Looking Through the Scars

About a week ago I attended a conference called Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress in Dallas, Texas.  The Phoenix World Burn Congress is the world’s largest gathering of t he burn community, connecting attendees with support, resources, and each other. For many, it is the first chance to connect with others on the journey of recovery from a burn injury. Each year it is in a different location, so next year it will be in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

I had the pleasure of meeting about 100 people during the time I was there and heard so many testimonies. This burn conference is a place for us burn ‘survivors’ and ‘victims’ to be ourselves, learn, and to grow.

I have attended PWBC four times now and I have to say this one was the one that I got the most out of. I travel a lot as you will find out in my previous post, therefor I went to Europe in March this year with a tour company called Contiki. I have traveled before but this was the busiest but most fun trip I have taken. However, the day I got home I noticed a spot on my panties that was around my tailbone area. It was some kind of sore, I had either scraped it or bumped it somehow but still have no idea how it opened in the first place. It only continued to get bigger so I decided to have surgery on it in May. I told myself after surgery I would go on a high protein diet and it would heal right away no problem and I would enjoy my summer. However, that was not the case and this sore has just healed this past week. 

Since March I have had a lot going on mentally and I have not had a way to get it out and really breathe. That is why I have decided to start my blog up again. I want to share with everyone what it is like for me. I am really good at hiding my emotions in front of people and then I go home and cry or just stare at the walls and wonder what I am doing with my life. I have never been in a relationship and I am almost 22, so when it comes to boys I feel like I will never have a chance. I have yet to even be kissed. I also don’t talk about relationships certain people in my family because they automatically think if I talk to guy he must have a mental problem or he has to be burned, so that puts my confidence down even more.

90% of my friends I have met at Burn Camps or PWBC and of course we all live states away from each other, so its hard for us to see each other. I get told a lot where I live that I have no friends and yeah that may be a little true, I have no friends in OKC but I do have friends all over the world, and yet somehow my confidence always goes down.

I have a best friend who is a burn survivor and I love her like a sister, I thought I could tell her anything and everything and I thought she loved me as much as I love her. But the last few months she just quit talking to me and I’m not sure why. She kept my confidence at 99% and made me happiest even though she lives 3 hours away. This really made me think the last month, if my only best friend really doesn’t love me as much as I thought then who else does? Am I really worth a friendship or a relationship? Why keep going on in this world if I cant even keep a simple friend and the person who made me the happiest.

Then I go to events like PWBC and it puts my life back into perspective, it gives me a reason to live. I can be sad and depressed deep down, but in reality helping other burn survivors gives me a reason to live. I want to help burn victims be mentally healthy and to be able to love themselves when no one else will, and while teaching others how to heal it will heal myself as well.

 

 

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My Introduction

As most of you know I posted in GLT for the first time asking what you ladies thought of me having a blog……. Well here it is!

The Beginning

I was born on November 2o, 1995 in Warr Acres, Oklahoma. I grew up with a brother who is 3 years older then me. On Memorial Day (a day in  which those who died in active Military service are remembered) 1999 when I was 3 years old my mom and dad were getting ready for a cookout, and my brother was down the street playing with his friend. My dad was inside doing dishes while my mom was mowing the back yard. No one exactly knows what happened but I was outside and somehow the gasoline can got knocked over and it leaked underneath the water heater.

  1. The gas can did not have a stopper on it which let the gasoline leak out
  2. The water heater was too low to the ground, by law water heaters have to be 17 inches off the ground.

I was surrounded my the flash fire and my dad heard me scream out and he ran outside and pulled me out while my mom was calling the police. My body was burned over 95% with 2nd, 3rd, and 4th degree burns. I was then Mediflighted to the Shriners Burn Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas where I have been treated ever since.

I do not remember my accident so what I look like is all I know, and personally it is easier that way. I do go back and see pictures of myself and see how beautiful I was and it makes me wonder how beautiful I would look now. I always wonder how different my life would be and most of all how much easier it would be and honestly sometimes I would go back and change it if I could (I am sure any burn survivor would if they had the chance) Although I look at my life today and am so thankful to be surrounded by a great, loving family. And my Burn Camp family and friends is a whole different story because burn camp is my life and I wouldn’t have made it without them and the support they give me.

The Middle

Going to school was very hard, but I do have to say thanks to my parents wanting me to stay with the same school it made it 80% much easier. They also fought so hard for me to be in a public school, the district thought that I was too ‘disabled’ and needed to go to a special school, and luckily I made it through public school. Of course I had the bullies and my biggest regret was how I bullied back, I look back all of the time and remember how mean and angry I was, granted people were making fun of me because of they way I looked but I couldn’t help it because it was an accident.

Flashback – I remember in kindergarten after my accident everyone in my class would fight who could help me, especially my one friend Tanner, he made it such a big deal he help me do this puzzle in class and only he could help me do it.

I did not take school serious as much as I should have, nothing really mattered to me until Freshman year in high school. Many different BIG things happened my Freshman year. That was because my brother (Cole) being 3 years older than me I was able to be in the same school as him for the first time. Him and his friend would tease me through the halls and I enjoyed it because I always wanted to be with him. We also had Challenge day, a day where half of my class went in the gym and got to know each other better, I chose to get up and tell my story and told them how thankful I was to have them be so understanding for years since I grew up with them. This was also the year I lost a friend and my Papa in the same week. My Papa always called me his angel and we were close but I wish we could have been closer.

Flashback –  I will never forget the first day of school I walked in and I felt all eyes were on me, it made me so nervous and to this day I feel like I have never had that many people stare at me as much as that day.

My brother Cole and I got very close this year, we did everything together even though we fought a ton we were still doing everything together. After he graduated he decided he wanted to go to basic training to join the Army. This broke my heart to pieces and I cried exactly every day he was gone because I just didn’t know what to do without him, I felt so lost and I knew if he went into the Army and overseas their was that chance that I could lose him and I cried just thinking about it. After a month or two everyone got there own not in the mail that he was quitting basic training and coming home. I was so happy but at the same time I felt that it was my fault. I remember the day he called me on the phone and my dad told me not to cry and ‘act’ normal, but when I heard his voice for the first time in over a month I couldn’t hold back my tears. He wrote me a note and told me that he kept a picture of me in his bunk so he could see me every day, what broke my heart the most was he told me that he wished he could have been in the fire with me so I wouldn’t have to go through all of this pain by myself. He told me he was coming home for me and when he did come home everything went back to the way it was.

My Sophomore year I was on a TV show called Dr. Drews Life Changers with my mom and there I was surprised by J.R. Martinez and invited to Dancing with the Stars as his V.I.P. guest. It was most definitely the highlight of the year for me. Senior year was of course awesome and I BARELY graduated high school with a 2.7 GPA.

The Life Changer

One of the biggest and most important time in my life started in 2014 after I graduated. I got a great job working for an attorney at a Law Firm and I didn’t know it would change my life then but I had a small sore on the bottom of my right heel that hurt and wouldn’t go away. For the first week my dad made this medicine we get from the hospital called Dacens Solution ( A bunch of water and a very very little bit of Baking Soda, and Bleach). You pour it on a little cotton piece and put it on your sore and it is supposed to dry it out and clean it really good, and it always works and it doesn’t hurt one bit….. However that time he made it he might have put too much bleach in it and he had me smell it like always and it smelt like it usually did so I said okay, but I never hurt so bad in my life then when he put it on. We put it on every night for almost a week until I couldn’t handle it anymore, it burned so bad almost like pouring alcohol on a opened wound for several minutes or even an hour. One night I called my mom crying because it hurt so bad.

I had surgery #1 in June that year and since I like to travel I didn’t listen to my doctor and went to my friends wedding in Toronto, Canada and a week after that to a burn camp for a week. It did not heal and it continued to hurt and stay open.

Surgery number #2 I had in September and it did not work out, my heel was still open.

Surgery #3 I had in November and they had me stay awake for it. It was my first time do that and I was arguing with them about it because I was so scared, my Anesthesiologist came in on his day off to tell me that it would be okay and he explained to me what would happen. I had to lay on my stomach and they let me listen to my favorite music group Imagine Dragons while I was in there. I had 6 shots in my shoulder which really hurt, but what hurt the most was the shot they gave me right on my wound to numb it (it felt like a screw driver was being shoved up my heel) My wound still did not heal.

Surgery #4 I had in January 2015 I was more comfortable for this one and happy because I was going back for surgery around 10am (usually they go youngest to oldest, and remember you cant eat past midnight so I’m always starving by lunch time) and both of my favorite Anesthesiologist were both there. They are the only ones that can get a good I.V. on me, they have to put me under first and then look because my burns are so hard to find a vein. When I woke up and started throwing up blood and was on an oxygen mask I knew something was wrong. My mom told me my heart had stopped and one of my lungs collapsed and they had to stop surgery. I didn’t know what to think, but one thing for sure was that I was not ready to die, how could I leave all of these people I care about. The second thing I thought was ‘oh crap’ I bet my mom just posted something on Facebook and everyone is freaking out. This was the surgery that really got my attention because I died right? But I didn’t see the light that everyone talks about, so did that mean I’m not going to heaven? Many things crossed my mind and I wondered for so long WHY? However my foot did not heal.

I had surgery #5 in April and it still did not heal. This was the time I was so done I told my doctor I wanted them to cut my foot off, and they knew how serious I was, and of course they wouldn’t do it.

Surgery #6 I had June at home in Oklahoma because my parents could not afford to miss anymore work. I thought it was funny because I told my new doctor it wouldn’t heal the first time he did it, and sure enough it didn’t.

FINALLY Surgery #7 I had in November also in OKC, it was the last time I would have surgery on it because it finally healed.

The reason I mentioned all of these surgeries was  because nothing has ever happened like this, usually I would have a surgery and it would heal within a month or two. My foot took almost 2 years to heal, and it was the longest, hardest, and toughest year I had. After my 5th surgery I started to give up on life, I thought that this was what the rest of my life was going to look like. The pain however was indescribable, I didn’t care anymore, I wanted to die. I had to be home all day alone all night I had nothing to do and I felt useless and the pain physically and mentally was taking over. But for some reason I kept on going sometimes I don’t know why or how someone could go through so much pain there whole entire life and almost everyday for 2 years.

That was until I met my Stepdad and my mom and I started going to Life Church with him. My life changed for the better and I surrendered my life to Jesus Christ and I got baptized later that year. I still attend Life Church every Sunday and my faith is still strong because I believed God would heal me, for the longest time I asked ‘why cant you heel me? Your supposed to do miracles and yet your letting me hurt so much every day’, but he taught me patience and I waited and believed in him and the wait made me stronger.

The Now

My foot is still healed and I am doing great and living my life to the fullest. Since my last surgery and getting baptized I went on my first out of the country trip, also my very first Mission Trip to Africa, specifically Kisii, Kenya. I spent 2 weeks there helping put on a Vacation Bible School, Visiting the people homes in the villages, getting lost while hiking to the homes, and also going on a African Safari on The Maasai Mara.

Last December my bestfriend Brianna and  I went on a 10 day trip to Europe. We started in Paris, then we spent Christmas in Berlin for 2 days, Munich for 2 days, Amsterdam for 2 days, and then back to Paris for 2 days and also New Years Eve. It was such an amazing trip but I didn’t get to see as much as I wanted. So for my Spring break I planned a Contiki trip back to Europe and it goes through 7 different countries (London, Amsterdam, Munich, Austria, Italy, Belgium, and France)

I enjoy travelling and learning the different cultures each country has. I also find it difficult to travel sometimes being labeled ‘disabled’ but I love to travel and I wont stop.
I want to find other burn survivors to let them know that anything is possible for a Burn survivor. And if they are still a Victim I want to help them and really connect with them so they can understand themselves and be comfortable and accept who they are. Because as a burn survivor that is the #1 lesson to learn, to love yourself and accept the fact that you are different and it is OKAY! I plan on blogging throughout my journey to share with everyone my experiences.

I made my first post long to show you a little bit of the important parts of my life and to explain the reasoning for everything.

PLEASE comment and ask questions, I really want to know what you guys think and want to learn or know more about I hope you enjoyed reading this I want to open your eyes to what it is like for a Burn Survivor in this world.

Love always, Jenna