Nichole the… Burn Victim Part 2

It was May 6, 2018. It was 1:45 AM. It was 8 hours and 15 minutes after my burn. My boyfriend was sitting next to me, for the first time in the past 8 hours it felt like time was normal. The seconds were not going slower or faster like they were before. Time was just passing and I could see his face and his smile trying to convince me that ill be ok. He brought my phone charger and I was able to have a text conversation with my mom and reassure her I was in good hands and he was with me and she should sleep. My mom is never up that late, I was worried about her. I knew my boyfriend was tired because he had woken up early that day to go to work. He sat in this really uncomfortable looking chair next to me with his back against this white curtain that separated us from the next trauma patient. A young doctor came down and told us he worked with the burn unit and wanted to see my hand and how bad it was. He told me he would have to scrape my hand, I had no feeling in my hand. The hot oil saturated my hand for over 8 hours, and my nerves were affected. At this point, I was only on a saline IV drip because they were trying to hydrate me, and I refused pain meds because I found them unnecessary . The doctor filled up this white plastic little tub with some kind of pink solution and wheeled it over on a small silver table. The doctor took out, what I thought was gauze, dipped it in and started to scrape the white fried skin off of my hand. Slowly, gently. It just so happened that my boyfriend was sitting on my right hand side.. my bad hand side. I just remember watching, maybe a little too close, my skin just falling off with each swipe and it was mesmerizing. My boyfriend and I had front row views of the skin that was hidden under this disaster. I was breathing slowly and controlled as I watched patiently, until he got to my index finger. He pulled the bad skin too far and yanked healthy, unburned, unsinged, unnecessary pain, skin. I wanted to throw up. I felt like the wind had been stolen out of my lungs and I felt the tears come back up like a rush of water. It bled, it bled a lot. I could see in my boyfriends eyes that “oh, fuck” look. I might have even said those words out loud. I took a breathe, and another and another until I could manage my pain and let him keep going, he was almost done. I was happy when he said he was done, I felt like I could relax a little and there wouldn’t be another chance for him to pull good skin. He explained to me that the white is the deepest part of the burn. There was a little bit of red that surrounded circles of white. The doctor pushed down on the white parts, he asked me if I could feel it. I couldn’t feel anything. I looked at him puzzled. He pushed again in a different spot and I felt nothing. There were so many thoughts going through my head, what does this mean, why cant I feel anything, when does it come back. Can I please just cuddle with my boyfriend and fall asleep? He said he would check on my room in the burn unit, that was around 2:30 am. It was just me, my boyfriend and everyone else dealing with trauma. They had the lights down low which was such a change because everywhere else seemed so bright. They told me I should get some sleep and I told them I wasn’t able to but to get a blanket and pillow for my boyfriend because he was exhausted from working all day and now being here with me through the night. He slept, he looked so peaceful and I couldn’t help but smile cause he was there. I fell in and out of sleep. When I would lay on a chord connected to a monitor or IV wrong it went off like I was robbing a bank. I texted my mom and told her I was in a good place and that she could come see me tomorrow and I would let het know what was going on. My mom never stays up that late. I laid there and laid there and laid there. Finally, around 4 am a nurse came down and said the room was ready for me and we could go up. Freida, that sweet, sweet nurse named Freida. I instantly felt comfortable and like I was home when she introduced herself with her smiling face and giggling speech. I caught her up on what happened and she caught me up on what was going to happen from now on. She looked at my hand and laughed at the wrap that the doctor attempted to do on my hand as it unraveled itself. There it was, my pink and white hand.

I hated that yellow gauze that was left on my finger. I hated the way it pulled where my good skin and new bad skin met. She taught me how to wrap my wound and said there would be a doctor doing rounds in the morning to see how my progress was. Freida turned one of the chairs into a fold out bed so my boyfriend would have a more comfortable place to sleep. We had the whole room to ourselves, it was quiet and we told jokes and said sweet nothings and whispered goodnight. I didn’t sleep much, I kept waking up to make sure my boyfriend was still breathing. It was around 7 AM, Freida unwrapped my hand cautiously and told me the doctor would be in soon. A little bit later a doctor walked in looked at my hand and told me he wanted to send me home to see how my hand heals on its own. I would need to make and appointment for that Thursday to check on it, it was Sunday. Frieda worked to get me released and reminded me of how to rewrap my hand, how to clean it. I was worried about leaving with an open wound on my hand, but that’s what was suggested by my doctor. I wasn’t prescribed any medicine. By the time we got out of the hospital it was 11 AM. My boyfriend helped me into his truck and we were on a mission to get some delicious food. I babied my hand, I didn’t let it touch anything and kept it close to me because I was so terrified to make it worse. We had steak, my family was texting me wondering when I would be home so they could see me. When we arrived to our house my parents, sister, brother in law and nieces were waiting to give me a big embrace and ask questions and everything else to catch up on all the info. We all sat on the couch and my mom looked at me with the eyes only a mother could give her kid, I was exhausted and needed to sleep. They left and I fell asleep for a while. I woke up and it was dark out and I needed to shower and wash my hand. I have never needed anyone in my adult life have to help me with what I thought was such a minimal task. I made it into the shower and let the water hit my hand and I cried, I couldn’t wash my hair, I couldn’t wash my own body. I didn’t know how to use my left hand because I had spent my life depending on my right hand, my now bad hand. He came in and saved my from my disappointment in the shower, this man loves me, that’s all I could think as he helped me through another hard part of this injury. After the shower it was time to show what I had learned from the nurses and I rewrapped my hand with the help of my boyfriend and we went to bed. I didn’t sleep much, again. I woke up to him leaving to work and a little while later my mom text me to take me back to my job to get my car that was left behind. She picked me up and while we were driving I put my arm down in a resting position and I felt this pressure I hadn’t felt before. I lifted it and it went away, down back again, up and gone, I kept picturing a lava lamp with every move. I told my mom and she looked at me and said that isn’t good, I already knew that. I called the burn clinic and let them know that I was scheduled to see the doctor Thursday but I needed to see them today. I now had an appointment for that day, we picked up my car and my mom followed me to the hospital. We waited, I could feel the pressure building. Finally, we were sent to a room and I met my new doctor, Dr. Grecia. He took a look at my hand and asked if I had asked to be sent home. No. He shook his head said I shouldn’t have been discharged. He took a moment, then said he wanted to admit me and perform surgery that day if he was able to get an operating room. My hand was oozing and doubled in size, it was infected.

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