On April 6th I said I would return with more concerning my burns. The reason I am sharing this is because my upcoming surgery is largely due to complications of my burns.
As previously stated I am burned 85% of my body all 3rd degree. If we met in person you might not even notice. You may see my right arm is severely burned and think that was all. But you would be surprised to see the rest of my body is also.
Lets answer a few questions first before I go further. How was I burned? I was accidentally set on fire by gas. An eight year old boy and myself (age four at the time) were in the garage. He light a small pool of gas. The flames caught my left pants leg, went up to my torso and over to my right arm. When and where did this happen? This happened January 13th, 1970 in the garage on the concrete floor. No damage to the garage or house.
Now if you've been following along you know that the upcoming surgery is amputation to my left leg. The damage to my left leg because of this fire is the biggest complication I have had to deal with due to burns. But it isn't the only thing.
For those of us who are burn survivors we have an invisible disability in much the same way as many of you have. There are complications about being burned that no matter how long you spend around me you may never see, know or understand. I have physical limitations that everyone else pretty much takes for granted - bending, stretching, ability to handle heat or sunny days, etc.
A burn victims skin becomes almost like leather. Bending and stretching as others do is restricted or limited. In my case I can not reach my feet with both hands. I can reach my feet with my left hand. But can only reach the right foot with my right hand but not the left foot.
The inability to handle and enjoy a warm summer day is the worse but there are so many variables with this. I once worked in a doughnut shop where the back room temp was 135 degrees in the winter with the windows open and hotter in the summer. Yet I had no problems working there. But I can not and will not try to go fishing during sunny days when temps reach 80+ degrees. Yet I have been fishing in temps over 80 degrees with out complications.
So what are the variables? There are many and yet in come cases they don't help. A breeze, clouds, shade all are part of those variables but so is constant supply of water, tea, or something cool to drink. Will I be moving around a lot? Will there be some kind of fan available or air blowing system? Any, all and none of these can play a part in the ability to handle the heat. You see the burns damaged the sweat glands in my torso. I only sweat from my shoulders up and my hips down. There is a real risk of heat stroke, heat exhaustion, fainting, etc while being outside or even inside hot or warm areas.
One side note about my leg and the wounds - When you put garage outside in the summer you likely notice the flies, gnats and other things flying around it. That is what happens when I am outside to me due to the wounds on my leg. I have at least three times changed bandages on my leg only to find maggots crawling on the wounds due to the flies. The amputation with help eliminate this very embarrassing issue for me.
The moral of this post is - Never under estimate the complications others might be going through due to their unforeseen disabilities. It could very well be a matter of life or death for them.