Thursday, October 21, 2010

Can't sleep

It's past 11:00, everyone is sleeping, the house is quiet and I'm wide awake.  My house is too small to try and sew anything while anyone else sleeps, so here I am...old faithful.  It's starting to rain outside, I love that sound on the roof and windows.  I just found out we have a leak in our skylight (right above my craft area of course), and I should probably go make sure everything is unplugged.  Healthy fear of random fires.  Okay, so I thought I might explain that too.  I was trying to be brief in my summary of self, but hope it didn't come off as trying to be too vague or mysterious or something...that wasn't my intention.  ;)

So, 11:00 at night when I can't sleep (and it's on my mind, probably part of the reason I can't sleep) as good a time as any to write this down...

And there's really no short way to get through this, so, sorry about that.

Last year we lived in a (really cute) 3 bedroom apartment and it had it's own little laundry room across from our bedroom.  It was about, I don't know, 5' by 5', 6' by 6' or something....but pretty small, just enough room for a door, a little walk-in area and the washer and dryer.  We were getting ready to go out to dinner with my brother and I was putting away some stuff on the shelf above the dryer, and a can of spray paint got knocked off of the shelf and fell into the corner next to the dryer.  It started to spray blue paint all over.  I yelled to my husband to grab a towel or something to throw over it.  I thought maybe just the nozzle was stuck or something, so I picked it up to try and stop the spraying.

As soon as I had it in my hands, I could feel how much pressure was coming out of the can, and immediately knew I shouldn't have picked it up, and then it burst into flames.  Later, the fire inspector told my family that the heat from the back of the dryer had ignited the fumes in the room.  I think they call it a flash fire, it was like an explosion, and it was enough that it pushed the door closed behind me.  I remember screaming, and not being able to get the door open, and hearing my husband yell.  And then I did get the door open, and I saw my daughter standing in my bedroom doorway across the hall.  All I could think was that the fire was going to come out of the room with me, so I pushed Lillian back into the bedroom and closed the door, then ran down the hall.  Everything happened so fast, when we realized the fire wasn't spreading and that we had to get OUT of the apartment, I ran and grabbed Lillian and my husband grabbed our then 4 month old son and we ran out of the apartment.

There's really no way to explain how lucky we were.  I had (only) second and third degree burns on my arms, hands and parts of my face, and I luckily to not need any skin graphs.  The fire inspector talked to my brother while I was at the hospital and told him that he had never seen anything like it before, the laundry room was toast, and he said that if there hadn't been a sprinkler IN the laundry room above my head, that I probably wouldn't have made it out. 

I've never experienced anything like this before in my life, and it's something that is almost hard to even explain.  I was incredibly lucky in my injuries and yet it was THE MOST pain I have ever been in, in my life.  And that includes both child births.  There is nothing like was absolutely unbearable.  All of the skin was gone on the tops of my right fingers, my husband had to tie up my hair for me, and help with all of those little everyday things.  And because my arms were so burned and sensitive he had to hold my son while I nursed.

It was incredible, it was over a year ago now, and I can honestly say I'm nowhere near over it.  I can still hear myself screaming, and my daughter repeating...mommy got paint on me, mommy pushed me...and I still feel that guilt, (even though I know I shouldn't).  And among other things, I hate the microwave, and although I don't let that fear guide my life, every time I use the microwave I have this knot in my stomach and a fear that somehow it's going to spontaneously explode into flames in my face.  I have many fears that I didn't have before.  And there are also positive things I have learned through this experience too, but now I feel too exhausted to write them coherently.  I may actually be able to sleep now, having been able to vent my troubles with all of you.

Sorry this isn't fun and crafty, but it's me, and I guess I can't apologize for that.  Maybe tomorrow we'll be in higher spirits and get through the upside to all of this.  :)


  1. What a terrifying experience. I'm not surprised you aren't over it yet. Hopefully, writing about helped a little bit and then you could sleep.

  2. What a huge thing to go through. You are obviously a really brave person Teresa, as I'm sure your daughter will realise when she's old enough to understand how you protected her.

  3. Thank goodness you survived that scary experience! It really does sound terrifying. I can hardly imagine all those fears you have now because of it. And I can't even imagine all the healing you had to go through. I appreciate you sharing your experience here, and hope you were able to get a restful night of sleep.