My name is Karen Brummer and recently my husband Andrej and I were involved in a minor motorcycle accident. We were exceedingly lucky, and came out of it relatively unscathed. We both received some second degree burns and after spending days searching on the internet about what we should expect, and what is normal recovery for burns, we (well, I) felt pretty stressed out. I couldn’t find any good information and I couldn’t get any good medical advice. We currently live in Luang Namtha, a small town in rural northern Laos. We are really lucky to have Leila, an amazing gift to this world who is an American doctor and travels Laos teaching the doctors in the hospitals and checking up on what’s going on with the patients. Leila though has been un-reachable this week. Our local hospital does have some good doctors. However they are trained in Vientiane – Lao style and there are many things that they don’t have experience in or the equipment for, and simple hygiene in Laos is a totally different kettle of fish.
I made lots of phone calls to my dear and patient mum, (a nurse in New Zealand) asking her millions of questions about our healing. Our wounds are weeping heaps, what should we do? 6 days after the accident my ankle has swelled up and Dre’s foot is double it’s normal size. Should we be concerned? I am so nauseas every minute of the day, what can I do to fix this? I am having an allergic reaction to the drugs, please can I cry over the phone to you about how shitty I’m feeling? When will this end? Can I just check out of this for the next week and come back when it’s feeling better? Dre won’t relax and is walking around on his leg. It’s not really healing, how can I get him to understand he needs to put his foot up? What can I do to ease the pain that won’t make me want to vomit?….. my amazing mother has helped me with all of these questions and honestly I don’t know how we would have survived the past week without her.
In any case, long story short, I am hoping that if anyone else has second degree burns, perhaps is in a third world country or just needs to know that it will get better, they can read this and know that burns suck, and take a long time to heal, but you will get there and the pain will come to an end. None of what I have written is medical advice in any way, it’s just my own account of the things that happened when Dre and I got second degree burns in a motorcycle accident in Laos. In fact, the only advice I would give anyone is: get the hell out of any third world country and get yourself some proper medical care on the first day while you still can. On the first day you’re still OK, you’re on lots of medication and you still think it’s going to be easy. After a week of not being able to walk, going anywhere is an extremely daunting task, no matter how much of a good idea it might be. Burns are scary and sore and slow to heal. Look after yourself and put your health above all else.
I just really wish that I could have read someone elses experience, because this whole thing has been much more involving and all-consuming than either us imagined it could ever be. We had a small crash and saw we’d gotten some burns. No worries, we figured, get it dressed at the hospital and in a few days we’ll be as good as new again. 10 days later I still can’t walk and I haven’t left the house for over a week. So I figure I might as well fill my time doing something productive. I have done absolutely nothing other than heal and deal with my burns in the past 9 days, so today I thought I’d do something that might be helpful to others if this happens to them.