The comfort of Kleenex in hand, I watched the video documenting the treatment and healing journeys of young burn survivors. Tears flowed.
I questioned whether I would be able to complete the Burn Scar Therapy training.
The graphic descriptions of the accidents and the painfully tragic injuries to these children corresponded closely to my own story: five months ago my family home burned down, and my father sustained 3rd degree burns over almost the entire upper half of his body. All too familiar with the first days of fear as he clutched for his life, the induced coma, the infection risk, the agonizing skin graft surgeries, followed by relentless PT and OT, I was reminded how life can change dramatically in a split second.
Looking around me, I realized I was in a room with 30 other massage therapists, compassionate and earnest in their desire to reduce discomfort. The loving healing energy in the room, along with the sensitive guidance of the instructors, calmed my uneasiness, and helped me realize that my familiarity with my father’s burn recovery can also be a gift. We all were at the class learning; wanting to give healing touch; ready to share empathic support to each other and to the burn survivors.
After lunch, 10 volunteer clients arrived, some who had been burned 10-30 years ago, some who had been burned as recently as 4 months ago. How gracious they all were to share their stories and receive our touch. From gentle head holds to lymphatic massage to progressively deeper work on shoulders or hands or legs, each client guided us to their most nurturing relief.
How powerfully healing it was for me to be part of the onward path of these wonderfully empowered, strong, and independent people. The poignant response when asked about how burn survivors would like to be treated by people who have not been disfigured by such trauma, “We would like to be treated as people. Our scars are on the outside. Other people have scars on the inside.”
I extend my heartfelt gratitude to the AMTA-CA Board who, on hearing of my family’s tragedy this past fall, generously scholarshipped my training. I am eager to share what I have gained at burn survivor camps as well as at The World Burn Congress this October. I am moved to tears that out of such a tragedy something so positive blooms.