Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Update On My Son - He's Doing Great!

It has been a month now since my son, Jeff, was badly burned in an accident while trying out his new barbecue grill. The support our family has received, especially from the Bonanza community, but also from friends and total strangers, has been amazing. To all of you who have sent cards and treats and gifts and contributions to his "Chip-In" - I cannot begin to express my appreciation. I would like to provide you all with an update on how he's doing.

Jeff is healing at a mind-boggling pace; even the doctors are shocked at his recovery. At first they said there would need to be skin grafting (he had second and third degree burns), and then they were pleasantly surprised to find that would not be necessary. Such a relief! Then they said they were optimistic that scarring would be minimal. Now we are all thrilled to have learned that the burns may actually leave no scars at all. Absolutely amazing! He does still have the potential for scars if he damages his vulnerable, brand-new skin. For instance, about a week ago he had a little itch on his cheek and, just out of habit and without even thinking about it, he reached up and lightly scratched it. When he did so, a bit of his skin came off of his face and it started to bleed. He learned that he has to be very careful with this new skin!

Bandages are not necessary most of the time at this point. His does still bandage up his arm and hand when he goes out into a crowded public place, just to protect them from possible accidents, being bumped into, etc. Other than that, though, he can leave his skin uncovered, although he cannot be in the sun and has to wear very strong sunblock if he goes out at all, even if it's just in the car to go to a doctor's appointment or something. We've been warned that this new skin can burn in as little as nine seconds!

Jeff is still being treated for the conditions he had prior to the accident, and unfortunately his tremors seem to be returning, so we still have to get to the bottom of that (the tremors become seizures, and had him hospitalized for a week back in November). He's also being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome due to the burn incident (he has flashbacks and hears the "whooshing" sound of being engulfed in flames). So, there is obviously quite a way to go, but he is a trooper and I have great confidence that he will get through all of this. The boy was meant for great things - I just know this!

Here's Jeff's hand one month ago, and then today:

Amazing, isn't it? You can still see what looks kind of like a red "shadow" where the new skin has grown over the damaged areas (my photo doesn't really show it well enough, but no one's ever accused me of being a great photographer), but no skin grafts and no scars. I'm so happy about that! Here's a kind of creepy-but-Jeff-thinks-it's-funny fact: When he moves his fingers, that skin is so thin that you can see the movement of the muscles (or whatever) underneath it. Jeff finds this ridiculously entertaining.

Here is his face, then and now:

Again, my photos aren't great at showing what I wanted them to. But if you look at his cheek you can see that little red spot - kind of looks like a pimple. That's where he scratched it. The spot was a bit bigger, but it's healing well just like the rest of him. The only places that really still show some scabbing and remnants of the burn are the tip of his nose, the edge of his upper lip, his neck just below and behind his ear, and his earlobe. Also, as you can see, he hasn't shaved. He's too scared of an accident with that sensitive skin!

By the way, that beautiful turquoise necklace you see him wearing was a gift from Bonanza seller Montrose. It came in the mail one day with a card that promised it would protect him. He has worn it every day since he received it, and... So far nothing bad has happened! Maybe there's something to that protection! :)

Again, thank you to everyone who has been so supportive throughout all of this. In addition to all the ways you've all been helpful, it has also kept Jeff's spirits up and I believe that helps even in the physical healing. Much, much gratitude to all of you!

That's about it for tonight. I will post updates from time to time and let you all know how things are going for Jeff. For now, I'm just happy to say that all the news is good! :)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

If you are visiting to read about my son...

If you are visiting for info on Jeff, click here.

To go directly to the Chip-In page, click here.

A Bit About My Booth - Rummage Rampage - And Why It's So Awesome :)

In my (admittedly limited) experience in the world of online selling, I have observed that there are sellers who have a blog and there are bloggers who also happen to sell things. I don't consider myself someone who falls into either of these categories. Rather, I am a mom - and I consider that my primary job - who happens to have a blog and also happens to sell stuff. I've noticed, though, that beyond having a link up in the corner of my blog here, I don't really blog much (or at all?) about my online booth. I'd like to interrupt our regularly scheduled programming for a moment here and tell you a little bit about it.

First of all, I would be remiss if I didn't "introduce" my booth right up front here and tell you that it's called "Rummage Rampage" (catchy - don't ya think?) and it makes its home at a wonderful little spot on the web - Bonanza.com. I chose the name "Rummage Rampage" because that is exactly what I strive for it to be - an online rummage sale of sorts. It's meant to suit all of those who normally love to go to "real" rummage sales: those looking for a bargain on everyday items, those who love to hunt for unusual and hard-to-find treasures, the collectors who know exactly what they want, and even those who buy to re-sell. I do my best to provide a wide variety of items and also keep my prices within the range of what you'd expect to pay at any local rummage sale you attended live and in person. Basically, being a big fan of tag sales and yard sales and flea markets and (of course) rummage sales, I try to pass along what I love!

You really, truly never know what you will find in my booth. My items come from a wide range of sources, from my own hunting to donated items from many people who support what I do as a "freelance mom". The result is a true hodgepodge of stuff - you may find anything from clothing and books to vintage collectibles and even tools or old radio parts. Need a roll of plastic tubing? I've got that. Or how about a box of vintage Christmas ornaments or a cute coffee mug? I've got those, too!

For the record, I think I should point out here, all donated items are sorted to see if they are needed by the youth at Tumbleweed Center For Youth Development before anything is placed in my booth for sale. In other words, Tumbleweed (an organization that helps homeless and disadvantaged youth) gets first pick.

I also try to have a little fun with my booth, give it some personality. Ya know? That makes it fun for you to visit and fun for me to operate. In my booth you will find a "Joke Of The day" (recently the title was changed to "Joke of the day (or week or month, depending...) due to all the recent crises with which I've been trying to keep up), so you can join me for a laugh. We all need to keep our sense of humor, come what may! I also do occasional giveaways and games with prizes - none of which ever require a purchase in order to win, by the way. You can keep up with the latest shenanigans I've got going on there by "liking" me on Facebook: www.facebook.com/rummagerapage.

I focus primarily on local pick-up of items - I feel I should mention that since it's stated in all of my booth items. However, as the years have gone by I've had more and more requests to ship things, so about a year ago I started including shipping on almost all my item listings (except the occasional very heavy or bulky item). So, wherever you may be, if you find a great treasure in my booth that you just have to have (which you will, if you check in frequently enough), I will be happy to get it to you.

Oh! And one more thing... All of my items are marked "obo" or "Or Best Offer", so no price is set in stone. Don't ever hesitate to make me an offer!

So, have I about covered everything? Probably not, but that's okay. Come on by Rummage Rampage for a visit, and come back every now and then. You're bound to catch on and see how much fun it is. Speaks for itself! :)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Info Regarding Jeff and His Care

If you are visiting for info on Jeff, click here.

To go directly to the Chip-In page, click here.

They Say Laughter Is Contagious :)

So... Tonight my son was sitting on the sofa watching Family Guy. His sister was sitting on the other side of the living room in a chair, paying no attention, wrapped up in something on her laptop - probably homework. I was sitting in my office, around the corner from the living room.

Something funny was said on Family Guy (shocker). I could hear it from around the corner, but I wasn't paying attention as I was focused on work I was doing. But it was said, and after a brief pause, some back part of my brain picked up on it and caught the joke. I chuckled to myself.

My son, in the living room, heard me chuckle to myself, realized I'd heard the joke, and laughed at my delayed catching on.

My daughter heard this sequence of events and started giggling to herself.

At which I laughed, from around the corner.

Then my son laughed even harder, and so did I, and so did my daughter.

This circle of laughter rapidly increased in speed and intensity until we were all laughing at once, even out of sight of each other. Then, every time one of us would try to stop laughing, another would chime in again. It went on for about ten minutes. :)

That's all - I just wanted to tell you. It was a fun moment, an odd kind of bonding that happens in families and is all to often disregarded or overlooked (in my opinion). There was more stress release and "togetherness" (at the risk of sounding drippy) in that ten minutes than I could have found if I'd taken the kids out for a movie and spent thirty bucks.

Save your money and tell your kids a joke now and then. ;)

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

I Need Help. So I'm Asking.

I've taken care of a lot of kids in my day, some who just needed a little help and some who needed a lot. I've always told them not to be afraid to ask for help when they needed it. I told them that asking for help does not make you weak - that all of us go through times when we can't go it alone, and that others won't know you need the help unless you tell them.

It's time now for me to take my own advice. I need help.

Some of you who are reading this know me, some of you don't, and some of you know more than others about what's been happening in my family over the last few months. Suffice it to say that there have been many, many trials of late - some that I've written about here, and many that I haven't.

For those of you who don't know any of this, I will cover just the important points that are relevant to this post and to my reaching out for help.

My fifteen-year-old son (now sixteen) began to have health problems around last October. It started with tremors, which culminated in a seizure by November. This resulted in his first week-long hospitalization. He doesn't want me to publicly discuss his medical condition(s), but I can tell you that there were subsequent hospitalizations, ER visits, involvement with various specialists, etc. Between November of last year and March of this year, my son had a total of six emergency room visits (to the best of my recollection now), six ambulance rides, one four-day stay in ICU and four long-term (a week or more) hospitalizations. He came very close to death on one occasion, and is currently - in addition to everything else - being treated for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, as he has flashbacks to that near-death experience. To him, falling asleep feels like dying, and he jolts awake at night screaming. I'm telling you all as much as I can here without disrespecting his wish that I not discuss certain things in detail with strangers.

Amid all of this, I lost my job in January.

By the beginning of April it appeared that my son's condition was getting under control. We had an accurate diagnosis, seemed to have finally lined up the correct concoction of medications (after many changes), and he was lined up to begin an intense form of treatment. His treatment would require various appointments almost every day of the week (and would leave me unable to work) for an undetermined period of time, but at least there was hope in sight. For that I was grateful, as was he, and his spirits began to lift.

And then, just when we thought the worst was behind us, he caught on fire. Yes, caught on fire. You can read about it here.

So... That brings me to this. He's home from the burn center now and I am taking care of him. However, there are not only the burns to contend with, but also the other treatment for the condition(s) he already had. To be quite blunt about it, his care has put us in a dire financial situation. We are facing disconnection of utilities by the end of this week, we're out of everything from laundry detergent to light bulbs, and the cost of gas for taking him to all of his appointments is killing me. That's aside from co-pays for doctor visits and, of course, there are things that insurance doesn't cover. When I found myself washing and re-using bandages for my son's arm, I knew I had to swallow my pride and reach out for help.

Please do not think this is easy for me. Just to write this post took me all night and resulted in a monumental headache from the tension of having to ask. I do not like having to ask. But, as I said before, I must take my own advice as I've given it many times before. I can't do this alone, and I'm not ashamed to admit I need help. Not ashamed, but definitely not happy about having to do it.

I'd love to tell you more about my wonderful son. But before I go any further, let me stop right here and provide the link where you can "Chip In" toward his care via PayPal: Just click here for the Chip-In page. Some may want to stop here while others may want to know more about this great kid. If you are one of the latter, read on...

What can I tell you about my son? I don't even know where to start. Let's go back to kindergarten... At my first parent-teacher conference, his kindergarten teacher sat me down and said, "I know this is going to sound strange, but I'm telling you Jeff is going to be famous one day. I don't know for what, but he will be famous. And I will have gotten to be his kindergarten teacher". He's a special kid. He's handsome, smart, witty, odd (in a good way - he just marches to the beat of his own drummer, as they say), and has an absolutely magnetic personality.

At five years old, Jeff started Cub Scouts and piano lessons. He is now almost an Eagle Scout (has one project to do) and plays the piano beautifully, as well as a little bit of guitar. He's been a soccer player, a high school football player, and a cheerleader in both junior high and high school. Even while on the edge of a collapse due to his condition, he took his high school cheer squad to the number one spot in the West Coast Nationals - and he immediately collapsed afterward and was taken to a hospital. But he managed to take care of his team first.

His personality has always drawn people of all ages to him. I cannot overstate this. When he was as young as seven years old, I would have people approach me in places like the mall and say, "Oh, are you Jeff's mom? How nice to meet you!" I'd ask Jeff who that was, and he'd say, "Oh, the librarian" or "Oh, that's the lady who works at the bakery at the grocery store." I'm telling you, everyone knew Jeff. I used to joke that I was going to change the name on my driver's license to "Jeff's Mom". LOL.

Here's an even better example: In 2004 we went to Disney World in Florida. When we visited Epcot Center, Jeff was all over it. He's fascinated by geography and world history (ask him about the French Revolution, what led up to it and what were the repercussions both in France and internationally. Ask him. I dare you.), so Epcot was Heaven for him. Well, at the end of the day as the park was closing... If you've ever been to a Disney them park or even any other major theme park, you'll now what I mean when I say that thousands of people are bottle-necking out the front entrance at closing time. Anyway, at Epcot there are these sort of balconies overhead as you exit and park employees from all over stand there and wave. As we were leaving, huddled within a crowd of probably 50,000 people or so, I began hearing, "Bye, Jeff! Goodbye, Jeff! Have a great trip, Jeffrey! It was so nice to meet you!" I looked up and - I kid you not - Epcot employees (or "cast members", to be accurate in Disney-ese) from all different areas of the park were leaning over those balconies and spotting Jeff in the crowd and waving to him. He grinned and waved back, and I looked at my daughter who rolled her eyes (being the big sister) and said, "Why am I not surprised?" That's Jeff for ya.

Being interested in world events and particularly politics, Jeff volunteered for the McCain / Palin campaign in the 2008 election a the age of 13. He was the youngest volunteer here in Phoenix, and every day after school he was downtown working those phones. Now, whether you agree with his political views or not (he is a staunch Republican), you've gotta give him credit for putting his time where his mouth is. Jeff is a hands-on guy. And I might add that Sarah Palin is practically a centerfold model to this kid, so every time she's been in Phoenix, he's been there. And not only there, but somehow he always manages to not only get his book signed or whatever autograph he's wanting, but also gets to wriggle his way in with "the fam" (I'm referring to the Palin family) and hang out with them, chat, whatever. Like I said, whether you agree with him politically or not, you've gotta give the kid kudos!

We have a DVR to record TV shows. Once my daughter was looking over the recorded shows and she asked me, "Why do we have all these news shows recorded?" I told her, "Well, those are all the times your brother has managed to be on the news." Again, being the older sister, she rolled her eyes. But also chuckled. Jeff will manage to make his way in front of a camera wherever one pops up, I swear.

In February of 2010 (I think it was 2010, but it may have been 2009), Jeff jumped into the icy water of the Colorado River to rescue a younger boy in an overturned canoe. He jumped in without a thought - boots and all - and pulled the young boy to safety. He also gave the kid his blanket, leaving himself to freeze in the winter cold. He justified this by saying that the smaller boy didn't have as much body fat and therefore needed the blanket more than he did.

Last summer he came across and injured woman in the Grand Canyon. He and a friend determined that she had a broken shoulder and also a broken rib. He knew how to address that issue, so he had her keep her left arm raised so as to not puncture a lung (I didn't know this!), and then he used a mirror to signal an "S.O.S." to a Tribal helicopter for help. Recognizing their return signal that they'd received his message, he assured the woman that help was on the way. He and his friend used their sleeping bags to make her a comfortable place to lie down. A few minutes later, a rescue helicopter arrived. Jeff, being the physically strongest one there, carried her to the helicopter and placed her inside.

A few months ago I was browsing Craigslist and a woman posted in the "General Community" section that she'd run out of gas. In her post she acknowledged that this was a long shot to ask for help this way and she expected to get criticized for it, but she stated her location and Jeff rode his bike four miles to bring her $10 for gas. She was overwhelmingly grateful and impressed with such a kind young man. Not something you expected from teenage boys nowadays, she said. She insisted on driving to our house to meet his mom (Moi) and tell me how nice he was. :)

Have I told you enough? His older sister jokingly refers to him as "Forrest Gump without the slow Southern speech" because this kid has been everywhere and done everything. Frankly, it wouldn't surprise me in the least if some of you reading this are saying to yourselves, "Hey, I know that kid!" Because it seems everyone knows Jeff. Anyhow, I am quite sure I'm leaving things out, but I'm equally sure that y'all don't want to sit here all night reading this. LOL. So, I will wrap up my bragging right about here. He's just an all-around great kid, and he's had a rough turn of events over the last few months.

Again, I'm asking for help with his care. Not because I want to, and not because I make a habit of such things, but because he deserves the care he needs and as a mom I would be remiss if I let my pride keep me from asking. He shouldn't have to be using recycled bandages.

Here is that link again: Chip-In For Jeff's Care. Also, you can visit my online booth, Rummage Rampage, and see if there isn't something there you can't live without. And if you can't help financially, which I totally understand, please do spread the word. You can refer people here to my blog, refer people to my booth, Tweet about my items if you're on Twitter, or whatever else you can think of. Any of these things would be greatly, greatly appreciated.

And just one more thing (I promise, just one more): If for any reason you would like verification of anything I've stated here, feel free to ask. I will be happy to provide whatever you need to feel comfortable that this is not any kind of scam. My e-mail address is salmagundigeneral@yahoo.com.

Thanks so much for reading. So much. Really. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly

Some have been asking for updates, so I'm just throwing out this quick post to bring y'all up to speed on things that have been happening. It's been an up-and-down ride for the last few months, and particularly the last few weeks. Here are some "highlights".

  • Good: My son's burns are healing at an impressive pace, surprising even the doctors. Of course it's going to be a long process, but it is going well so far. I attribute this, in large part, to how quickly the folks at the John C. Lincoln Deer Valley Hospital emergency room got him transported (lighting speed, I'm tellin' ya) to the Arizona Burn Center, where he received absolutely amazing care.
  • Bad: I haven't seen my foster son for a month now, and I don't even know where he lives. Since 2006, I have never gone more than 48 hours with him out of my sight. To this day I still do not know what happened or why he really left, an issue over which - I am not ashamed to admit - I've lost many nights' sleep. But he is an adult now and I must leave things in his hands, just hoping that one day he will want to have a relationship with me again, or at least explain himself. :(
  • Good: Kayla, one of my now-grown strays, came over and brought me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers for Mother's Day. It truly lifted my spirits in a difficult time.
  • Bad: On Mother's Day, in the evening, my dog got out of the yard when some neighborhood kids left our back door AND our back yard gate open. I love this dog. LOVE this dog. He was a rescue dog, having been abused in the past, and he has bonded with me like no other pet I've ever had. I found it nearly impossible to sleep without him snuggled up next to me at night, and I worried endlessly about his welfare. My daughter and I went to the local dog pound every day (a heart-wrenching experience in itself, which my daughter cried all the way through the first time), but didn't find him there.
  • Good: After four long days, when I'd really lost hope, my dog was found! Responding to one of a kajillion posters we'd hung, someone finally called and said, "I think I have your dog." They DID have my dog! When I came to their door and he saw me from inside, he went bananas and ran to me, and I cried. Yay! :)
  • Ugly: Well, there's no ugly. Ha ha. What COULD have been ugly would've been my son's burn scars, but fortunately it appears that there won't be any really bad ones, and none severe on his handsome face. I don't have any pics to post right at the moment, but I will when I can. As I said before, the healing is coming along well.
That's all I have for now, especially since I am having to "borrow" an internet connection (that's a whole 'nother story) and don't have a lot of time for a long post tonight. But I really, really want to express thanks to all who have been supportive during these difficult times, especially my fellow sellers at Bonanza. If you haven't been there yet, stop by and browse around. I'm telling you, there are some truly wonderful finds there, and some really wonderful people!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

It Was Just A Nice, Calm Spring Afternoon...

(Just fyi - I realize the font in this post changes throughout and I don't know why, but I can't fix it and I'm tired of trying. So, onward...)

Last week, on the day before his 16th birthday, my son caught on fire. Yep - caught on fire. Now how's that for a way to start off a blog post? Figured I may as well just "jump right in" to the topic du jour.

It was a kind of freak accident with his new charcoal grill, an early birthday present he'd received from his grandfather the day before. He'd wanted to do a back yard cook-out for his birthday and do all the cooking/grilling himself. Kind of show off his skills to all his friends and family. See, my son has been a Boy Scout for eleven years. He is one project away from being an Eagle Scout, as a matter of fact. So it's not as if he is new to working with a grill. The kid's been cooking over fires for years. Sometimes he makes our family dinners in his treasured Dutch oven, out in the yard over a fire pit in the ground. He is not inexperienced.

Now, here's what my son didn't know (nor did I): If you need to add some charcoal to your grill that's already got some going, it is recommended that you pick up the individual briquets out of the bag one at a time with tongs rather than tipping the bag and just dumping a few of them out. Well, that is what he did - tipped the bag.

Even though he didn't add his charcoal in the "recommended" way, I am now told by people with more expertise (i.e. a lot of old guys, including the doctors) that what happened next should never happen. Apparently, bags of charcoal can often have - for obvious reasons - bits of dust and debris in them from the briquets. Bits. Some. A little. This bag had a massive amount of charcoal dust, and when my son tipped that bag it all poured out onto the already-hot coals, instantly bursting into a huge fireball that engulfed his upper body.

He knew, being a Boy Scout, to "stop, drop and roll". Then he plunged into the swimming pool. Now here is a very fortunate coincidence: I had just filled that pool the day before. Prior to that it had been empty for months because we had to have some work done on the pump and drain. And as an added bonus, because I had literally just filled it, I hadn't added any chlorine yet (which would have irritated the burns). So, at least there was that. I'm looking for all the "positives" I can in this situation.

Here's how things went down from my perspective: I was in the front yard planting some flowers. I had been in and out of the back yard checking his progress with the new grill, so it's not like I didn't know what he was doing. I just wasn't worried, since everything seemed find and normal. A fine and normal Spring afternoon. Sigh...

About five minutes into my hole-digging I heard a sound. A scream? I wasn't sure. It was loud and echoed around the neighborhood, so at first I didn't even know where it had come from. I lifted my head and I'm pretty sure I cocked it to the side like a dog does. Then I suddenly just had a feeling (all of this happened within about three seconds). I dropped my little shovel and ran into the house.

As I neared the sliding glass door that opens to our back patio (hauling ass, even though I wasn't quite sure why yet - just "mom instinct"), I saw my son emerging from the pool, fully clothed and yelling, "Hospital! Hospital!" I didn't even get a good look at him and I didn't ask any questions. I just reached to the key rack that happened to be on the wall right next to me, spun around and headed for the car with my son following. Oh, and just in case you're wondering why I didn't just call 911, I know from much experience that the hospital is exactly a three-minute drive from our house. So I didn't think - just ran.

In the car I caught a glance of his arm as I was driving. Just what I could see out of the corner of my eye as I tried to drive fast but safely and stay focused on the road. The arm looked horrific and frightening, and I could smell the smell of burning flesh. I know that sounds really graphic, but there's just no other way to put it. As I was driving, my son started to frantically tell me what had happened. And then the screaming started.

It was awful. Awful! He's a tough kid, a big and strong kid, and to hear those screams... I can't even express the feeling. And the feeling of helplessness as I could do nothing except let him scream; I had to keep my eyes on the road and not lose it.

When I pulled into the hospital parking lot, my son just flung open the car door and ran straight into the ER. I pulled into a parking space and headed in after him. There was an available parking space right in front, so it took me probably less than 30 seconds to park and run in, but when I got into the ER the place was empty. Empty. They'd all rushed him back that fast! I stood for about five seconds before a door flung open and someone said, "Are you mom?" I nodded and they held the door for me, nothing needing to be said. I followed the sounds of the screaming.

I have no idea how many doctors and nurses and people were in that room, but it was crowded and chaotic. It was at that moment that it started to sink in with me - this is really serious! I stepped out into the hall. Not only did I want to stay out of the way, but there was absolutely nothing I could do and I could not bear the screams. I'm a pretty tough cookie, but I couldn't take it. I moved even further away, from the hall to a nearby waiting area. I could still hear him, but not so much. I hated the helpless feeling and was just trying to maintain my composure. A couple of doctors (both of whom I already knew - that's how often I'm at the ER with all these kids of mine) came out and asked me questions about what had happened, what kind of charcoal, whether he was using lighter fluid (no) and other questions that I mostly couldn't answer. I signed forms that were put in front of me. I paced the floor. I wanted to ask how he was, wanted to ask how bad the burns were, but I didn't want anyone to stop whatever they were doing long enough to talk to me.

Someone came out and told me that an ambulance was on the way to transport him to the Arizona Burn Center (the best in the southwest U.S.). That's when another wave of this is bad came over me. I signed papers giving permission for him to be transported. The ambulance arrived very quickly and one of the EMT's came over to ask if I would be riding along or following in my own car. I answered that I should probably follow, since I didn't know how long we'd be there and I had no other way home. The EMT paused for a moment, took a look at my probably-pale face and said, "Are you okay to drive?" I took a deep breath and pulled myself together, and answered that I was.

When I went to my car in the parking lot I saw the ambulance pulling away from the hospital. It was moving fast and had all the lights and sirens going. One more wave of this is bad hit me. It was all happening so fast, and I was only absorbing the severity of the situation a little at a time.

I followed, but obviously couldn't travel at the speed of the ambulance, so I arrived a little while after them at the burn center. By the time I got to the room where they were treating him, he'd been pumped full of morphine and, while clearly still in pain, had stopped screaming and was beginning to show bits of his real personality. He - being 15 years old, keep in mind - remarked that he "hadn't been burned this bad since back in 'Nam" and also at some point said, "I love the smell of Napalm in the morning" (the reference to Apocalypse Now from such a young kid drew chuckles in the room).

They told me immediately that he'd be staying, and they didn't know for how long (this is bad again). I asked about the burns, and they explained to me that they wouldn't know the severity for a few days. I was getting my first real look at him at this point. Fortunately he was bandaged up pretty thoroughly, so I didn't have to see the worst of the damage, but his face was exposed and it looked horrible. I almost felt sick, but I didn't want him to see any such look on my face and be further alarmed, so I kept my cool. On the outside, anyway. I was glad to see, though, that while his face was definitely burned badly, I didn't see anything that looked like it would result in his being disfigured. Except maybe his lips. I'm still not sure about his lips...

More paperwork was put in front of me and I signed, signed, signed. Then I was escorted to his room along with him on his gurney (is that what they're called?) in a staff elevator. By the time we got to the room I was totally lost in this huge hospital, having paid no attention whatsoever to where I was being led. The grandparents had arrived at the hospital by then and were calling my phone asking where he was. I didn't know, I told them. I didn't know where I was, I was disoriented and stressed, and they'd just have to ask and find us on their own. Out his window I could see the airport in the distance, so I knew the room was facing east. That was about all the help I could provide.

I stayed with him that night, sleeping in a chair. He was mostly knocked out anyway, but I didn't trust the staff to adequately understand some of his already-existing issues. For instance, he has been in treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome as a result of a near-death experience he had (that's a whole 'nother story), and when he falls asleep he sometimes jolts awake in a panic because he feels like he's dying again. I was glad I stayed that night, because the morphine caused a bit of a "vicious circle" issue in that regard. The medication would make him drowsy, but then as he began to doze off he would suddenly sit up screaming. I had to go to him and hold his "good" hand, comfort him tell him where he was and that he was okay. This happened twice on that first night, one incident being fairly severe and the other not quite so bad. After that I think the staff understood the seriousness of that particular problem, and then I felt able to go home and get some rest because I trusted they'd look out for him. And they did.

He's been there for a week now and I'm sure I don't have to tell anyone that it's been a very painful process of treatment. Here's a not-very-good picture of his face on the second night (I had to take it as I caught him dozing off, so couldn't really get a good angle):

Here's what his forearm looked like on day three (upper arm is worse, but I have no pic of that - not that I'd probably post it anyway):

I haven' seen it since that picture was taken, so I don't know how it looks now. Honestly, I try not to be there when they change the dressings and do the treatments. I can't handle seeing it and I can't bear the screaming and crying. Even though he's on morphine and other drugs, the medication can't keep those treatments from hurting brutally.

Poor kid had to spend his 16th birthday there in the hospital, but we did throw him a little party with a few good friends - and a cake that had the candles painted on. LOL.

As of now, that's pretty much where things stand. He's progressing well I'm told, but he is still in a tremendous amount of pain and I don't know when he will be home. But I will keep y'all updated.

To end this post on a somewhat lighter note, though, there was one little anecdote in this whole incident that gave me a bit of a chuckle. Even while engulfed in flames, rolling on the ground and heading for the swimming pool, my son had the presence of mind to grab his iPod and fling it into the yard so it wouldn't get wet. Kids have their priorities. ;)