I have been reading some of these threads about the patients you wonderful burn nurses care for. I can only imagine what emotions must run through you as you deal with various situations, and the concern you have when your patient is finally discharged to face life in a world that so values shallow physical beauty. I thought it might help to hear a positive story about how a boy in my small town is living after he was released from the hospital.
One spring, a family lost all their material possessions when their home burnt down. Worse, their 8-year old son, "Teddy," ran back inside to try to save the dog and in the process received severe burns over a great deal of his body. I remember seeing the news reports and the coffee cans with requests for change (put out by caring friends, as the family had no insurance) that appeared at stores in our little town.
Summer vacation came, and with it my daughter's seizures worsened to the point she was hospitalized at a nearby Children's Hospital. After a day of worrying and waiting to see the pediatric neurologist, my daughter felt awake enough that she wanted to go to the playroom. Teddy was there--after several weeks in the burn unit he was healed enough that he had been transferred to the pediatric ward. He recognized my daughter, as they go to the same elementary school, and was very concerned as to why she was hospitalized. He was so upbeat and took the time to talk to my little girl! It certainly put things in perspective for me. Here was this young boy burned beyond recognition, and he was worried about my daughter!
The next fall, when school started back up, there was a fire prevention assembly. Teddy volunteered to tell his story to the whole school. My younger daughter, who had just started kindergarten, came home and told me about the assembly and how this boy told how his house was on fire and he tried to save his dog.
Worried that she might miss the point of the story, I said, "That's right--and did you see how he looked? He was burned very badly. If our house catches fire, don't go back in to try to save our cats."
She looked me in the eye with a puzzled expression on her face and said, "No mom, he looked fine.
And that seemed to be the concensus of the rest of the students--he looked fine. When volunteer at the school or pick my children up, I often see him laughing and joking with classmates. He's just another kid there, even with the scars covering his face and the large patches of hair missing. Our community, especially the children, have really rallied around this family.
He starts junior high this fall. He's getting a wig from Locks of Love, and the elementary school has used this opportunity to schedule a Locks of Love assembly for the next school year. Many children, including my girls, are growing their hair out so they can help. They want to help other kids like Teddy who need their hair more than they do.
My heart goes out to all the Teddys in the world who, through their pain, have inspired people to show their best.