Today is Tuesday. Two weeks ago, I had an accident. The biggest part of the accident was that I lost myself in my thoughts, ruminating, worrying. The result was shocking and very, very painful in the moment and hours following.
In my life in India, if I want to take hot shower, I have to heat the water with coil that I plug into the wall. You leave it for 20 minutes and walaa…hot water. So that morning, it was about an hour before I got around to showering and I did the usual and mixed the super hot water with the cold water for a nice warm bucket bath. The bucket full of hot water sitting there unmixed side by side with the mixed bucket water…Caught up in my thoughts, about half way through my shower, I without realizing my mistake, I pulled a large mug full from the hot, hot water and poured it over my left arm and chest. The realization of mistake was to say the least devastating…BURNING! I could not make it stop. In the moment, a scream escaped my lips and then the sobbing started and I could not stop. I do have a shower head in my bathroom and immediately turned on the water, naturally cold, to stand underneath. Probably, several minutes later, I realized I needed help and ran from the bathroom to get my phone and promptly ran back to stand under the water. Stilling sobbing, I called around till I got friend and coworker, Sheila on the phone. Though apparently she could not understand me, she dropped what she was doing and ran to my house. I grabbed the cold packs in my freezer and waited under the stream of water till she arrived. Being that I mostly red at the moment we could not gage the damage and Sheila ran home to get some burn salve. Not sure how long I stood under that cold water but I never wanted to leave it, I hurt so bad. Sheila arrived again and made me get out the shower so she could put on some good old straight from the USA Amish burn salve. It helped a little and my sobbing eased as I lay down and Sheila began calling doctors to find the best place to take me for help.
That day was pretty traumatic and remains mostly emotionally unprocessed. My initial response was simple one of being thankful that it was not worse…could have been my face, my eyes, my head. It was that posture that I engaged as I smiled through visitors and sweet and encouraging phone calls. I was in denial. I ultimately ended up in the hospital, in an operating room getting a very fancy dressing and very thorough cleaning of my burns. Sheila estimated that I received 1st and 2nd degree burns over 15 percent of my body which would constitute serve burns because of the sheer surface area. My few days of denial was okay, helped me get though some very awkward and painful moments. The blistering, the grossness of the daily evolving dying of my skin was something to be in denial about for as long as possib le. The next few days when the reality set in, I missed a vision trip I planned to Mushirabad to explore the opportunities of a second Sari Bari Prevention Unit and I was alone a lot as I attempt to rest, recover and heal. Four days alone without more than 15 minutes of people time was enough to make my head spin and being locked down with the internet as my guide, I realized that my burns would take weeks, not a few days to heal. Those were not great days…they were the dark ones before the dawn so to speak. Late last week hope emerged in glimmers as the dead skin began to peel away and new skin, fresh and very sensitive emerged. Today, two week later, I am almost new. I still have some open wounds that have to be dressed every day, twice day. I still have unrealistic expectations about healing even though I know the realities—one to three weeks at least. And at the two week mark I am 80 percent all better, right on track with being whole again in three weeks.
My body may be finished healing in the next week, I do hope so. But I am not sure when my heart and mind will be finished. I have been drinking my coffee cold, if I have been drinking it all, cooking has been an act of will and I do not foresee hot showers in the near future. I have not written about this before now because basically I have been ashamed. I did this to myself, it was an accident, but an accident caused by my own carelessness, by my stress and worry. Writing about it is supposed to be healing, I hope it will be. The pain of the burns was horrible, maybe the worst pain of my life even worse than shattering my wrist but I think the pain of healing has been worse. The initial pain faded in 4 or 5 hours but every day since there has been pain, struggle and discomfort…reminders of that first hurt. The progress has been hard to mark because it only points me to the reality of how I was hurt, how that hurt happened and what I could have done to prevent it.
For the last week, with my extra time in recovery, I keep thinking about the healing process. How in almost every situation, we expect it to come fast. But the reality is that healing takes time. I think not only of my own pain but of the times when I have caused pain and how that also takes time to heal and it basically sucks for everyone. There is no good side to being a jerk and then asking for forgiveness, you just have to wait it out. Hoping for the best and praying for forgiveness while changing the behaviors that cause the hurt. So many hurts are long in the healing. A very long time, sometimes eternity might be just enough time. In some areas, we have to choose our healedness every day. In the case of my burns, I have to keep believing in the progress and that one day I will be without these wounds and new scars that mark me. The wounds and the scars will disappear and I will be new again, in body, heart and mind.
Still healing and thankful to be healed.