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Compression Garments

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Compression garments. Burn survivors either hate them or love them.
The first time the occupational therapist introduced me to them, it took me around 40 minutes just to wear them on my legs and hands. So hot and tight. It felt like I was wrestling, and the compression garments won the match.Taking off was another struggle. I hated them.
Feeling weak, I would sometime give up and refuse to wear them. Occasionally, there were small patches of blood soaking through the pressure garment, an indication that my skin was still raw and had not stabilise yet.
I remember giving a bunch of excuses when the occupational therapist caught me not wearing them. “It’s too tight” or “My skin is breaking down at that area”. I would inform her. 
She would look at me disapprovingly, “you need to wear them for 23 hours a day”.

What? You must be kidding. Unfortunately, the occupational therapist was not joking.
I only began to seriously put them on after looking at some photos of other burn survivors whose scars…

Calmness And Patience Tested

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11th March 2019 have been a truly memorable day. It was pain this time that accompanied my waking up. I may be semi-conscious, unable to have a coherent thought yet. However, pain I do recognised very well. 

This pain appeared to originate from the left side of my face; stinging pain at the back of my upper teeth and gums area. In less than an hour a trail of burning pain journeyed upwards from my gums. It went across my cheek to the side of my left temple. There was another source of pain which travelled from my gums downwards to my tailbone area. This lasted for two seconds. Then I felt the area of my tailbone appeared to tighten uncomfortably. 

A mixture of pain and numbness affected my appetite, mood and a pounding headache soon came after. I felt my head was facing a blaring loudspeaker in a rock concert. However, unlike the experience I had years ago, this did not elicit pleasure in my body. The sensation felt like my head being torn apart to pieces. 


It had been a long time since …

Occupational Therapy

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“ Be Strong When You are Weak, Be Brave When You are Scared, Be Humble When You are Victorious”(Author unknown)

The quotation caught my eyes as I looked at the poster on the wall.
The first time I saw the quotation was around 8 to 9 months after my accident. That was when I didn’t even have the strength to get up from the wheelchair on my own and needed help.I remembered that day. The burn ward had been so cold. They wheeled me into the occupational therapist work room; it felt so good to feel the warm air.
Staring at the quotation, I wondered, when I could feel victorious? If I am “strong” and “brave” would I be able to get through this? Whether I could fake the “strong” and “brave” part?  I tried to remember this quotation and write it down, to recite it whenever I feel weak and afraid.
I didn’t have the strength to lift both my arms to my ears and my palm grip was weak. The occupational therapist gave me a device with two bottles attached to it, when one bottle was squeezed, the liqu…

Dry And Flaky

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Examining the crusted brown flakes closely, my sister exclaimed, “they looked like KFC’s hot and spicy”. She was referring to the famous franchise restaurant chain.
Part of me felt insulted being compared to fried chicken. 


In my view, they bear a closer resemblance to the fried banana fritters that I used to eat in my childhood days.
It was nearly the end of the year 2016, after certain parts of my wounds healed, my skin became dry and were flaking off. The sight of the dried flaking skin would deter my sister from eating at KFC for a long time.
There was a point when I was flaking off a lot of dry skin until my sister suggested that she should collect them and make some weird artwork and framed them. She informed me about an artist who collected fish bones, made them into art and sold them for lots of money.
I rolled my eyes, “Yeah, and who will buy? They are probably filled with MRSA or other bacteria”.But then again, it would have been a unique artwork.
The nurses would sometimes apply …

Chinese New Year

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Reading the newspaper, it amused me that some people dread the coming Chinese New Year holidays as they are trying to avoid nosey relatives who loved asking questions such as “Are you still single?”, “When are you getting married?”, “Why aren’t you working yet?” etc.
Burn survivors around the world, they have more to cope than just annoying relatives. During the holiday season, the stress gets to them. Most preferred to be alone during festivities.  This is especially so when the celebration involves fire. The smell, sight, sound and feel. Any or all of this combination can cause post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or triggers that reminds them of the trauma.
There was an article in the Star newspaper on the 31st of January 2019 about actress Joey Leong who suffered 5% of second-degree burn on her legs at the set of the movie ‘Amazing Spring’. In the article, Joey admitted that she often makes a hasty retreat whenever she sees a fire. She had concerns about suffering from PTSD.
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Finding Humour and Prayers

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Patrick was wailing loudly in my arms. His lips smeared with a mixture of regurgitated milk and sticky phlegm. The scent of sourish vomit on his clothing and face was under my breath. Some part of me wish to turn my face away; I resisted that impulse and continue to comfort him.

His face wrinkled together with lines of distress and fear. He suddenly shook his head wildly,  his back arches while his body trashing around in my arms. I felt a fish flopping like sensation in my chest while my eardrums almost burst with Patrick's tenor.
"Uh oh. Patrick vomited. Uh oh." My husband tried to make Patrick view this differently.

Patrick continued to cry louder.

"Uh oh. Uh oh."

From a wild tornado in my arms, Patrick suddenly became silent. He observed my husband closely.

Then from a tenor voice, I hear a soft-spoken voice from Patrick, "uh oh."


Patrick saying uh oh, followed by  myself repeating his uh oh.
"Yes, Patrick. Uh oh. You vomited. Uh oh."

Patrick beca…

Faith

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A few days ago, I was invited by my friend to a Christian life group sharing. The group leader referred to a passage from the bible about a man named Jairus whose daughter was dying and he asked help from Jesus to save her. When Jesus arrived at the house, he did not let anyone in except his disciples and the girl’s parents. Jesus said “Don’t cry; the child is not dead-she is only sleeping!”. There were some people who made fun of him. Jesus called out to the child, and she got up.
           What touched me about the whole story is Faith.

During the time that I was unconscious in the ICU, my condition was critical, in a medical induced coma with nearly no chance of survival. The doctors had informed my family to prepare for the worse.My dear sister tried to restrict the number of visitors. There were relatives who wanted to say their goodbyes.She struggled to prevent them from entering as she feared that I may pick up their words and thus give up on life. Sometimes she succeeded, som…