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June 8, 2017
Do you ever wish you could take an action back? Un-Do something from the past? Un-say words you spoke? This is my story of an action I did that will affect me for the rest of my life. I accidentally set myself on Fire. My flesh was burning for close to 3 minutes if not longer before the flames died. When the fire finally died out, at that exact moment a piece of me burned away with my flesh. I felt stupid, helpless, confused and primarily scared. Scared for my life. The un-known of what was to come next drew so much emotion from me, I was truly lost. I didn’t know how to cope. Not to mention the most excruciating pain I have ever felt and will never be able to explain. Every heartbeat, every pulse of blood coursing thru my burnt flesh burned and even bigger hole in my reality, I knew I would never be the same.
It started on a good day, I left visiting my 90 year old grandmother. Driving away from her house I hit a point in the road where if I went left….I would sit in over 2 hours of traffic to get home, If I went right I could go visit a childhood friend that I had not seen a quite a while. The choice was easy to me, I went right. Arriving at my friend’s house and being greeted with familiar, loving faces was an instant joy to me. We started catching up, talking, and listening to old songs that reminded us of memories. Then we started drinking beers and telling old stories. She has 4 kids and I have an aunt like bond them. I was playing baseball with her oldest son and teaching him how to bat and throw e.c.t… Her son liked a metal bat that I had in my car and asked if he could have it. I had no problem with giving him the bat, only problem was the bat was covered in graffiti, swear words. So I told him he could have the bat only after we spray painted the graffiti off of it. Later in the evening we were sitting outside and he came out with 2 cans that both had black caps on them. I automatically assumed it was spray paint… I held the bat in between my legs while he sprayed the bat. The excess spray was going all over my pants. After about a minute I noticed the graffiti was not going away with what he was spraying on the bat. I told him “Dude, I don’t think this is paint.” He replied with “OK Tia I’ll go to the garage and look for paint.” He took off to the garage and I was sitting there, I lit a smoke since he wasn’t around and an ember ash from my smoke hit my leg. All of a sudden, WHOOOOMMB! I went up in flames from my knees to my V! My first reaction other than shock was to stop, drop and roll. So naturally I did, well….It didn’t work. The chemicals on my pants were flammable and the S, D and R didn’t work. Frantically trying to figure out how to put the flames out I saw a patch of grass in her backyard and I ran to it, hoping the grass was damp with water and would put the fire out. I did the stop, drop and roll on the damp grass, same outcome. I am still on fire now sustaining burns to my hands trying to pry my pants off of me. Just then her son came out and dropped what he had in his hands. I am in shock about to pass out from the pain. I yelled at him to open the pool gate that had a fence and a lock on it. I couldn’t get the fence open. He ran over an unlocked the gate. I am losing consciousness, falling to the ground and giving up and in to the pain. Just then I heard words that I still hear in my night terrors, “Tia, THE GATE IS OPEN!” He yelled to me. My strength, my soul, my, ME! I wanted to survive. I was able to find it in me to get up, and run and JUMP as far as I could into that pool….Instantly, the numb sank in. The relief I felt when my body hit the water I will never be able to describe it. As I stand on the steps of the pool I look down at my body to see my pants burnt away, smoke steam still coming off of my legs. That day I had underwear, board shorts and a thick pair of black pants on, the fire burnt thru all 3 layers of my clothes and my legs were charred black and smelt of burnt flesh. Even if I tried, I could not describe the smell. I told him to go get his grandmother from her room. When she came down and saw me shaking in shock standing in the pool I looked at her scared and asked, “Is it bad?” Tears flowing down my face she replied with “YES” I managed to get my pants off and get to the front room where I was sitting on the floor with a towel covering me. Then the pain came. I had her son running back and forth from the kitchen with a bucket dumping cold water on my legs which only dulled the pain momentarily. We discussed going to the hospital and his grandmother offered to drive me there. As she was putting her shoes on I said let’s just call 911. Waiting for the fire department to arrive felt like forever. The pain was getting worse. I was screaming at him to keep bring buckets of cold water to dump on me. When the fire department finally arrived, they had special blankets that were covered in an ointment that alleviated the burn pain. I asked the firefighter what I should do, I said take me to the closest hospital. He replied with the severity of my injury required me to go to a special burn unit. There are only 2 in California, 1 in Santa Clara and the other being in the L.A area. He said he could take me to the closest hospital but they would only transfer me to one of these clinics and the best course of action was the ambulance to take me straight to the Santa Clara Burn unit. I had no other option so I agreed. They loaded me up into the ambulance and I was preparing for at least an hour of transport before I arrive at the burn unit. The memories I have of the ambulance ride are vague, I only remember the blankets they put on my lap not working after a certain time, getting an IV inserted into my arm with fluids, and pain medicine. I kept asking, screaming for more medication for the pain was unbearable and mostly the only thing I remembered. I had maxed out on the amount the paramedic could give me before getting to the hospital. Crying, shaking, being scared, haven’t even called my mother yet…When I finally got to the hospital, I remember getting onto the ER table, seeing the doctor who saved my life and the nurses cutting off all my clothes. I kept yelling “I need to call my mom!” I was petrified of my injury and I wanted my family to know about this before the doctors put me under into an induced coma to prevent my body from further shock. I remember talking to my mom on the phone crying to her saying “Its really bad mom, I’m scared.” I believe I gave the phone to the nurse who informed my mother of the severances of my injury. After that…. I don’t remember a lot
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