Monday, September 9, 2013

His First Healiversary!

It's hard to believe a year has passed since my husband's accident. I never did tell you the full story.

Last year on the ill-fated anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, my husband was working with a chemical called caustic soda or sodium hydroxide- otherwise known as lye- but in it's almost pure state. He had been working overtime for weeks, and was physically and mentally worn out. A fact that came to light only when he had gotten distracted and mixed the chemical with the hot water instead of the cold.
In cold water, the chemical heats the water to near boiling- but when added to hot, it becomes super-heated and vulcanizes...which means the temperature shoots to over four-hundred degrees and spouts up like a rocket. Luckily my husband had the forethought to use the bucket in his hands to deflect most of the chemical from his chest, throat and face, but enough still shot up to hit the twelve-foot ceiling and rain down into his hair and scalp and into his eyes. The bulk of the spray splashed onto his thighs, belly and forearms.

Thanks to a crack team of co-workers, he was shoved under a spray of water and stripped down so his clothing wouldn't melt onto him. Ironically, my husband was giving directions through it all, telling them where to spray and what to do until help arrived.
The EMT's came within five minutes, dousing him with eye wash, and getting him ready for the best burn center in the country- that just happened to be less than five minutes away. Within thirty minutes of the accident, he was bandaged from head to foot and medicated within an inch of his life.

That's about when I received the phone call.

He had been in work less than two hours, and I had just sent the kids to school. His co-worker (and cousin) came to get me. I'd called everyone I knew to pray for him before I sped off to the burn unit.

Those who know me know I tend to think of the worst possible situation first, to ready myself just in case. it's a comfort for me to do this really, because it prepares me beforehand so I'm not shell-shocked when the news comes. I knew if I imagined the worst, anything better than that is a good thing. It's much better (at least in my twisted little mind) than thinking everything will be okay and seeing that it really, really isn't.

By the time we got to the hospital (and I was assured he would live), I had visions of my husband looking something like a Mummy and a Zombie. A Zumbie. Anything better than that and I would be a happy camper. He was going to live and that's all that mattered.

When I entered into his room, I could not see anything but bandages from his toes to his nose. He had special lenses that kept his eyes closed and rinsed his eyes constantly. I could see fingertips but not much else. He wasn't a zumbie- he was a great big Q-tip.

And by day two he was a pumpkinhead. Second and third degree burns on thirty-five percent of his body tends to make a guy swell up some. At this point they weren't sure about his vision (or loss thereof), and he would definitely need a set of skin grafts. Maybe two.
The problem was that the areas they usually take from (the front of the thighs and the belly) were gone. Both thighs, belly and both forearms needed to be covered with new skin, and the only large enough surface skin left was on the side of his thighs.

He told me later it was like getting rug burn times a hundred, and hurt worse after the skin grafts were done, because no skin meant no nerve endings.

They had the eye wash lenses in for thirty-six hours.
They had the grafts done, then had to staple pig skin on top of that.
He needed to bathe daily and get a bandage change twice daily.
He was in the hospital for eighteen days.

We went home with two bags of medical supplies, medications, and salves. He was home for a month, with me wrapping his wounds twice a day, washing him and wrapping him in sheets at night. They even gave me my very own staple remover, because I did a better job removing them than the doctors did! 

He was back to work on light duty a month and a half after the accident. Then the real healing began.

My husband's vision wasn't the best before all this- 550/20 and 650/20. The big concern was that his vision had worsened. Test after test was done and every time they tried on his old lenses, he just could not see well in his left eye. In fact, his vision was worse when he put them on. 

When the eye specialist left the room, my husband looked at the eye chart out of curiosity. He was surprised that when he covered his right eye, he could actually read the letters. He could never read the letters without help before.

He called in the doctor and told him what happened.

The doctor gave him a new set of tests, as if he was a first-time patient. Then he looked at my husband's chart, then at the new test results. His vision had improved. A lot. And with each visit, both eyes kept improving. By the time six months had passed, the vision in his right eye had improved to 525/20. 

His left eye? 20/10. Perfect vision. 

It's not even a year since his accident, and the burn doctors have released him. He still has a little healing to do, but the scarring is minimal. None of the docs can explain why he healed so fast, and how he remained so positive throughout the entire ordeal.

But we know. God was with us through everything. My husband's faith in God kept a smile on his face, and hope in his heart- and no matter what happened, God was going to get him through it.

Happy Healiversary, Sweetheart!


Unknown said...

I love the idea of a healiversary! I am so glad we have a God who can work such wonders and give us more than we dare ask for.

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