Saturday, July 14, 2007

Looking at Disfigurement from Burns

In this NPR piece, the writer covers a subject not often discussed - veterans returning from war with disfiguring injuries caused by burns and the treatment they receive in an Army hospital.

Please follow the label burn survivors for more information. If you are the parent of a burn survivor, you can find links to summer camp programs here. Also Support groups are available.

I found a piece over at under a column called Daily Inspiration. (I'm sure there are others but I was struck at how little coverage there's been of this despite the folks I've heard from online who are out there. However note the USA Today article in the post above.)

It's about burn survivor and disabled vet Aaron Mankin. He poses with his daughter in a photo over there. He speaks of his concerns for her about his disfigurement as she grows older due to society's reaction.

Mankin shares about waking up in the hospital:

"Then, my girlfriend Diana's face popped into my head...The first time I saw Diana three months later, I asked her to marry me. I didn't know what I was capable of as a husband or as a dad. I didn't know what I could bring to the table besides a burned face and scarred arms. My ears, nose, and mouth were gone, as were the thumb and index finger of my right hand. When she said yes, it was a turning point for me. Even though I had a right to be bitter and curse the world, it wasn't what Diana deserved. It wasn't the man she fell in love with.

It was a month and a half before I was ready to look at myself in the mirror. Then one day, I got out of my hospital bed to go to physical therapy and I saw the mirror I'd passed countless times, refusing to see the truth about how hurt I was. I looked over my left shoulder, and there I was—this torn up, frail, thin individual with open wounds on his face that I barely recognized, and my worst imagination became my reality. I cried.

Being a Marine, you want to tell yourself you're fine, just walk it off. But I couldn't walk this one off. I covered the bottom half of my face with my elbow, and looking at my eyes and my forehead, I didn't look any different. I knew inside I was still the same man. But not everyone would see that, and I was very concerned when Jake and Maggie, my little brother and sister, then 8 and 7, came to see me in the hospital. I was their big brother. I was in the Marine Corps. I was invincible. That's how they saw me, but I didn't know if they would see me that way anymore. So I asked Jake, "Do you still think Bubba (that's what they call me) is as strong and fast and tough as you used to?" Jake didn't think about it at all. He just said, "Yeah, I think so." And I looked at myself, and I was bandaged up and breathing hard, and I said, "What makes you think that?" And he said back to me, "Well, they tried to blow you up, and they couldn't."


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I am a vet and I don't look so pretty these days. God bless you for helping to prepare the people out there for seeing wounded vets.

We aren't the only ones like you say. Kids get burnt people get burns. Until it happens to you or someone you know you don't think about it I guess which is wrong.