"Two years ago, when I was 32, I was burned in an electrical explosion. My wife was 2 months pregnant and I took up a second job to make some extra money for us. It was only the second night on the new job that I had the accident.
When the accident happened, I was sitting down on the floor, facing the piece of machinery. The electrical currents were too strong and caused the explosion. I guess from the surprise, I sucked in a breath, which caused me to also suck in the fire. I passed out and came in and out of unconsciousness while I waited on the ambulance to take me to the hospital.
First the ambulance took me to Hospital Viedma and waited there for a few hours, but there was no ICU for burned adults, so I was sent to Hospital Univalle. I spent 2 months in Univalle. For the first two weeks, I had operations every single day. Then, during the next two weeks, I had operations every other day. The staff didn't let my wife come in to see me because I looked so bad and my body was so swollen. They all said that I was going to die. My wife was so upset that she almost lost our baby...she had to stay in the bed for 3 weeks after my accident.
Since I had sucked in the fire, I was burned all the way down my throat and lungs. I had to have a trachea for 2 months. 45% of my body was burned. My body was 3rd degree burns and my face was 2nd degree burns. I had skin graphs taken from my lower legs and the back of my thighs and bottom to cover the rest of my body where I was burned. Everything was so painful that I felt like it would be better for burn patients to die rather than live through this...especially children who are burned.
After two months in the hospital, I was sent home. I stayed in bed for 1 more month and the hospital sent nurses and physical therapists to me. Once all of my skin had healed, I went to get my Pressure Suit from the Burn Clinic. The doctor at the hospital told me that I was going to have to have many more surgeries because of my scars. On my stomach I had skin that needed to be removed. Also, in both of my armpits, I needed to have skin removed because the skin from my body had grown and attached to the skin from my upper arm. It was almost like I no longer had an armpit. I had no movement and was more like a robot. My skin was so hard, I could knock on it and it sounded like wood! I was so sensitive, I didn't want anything or anyone to touch my skin.
When I first began using the Pressure Suit, I hated to wear it. It was tight and I was always sore and uncomfortable. But, Juana at the Burn Clinic told me that I had to wear it and kept checking up on me. So, I listened to her and slowly saw my skin start to improve! The skin that was so hard became softer and flatter. The place on my stomach no longer needed surgery! And the best part was the my skin improved more and more until I finally had my armpits back and could lift my arms! The Pressure Suit saved me from having to have many more surgeries and I'll always remember that...I am so grateful for the Burn Clinic and for Juana.
I finally returned to work 4 months after the accident, but I continued to do physical therapy at the hospital for 7 months. I still do the exercises now at home, on my own. I've now been wearing my Pressure Suit for 1.5 years. In the beginning, I wore it 24/7, but now I am slowly wearing it less and less. I continue to go 1 time per month to have Juana check my Suit and make adjustments. I finally am starting to feel good and move like a normal person. In my Pressure Suit, I feel much more confident now...I know that my skin in protected and nothing will touch it, it is healing well and I have good movement. The only thing that is still challenging is the sun...my skin is very sensitive to sunlight and heat, so I have found that I now love the nighttime!
If I could talk to other patients I would tell them that they MUST wear the Pressure Suits and Garments. The doctors and nurses saved my life in the beginning, but had no idea how to help me as a burned victim. Going to see Juana and getting my Pressure Suit saved me from so many more operations and so much more pain. Every one should listen to Juana and do what she says. It is not easy, but it is the best thing that you can do for your skin.
If I could talk to the hospital, I would tell them that they need to improve their services. At Hospital Viedma, I waited for hours while I was dying, only to be sent away because they didn't have ICU. Then once I got to Hospital Univalle, I was put in a huge ICU room with all of the other ICU patients. Because of this, I contracted a virus and got an infection...it was very dangerous for me. When visitors would come, the hospital would make them wear protective clothing, but when the students would walk around during their internships, they wouldn't come in protected...I think thats how I got the virus. Also, everyone who has a breathing tube, breathes the same oxygen. It circulated through the ICU room to all of the patients...so everyone was breathing in the same oxygen, viruses, germs, etc. There need to be so many improvements for the safety of the patients. Also, the hospital only sent me to a psychologist one time. It was in the very beginning of my hospital stay. All I remember was sitting there in pain. Patients need to speak to someone much more than one time...being burned its terribly traumatic and many people never overcome it. For all of this treatment, the hospital charged me $60,000!!!!! No one here has that kind of money...luckily the work place where I had the accident covered all of my medical bills.
However, although the hospital was bad, the Burn Clinic and Juana were amazing. She was always there to help me, talk to me, adjust my Pressure Suit...I was never without. Now, I am well, living here in Cochabamba with my wife and 2 years old son. I am able to work and live a normal life and I owe it to Juana and my Pressure Suits."
I already know the amazing impact that my mom's ministry has had on people, but each unique story that I hear convinces me all over again. Each story makes me more and more confident that Burn Care International is vital, not only to Cochabamba, Bolivia, but to burn victims all over the world! These scars can handicap and destroy lives, but the Pressure Suits help these victims overcome and live normal lives! Every person deserves good medical care, someone to talk to and the necessary items to continue to heal properly after leaving the hospital.
Please support Burn Care International so that we can continue to save lives like Javier's!!!
CLICK HERE to visit BCI's website to learn more about our important ministry.
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Burn Care International
419 Woodland Drive
Florence, SC 29501.
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