3rd Degree Burns Survivor.......... The Burns Ward
after my admission with 3rd degree burns I suffered Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, so
I was rushed
off to theIntensive Care Unit and
put under a perspex canopy to
minimise heat loss, I cannot remember feeling so all over COLD.
The respiratory trouble was caused by an airway edema, as the
inside of my throat had been severely burnt, with 3rd degree burns on the outside, and the swelling was literally
they stuffed this gadget down my throat, taking turns
looking into the eyepiece, and making various observations, but
completely ignoring ME.
I felt really alone, and if it hadn't been
for somebody simply stroking my foot, I think I would've got up and
left, it was so scary.
It seems that the boss lady (Gwen) of the burns Ward 2C, had sent
one of her nurses up with me as she knew how impersonal the ICUcould
be, and it turned out be Mary, you know, of Peter, Paul & Mary
Later on my wife Aileen came in which made
things a lot better. At this stage they were removing bits of burnt
tissue from my vocal cords with lots of peerings down the eye-piece.
Being a bit of a Techno Geek I would've loved to have had a peek
After a day or so, I was back in Ward 2C again and all sorts of goings
on for the next 3 months.
intake restricted. After I'd had my limit of water,
all I could do was suck ice cubes.
Silver Sulfadiazine ointment
applied to all burnt areas. This felt as cold as if it had just been
taken out of the fridge, and was re-applied daily.
Debridement of my
left arm and split skin grafts applied.. The skin was taken from my
thighs with a gadget like a potato peeler, then put through a machine
that put little cuts in so that the skin would cover a bigger area,
resembling expanded aluminium. (see the illustration below) The
skun thighs were a damned sight more painful than the burns. Both
thighs were used 2 or 3 times over the first few weeks as more areas
needed to be grafted.
Stress Diabetes developed
so I had insulin injections regularly. This cleared up before I left
the hospital, but re-appeared as type 2 many years later.
3rd Degree Burns
on my neck were relieved with skin grafts and I had to wear a neck
brace that was somehow secured to the bed. But in my drugged state I
managed to rip it off which caused the therapist to tell me off
The entire left ribcage had to be
grafted, but the site developed MRSA (Methicillin
Resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) and most of the the split skin grafts
didn't take and just dropped off. This made the healing take much
longer, with daily treatment to remove the dead tissue.
The daily warm saline baths
were great. They had an electric hoist to lift you in and out and two
or three nurses would work on the various burnt parts, swabbing,
cutting and cleaning. They were very special people who did a difficult
job with great expertise and compassion.
The part that I didn't like much was being stretched out to dry after
the bath. As the 3rd Degree Burns bits dried out they got stiff and very painful
until the Silver ointment was re-applied
and the area covered again.
Because of this I opted to have the pain killing injection after
the bath. Most others had it before the bath, but I didn't mind the
snipping and pulling. It felt so clean afterwards.
The fluid intake restriction still applied, but I was allowed to have PART
of a stubby of beer per day. The boss lady, Gwen, put a biro mark on
the label beyond which I was not allowed to go. Yeah........right!
Try telling a perishing Aussie not to finish a stubby!
Well, the 3 months went by with much the same daily ritual, and then
they had to clear out the ward to eradicate the MRSA bug that was
causing so many problems. In those days the burns ward was like
any other open Hospital Ward so that if a patient had MRSA, you could
bet that it would go right around the ward, and that's just what it did.
So they sent me home, with a dinner plate sized 3rd Degree Burns wound on my ribs,
and a dose of MRSA! I was glad to go home, but sorry to leave
such a dedicated band of people as the staff of Ward 2C.
The Dermatome and the Skin Meshing
Tool used for skin grafting 3rd degree burns.
The Meshed Pattern still shows up on my hand and arm after 30 odd years.