Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Dry And Flaky

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 baby oil or liquid paraffin on the skin before bandaging while making sure it doesn’t touch the wound area.  I used moisturiser of various brands as recommended by the plastic doctors.

Later, my sister researched on essential oils and decided that it would be best if we used more natural oils on my skin instead of synthetic oils. That began the start of her journey of concocting a mixture of oils for my skin. We first started with coconut oil as a base oil combine with some essential oils like lavender and tea tree oil. She was careful to test the oils individually to see whether there was any adverse effect on me. Luckily, there were none. We found out there were many types of oils and that the quality of oils depended on the process of extraction. I have even tried oils which I have never heard of before such as Seabuckthorn and Arnica.

With the vast information available on the internet, sometimes it gets confusing on what is good for my skin. Most of the information on burn skin is for the initial burn only. By the time they transferred me to the burn ward, nearly 4 months have passed. The wound areas have turned into ulcers. There were well-meaning individuals who suggested all sort of stuff they read from the internet, but they did not understand that those articles only applied for the initial burns.

My sister got frustrated with all the misinformations and sometimes ridiculous suggestions which she felt was taking too much of her time. I reminded her that these people have good intentions, just that they forwarded stuff without thinking it through. At this age of easy and fast information, people forget that they should be held accountable for whatever they send to others.

Misinformation can indeed be detrimental for a burn patient. One of the nurses at the burn ward narrated to me about a patient who applied garlic on his skin after being discharged from the hospital. He read from the internet that garlic is good for skin. He was readmitted to the hospital as the area broke down.

For a burn patient, it is better to stick with the tried and tested products rather than experimenting on the fragile skin. Best to leave the experimenting to a later date when the skin is much more stable.

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Chinese New Year

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.

Image from the Star Newspaper

          I could relate to her feelings. Anxiety arises when I smell gas, hear a loud sound or when plates are accidentally broken.  There was once where my sister stopped for petrol at one of the gas station. The smell of petrol invaded my nostril even though I was inside the car. It felt hot and a panic attack was rising from within. Attempting to calm myself, I repeatedly chanted, “Everything would be OK”. It felt like ages had passed before my sister returned. I hurried her to drive away. Apparently, a previous car had spilled petrol on the floor and the petrol station had failed to clean up the area.

My sister looked worried as she glanced at my direction. She heard the continuous loud explosive crackling sound. Firecrackers were being burnt somewhere nearby. It was the first Chinese New Year since my accident. I looked at her and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll be OK”.

 I am lucky that the sound of firecrackers doesn’t affect me much. Imagine being jumpy throughout every Chinese New Year whenever they are being lighted up. 

           For those who loves playing fireworks, please take extra precaution. It is common to see more people being warded in the burn ward during Chinese New Year. In 2017, I remembered seeing a teenage boy warded during the first day of Chinese New Year. He looked miserable with a bandaged hand.  Spending the holidays in the hospital is definitely not fun.

During this festive season, it is not the material things that matters, rather it is the celebration with family and friends. Take this opportunity to foster closer ties with people and appreciate the moments shared with them.