Martin was burned as a child aged 2 years old, he is now 25. He received 3rd degree burns to his hands, forearms, upper arms to the shoulder and neck. This is his story.
Firstly my story has a happy ending and although I’m not there yet, with the help of a loving family and a burns charity, I’ve been able to overcome some major obstacles. Burns don’t just affect the body, as many people believe. They affect many things including your self-confidence, your body functions and your family to name a few.
I was burned when I was two years old from both hands, forearms, upper arms to the shoulder and the neck. They were classed as third degree. I remember lots of pain, lots of presents and lots of progress. I spent a long time in The Royal Victoria burns unit in Belfast. Not just initially but returning year after year on many occasions. I was given expert plastic surgery and the most up to-date procedures throughout the many years I was a patient. I had donor sites taken from my groin, upper thigh, lower leg and even my buttocks. But, as the years progressed, the scars became less and less on the outside, but frequently, more on the inside. My burns resulted in other complications that required attention like the loss of speech, a stammer and toilet requirements all of which stretched out over 15 years.
Being a burns victim means you look different too. My mum once fell out with people in a swimming pool as they stared at my scars. My dad and her threatened to have me removed from school aged four as another child looked at my hands and called me “quozimodo”. Burns know no limits.
I went to school begrudgingly and because I spent so long year on year having plastic surgery I also fell behind massively. I never caught up.
I never went places without my family when I was young and drifted as a teenager too. I wanted to fit in – once even suggesting having tattoos placed on my scars.
Burns affect your life options too. My fingers on both hands had initially all been severely webbed and this meant my ability to hold a pencil and write legibly were severely impaired. I even went to university but dropped out when I faced problems, as I didn’t want to tell people I needed help.
When I reached the age of, 24 and after very many dead end jobs my family helped me to reconsider going back to education. I really wanted to but the thought of failure again remained a constant threat.
My brother contacted the Dan’s Fund for Burns charity. They gave me advice. They put me in touch with the right people to advise me, who even helped me with concealment products. I’m now back at university and carving out a new career for myself.
I will always be grateful and continue to be grateful to places like the Burns Unit I attended whose pioneered surgery helped me get my life back. I would advise any person who gets burned – it’s only the exterior and it can and will always improve. Don’t give up.
Next year I’m transferring courses to be closer to my family and to ensure my Degree lies more in the area of the specialty I require. The only thing constant is change and I live by that motto “going forward”. With many thanks to the people who help me every day in the past, present and future.
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