A story in the life of....

When I was 10 years old I fell off my bike.  I ended up with 3rd degree burns on half of my face.  I had no skin anymore.  As you can imagine it was pretty horrifying looking.  There was asphalt in the wound so my parents had to use special brushes a few times a day on it to get the asphalt out and keep it from getting infected.  

This happened in July in the middle of summer.  I was on my way to go swimming with my sister and her friend.  I was going down the hill on the street behind our house and I had a towel around my shoulders.  It started to blow off so I took my hands off the handle bars to grab it. When I did that I hit a sewer cap that was above the road about an inch.  My bike fell on its side and I slid down the road on my face.  From here I don’t remember anything except what my sister and mom have told me.  Apparently my sister said I stood up and blood was running down my face. 

A Japanese woman who was a nurse came out of her house with towels and applied them to try to stop the bleeding.  She didn’t speak any English.  My sister went home to get my mom.   She didn’t have a license or a car at this time.  Somehow she got the Japanese lady who didn’t speak English to take us to the emergency area at our clinic on 62nd and Bluemound Rd. in Milwaukee, WI from Franklin, WI.  Not a far ride but considering she spoke no English and mom spoke no Japanese I consider that a miracle or a mother’s love to do whatever is necessary to help her child!  

Anyway, none of the nurses would touch my face at the clinic so my mom told them to give her the sponge and explain what she needed to do.  The doctor came in and said if she could do that I could go home because no sense going to the hospital where I wouldn’t get any rest.  She took me home and continued to clean my face every few hours with the sponges they sent home with us.  She called dad at work and told him I had a little accident on my bike.  When he came home that night he freaked out.  He wouldn’t even look at me.  He refused to clean my face.  I refused to look in the mirror because I knew it was horrific looking.  

Mom would take me out to stores (I had to be in a wheelchair because I had scraped my foot up too).  People would stare at me.  Only little kids would come up and ask what happened instead of staring.  We can learn a lot from them!  At some point I asked my mom if dad loved me anymore.  At this point she forced him to clean my face with the sponges and tell me he loved me.  She also forced me to look in the mirror.  At the time I thought she was the most evil being on Earth but as I look back I realize she was preparing me in case it never healed. 

Luckily I was young enough that the skin grew back and I didn’t need to have plastic surgery.  I believe this experience in my life is the reason I am so caring and compassionate about others no matter what their abilities or disabilities are.  I also believe there are always angels around me because when the accident was explained to the doctor his first words were, “I don’t know how she didn’t break her neck the way she fell!”  This was one of many incidents in my life where I should have been injured worse than I was but somehow wasn’t.  This is how I know there are always many angels looking out for me!

- Jennifer Hembrook, Milwaukee, WI