Thursday, 24 November 2011

Burn baby burn

Things have been not going that well recently. I've been depressed. I've been proper black-cloud-navel-gazing-staring-at-the-wall depressed. Yeah, I know. It's boring listening to someone wank on about how dowwwwn they are and how shit their life is. Especially when it isn't, actually, that shit.

But that's what depression is isn't it -  it's an illogical way of seeing the world. It's like trying to make out shapes through a gauze curtain and hoping you've pasted the right kind of look on your face when out in company. If that makes no sense to you, it could be that the codeine is restricting my ability to write, or you're one of the lucky ones who've never had to deal with soul bending depression.
Anyway, my point is, it's been a shiteous couple of weeks. I spent far too much time on my own last week, which as anyone who suffers from depression knows, is a Bad Idea. It lets the voices take over just a bit too much and generally results in not being able to get out of bed and staring at walls for an unfeasibly long time.

But I'm lucky in many respects, I have a couple of jobs that force me to interact with people and some lovely mates who cheer me up.

On Saturday I had to attend one of these jobs. One which involves talking to a lot of people and generally having to get into a better mood to survive. So that's what I did. And half way through my shift I started to feel a lot more positive. See, I said to myself (in my head, natch, I'm not completely mental), things aren't that bad. People are nice (most of the time), just start to pull yourself together. You know, think more positively. Maybe everything will be ok after all. The shift was coming to an end. Bonnie Tyler was the last song of the night. I fucking love Total Eclipse of the Heart. It had turned into one of those cheesy singalongs. I was feeling, well, happy.

And then.
And then.
And then I walked past the coffee machine at precisely the moment that would ensure the jug of scalding water which was just falling off the side would hit my thigh at full force, drip all the way down my tights, into my boots and form a pool of boiling water just by my ankle.

I can still feel the impact if I think about it. I have never ever experienced pain like it. I shrieked. Screamed even. Howled probably. And ran blindly into the kitchen peeling off my clothes as I went. I didn't even care that I was undressing in front of most of my co workers, all I could think of was to get the clothes off me.
We faffed around for a bit, because I was doing that whole British stoicism thing (when I had stopped screaming). And also I couldn't really process that my skin had melted off my leg. People were very kind and helpful and gave me ice and talked me out of passing out and lent me clothes and eventually took me to A&E.

It was eerily quiet when we arrived. By this point I was starting to want to sob helplessly. The thing about burn pain is, well the pain doesn't stop getting worse. It doesn't reach a peak and abate, it just sort of keeps burning. On and on and on. I held my hand about eight inches from the surface of the skin and could feel the heat emanating from it. That's scary in itself. Your leg is wrapped - comically - in cling film and heat is radiating from it as the pain grows more and more and more intense.

I still felt that I was probably making a fuss about nothing. I always think that. I thought that when my appendix exploded inside of me. Right up till the moment I came round from surgery I thought that someone would have a go at me for making a fuss about nothing.
I was through triage in about two minutes, which was most welcome and, after a short lecture by the nurse about the proper treatment of burns (under cold water for 20 mins, cling film and THEN casualty, just for the record - to be fair, there wasn't anywhere I could have stuck my leg anyway, unless you count the kitchen sink and that's just not very hygenic is it?), he started pouring cold water on the rapidly forming blisters.

I could practically hear my skin, or at least what was left of it, hiss in relief. He whacked some damp pads on my leg and then buggered off for about four hours. I stared at the wall and wondered what the fuck just happened to me. 

In that time, people came and went. Heart attacks, people need resuscitating, a woman giving birth next to me... It was all go. It was actually just like the TV show ER. Without the crash carts and sexy doctors. Actually, it was far more like Casualty: harrassed, worried staff legging it around trying to help an endless stream of, mostly ungrateful, people.

They deserve a fucking medal for doing that job. Never again will I moan about any job I have. That's obviously a complete lie but you get the idea.

Two days later the bandages were slipping. I looked down and there was a big open wound on my leg. I limped to the pharmacist hoping for some kind of miracle tape I could squidge over it. Naturally they sent me straight back to the doctors, who stripped the wound to reveal this:

I mean, what the FUCK is that on my ankle? Some kind of creature? Am I growing a new body? Turns out it wasn't just a superficial burn you see - as the nice nurse assured me at A&E - it's actually 'quite a serious burn, dear. It's a second degree burn.'

Oh, I thought. Lovely.

They declined to burst the blister as it is, of course, my body showing how amazing it really is by growing a protective layer, pumping out healing liquid and protecting itself from infection. I was actually in thrall to this miracle of nature. Until I couldn't get the look of the thing out of my head. Every step I took, I could feel the liquid SLOSHING around. It was like hobbling around while carrying the Elephant Man's head as an appendage. Utterly disgusting.

So the next day they hauled me in to burst it. I had a vague idea it would be a delicate operation with a sterilised needle perhaps. Two minutes later I was aware that actually how they do it is to tell you to lay face down while they go in with a pair of SCISSORS. I felt the liquid ooze all over my foot and held back a heave. And then she casually cut away the dead skin. All of which I could feel.

As disgusting as that blister was you see, it meant I could actually walk without searing pain. Now I put my foot down on the floor and the blood rushes to it. Of course this happens every time anyone stands up. The difference is there is usually several layers of skin to stop it feeling like your leg is going to explode. I have to have a little scream every morning when I get up. It's a good way to start the day. 

I suppose my lesson from all of this is, if you think you're depressed without a massive burn on your leg, you know you are when you have to deal with it. As soon as this is better I will run and frolic and dance with gay abandon. And on that note, I'll just leave you with this. Just because.

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