A burn survivor…India’s story
On the 29th November 2003, when I was three years old, my party dress caught on fire, causing me to be rushed to hospital with 40% third degree burns where I’d stay in ICU for three months. It might sound like a lot to some, but in the span of my 22 years alive it’s a tiny timeframe, one which I hardly remember to this day. But it was the long term physical and psychological effects that would remain. An event that happened in a moment, has stayed with me for life because of my scars.
From then on it was hospital check ups every six months, physiotherapeutic massages three times a day, and more surgery every two years or so. Then on top of that there were the stares, ranging from the slightest second glance in the street to outright unapologetic scrutiny. Intimate and probing questions about my scars from strangers, fully grown adults I might have only exchanged a few words with. Very occasionally it could be children throwing mean comments my skin was or sometimes not wanting to play with me, which I could never understand, the social and talkative child I was. When I was a teenager, particularly in the age of social media, my self esteem was at its lowest. The same thought persisted: I know I have scars, but why do they need to define me? Am I truly that different?
However, I wish I could tell my past self that there is such thing as a normal life with a burn injury. Not just that, there is such thing as a fulfilling life with a burn injury. I‘m fortunate to have an incredible family and amazing friends. I’ve been able to date like anyone else, go to university like anyone else, and landed my dream job afterwards. Some of these things I truly thought I could never have, and I know they’re things people worry about, especially parents who have children in a similar situation as I was.
Yet equally my scars do in a way define me because I would not be who I am without them. I could not lie and tell you that a burn accident won’t have a profound impact on your life because they will and that’s why the work that the Children’s Burns Trust does to raise awareness and provide support to survivors is so incredibly important. However to me, I would not change them because they shaped who I am. Your scars are nothing to be ashamed of. At the least, they are just something that are on your body and you as a person are far more than your skin. At the most, they are a symbol of all everything you have overcome and no one should ever feel ashamed of that. My scars make me unique, my accident made me resilient and my experiences from them have taught me empathy and provided the opportunity to meet other incredible survivors, and get involved in amazing charities like the Children’s Burns Trust.