What I learnt about getting second degree burns..
There is nothing like bringing you back into the moment like pain. In that moment it screams at your brain and nothing else exists.
I experienced this recently as my hand slipped whilst draining some pasta at the start of this month, and I spilt boiling water on my leg. The first few nano seconds I was mainly annoyed, damn what a mess. Then the burning kicked in. I snatched my leggings downwards and looked at the burnt skin creep down my upper thigh left.
With no one home I ran upstairs, instinct told me to get cold water on it. I dashed (as best I could) upstairs to the bathroom and googled what to do straight after a burn.
I manically tried the shower on the bath- typically only the hot water was running no matter which way I turned the faucet. I had a panic and then told myself to calm down and improvise. You’re resourceful I told myself, and then sat on the edge of the bath, started manually pouring cold water from the sink on my leg with a cup. I kept doing this because it felt good. The moment I stopped the pain would scream out again.
Nobody answered my called, not my mother, brother or lover.
It was just me, I remembered the story of aromatherapy and ran into my room for the lavender oil and started alternating organic lavender oil drops with cold water.
My Boyf called me back, and was trying to be helpful. You’ll be alright he nudged encouragingly, I haven’t eaten yet, but do you want me to come over? Go to A and E he said. I was crying at this point, and not very good at being consoled at the best of times.
I called 111 to get a more expert view, and was directed to A and E. At this point my mum called me back and came home (a tiny bit tipsy from a glass of wine) with a neighbour, saw the state I was in and carefully drove me to the local hospital.
In short after a 4 hour wait, my boyfriends came over for a while then left, my dad joining me in hospital and stayed. He had fell of his bike around half an hour after I had my burn, and thought he’d broke his hand. I finally got to see a nurse.
Two nurses came in, a female nurse and a male nurse, I was hoping for the lady. I mean the burn was pretty high up on my leg, and I’ve had some bad experiences with men in positions of trust in the past. I asked who I would I was be seen by, and cheerily the man replied, whoever gets to you first he said with a smile. Ur ok I replied. Moments later the Doctor took a look and said the top layer of skin would need to be removed and that a nurse would be in to do it.
I didn’t’ quite comprehend and mentally rejected his words until the smiley (male) Nurse came in and carefully explained what he was going to do and why. .. fast forward 5 minutes and out comes the scalpel and fluid washed to loosen the top later of burnt skin. He popped my blistered skin and started cutting and peeling.
He kept apologising, and in the same breath let me know how relaxing and therapeutic he found doing this kind of task.
I strangely felt safe. The more he spoke of yoga, meditation and the dangers of fluoride, I knew I was in safe hands, with a kindred spirit. At this point the female nurse comes in and said 'oh can I watch, I’ve not done this before'. I let out a sign of relief.
I volunteered to the guinea pig for a nurse training to give her first smear test once. Lets just say Never Again. In fact the less said about the experience the better.
The lovely nurse finished taking off my skin, pasting and then wrapping my leg. ‘There you go, all done, come back in a day for a change. We need to make sure the burn doesn’t get infected or burn any deeper. If it continues and becomes a third degree burn, you will need a skin graft.’
I was tearful but came home deeply grateful for the NHS, and that my dad’s hand was not broken.
Several days in bed I found myself agonising over my burn, what I had done to myself ? Feeling a deep sadness and frustration at staying in bed. My brother thought I was milking it and there was in fact part of me that felt guilty, and that in fact yes I should be getting on with things. Instead I listened to my body who was asking for stillness and spent 3 weeks nurturing, asking for healing vibes and watching my skin heal.
I think the sense of aloneness was very magnified when I was unable to get out of bed. I had this after a big heartbreak once. The feeling that really it is just us. No matter how much a lover commits his love, or a friend shares her good wishes It’s just ultimately you and the process of pain, you and your head, you and your thoughts. And you know what? It’s ok. I’m ok and at getting better with this.
I’m stronger than I thought was another thing I learnt. I was able to watch my skin being peeled off my flesh and be very presence for this elimination of the bad, in order for the new to flourish.
I learnt empathy for people who are bed bound. Today I learnt that Winston Churchill and Florence Nightingale did lots of work from their beds. This has inspired me to make most of my duvet days and in actual fact, I’m writing this from under my duvet this very moment.
My baby/company is called Cherish Healing. Now this name represents many things. One in particular was how joyful I feel when helping others. How much I love it. But it’s also about being there for when times are painful, times when people are at their lowest, and learning cherishing this too. It’s a total honour to feel that someone can let down their guard, reach out and trust again, despite getting hurt.
The last thing I learn was a deeper lesson in mindfulness. I was thinking of something totally unrelated when I burnt myself. Something that was a little victim, and poor me to be honest. I took the burn as a real wake up call for when my thoughts decide to take this path. When I notice I say no. No thank you. I’m here, I’m alive and doing ok, just as I am. Followed by a healing smooth breath and back to the task at hand.
I may scar , I may not. Either way these lessons have been literally burnt into my skin. Lets hope the next lessons are a little less painful!