3rd Degree Burns Survivor.......... The Burns Ward

3rd-degree-burns-surviver-2 Shortly after my admission with 3rd degree burns I suffered Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome, so I was rushed off to the Intensive 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 throttling me.

Anyhow, 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 ICU could be, and it turned out be Mary, you know, of Peter, Paul & Mary fame, LOL.

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 myself.

After a day or so, I was back in Ward 2C again and all sorts of goings on for the next 3 months.

  • Fluid 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 big-time.

  • 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.

    Split Skin Grafting

    The Meshed Pattern still shows up on my hand and arm after 30 odd years.

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