Published: 31 December 2013
Surviving Physical Death - Ten Years On
The mind is an interesting piece of equipment. Now, only after almost ten years, memories of the accident that had been the cause of Healing Oil Products being developed and The Chronicles of Han Storm written, come forth to be acknowledged and released as finally being part of the past.
The day of the accident, and the actual incident, I can remember clearly and the story has been told to thousands of people.
Rehab and the first few years after the accident had been a bit of a blur, with only entries into my diary being painful reminders of the suffering of third degree burn wounds and the fight for survival.
What do you need to survive death?
In the early stages, when the body is the only thing to be saved - a stubborn nature, determination, encouragement, reminders of something to live for.
In my case, my loving husband, my 5 year old and seven week old baby. They still needed me and I struggled through the initial stages of just surviving, just staying here on Earth.
But healing is not all you worry about while surviving. You have to convince the Medical Aid that you are worth saving, that you will survive, they must just pay your bills. You have to convince the ER doctors that they must not amputate your left hand's fingers. You will heal, just give me a chance.
You stick to your end of the bargain. You heal sufficiently to make it home. You know you are still vulnerable, still cannot look after yourself. You hobble back into your life, get handed your baby by family and told: "This is it, my duty to you is done". No more physical assistance, no more help, you are on your own.
Suddenly you are trapped in survival mode. You just carry on. Surviving from minute to minute to do the next task, to assist your husband in looking after two small children as best you can, not to feel as if you are a burden on anyone, to carry on as normal as possible.
But normal does not exist when 35% of your body has been burned. No-one comes forth to offer assistance or advice and as the bills pile up, you know you are in trouble.
To make ends meet you go back to work. You have a maternity contract that needs to be adhered to. No-one informed you that third degree burns to hands automatically qualifies you for permanent disability and all your insurance policies to pay out.
The work-place is adamant - come back and fulfil your contract.
The day you start working your insurance lapses as you have "proven" that you can still work.
But you cannot be a secretary while covered in bandages, and later in leather gloves soaked in tissue oils just to make life more bearable.
After two years of struggling between work and going to physiotherapy twice a day to keep mobility in your hands, you realize that life will never again carry on as per usual. You are forever changed and will never be able to cope with this rat-race, with normal life of marriage, two point five children, white picket fence, and retirement some day when you are old.
It has been almost ten years since the accident. We have made misinformed decisions, the right course of action could have made our lives easier. We were young, inexperienced, and were left without any assistance from anyone, legal or otherwise. Insurance companies keep you in the dark. Make sure you know your rights and what you are insured for in case of accidents. Medical Aids need to be scrutinized and bills need to be checked carefully and challenged if necessary.
No accident survivor needs to deal with these things on top of healing. But such is capitalism.
Can I live with all that had been lost? Can I continue living knowing the mistakes I had made? Can I forgive myself for the long walk to stability?
Yes. I can. For the past ten years, I have learnt that life changes in an instant. That you are lucky to survive and be re-united with your loved-ones. That it is okay to make mistakes, even if it takes everything familiar away from you.
Life cannot ever be the same after such an experience. You change too much for 'normal'. You become different, and 'normal' people fear that which they perceive to be different.
Then you leave 'normal' behind and find a new path, a new place that embraces you, that supports you and in turn, you can teach others, assist others to help themselves.
If it was not for the accident, no-one would have been exposed to The Chronicles of Han Storm.
It if was not for the accident, Healing Oil Products would not have come into existence and thousands of individuals' lives would not have changed for the better.
It is done.
I am still here and as long as my body is functional, I will continue with the Books and the Healing Oils, bringing hope, relief and entertainment to thousands more.
- H Gibson, Burn Survivor and Author of The Chronicles of Han Storm
Copyright © H Gibson Chronicles of Han Storm. All rights reserved. 2009-2013. www.chroniclesofhan.com
Origins of Healing Oil Products: www.healing-oil.co.za