Monday, November 29, 2010

The Day after Thanksgiving, Alexa style

I know this picture is too much. As I am typing, looking at it, I am crying and feeling sick to my stomach. That has been the way I have felt for the last few days. Since Friday around 1:00 pm, to be exact. And what kills me the most is the smile on her face. It is constant. Constant.

My thanksgiving post is this one. The one where I share how grateful I am that things are as good as they are. That my baby is as safe and well as she is. It could be worse.

Friday we were having a terrific time pulling out the Christmas village and other decorations from the garage. We had the neighbors over and the kids were loving every detail of all the buildings. Alexa really loved the Santa and Mrs. Claus that are about 2 inches tall. The week before I got a free Glade candle, so to be festive and make the house smell nice I lit it and put it on the kitchen table. And then I forgot it. I just totally forgot it.

About an hour later I went upstairs to take a shower, leaving Alexa downstairs with Ainsley and our neighbor Morgan. I was distracted for a moment by the computer. Thank heavens. All of a sudden I heard screaming. Like life or death screaming. The kind from a horror movie. I ran downstairs as fast as I could. Ainsley was standing there next to Morgan screaming. I looked accross the room and saw Alexa standing on the table in flames. Her hair and head were on fire. She had climbed onto the table and bent over the candle to smell it better when it caught her hair. I ran over to her and was thinking I would need to smother her with my shirt, but when I got there I found a towel right at her feet. I grabbed it and smothered the fire quickly. I took another towel, dampened it, placed it on her head and ran outside. My neighbor, Teri, is a nurse. I had seen her out just a few minutes before.
Her husband was standing there with their son.
"Is your wife home?" I said. "My baby is burned and I need her!"
He ran and got her. I asked if she thought I needed to go to the hospital. "Yes," she said. "Go." "I'll watch your kids."
So I took off right then. I called my mom first. "Mom, come over now." I hung up. I couldn't say any more. Then I called Ryan and the flood gates opened. He met me at the emergency room where we wated for 2 1/2 hours before we saw a doctor.
I am apparently one of those moms who needs constant reassurance. I was texting my good friend Ashlee and her husband, who is a pediatrician, asking for advice the whole time.
Finally we saw a doctor who sent us to the Maricopa Burn Center. We would have gone instantly, but we had to wait another 45 minutes for our paperwork.
We drove into Phoenix. I have read about this hospital so many times. I read NieNie's Dialogues. But I never thought I would actually be there myself. With my 2 year old. Absolutely freaking out.
They were fast and wonderful. They reassured us she would be ok. They told us she wouldn't scar. They gave us private phone numbers to call with any questions. But I still felt like crap.
Alexa kept telling everyone that she had the best sister in the world because she blew out the candle after the fire. Then she would say, "I'm so sorry mommy. I'm sorry she threw away your candle." "Oh baby. I didn't love that candle. You are so much more important to me." Over and over. "I'm sorry mommy!"
The bad news. Some of the burns around her face are 3rd degree. They looked white and had no liquid. Other parts were 2nd degree. But as more people came to look, we kept hearing over and over again. This is way worse than we first thought. Way worse. I had the presence of mind to bring in the TV from the car and as she sat there having layers of skin removed from her head, she sang to the Dora movie.
"This is bad news," said the nurse. "She should be able to feel this." She shouldn't be singing about the stick the stick the magic stick.
But finally, lucky for us, they sent her home with instructions on caring for her burn and a prescription for tylenol with codeine.
We came home and Ryan picked up the kids from my mom's on the way.
Ainsley got out of the car and ran to me crying. (very out of character.) "This is my fault. I shouldn't have let her on the table. I should have put out the fire. I just panicked! " During the course of the day I hadn't even considered her feelings. She witnessed the whole thing. And she was visibly shaken. I cradled her in my arms and comforted her. "I am lucky you were there, Ainsley. If you were gone, or hadn't screamed, or weren't paying attention it would have been a lot worse." And I said many things to calm her down, and I meant every one of them. I pray she will heal from this as well.
Next we called a friend to help with a priesthood blessing and went to bed.
But they forgot to tell us how swollen she would be when she woke up. See above picture. It freaked me out. I called immediately. The said to bring her in. I drove the 45 minutes out there, to be told it's totally normal. Whew.
The whole drive there and back came the thoughts. Why did I light that candle? Why did I leave it lit while I went upstairs? How could I be so careless? And those turned into more questions. Did the burns on her head happen when I put out the fire? By smothering her hair, was I pushing fire onto her skin? Is this ALL MY FAULT? I burst into tears at the burn center. DID I DO THIS? The Dr was very kind and told me there was no way smothering a fire could have caused that much damage on her face. It was already burned when I got to her. I needed that same love and understanding as Ainsley. I don't know if she was just trying to help me feel better, or if it was really my fault, but it worked. A little.
Yesterday, we went to church, but I wasn't comfortable letting her go to nursery. I was afraid she would get knocked in the head, or try to itch, or take off her bandage. So she stayed with me. As we walked in primary, I held back tears a number of times. The kids stared. They whispered. They pointed.
I know they were worried. I know they were curious. My kids would have done the same thing. But it's my baby they are staring at.
"Why are they staring at me? I'm just winkling." (Alexa's word for winking.) "They aren't used to seeing you look different, sweetie."
But the thoughts kept coming. Is this what she is going to deal with for the rest of her life? Is she going to be stared at and ridiculed forever? Answers only time will tell.
Today was her second apppointment. Dr Peck, the director of the burn clinic, came to check her out. Good news and bad news. He was definitely not as optimistic as the first Dr. about scarring. He said we had 2 choices. Do surgery now or let it heal for a year on its own and do surgery then. But it definitely will scar. Badly.
What?
He suggested waiting. I took it and ran with it.
The good news? First he said I don't have to scrape off the yucky yellowy stuff when I am cleaning the wound. {insert breath of relief here because it is nasty} Also, I use the term "I" loosely. Ryan does most of the cleaning. Second, he cancelled our next appointment and we don't need to come back for 2 weeks. It must be healing well. I do get to text him pictures every 3 days. Oh how I love the technology these days.
And how is Alexa holding up? She is so happy. Dancing around the house, smiling and laughing. Talking up a storm about the accident to anyone who will listen. The swelling is going down. She can now open her eye and see.
I am feeling a bit better today. I can talk about it a little without crying. I'm sure tomorrow will be better.
Thanks for your prayers and love. We will keep updating this blog with Alexa's progress.

7 comments:

Jax @ AlyandAsh said...

Oh my heck you poor mama! My heart aches for you and sweet Alexis. Please, please, please with no hesitation if there is ANYTHING I can do to help out please tell me. What an incredible little spirit you have there to be smiling and "winkling"! I just want to come give you a big hug!

Ashley said...

Thank goodness your sweet Alexis is okay. What a sweet and tender spirit she has. I will have your family and especially Alexis in my prayers. I am bawling like a baby reading your story, so I can't even imagine how difficult this time is for you. Please keep us updated and let me know if I can be of service to you and your family.

TamaraLove said...

Whitney - don't be too hard on yourself. Accidents happen. Really. Even with the most valiant efforts to protect children, sometimes they happen...

Logan gave me a run for my money when he was little. He was obssessssed with sharp knives and light bulbs... There was nothing I could do to keep those away from him, 'cept throw the knives away and live in the dark....

When he was 18months, we had just moved and hadn't even unpacked everything yet. The lamp that was in his room wasn't plugged in or set up, and it was a BIG! We got home from church. He was playing with toys. Todd and I were changing out of our Sunday attire, while Logan sleepily played with some toys on the floor of his room. (Seemed safe enough)... Then, I heard a blood curdling scream.... I hadn't even finished changing - that quick. He had somehow gotten this huge lamp, plugged it in (safety plugs never worked with him) and hugged the dang light bulb (why I will NEVER know?).... 100 watt light bulbs heat up within seconds apparently. His inner arm still has a scar. I switched all the lights in the house to 20 watt bulbs after that. Even after that where ever we went restaurants, friends houses, anywhere - he was constantly trying to grab light bulbs!

Oh, and as for the knives... Lets just say Todd ended up having to cut his steak with a butter knife...

We will be praying for your sweet little dolly to heal well! I am so glad her spirits haven't been dampened, what a sweet little girl you have.

Lytles said...

I am soooo sorry! I am bawling right now! I can't imagine what your family has gone through. We will keep your family in our prayers. I'm glad to hear that Alexa is still smiling her cute smile. Take Care!!!!

karen said...

so glad I got to see you today and that she looks better...my goodness so much better than that first photo. we do love our little lexa.

hope she continues to heal and hope you can stop beating yourself up, which is what EVERY MOTHER IN THE WORLD (literally) would be doing as well.
love ya.

Amy Johnson said...

Oh Whitney, I'm so sorry. I light candles and leave them all the time, don't beat yourself up. Please let me know if you need anything at all. Alexa is the sweetest little girl ever, our prayers are with you guys.

JACK's house said...

My heart is breaking for you...she is the sweetest little thing...that smile is adorable.

Whitney...I know about blame. But try not to kill yourself. Accidents happen. It took me a LONG time to be able to believe that...but it's true! Her sweet personality will get you through. I am SO glad you were there when you were!