Summer Duncan, from Arkansas, USA, tells ScarGlobal what it’s like being a mother to a child with severe burns.
Last year, Summer’s youngest child, Rose, suffered third-degree burns in a house fire. The blaze left her with 49% burns to the front half of her body.
13-month-old Rose was treated at Arkansas Children’s Hospital. “She spent six weeks in a pediatric intensive care unit, 10 weeks in the burn unit, and four weeks in rehab,” Summer explains. “During those first few weeks, I felt like my heart was being crushed in my chest.”
The 31-year-old mother of three, remembers when her life changed. Moving from her family home to changing jobs, Summer and her husband now spend four to five hours per day devoted to Rose’s rehabilitation.
Things have become easier, though, for Summer and her family. “When we first brought her home, she had a feeding tube, a tracheostomy, and 12 different medications, ointments, and lotions,” she explains. Now, Rose wears a full body pressure garment, has intense rehabilitation and has thickened liquids due to her inhalation injury that has not fully healed. She also has a large hernia on her belly that will need to be fixed before she is 3-years-old.
As a parent of a burnt child, the nursing assistant knows the psychological difficulties parents have to face. She saw a therapist for several months, trying to deal with all of the overwhelming feelings that come with having a burnt child. “It is very common for parents of burn survivors to deal with a considerable amount of guilt,” she says. “Please deal with these feelings so that they do not control your life.”
In fact, a study revealed, “parents whose children experienced burn injury, as many as 69% of participants tested positive for clinically significant anxiety levels during the child’s inpatient hospitalization, and 22 to 44% reported clinically significant depression afterwards, as they were dealing with their child’s outpatient issues.”
“Over time, I have learned to accept my feelings and move on with my day,” she says.
Last year, Rose and her family attended their first Burns Camp, where Rose was able to communicate with other burnt children. “It’s important to seek out other burn survivors and burn survivor parents that you can talk to and relate to – find burn camps that you can go to with your survivor child and your other children.”
Despite the severity of Rose’s burns, she is just like any other toddler. She loves climbing on the furniture, singing, dancing, playing the piano and receiving her mother’s affection. Summer says. “I know in the beginning it is hard to imagine your child ever healing to that degree, but have hope and know that you are not alone,” says Summer.
“My hopes, dreams, and aspirations for Rose are that her hopes and dreams come true,” she says. “I hope that she will always know that she is unconditionally loved and she is also an inspiration to me and so many others who have seen her fight for her life and reach her goals time and time again – ignoring the pain and the obstacles along the way.”
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