Sunday, February 7, 2010
Heal the Wounds, Leave the Scars
I remember the day was humid. As I readied myself for work, I had a sense ... something was wrong with one of my boys. I gave them over to God, each of them. I left for work ... I was wearing a khaki skirt, a pale yellow shell and plaid short sleeve shirt.
Later that day I would wish I had worn something different. I'd wish for long sleeves and pants ... the ambulance ride was cold, I shivered most of the way from Marion General to St. Joseph.
On August 10, 2007 ... God spared my oldest son. Somehow, someway ... God chose to keep Clay on this earth. The medic in the ambulance and the burn clinic physician ... they would agree.
Clay was helping my father on the farm. It was a usual day ... cleaning up debris around the fruit trees, cleaning out the trash bins from the garage, shop and both our house and my parents. Clay had been responsible for taking out the trash and burning it for over a year. He knew safety ... He knew aerosol cans weren't safe. Somehow, the cans got into the trash and ended up on an open fire.
As the heat from the debris grew ... the cans exploded ... up and out onto Clay's body. I drove as fast as possible from my work ... to my parents home ... to the emergency room. I remember Clay's screams ... "God make it stop, make it stop ... make it stop burning." I remember ... I couldn't catch my breath ... I remember ... the smell of burning flesh.
At the emergency room, Clay received pain medication through an IV. I sat next to him, wishing I could hold him ... somehow take away the pain. I couldn't even wipe his tears ... to do so would have pulled skin from his face. I watched as his skin blistered, broke open and rolled off to reveal other layers of skin.
I listened as the nurses and doctors talked back and forth. I couldn't understand everything they said, they whispered and looked at me with sad faces. I caught bits and pieces of their words ... "skin graphs, third degree burns, lung damage, permanent scarring." The lead doctor came in, he held Clay's hand and looked at me. "We've done all we can, we'll have to move him."
"Which floor? Do you know which room?" I needed to call my husband and tell him where we were. I needed to tell him ...
"No ma'am, not here ... we're moving Clay to St. Joe burn clinic."
"What? I don't understand. Why?" I think I was in shock. I couldn't understand what he was trying to say.
"We've done everything we can here. We aren't equipped to handle this type of burn. And ... I think he may have breathed in the fumes." The doctor's face seemed sad.
I went through the motions. I filled out the paperwork, answered all their questions, told my friend to call Jerry (my husband). He had been working third shift and was home asleep. Someone needed to wake him up, tell him we needed him.
The ambulance ride was cold. I sat in the front with the driver. Clay was accompanied by a medic. Today, I can close my eyes and see that medic's smile. I remember he kept reaching up and touching my arm ... "Ma'am, your son's doing well. I'm keeping him comfortable." I remember his smile was genuine.
The burn center was hot, the rooms smelled sterile and clean. I felt sick at the smell, the move from cold to hot and then back again to cold in the waiting room. The nurse took me downstairs to fill out more paperwork and then back upstairs to wait again. Each person told me ... "prepare to be here for a week. This type of burn will require constant care and supervision ... at best." At best? What did that mean?
I sat in the waiting room, my face buried in my knees ... I knew my husband's footsteps before I saw his face. I heard him approaching and then fell into his arms. Fear, fear ... took over every inch of my spirit.
Moments later, the doctor came out with two interns. He introduced himself and then said this ... "You can take him home."
"What?" I think my husband and I spoke in unison.
"Listen, I don't know what happened but that's not the same boy Marion General called me on a few hours ago. I was expecting far worse burns and a lengthy stay here in our burn center." He shrugged.
Jerry and I followed the doctor to a room down the hall. I remember the room was white, everything was covered in thick plastic and ... it was hot ... so hot I felt sick. On the table, Clay sat with his head resting against a white pillow. The nurses showed me how to clean and dress his burns.
And ... we went home.
Later that evening, I learned the doctors at the local hospital thought Clay had breathed in the fumes. The result would've been permanent lung damage. They also felt he had third degree burns on every portion of his skin not covered by clothing.
To this day, I believe something happened in that ambulance. To this day, I believe God spared Clay's life for a reason. Someday, I will sit back and smile ... I'll say ... "That's why, that's the reason Clay is here."
Today, Clay has two small scars on the inside of his right arm. The remainder of his skin has healed ... completely.
Those scars are a constant reminder of God's mercy ... What scars do you carry as a reminder of God's mercy and grace?
Philippians 4:13 "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me."
Esther 4:14 "For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?”