On Saturday, March 5, I was in the yard doing some cleaning up. We have a good size burn pile, and it's been dry enough that I knew I could get them burned and cleaned up. All the kids except Alex were off on a playdate, so it was a perfect time to start a raging fire. And he was busy with his friends in a different part of the yard.
I grabbed what I thought was a can of diesel fuel. I've started dozens of fires using diesel fuel, because it burns fairly slowly. I had, in fact, grabbed a can that had regular gasoline, and dumped a quart or so on the sticks to get the fire going. I leaned in close to light the fire, and immediately heard a loud "whoosh" as my sight filled with flames. I was blown backwards, and almost immediately I knew what had happened. I heard my poly-pro jacket burning, so I quickly dropped onto into the dirt and rolled around to make sure I wasn't on fire.
I grabbed the gas can to make sure it wasn't near the fire, made sure Alex wasn't anywhere near, and ran inside to get my face and arms in some cold water. Our friend Lillian was inside with the baby, and I had her call 911.
Within a few minutes, I was in an ambulance, heading to our local hospital. The medic knew I was in a lot of pain, thank goodness he gave me some morphine as soon as I was in the ambulance. My wife met me at the entrance of the ER.
Once they stabilized me at the local hospital, they moved me to our regional burn center, Harborview Medical Center in downtown Seattle. I had 3rd degree burns on both hands, and on most of my face.
I spent the next 24 hours in Intensive Care, where they closely monitored swelling and breathing to make sure I hadn't damaged my airway or lungs. Within a few hours my parents arrived from Salt Lake City. My sister offered some of her family's frequent flier points, and they were able to catch a flight almost immediately. It was very comforting to see my mom and dad, and know they could help with the kids for a few days, and spend some time with me in the hospital.
I spent the next week in Burn Center making sure I'd heal up. Even though I had to share a room with a stranger (something I haven't had to do for years!), I was able to get some rest and deal with the daily pain of cleaning and dressing the wounds.
I've been home from work for almost two weeks, and I can't wait to head back in on Monday. I've been sleeping a lot, and have been weaning myself from the pain medication they gave me, so I can stay awake more than an hour or two at a time! Mostly, I've been getting restless and bored, though I can't find the energy to do anything for more than a little while before I want to head back to sleep.
I've been overwhelmed with the amount of support, prayers, and well-wishes from my family, neighbors, co-workers, and people from our church. We've had someone helping around the house almost every day, and Jeri's been able to spend a lot of time with me in the hospital, and as I've recovered. I'm amazed at how kind everyone's been about helping, bringing food, watching the kids, and more. And I've gotten flowers and cards and email from so many folks I work with, that I feel more connected and cared about than I have in months. Thanks, everyone...
I had a clinic visit yesterday, and I was told I'll heal completely (though they're looking at one of my hands to see if I'll need a graft, but it looks unlikely). Hopefully, there will be no scarring, and as long as I stay out of the sun, the skin will grow normally over the next few months. In fact, everyone's pretty amazed at how quickly my skin is healing up (hard to believe the difference in the photos from just a week ago).
Enjoy the pictures, hope they don't gross you out too much! I'll post a few more photos on our family web site.
Day One, Intensive Care
In the "tank room" of the burn unit (not a fun place).
At home, on day Seven
The hands hurt the worst...
After about ten days (taken Wednesday)