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Survivor Story

From the book entitled “Severe Burns” by Andrew M. Munster, M.D. and the staff of Baltimore Regional Burn Center.

According to survivor X, while he was at work, an accident happened that changed the course of his life; he was electrocuted and burned over 45 percent of his body. “Everybody deals with things in their own way, I was eventually able to deal with my accident, but the stages and phases a burn patient goes through in the beginning are sketchy, because the mind has a way of blocking out bad things”.

He was taken to a hospital first then transferred to a burn center. In the burn center, when he first woke up, he could remember everything that happened for the first few days, but as the days passed he started forgetting the details of the accident. His head was hurting badly as if something very heavy had been dropped on his head. He finally started to remember that he was in the hospital and why he was there although he didn’t want to be there.

He had nightmares in the hospital that people were hurting him but these nightmares subsided after a while. He suffered severe depression. The depression lasted throughout his entire 2 month hospital stay. The depression was more severe in the beginning and less severe toward the end.

One of the phases that he went through in the hospital was thinking that he is losing his mind. He was 19 years old and couldn’t believe that he was having these strange feelings of helplessness and depression. His hands were so badly burned that he couldn’t move, drink, eat or even go to the bathroom by himself. With the help of a psychiatrist, that he asked to see, who came to see him for a month, he was able to deal with some of these problems.

Before the accident he was a 19 year old tough person who wouldn’t tell anybody that he loved them. Another phase is when he needed to let his family know how much he really loved them and appreciated them and he did. He knew that he would never again go to Ocean City and lay on the beach. He had a lot of anxieties that he would never have a pretty girlfriend. Because of his scars, he would never be able to let anybody see him without his shirt.

It’s important for the wound healing to have adequate nutrition. For him, one of the hardest things to do while he was lying in bed in pain was to eat a complete meal. It’s hard to eat with the lack of appetite. He would take one or two bites then feel stuffed. Although it was frustrating in the beginning, he learned to eat with a fork and spoon that was fastened to a bracelet on his wrist. Once he got the hang of it, he could feed himself. With his will and persistence, he nicely regained a little independence and knew he was on the path of healing and recovery.

Five years after the accident which happened in 1986, he lived in Ocean City with his beautiful girlfriend. Thanks to the support and help of family and friends at the Baltimore Regional Burn Center, he leads a very happy and productive life.