Monday, October 8, 2018

No Man Is An Island

   


    Burn Survivors not only have to deal with physical pain but also emotional pain as well. For many survivors, life has changed and will never be the same again.


    During my stay at the burn ward, a Mr. Lim a former patient at the burn ward, came to visit me. Years ago, he suffered 30% burn while burning rubbish using flammable material at his own home.

    Talking to him felt good as he knew what I was going through and the difficulties that I would be facing in the future. He was understanding and gave some good advice.  Seeing that he managed to get back to his life despite his challenges, gave hope and indeed inspired me.

    On the other hand, there was also a burn patient, a Mr. Tan who was burnt a few years before my accident. He had an epileptic fit while burning rubbish and was burnt on his face. He was admitted twice again for infections during my stay at the burn ward.

    I could clearly remember Mr. Tan telling me to exercise, to stand, to eat a vegetarian diet, to do this and that and the list goes on. At that time, I was still immobile, so I couldn’t escape. On his part, he meant well, just that I wasn’t ready to be lectured. However, I am still grateful that he made the effort to talk to me.

     Indeed, they were two different people with different approaches.

    In Malaysia there is no Association for Burn Survivors or any Support Group available. I find this quite strange as the number of people who gets burn yearly is not exactly low.

    One day, my sister came across Phoenix Society which is based in the USA while she was doing her research on burns. 

  “They have a chat at 9pm on every Wednesday”, she said.

    In Malaysian time it is on every Thursday at 9am. 

    Initially, I hesitated and thought that they would only cater for US citizen. My hesitation melted away on my first chat with them. They welcomed all burn survivors. I have been joining the chat group since January 2017, every once a week, whenever possible.

   The people there are so welcoming. It is good to know that I am not alone in facing my problems with regards to my burnt skin. Mostly it is emotional support for the grouses and the problems that burn survivors are facing. I noticed that most of the grievances revolves around people who are not so supportive or are unsympathetic towards burn survivors. They could be family, friends, colleagues and even strangers.  Basically, it boils down to ignorance of society with regards to burns. 

  The Phoenix Society is doing a good job in helping burn survivors and also in helping to create awareness of survivors. They even have annual conferences and burn camps. Hopefully in the future, Malaysia will have such a support system to help burn survivors and also to create awareness on burns.  

    If we can have a Cancer Society and Society for Dementia, why not a society for burn survivors? A place where burn survivors would feel that they belong and have activities together instead of feeling alienated and shunned by others. Assisting burn survivors to integrate back to society.  

  A month ago, the Phoenix Society for the very first time, held free live streaming of the World Burn Convention. Even though I had to stay up very late at night, the sacrifice was worth it.

   With the advancement of the internet, there are online support groups for most type of diseases or medical conditions.  We are not alone in dealing with our problems. Sharing our problems and learning from others is a step forward towards our own healing.

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