Scars for Life

Laughter is heard all around, even shrills from ones having fun. Relaxing on our day at the newly opened theme park, we board the roller coaster. This is the third time for my husband and I, the second time for my eight year old son. Bars are closed tightly upon our chests with the last click. We begin our adventure again, although feeling like it is still the first time. I smile widely with my son sitting next to me as I watch his face of fear and excitement. Then it is his face that turns from smiles to laughter upon hearing his mother scream like a child. After a fast take off, G forces and loops the ride comes to a stop. People climb off this coaster as if cattle are being herded. My husband Michael, my son Tyler and I then begin to walk our way to where my mother and daughter were. This is the moment my heart literally dropped into my stomach and then was lunged up into my throat.

Walking along the path with many other visitors, we notice a large crowd gathered around something. Nothing occurred to me of what we were about to witness. I could tell something must have happened from the way ones were circled around, letting no one in or able to see a thing. I figured my mother was near, for this is the same area her and my daughter, Summer were at when we went on the coaster. Almost at the scene, that is when I gasped and began to panic, yet not showing it. I looked off to the side and saw a stroller; I thought to myself that it looked similar to Summer’s stroller. Of course I thought that there could be hundreds of strollers like hers. Looking down at the ground, below the feet of ones standing around, I saw it…Summer’s jacket, soaking wet. Then next to that was her sweater she was wearing and off to the far side I saw a large cup, one you would have coffee in. My mother saw me and was crying uncontrollably. I saw Summer standing there shaking from the cold air that evening, with nothing on but her pants and shoes. Her arm was stretched out, being held up by an off duty paramedic that happened to be standing in line for this same concession stand. As soon as Summer saw me and my husband the first words out of her mouth was, “It’s okay mom my, it’s okay”, with a partial smile on her face. It was dark and I really did not get a good look at her arm. My husband looked at me and said it looked really bad. Through all the confusion and inexperience of the on site nurses, we were then rushed to the hospital where her burns could be assessed properly. I rode with her in the ambulance, still unsure of the severity, for she was wrapped in gauze.

Upon arrival to the hospital, admitted into emergency and waiting to see a doctor. If you have ever been in a hospital emergency you know how long this can take, forever. The whole time waiting Summer was lying on the bed looking around and saying she was okay. She then began singing and motioning her hula song and dance that she was to perform the following Saturday. I think it was not taken seriously her injury for the strength and control she displayed. When she was seen, that is when Michael and I finally got a good look at the burn. It covered her whole upper area, wrapping around to the back and also the lower portion of her arm. Her skin was literally hanging off her arm with blisters beginning to form. That is when you begin to worry because blisters equal bacteria and result in infection.

She was moved into the intensive care burn unit there at that hospital, which mind you is in California and we live in Arizona. Her arm was then scraped of all the blisters and cream was applied with a bandage. She cried tears of agony while this was performed, looking me in the eye screaming, “Mommy no, stop mommy.” Her pain quickly diminished when the cream was applied, she even gave out a loud sigh and a huge, “ahhhhhh” when the nurse applied this cream. She had to stay over night. Michael, Tyler and I went back to the hotel. My mother, “nana” stayed with her.

The next morning she was given a hydro bath. This is when she is totally submerged to clean the burn. This is when the burn was actually assessed. Summer had a third degree, partial thickness burn. Almost the worst you could have. The Doctor said that she was to stay until we had to drive back. They were worried about infection and fever, saying that they look fine, but then can take a turn for the worse. Summer did. High fever with vomiting, resulting in not eating or drinking. Her nutrition is vital for a burn. The more calories, the better it heals to replenish the new skin. Finally she came around and we were able to leave after three days in the hospital, yet only to be transferred to another here in Arizona.

Summer was admitted to our burn unit here which is one of the best there is. That comforted me. They did not keep her, asked if I would be able to do the cleanings, I said yes I had seen them do it over and over. Was given supplies and off we went home.

The days after this were horrendous. The toll it took on us all to clean Summers burns is nothing I would ever wish upon anyone. It is pure torture to have to hold your child down while wiping her burns and watching the bath water turn pink from her wounds bleeding. Not to mention the blood curdling screams and her trying to smack the wash cloth out of your hands, very emotional.

This went on for about one and a half months. Summer healed quickly (her open wounds that is). She is now wearing a pressure garment that will help keep the scars flat and less painful. She will have to wear this 23 hours out of the day, 7 days a week until the scars reach full maturation. This can take up to 2 years.

Summer is full of life and is not letting her burn interfere with her life as a three year old, except for the occasional itchiness. Summer did dance the hula the next Saturday following her accident, despite her injury. She did wonderful. Seeing that our vacation was not finished, she still asks to go back to this theme park.

The liquid that Summer was burned with was hot chocolate from a children’s theme park. There is a problem right there. My mother was holding the cup while Summer’s stroller hit a crack in the walkway causing it to stop abruptly. With the liquid at such high temperatures it popped the lid off causing the liquid to spill upon Summer’s arm. I want to add to everyone to please be careful when purchasing any hot liquid. I have found that at some establishments they will inquire (with hot chocolate) if it is for an adult or child, for they use espresso machine water if for a adult. That is the water that was used for Summer. It was well near 190 degrees, through a sweatshirt and jacket, too hot if you ask me.

So if you hear, “Well it met industry standards”, that is a cop out. It is what meets “safety standards” is what is important. Trauma victims are splintered people, yet through the strength and trials Summer has gone through, she has shown diligently how strong she can be and in turn strengthened me.

Be careful, please.

©LisaMarie2001

Scars for Life

LisaMarie Miranda

Phoenix, United States

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Artist's Description

Short story of my daughter’s ordeal

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