Day 141

Continued from a previous post. Day 141
It’s been over five months since Max was severely burned over his face and upper body – it continues to amaze me to see him heal so quickly. Granted, the advent of youth, proper medical attention, application of skin care products, and continued support by family, friends, and the community, has accelerated the healing process. Max is enjoying school (as much as a 10 year old boy can), his weekly stint on the snowboard, playing video games, and is progressing nicely on the piano. Leading life as though nothing had happened seems to be going rather well.

There are however occasions when we are reminded of the incident – obviously we think of what happened almost everyday as the scaring is a constant reminder – but on occasions when we run into friends, some of whom who are more like acquaintances, we find ourselves retelling the story, which brings back memories, glimpses of that day as it happened. The most disconcerting is running into mutual friends of Eric and having to retell the story as it truly happened (Eric was my friend who caused the explosion – an adult in his 40s – I mention this because people have asked, and in my prior posts there is little description of him).

The incident was by all means avoidable and not entirely accidental. The explosion was caused by him squirting high octane fuel used for model airplanes onto previously lit charcoal briquettes. He had kept this fuel in a clear plastic squirt bottle (similar to one you’d find on a picnic table – you know the ones filled with ketchup or mustard). I recall seeing that bottle earlier that evening (it was about one third of the way full) and asking him what it was for – he mentioned he was going to use it to light the BBQ fire. I immediately offered to run out and buy lighter fluid, for the thought of lighting a BBQ with that pink fuel in a plastic bottle seemed, well, idiotic – maybe something you would do as a teenager, but not at a BBQ, not as an adult, and especially not with kids running around.

He assured me, he had done this before and it was no big deal – I think of that moment in time, constantly.

It’s apparent that when we retell our story to those friends, they are under the impression it was an accident that could not have been avoided, not so. He was squirting high octane fuel, not lighter fluid, directly over briquettes which he attempted to light previously with no success. Model plane fuel is designed to burn fast and hot in a closed cell, not to light outdoor fires. Unfortunately Max was standing by, under adult supervision. Boom.

Max’s scars look really good for what happened. I realize it’s been a while since posting about this incident, but taking some time off from dwelling on what happened has really helped us all. We’ve talked with a counselor, and Max is doing good. The interesting thing is how it’s affected his sister – she saw it all happen, and now seems to dislike any sort of fire, specifically candles at dinner time. During this whole incident, she’s the one factor we’ve overlooked.

Day 71

Continued from a previous post.
Holy smokes – it’s been a while since my last post on Max! Max is doing good!

This past Monday we made a quick trip to Portland to see his doctor who was pleased with his progress. We actually spent way more time on the road than in Portland, but managed to squeeze in a couple of Pizza Shmitza slices.

Max’s arm is by far the worst of all his burns – it itches him and looks kinda gnarly, but that’s what the doctor had predicted. We’re going to wait and see how that progresses to heal and revisit the chance of surgery in another 3 months or so. Max’s chest and most of his face seem to be healing rather well too, although the doctor did mention there were several spots that would most likely scar – leaving permanent marks.

Overall Max is feeling OK with what has happened, but I think he’s getting tired of us reminding him – on a daily basis – to keep on applying lotion, spf, and lip balm. He is now wearing a couple of silicone scar patches on the most severe areas to prevent them from ‘puffing’. They seem to be working well at reducing the scars thickness and keeping that area kinda stinky – since Max likes to keep them on until they start losing their stick.

Continued here.

Day 46

Continued from a previous post.

It’s been fifty days since Max was in the accident and he continues to improve for sure. As our doctor had predicted, the open wound has closed and scar tissue has formed as his second skin. In about a week or so the scar will no longer need to be bandaged and in its place will go a self-adherent silicone bandage – this will help diminish the scars appearance.
His new skin (which was previously 2nd degree burns) is evident – whiter than his other skin, and more susceptible to sun damage, great care is being taken everyday to make sure he has SPF on his face and body.

Continued here.

Day 37

Continued from a previous post.
Day 37It’s been a little over 37 days now and Max’s improvements are significantly visible. The burn on his upper left arm, which was visibly open not long ago, has almost entirely closed up. That spot will for sure leave a scar but were hoping with proper care and time it will fade away. His spirits are up and he’s been spending more time with friends.

This whole experience has drawn our family together in such a good way. As much as we all wish this had never happened, there is a big part of me that acknowledges good has come from it.

Continued here.

Day 33

Continued from a previous post.

Day 33Max is doing really well. For a while there I was getting a bit worried about his overall state of mind in regards to what had happened. There was an incident at school and a few here at home that raised some concerns over the last week or so, but things have seemed to mellow out somewhat. We’re getting back into the swing of things once again. Max is in a groove. He knows to lotion up as much as possible, and to slap on SPF before leaving the house. If it’s too cold – no recess. If it’s too windy – no recess. The cold temperatures and wind will damage his new skin – possibly permanantly, so we are taking every precaution fro the next 11 more months or so.

His outlook is brighter, he’s spending time with his buddies, and most importantly he’s back to being a boy again. :^)

Day 28

Continued from a previous post.

Max, last Friday. Kinda bummed that day, getting tired of the routine. Getting better slowly, but getting better. Starting to work on the emotional scaring at this point. He’s getting some inflammation around the eyes, nose and brow – could be from rubbing or just being exposed to different lotions, SPF, etc.

Day 26

Continued from a previous post.
Day 26

Max is showing signs of improvement for sure. Day by day a little changes for the better physically, but we are noticing signs of frustration becoming more prevalent. The morning application of SPF – morning, afternoon, and evening application of moisturizer, daily dressing changes for his arm, all taking a toll on his usual upbeat, positive attitude. He mentioned to me this afternoon how he missed going out with his classmates for recess. We went to our friends house earlier in the evening but I could tell he would have preferred to wait in the car while we visited – he said very little while we were their and sat by the stairs for a bit waiting for the time to leave. Not our usual Maxinator.

This weekend we’re thinking about cruising out to see his soccer team’s last game. I really think he’s looking forward to seeing his teammates again even though he won’t be playing.

Our friends over at thump coffee dropped off some super tasty cookies for Max from Nancy P’s today. Holy smokes! Those cookies are so good! Thank you Hazel, Kent and thump crew! And thank you for writing a note on the box for Max to share! The chocolate chip cookies made the final presidential debate tolerable.

Max has grown-up a lot these past several of weeks – were not sure if it has to do with what happened to him or if it’s just his age. He’s getting more serious, but still jokes around. His voice is cracking and is starting to sound like, well, a big boy. It’s really cool to see actually. I think he digs it too. He’s one cool little dude.

Day 23

Continued from a previous post.

What a weekend! It started early with another Friday morning visit with Dr. Eshraghi. We left our house in the morning and made it just in time for our 11:30. The ride up was pretty chill, but there was a brief moment when traffic slowed just past Madras – it looked as though a trailer full of pears had somehow dumped its contents all over the highway – that being fresh pears. So for a brief moment we drove over what looked like a river of crushed pears – a green river that bridged the highway severed only by the tracks of north and south-bound traffic. We continued on. The turning leaves just past Mt Hood weren’t as bright as last week but still nice to look at.

Day 20We didn’t know what to expect at Max’s appointment – but we knew that that one area on his arm had not healed as fast or as completely as every other burn had. It was/is still an open wound. The big unanswered question, and the one that was on everyones mind was ‘Is Max going to need surgery?’. Max has been such a good sport throughout this whole time, and had already reluctantly assumend surgery was going to be the outcome, but it was our job to remind him it wasn’t a certainty and that’s why we were going to the doctors again.

We arrived at the hospital (where the doctors office was – on the 5th floor) and made our way to our appointment. The doctors assistant escorted us to a room, somewhat smaller than our previous visit, and asked Max to remove his shirt, he did. She took his temperature and removed his dressing and left. Dr. Eshraghi walked in, smiled briefly and went directly to Max. He looked carefully, thoughtfully, and delivered his conclusion. We had three options. 1st: We do the surgery and remove the burn. 2nd: We wait several weeks, return and do the surgery if the wound is still bothering Max. 3rd: We return after several weeks and if the scar looks fine and does not bother Max, we leave it alone. He looked at us and basically stated that Max’s injury was borderline, but would be fine without immediate intervention – but made it clear that it was our choice. I think he really didn’t want to put us through any more. The hospital already had us booked for surgery that afternoon – so we were prepared, but not really looking forward to another procedure on Max. We chose option three, the doctor nodded and agreed. We liked the doctor – from the moment we met him at The Burn Center, we could tell he cared. He pointed out what to look for in Max’s wound as the weeks progressed, and gave us some information on what things we could do to help his scar heal properly. And with that we left the hospital.

We were all so happy. For the first time in what seemed a long time, we were a happy family again, no worries and most importantly for Max – no surgery. I made calls, sent some texts out about the good news and we set off for lunch.

Lunch was great – we met my cousin Nicole for a tasty lunch at this place on Mississippi called Muddy’s, then we cruised to a comic book store up the street to kill some time before heading downtown and hooking up with our friends Mark and Heather.

We cruised across the river, parked and made our way around the Pearl, stopping at Powell’s and mio gelato for some, well, gelato.

We met up with M & H at their cool studio across from W&KScenic as they were wrapping up their Friday with their cute little Welsh Terrier Layla. We hadn’t seen them since Max was at the Burn Center, but didn’t really have the time or energy to really hang-out, so it was good to see them under less stressfull conditions.

We (Laurie, Max, Ana, and I) stayed at their home for the evening – which was memorable for sure (good times, good times). We had our own room and the kids were set up in a tent – they loved it. Ana spent most of her time playing with Layla, and Max was plugged into the PS3. It felt good to be in Portland with friends – not a hotel, being in such a relaxing environment removed us from our reason being in Portland in the first place and allowed us to chill. Thank you Mark and Heather for having us over and being such wonderful hosts.

Saturday rolled around and we made our way back home. No stops this time, Ana had a soccer game to get to and she didn’t want to miss it. The ride was fast and uneventful. We got home and all was well. Our neighbor Megan had watched Coco and Lucy for us, thank you Megan!

The weekend melted away as I spent most of the time hanging inside with Max, who was taking a day off from having to smear massive amounts of SPF on his face and arm. We played Halo 3 online w/ my brother and Max’s cousin (we kicked butt) and started organizing Legos.

Day 23Max’s burns are for sure getting better, but there’s no doubt there are still marks that tell the tale. Before we left the doctor’s office I had asked how long before his skin started blending back to look as it did before this all happened. I was told he would look ‘normal’ in about twelve months, but there would be a chance that some areas may look a little ‘different’ but time would tell.

I’m positive Max is going to do great in these upcoming months. He’s shown nothing but strength and resolve throughout this whole ordeal. His outlook has been and contiunes to be positive and that counts for alot.

With such a great community of family, friends, and well wishers how could he not get better? :^)

Back from Portland, back to school

Continued from a previous post.
Day 16

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks for sure – but things may be settling back to the way they were, at least at surface level.

Our visit to Portland was a short two day there-and-back adventure mainly to follow-up with Dr. Nick Eshraghi.

We left Bend just before 8am and arrived at the hospital with a little time to spare before our scheduled 11:30 appointment. Pulling up to the Burn Center brought back some memories, but it was good to be back in a strange sort of way. I suppose knowing that we were just passing through made it easier than before. I parked the car in the space right across from the window where had been stationed with Max, we all got out of the car and proceeded into the Burn Center for our appointment – Max covered in sunscreen and wearing a cool looking wide brimmed hat with a long flap on the backside. He looked ready for safari.

As we entered the building we pointed out to Ana where Max’s room was, she smiled. It was a chilling moment – of course the slight drizzle (which never stopped the whole time we were there) added to the effect, but I noticed that all of the windows had their curtains drawn. Not but two weeks earlier it was us in one of those rooms, curtains drawn as well.

Into the Burn Center, through the tunnel and up to the fifth floor to our appointment we went. Once inside we filled out some paperwork and waited. We saw the little girl who had been admitted just days after Max was, she was there for a follow up as well. Her hand and arm were completely wrapped up, but she was smiling. She couldn’t have been any older than three.

It was our turn. It was good to see the doctor again. He came in looked at Max and gave his diagnosis. I had been thinking of this moment for sometime, not knowing for sure if he was going to need more time to heal or need intervention of some sort – surgery. I had the best and worst case scenario worked out. Best case, the doctor would say everything was looking good and Max just needed some more time to heal and he would be fine. Worst case, Max would need surgery involving harvesting skin from one area of his body for another. I hadn’t really thought of anything in-between, which is what the doctor (surgeon) had prescribed.

Day 16Max’s burns on his face, chest and lower arm were healing up just fine. There would be some slight discoloration at first, but over time he would look fine. There may be small areas that leave marks, but overall, with regular application of lotion and SPF, he should be good – with the exception of one area on his upper arm. This area looked the worst from the first day. It looked deeper and rawer than all of his other burns and it just didn’t heal like the rest of them. To no fault of Max – his little body did excellent work repairing what it could – this burn was just too deep.

Dr. Eshraghi gave us a couple of options: Wait a week and see how things progress. Within that time his body could still try to heal. If nothing changes and his wound still appears the same we could wait longer – OR – Remove the burn surgically, like you would remove a really large mole – cut out the area and pull his skin together. Time will tell, but we are preparing for the surgical option.

Max’s other burn marks should blend away in about twelve months or so.

Max has prepared himself for either outcome – it was evident in the doctors office, he wasn’t happy with the diagnosis, but understood the options. I (we) Laurie and I, we were just relieved that for the most part, Max was healing just fine.

After seeing the doctor we had lunch in the hospital’s cafeteria, it was good – but there was an undertone of frustration building up in Max. What we thought was good news, just meant the likely possibility of more things being stuck in him – once again.

We left for our next appointment at the Burn Center. It was good to see some familiar faces – faces of people who had taken care of Max not but a week ago. We gave them a sort of progress report on Max and they were glad to see him doing so well. One of the nurses told Max that he was one of their best patients and that his progress was due in part to his listening and cooperation. I’m so proud of him.

OMSIWe finally left the hospital and decided to visit the OMSI. What a cool place! We had never been before and it was the perfect time to go, it was raining, we had the kids, and some time to kill before check-in. We engaged in some of their exhibits but the best part was taking a tour of the USS Blueback submarine – that was super cool. Max and Ana really got a kick out of it. Max especially, he’s fascinated with anything related to military machinery, aircraft carriers, planes, tanks, and being inside an actual submarine – he was in heaven, although he was somewhat bummed that this particular sub didn’t see any heavy combat, or launch any torpedos at the bad guys, but regardless, he was in awe.

We got to our hotel (The Inn at the Northrop Station) a cool swanky place with super fast access to the hospital, some restaurants, and a very cool street car (which we rode the next day). We checked in unpacked our stuff and realized we were starving. We walked through the pouring rain three blocks west and four blocks north to a Pastini. The funny thing was, the rain didn’t even phase us – we were all having a good time being together, knowing everything was going to be allright and a bowl full of pasta was around the corner (um – and a cold microbrew for mom and dad).

Dinner was great. There’s nothing like having the family together especially for dinner. It would have been even better if there were more of us, but just the four of was great. It’s funny the first Pastini we’ve ever been to was in Bend (they just opened a couple of month’s ago) but over the past couple of weeks, we’ve eaten mostly at their original Portland locations. There was one on NE Broadway close to the hospital (where my sister got us take-out) and the one on NW 23rd close to the hotel. So now in addition to pizza, Max has added Pastini to his favorites. Sure it’s not a food group, but it’s close enough. I suppose it’s a bit of comfort to him/us knowing there’s a little bit of home away from home. Max even requested we stay at the same hotel this Friday because Pastini’s was so close. How can we say no?

We walked back home stopping at a few shops on the way. The rain was still coming down but it didn’t matter. We got to the hotel got ready for bed and whatever the next day had in store for us.

Street CarWe decided at the breakfast table to skip Ana’s soccer game and leave a little later in the morning so we could ride the Portland Streetcar which stopped right in front of the hotel. It was a fun ride – a bit long (1.5 hours) but fun. We rode the whole loop, from NW Portland to SW Portland and back. We saw all sorts of people, it was cool. It kind of made me miss the city and all its offerings, diversity. If we were to ever move back to a city though, I’m not sure Portland would be it but who knows what the future holds, NYC would be a contender for sure.

After the ride we packed it up and headed back south to Bendo. Laurie mentioned stopping off at Timberline Lodge – the thought was immediately appealing as none of us had ever been. The six mile diversion was set and we were on our way.

Timberline LodgeWow. Timberline Lodge was incredible. We totally lucked out too – as we walked in (through the pouring rain) we entered the main lobby area downstairs and were greated by a Forest Ranger, she told us she really wasn’t supposed to be there this late in the season, but happened to be there and was getting ready to give a tour, we jumped at the opportunity. We walked around gazing at the craftsmanship, artistry and just the overall magnificence of the lodge. So cool. So cool that people could get together in such a time to make something so wonderful. We stayed for lunch. The food was pretty good too, especially the meatloaf sandwich, yum. A good diversion for sure.

We wound our way back home, passing the rain and clouds and into clearer skies. As we approached home the past two days had caught up with us and exhaustion was setting in. The kids were just as exhausted as we were as our road trip came to a close. Our fun family time was over and reality hit as we entered Bend – Max was bummed. Bummed that we were back and bummed that his ordeal was far from over. He lashed out at everyone in the car and pushed us to our limits. We had to go back into parental mode. It had been three weeks since Max had even seen any remote side of discipline, but his frustration turned to anger and we had to stop it – off to his room he went, along with his sister – both relegated to clean-up duty and solitary confinement for a short period. We all needed a break.

A couple of hours past and we were greeted by my sister. Two gifts were delivered from our well wishing friends: A home made loaf of bread w/ a special topping from our friend Maeve, and a beautiful gift basket from Gale. Thank you both.

The night melted away. An easy Saturday night. Sunday arrived and it was a mellow day. The highlight was dinner at mom and dad’s. Mom made my favorite – Beef Stroganoff with egg noodles, tasty. Max and Ana liked it too. It was a great dinner – all seven of us once again together, no worries. We shared our stories about our time in Portland and Max’s next steps in regards to his burns. We wathced part of Iron Man, and left early so the kids would get a good nights rest for school – which Max was kind-of excited for.

Today was Max’s first day back at school since the incident. We accompanied him into his class and were greeted by his classmates. There was a big banner in the corner ‘Welcome back Max’, below was a table full of breakfast treats assembled by parents, kids and his teacher Miss Sterling, and assistant. It was great. we could tell Max was feeling good – he was a bit nervous on the way over, but once he walked through that door it was all good. He sat down in front of his classmates and fielded everyones questions. ‘Was it scary?’, ‘Did it hurt?’, ‘What was the best part? The Worst?’ – He answered the questions perfectly all on his own. He was ready and he wasn’t nervous at all. Both Laurie and I stood behind him and smiled – and answered a couple of questions as well. His classmates were great. They were curious, concerned, but most of all understanding.

Laurie and I are so glad to be in such a wonderful community here in Bend and beyond – from Max’s school, classmates, and teachers, to our emergency services network in Bend and in Portland. To our family and friends who have supported us throughout the past several weeks. We are truly thankful for all of you.

For once I am starting to feel like we’ve made it over a huge hurdle and that things are slowly but surely starting to fall in place as they once were. But things have changed. Seeing our son go through something like this was tough and not a day goes by that I don’t think of that day, but what happened has drawn us together, especially as father and son, so I’m thankful that he’s doing good. And look forward to many many more days of building legos and just hanging out.

Healing and dealing

Continued from a previous post.

Over these past several days I have found myself in a here but not here state-of-mind, but interestingly enough focused, if that makes sense. Talking with people, friends, clients, family, creating – getting things done actually, catching up from a week or so off.

But yet during all this time there are more moments than not that my mind wanders and replays bits and pieces of what happened to Max. The explosion – tackling Max – speeding down Mt Washington looking at Ana in the rear view mirror. She was scared, she didn’t say a word as we were racing to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house, and for Ana silence is very rare. Glimpses. Glimpses of what had happened. I recall running down my parents front yard, jumping on their front porch and reaching my hand toward the door, swinging it open – small details like that for some reason have stuck with me. Seeing them casually sitting down, eating dinner and their faces slowly shifting from contentment to a pale shade of disbelief as I explained why I was there – all of a sudden.

There are also the positive moments, lots actually. But still I find that something has changed. Things are clearer now. Big things matter, little things – not so much (However, I still believe that it’s the little things that make all the difference).

Max has been doing so well during this whole ordeal we are so proud of him. He is constantly on my mind day and night – his cute smile lodged in my brain both as is was and as it is now – somewhat discolored, blotchy, and covered in antibiotic goo. He’s a trooper.

Day 13Yesterday was a bit different than most days however. Max has caught cabin fever – and a bit of realization of the consequences of what has happened. Relegated to the indoors, he is no longer able to pursue outdoor activities for some time. Wall-ball against the garage door after school is out, as is tooling around in the alley on his bike. Outdoor recess is out. No more soccer practice, playing games on the weekend or watching his sister score some goals (she got one this past weekend – I wish I was there to see it and so does Max). Hiking, mountain biking, riding bikes, walking down to Nancy P’s for a morning cinnamon bun and bottle of OJ – all on hold. Snowboarding is looking unlikely too – at least for this season. But we will know for sure what the extent of his outdoor access will be tomorrow – when we head back to the Oregon Burn Center in Portland.

Max showed signs of frustration yesterday. To me, it was a good sign. A sign that Max may be entering into another phase of his healing process.

Max had come to the realization that he was confined, and for a 10 year old boy that’s got to be tough. I know it was serious when he told me he was getting bored of video games – that has never happened. The mention of him having to start homework sent him over the edge though.

Not once the whole time in the hospital did he show signs of frustration or even anger about what had happened (he was mostly ticked off at the machines he was hooked up to). Maybe a few instances when we were changing his dressings – but not really. From what I understood this was genuinely Max being bummed out. And for the first time since this all started it was about what had happened.

What made it a reality to him was his inability to go outside. Not his burns. Which are healing so fast it’s truly amazing to see – I’ve done my best to keep a running log of his progress for all to see and have actually switched from camera phone to camera for some more detail. But his burns were the reason he was relegated to staring at the window shades. Once the burns have completely healed we can start putting on some  SPF 1000, sun shades, wide brimmed hat, and long sleeved shirt to protect him from the serious UVs we get here in Central Oregon -he’s ready.

Laurie was able to step out for an hour or so yesterday to get in some yoda thanks to our friend Carol (‘Bober’ as Ana calls her – and we call her that too, it’s just more fun) dropping by and hanging out with Max. I’ve pretty much turned into a slug since this has happened and need to get back in gear and hit the trails again. This weekend for sure!

Today was good for Max, a good day for sure. We built some Legos in the morning before I left and talked about what the day had in store for each of us. I returned early today to hang out with him while Laurie cruised out to see Ana’s soccer practice, which ended up being canceled. But the cool thing was Ana hooked up with another team that didn’t cancel so she got to play anyways. So great. Max’s friend Caleb stopped by too – Caleb had made a couple of cool duct tape bracelets for Max and sent them to Max while he was in the hospital – he put them on as soon as he got them and has only taken them off when hoping in the shower – Caleb told him he didn’t have to take them off at all, they were shower proof. Max was stoked.

Dinner was great – our friends and neighbors Jeff and Kristi came over earlier to drop off some yummy mac & cheese, garlic bread, and steamed broccoli. It was tasty. Thanks guys!

The VP debate was somewhat lackluster – but I loved the fact that Palin said ‘Joe six pack’ that was hilarious – I think I saw that dude when I was Alaska two years ago.

Getting ready to call it a night. Portland roadtrip first thing tomorrow. Max is kind of nervous about seeing the doctor, not so much about seeing the doctor, but more so about possibly needing to have surgery on his arm, he really doesn’t like tubes and needles being put in him. We’ll know more tomorrow. :^)

See Max’s progress here.