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The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

The Student News Site of Fresno Christian High School

The Feather

Letter to the Editor

Burn ordeal blesses teen

The day after Labor Day in 1996, an unexpected tragedy changed my family’s and my life forever. However, what some may consider a horrific accident, I consider a blessing.

When I was 3 years old, I experienced a nasty case of croup. The affliction caused my diaphragm to close up and I was unable to breathe. As a normal routine, my mom started filling up the shower to steam the bathroom. When I had prior croup attacks, I would sit in the steamy bathroom. This would help my lungs open up so I could breathe.

Unfortunately, the shower method took too long. Thinking quick, my mom filled a cooking pot with water and boiled it. Racing to my bed where I was laying down, she set the boiling water next to me so I could inhale the steam.

While laying down, I managed to elbow the pot and the water poured onto my right shoulder, upper arm and chest.

In shock, I repeated with no cries or screams, “Mommy, it’s hot, I just want to go to bed.”

My mom, more horrified than me, reacted fast and stripped me of my nightgown. Along with my pajamas, my skin was pulled because of the third degree burns I had experienced. My stepfather raced into my room after heard my mom panicking.

Frantically, my mom scooped me up and drove 90 mph to Kaiser Permanente from my house in Madera. From Kaiser an ambulance rushed me to the UMC Burn Unit in Downtown Fresno. During my time in the Burn Unit, I was treated by the best doctors and nurses in the state.

Unfortunately, I did not want to eat anything. This hindered new skin growth because of the lack of nutrients. As a substitute, a feeding tube was fed down my throat.

As a result of my burns, I needed surgery for a skin graft. They sliced thin pieces of skin off my back and stitched the grafts to my blistered flesh.

Three weeks later, I was released and sent back home. For a year I was forced to wear tight, form-fitting pressure garments so my skin grafts would not expand and bubble.

As a teenager, image seems to be everything. Perfect body size and looks become a priority for many girls my age.

I struggled with being insecure about a large scar on my shoulder and chest for a long time. Tank tops and bathing suits can be very uncomfortable for me even today. The stares from others can be awkward, yet the worries lessen as I mature.

When I tell people who ask me about my scar, everyone asks me a question that makes me laugh: “Did it hurt?” I often jokingly reply that it merely tickled.

Finally, I realized how truly blessed I am. This past summer I had the opportunity of going to a camp for burn survivors for kids from ages 5-16, called Champ Camp. One thing I can say after that trip is God is so good to me.

Spending a week around kids my age who had shared my same struggles made me strong. It was such an inspiration to see little kids who had far worse scars than me appear to have no worries in life.

I also got to speak to some girls in my cabin about how I live with a burn. I encouraged them to ignore what other people think, explaining how blessed they should feel for being alive.

I plan on returning to the camp next year and have been recommended as a counselor-in-training when I turn 18. The trip forever changed my life and I hope I can continue helping other burn victims.

So while others tell me how sorry they are for me and how awful the experience surely was, I explain how I am not truly affected. God makes everything happen for a reason. Although my mom will never forgive herself and takes the blame, I always tell her my burn turned out a blessing and made me who I am today.

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  • K

    Katie BarisicMay 17, 2010 at 6:59 am

    I’m so happy for you, Paige. I think you make the best movies and you deserved all the awards you received. And Paige you looked really pretty in your dress.