Last night one of the scariest things happened to me, and right now, in this moment, the severity of it is hitting me. Mexico works with propane that is to be lit as you go. We’re not as fortunate down here to be able to turn a knob and know that in 10 minutes or so, our oven will be pre-heated. I guess you could say it’s still a learning process for me, and one that almost permanently fucked up my life.
I had some delicious chicken ready to put in the oven, and I was going to deal with the never-ending task of folding my clothes while it was cooking. I opened the oven, made sure the pilot went on, closed it, and went upstairs to my room. I came down 10 minutes later and could smell propane. I thought, “Shit. The flame went out.” Being naive, inexperienced, in a rush, and yes, downright stupid, I clicked the fuego button to relight it, and a huge fireball sent my shirt, arm, and face on fire. Yay! I of course screamed bloody murder, but I scream bloody murder if I drop my phone, so no surprise there. The fire was out instantly, thank fucking god, but the pain was just starting.
The right side of my face, my chest, and entire right arm felt like they were still aflame. I acted on instinct and ran to the sink, dousing myself as best as I could. I called my friend Poppy and told her what happened and she rushed over, because she’s bad ass, and helped keep washcloths wet and instructed me to stay under the water. Well, I was getting impatient with that and felt that I could withstand the pain after a couple glasses of wine. (Again, I know, stupid) Up to the roof we went, where it had already started to get dark, and we tried to talk about anything but the pain. All of a sudden, I couldn’t stand it. I could feel the pain in my bones, and my lips felt like they were pulsing. “I think I need to go to hospital,” I meekly said. Poppy quickly called a taxi, one of the first of amazing things she helped me to do last night.
In the taxi, I felt like I was going to throw up/pass out/die. The driver, bless the man, said in pretty good English, “I drive like Fast & the Furious?”. “Si, por favor,” I answered, actually managing a very small smile. He dropped us off at the front door, where the security guard, seeing there was a problem, ushered us straight to the desk, calling out to the girls that I was in pain, had been burned, and needed a doctor immediately. They handed us some paperwork, and I just shook my head, ‘no, I can’t’, and instead they took me into a room while Poppy Nightingale filled out my info as best as she could. Once in the bed, I had 2 or 3 wonderful nurses applying cold compresses to the burned areas and looking at me with sympathy.
The doctor, ever prepared with his Google Translate app, informed me that they had called the burn specialist and he would be there within the hour. This was around 8:30, but the compresses helped and I could be patient. Poppy soon came in and sat with me. The nurses were busy with other things, and the cold compress on my arm only stayed cool for so long until the heat basically made them warm. Poppy Nightingale, as she’ll forever be known to me, kept the fabric changed and cool for me while the staff did their other jobs. She also got them to give me very much needed pain killers which only helped a fraction. The doctor returned to tell me that I was in danger of dehydration, and they’d need to put in an IV drip. This is where I almost lost it. The last experience I had with that had been painful and horrible, and I couldn’t imagine having to withstand more pain, but the two nurses who gave it to me were as gentle as could be.
The specialist eventually showed up, told me the pain would be bad the next few days, not to go in the sun for a week, no drinking, no smoking, and to see him on Friday. The man was great, even though he was the bearer of bad news. He also told me he wouldn’t know the severity of the burns for a few days either. FML.
Meanwhile, my friend Ozvanny, in a translation miscommunication, knew that one of his friends had been hurt and came to the hospital to see what was going on. In the back, I was soaking wet from all the washcloths, and it was now night time, which is actually quite chilly this time of year, and I knew he’d have a shirt or jacket or something. And he did. He literally gave me the shirt off of his back so I wouldn’t freeze to death on top of almost burning to death (oh the irony). Gracias!
Once again, I’m beyond grateful to know that I’m surrounded by guardian angels in my life. I’m also very thankful to everyone who checked on me to see if I needed anything, and to just say, “Wow! I’m glad you’re ok!”
The truth of the matter is that I’m really not ok today; I’m actually really freaked out. The fear of being burned is real to me, it always has been, and it actually happened. To be honest, I’m quite vain and don’t know what I would do if I was permanently, physically injured. I feel incredibly self-conscious today even though the only real visible damage is at the tip of my nose (how could it not, I mean, it’s right there!). I lost yet another belonging, which I know sounds materialistic but after November, I hold onto my things for dear life. I’ve lost a little confidence in the kitchen, and that is terrible because I love cooking. I feel super dumb for making such a dangerous mistake. I’ve been weepy, and short with people I care about. I just want to sleep until I don’t hurt anymore, but I know I can’t, and that these feelings will all pass. And I know I’m going to have to get back on the cooking horse, which I’m about to do because I’m absolutely ravenous as dinner did not end up happening at all.
Like I’ve been reminded over, and over, and over again in the last year, life is short. We only have the one life, the one moment. It can end in an instant, so live your life with grace, gratitude, enjoyment, unadulterated love, and share that with those around you. You never know when it’ll be over.
*By the way, drugs and alcohol were NOT involved. This was a completely sober accident.