Message from the President
Greetings friend, and welcome to the February Comfort Connection!
I realize Thanksgiving has come and gone, but today I am thankful for so many things. I am so thankful for the healing I have received since 10% of my body was horribly burned October 25, 2018. It’s been just over three months since that traumatic incident.
I would like to explain today why I am soooo thankful. I received immediate care (and drugs) from the emergency team (at least six people attended to me constantly for a few hours) at St. Boniface Hospital. Then I was transferred to (one of) the best burn units in the country at Health Science Centre. The team there further worked on me for another few hours while family, friends and employees waited patiently outside to see if I would be OK.
The hospital staff all around was second to none. But, the BEST advice I received, in my opinion, was from my physiotherapist. He came to see me a day and a half after the incident in ICU. Both gentle and kind, he encouraged me to move my hands. Tighten them in a fist; hold for 6-10 seconds. Extend the fingers; hold for 6-10 seconds. Burns respond best to this slow stretching of the skin. I was supposed to do this 10 times and three sets a day, or more often as I could tolerate.
Before he came to see me, I had no idea what to do with my hands. They were lying on my lap wrapped in big bandages. They hurt like heck if they went below waist level as the blood pumped mercilessly in their direction. Other than that, I didn’t know if I was supposed to move them, or just let them rest. After my physiotherapist came to visit, as long as I was awake, I never stopped moving my hands. Some days I could make a fist all the way, some days I couldn’t.
Since that time, I have seen the way some people’s severe burns have healed. Without movement, without that advice, contractures set in, and they can never ever again open their fingers fully. In fact, they may never move their fingers again without surgery. It’s as if their fingers are permanently wrapped around a bottle or can, but there is no bottle. I AM SO THANKFUL I have FULL FUNCTION of all my fingers.
Three months later, I am still stretching and fully extending my hands in every direction. This is something I consciously do pretty much all day. In fact, they still stiffen up during the night when I don’t move them, and I need to stretch to get comfortable enough to go back to sleep. It was described to me that deep burns are like cement. As long as cement is turning in the barrel of the cement truck, it won’t set. But when it stops moving, it gets hard. That’s why I need to continuously stretch these injuries that seem as if they will never heal (but they will—it just seems like an eternity so far).
Another piece of advice I received is to massage the scars as they form. Did you know you can actually massage a scar away? I did not know this. I spend A LOT of time rubbing my hands. For one, it feels good. For another, some days, I can actually rub skin/scars away that don’t belong to leave smooth, more flexible skin.
I am SO THANKFUL. What if I had not received the care that I did? I would NOT be in as good shape as I am now. There is so much more I could talk about... the surgery, the dressing changes, the out-patient care, the free pressure garments... but you get the idea. We have an incredible health care system.
What are you thankful for today? Wishing you a thank-filled Valentine’s Day!