social support-a primary integrant for overcoming crises-was not missing from my life". Most survivors' testimonies that the writer interviewed were "I would never have made it through without my family. They saved me during the darkest moments. I am closer to my family now, after my accident, than before".

At the time of crises most people need support and it's part of the survival process. Some reach to family and friends while others reach out to god praying and asking him, we need someone, anyone out there to understand what we are going through.

Successful survivors are those who reach out and communicate with family, relatives, friends and support groups in order to get over the loneliness and isolation that accompany the tragedy. It is amazing that many times the inspiration of another survivor, a family member's help, a new relationship or a prayer is all that is needed to make a great change in the survivor's life. You have to be willing to reach out even if you don't want to because the results will be surprising and one day other survivors will reach out to you for help and support.