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Hi all. I’m 31 in East anglia, England. You can call me Zelda 🙂 I was hoping I could find others who have been through a similar thing to me so that I don’t feel so alone with it all. I wouldn’t wish this kind of pain/injury on anyone but it helps to know you’re not alone I guess.
Around halloween time in 2019 I was making fangs in preperation for a Halloween party. (I’m big on Halloween and cosplay/dressing up, i make a lot of my own costumes) I was using thermoplastic , which I’ve used many times before. It requires freshly boiled water to melt. Anyways I boiled the kettle and poured the water into a mug, and for some stupid, stupid reason decided I’d do it on the sofa as opposed to the floor or my desk where I normally would do it. I sat and had the mug between my legs. I was watching TV and talking to my partner and not paying attention. I went to dip the thermoplastic in, and somehow I knocked the mug. The contents covered my lap, and ran underneath me, scalding my entire genital region and inner thighs. I remember screaming and panicking and my husband reacted so quickly and ran cold water into a bath, shoving me in it. I remember sobbing and not wanting to get out of the water. Every second it felt like someone had a lit match underneath me. I passed out in the tub from shock and my husband was told that it would be 3 hours before an ambulance would be called out. So he ended up taking me to A&E in his car. I remember begging the nurses for some pain relief. I was given morphine, sent home for the night — because my local hospital (its a BIG hospital!) Didn’t have the right facilities for burns (how bad is that?) So the next day I had to go to A hospital in Essex, 2 hours from me, and was kept in for 5 nights. I was told that the only thing that stopped me needing a skin graft was my husbands quick thinking in putting me in water. The burns were 2nd degree. Because of where they were, It took slightly longer to heal and I took a month off work on bedrest (i am a teacher). I was violently sick in hospital from oral morphine , after that I refused it and just made do on paracetamol. The dressings were near impossible to do myself and felt like I was wearing a nappy. However I was very lucky that I retained feeling “down there”.
After a month I went back to work and just went on as usual. I have minimal scarring luckily. I was offered counselling but didn’t think I’d need it. Fast forward to almost 2 years later and I was doing a refresher paediatric first aid course for work. The woman starts talking about burns (specifically, scalds) and shows us an example picture. My throat starts to feel like its closing up and that I might cry. I have a panic attack and have to leave the room. I feel like an idiot. Then, after that, I’m watching my husband pour a cup of tea and I remember seeing the steam when I instantly start crying and I can’t control it. Shaking and everything. I think I might be having PTSD symptoms, but It’s been 3 years? And they started out of nowwhere after me being fine ? I know i didnt deal with the psychological side of my burns as i was focused on physical healing and getting back to work. Is this a thing ? The event was very, very traumatic for me and now I’m struggling to be in the presence of steam or boiled water without instantly remember EXACTLY what the burning feeling felt like.
There is a therapist in my area who people say is really good. Do you think it’s worth seeing her and explaining how I’m feeling.
I’d love to know your thoughts and if anyone has had a similar experience, especially if it was in such a tender area.
Sorry for the essay! And thank you for reading my story 🙂
You’re not alone! About two years ago I put a mug of freshly boiled instant coffee onto a TV tray and then crawled under the tray to get the headphones I had dropped. I learned that I am, in fact, NOT a cat, and I sustained deep partial thickness 2nd degree burns to 11% of my body, all on my back and neck.
I had a very minor post-traumatic stress reaction in the few months following the burn, but it’s gone now (other than regularly thinking about the burn and being extra careful with mugs of boiling water…). However, I didn’t need to stay in the hospital even though it sounds like the severity of our scalds were similar. I’m assuming that the area of your burns complicated treatment in a big way. I felt extremely out of control and vulnerable whenever the burn unit had to do treatments or dressing changes – I can’t even imagine how it would have felt if those treatments had been daily and were in the area that yours were. I can absolutely see how the experience of the burns, complicated by the location and the hospitalization, could result in post-traumatic stress.
Psychology and trauma are actually my area of work, and I personally deal with severe PTSD from events unrelated to my burn. Onset of symptoms can absolutely start years after the trauma, and it sounds like that’s what’s going on for you.
I’d encourage you to reach out to a therapist. Getting help as soon as possible is the best thing you can do! I’d do a search on the therapist you’re thinking of seeing to make sure that trauma is one of their areas of specialty, and if so, book an appointment! Know that you have absolute control over your treatment journey, and if you meet that therapist and they don’t feel “right”, just try another one. There will be someone who you will click with and will feel safe enough with to work with on the reactions you’re dealing with now.
If you have any other questions or just need more support, please reach out to me.
You are not alone and what you went through was extremely traumatic and it is not surprising that you are having some related panic attacks/PTSD. This is extremely common. My burn was from an explosion and I too spent the first couple of years focusing on getting better and back to my normal life and so I didn’t go for counselling until I was 3 years post accident. I did reach out and had a year’s worth of one to one bereavement and trauma counselling which helped me process everything. For me it was fireworks and unexpected bangs that set off my PTSD but for everyone its different triggers. It is totally normal and for me over time it has faded. I still jump like a loon sometimes when a car back fires or a balloon pops and I guess that will never go but the counselling really helped me to work through my emotions and come to terms with my injuries.
Please join the weekly on line chat if you are free on wednesday evenings – this week is an online chat followed by a zoom if you are wanting to meet other burn survivors.
Well done for reaching out. There are others that know what you have been through and can help you.