It was Friday, May 25, 2007, the start of Memorial Day weekend, at 9:30 p.m. when my husband walked in to Robinson Memorial Hospital Emergency Room. This was the start of a long 15 days in the Akron’s Children’s Hospital burn unit with a long recovery to follow.
He was getting his 1967 Ford Mustang prepped and ready for a show. He fueled the tank and then got a cup and poured some gas in the carburetor. I was in the car and he asked me to, “crank it.”
The car backfired and shot a fireball directly at him. He was on fire from the waist up. I had an old sweatshirt on at the time. I took it off and dove on him to put him out. When I lifted it off of him, he burst back into flames so I covered him again.
I thought I could get me to the ER quicker than waiting on an ambulance. We then proceeded to Robinson Memorial Hospital. On the way I blasted the air conditioning. His skin was just hanging off of his arms. They immediately took action and prepared him for transport to Akron’s Children’s Hospital’s burn unit.
Both of our lives changed dramatically. At first my husband didn’t want to go to the support meetings. I told him that we were because I needed it. He didn’t think he was burned enough.
It has been 5 years since his burn and I rarely miss a meeting. My husband works on the road and makes it when he can. We’ve been blessed with the Burn Survivor Group. Some may say this was the worst thing to happen to me. My husband and I say it was the best.
The people who have come into our life as a result of this are irreplaceable – all of the doctors and nurses at Akron Children’s Hospital, the firefighters, burn survivors (my family), and the caregivers. I’m especially thankful for the people I’ve met through Aluminum Cans for Burned Children (ACBC). ACBC raises money to help burn survivors and their families by funding educational and support programs, and paying for non-medical items or services not covered by insurance.
Since 2010, I have been on the board of ACBC. I see first-hand what it takes to be able to fund our worthwhile events and monthly meetings. And, they are worthwhile.
Our monthly meetings allow us to be around people who know what each other has been through, to reconnect and feel at home. Several staff attend our meetings. It means the world that they want to take time out of their busy schedule to be with us and support us.
Salt Fork Retreat is another event. I call it our Mini-World Burn. We have this during the summer when we have a hiatus in Burn Survivor meetings. My husband and I find ourselves counting down the days until we go.
The retreat is our time to relax and be among friends. It’s our time to talk, cry, scream, play, and celebrate wherever we might be on our journeys. Several staff attends this event also. They are an integral part of our lives. They are our rocks. They are there to catch us if we fall and celebrate with us when we get up.
World Burn is also a great event. We get to meet in a new place each year. We get to meet up with old and new friends. We get to listen to people who know what it’s like to be us. You would think once you have gone to World Burn, you would not need to go back. That is not true.
Each year, I know my husband and I come away with something new – be it a speaker who has touched us, a new friend we made, or seeing someone you met the year before and reconnecting. We are one of the largest groups of people who attend. I believe this year 33 of us attended. I personally have had many people ask how they could get a group together like ours.