Thank you for helping me be me...

Linda Peters

My name is Linda.  I owe many thanks to the Burn Unit staff, the Burn Support Group, and the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society.

I used to be outgoing; smile and laughed a lot, was full of humour, and could joke around with anyone.  But I lost it all three years ago and wanted to die more than anything in the world.  It was then I suffered second and third degree burns to my legs, arms, stomach and chest, and had some skin grafts done.  I remember the first time I saw my right leg and arm after the splints and dressings were removed.  I was seeing colours, but I had no name to describe the colours.  Both my arm and leg looked like small craters and it made me sick to my stomach to look at them.  All I could think about was dying so that I wouldn't have to see myself and feel the things I was feeling, like anger, fear, guilt, frustration.  But I didn't die; instead I went home after a short stay in the hospital.

When I came home I felt that I wasn't me any more, that I was a freak.  I kept my door locked, curtains closed, and went out only when I really had to.  After a while I started talking to my sister, Debbie, who was also my best friend, I talked about the accident, cried, felt angry, depressed, and dead inside.  I wanted to give up on life, but Debbie was there to talk to me and be with me; she let me cry and at times cried with me.

In the summer of 1998, Debbie and I went to the first burn camp for both children and adults, sponsored by the Nova Scotia Firefighters Burn Treatment Society, the Q.E.II and the I.W.K.  hospitals.  I wasn't sure how I felt about going at first.  While I was there I watched and learned a lot from both the children and the adults.  I really noticed that everyone was having fun and being themselves - some were burnt worse than I was but were not feeling sorry for themselves.  I think it really helped me to see that.  I started talking and got along with everyone and was seeing some changes in myself, but I still wasn't me.  I did have hope that I could be myself again after being at camp.

My sister and I started going to the Burn Support Group, which I found very helpful.  After a while I felt OK and would talk more and even share things.  I wrote about how I felt about my burns, the camp and the group.  I really started to open up.  In august of 1999 my sister and I went to the second burn camp.  I wore shorts and T-shirts all the time; I was always talking and sharing, laughing and joking around, and showing my sense of humour.  I went in a canoe for the first time, I charged Buzz at Kangaroo Court for teasing (that was really funny because he had to sing "I'm a Little Teapot" and do the actions), and I did a skit with five other people.  I was being me, the real me, and I don't believe it could have happened without the help of others and all the things that happened at camp in 1998 and everything that happened after that camp.

But now that Buzz knows I have a great sense of humour, I have to watch my back because he's planning to get me back for making him sing "I'm a Little Teapot" at Kangaroo Court.  Camp was great and I had a great time; it just went too fast.

I believe I'm back to being me, thanks to all of you.

Thank You,
Linda Peters
September 24, 1999