So, I was planning to have posted about a wonderful day at Churchill Downs, or Sophie and my exciting time in Chile, or our adventures on Easter Island, but things have been sidetracked this week.
Tuesday night Sophie and I went to her mom’s to have dinner with the rest of the Kim family… Richard, Jinah, and Hogan had come over from LA a couple days before Thanksgiving. It had been too long since we’d had home-cooked Korean food anyways. It was a good meal, and after we ate, we were relaxing for a bit. I’ll tell you how I experienced it:
I was watching TV and suddenly I heard a quick, intense scream. I thought it might be Sophie, and my first thought was that she saw cockroach or something and got startled. Before I could even turn around it was followed by another scream and another, from different people. My next thought is that Hogan had done something to hurt himself, but as I turned I saw he was sitting on the floor and seemed okay. In the kitchen Mrs. Kim and Jinah were holding Sophie’s arms, and they were still screaming. She was facing away, and Richard was running toward the sink with a look of horror on his face. The next thought I had was that she had somehow cut herself terribly with a knife, maybe lost a finger or something. Then they turned her around and I saw her face, which I don’t know quite how to describe properly. The right side was burned, grey, and blistered. Her eyes were tightly closed and she was stiff but trembling as they, still crying out, quickly brought her to the sink and we doused her face with water.
Richard called 911 immediately, and I tried to make sense of what had just happened and to calm Sophie and everyone — Mrs.Kim brought over a towel with ice to press against her face. Apparently some kind of hot liquid had hit her face. Richard handed me the phone and I answered a series of questions… “is she still on fire?”, no, “is she breathing?”, yes. In a moment they had dispatched the paramedics.
Off the phone, I had a chance to check her out more closely. Her eyes were still closed and her nose was the glossy bright pink of raw flesh. Her right cheek and eye were covered in blisters and some kind of thick grey crust. She kept asking “I’m okay, right?” From what I could tell the burn affected only the surface, meaning it hadn’t changed the shape of her face at all. So I told her yes and tried get things calmer. We sat her down on the sofa and gave her a wet towel with ice in it. The 911 folks had said not to put anything on the burn, but she was in excruciating pain at this point and so we let her press the ice pack on her face.
Here’s what it was: a bottle of hair removal wax that Jinah had put in the microwave. Apparently she misread the instructions and put it in too long. When Sophie took the bottle out, it burst.
The paramedics came and took her to the burn center at UMC. It’s kind of a ghetto hospital, but it’s the only burn center in Las Vegas. The paramedics had doped her up good with morphine, so she wasn’t in too much pain. Richard and I stayed with her in the hallway, where she waited for four hours after a brief glance by a doctor who determined her eye was okay. Up to that point we weren’t sure because it was swollen enough that she couldn’t really open it. During those four hours waiting, an amazing assortment of crazies and drug users were carted by: people who complained of serious health trouble but would then argue with the doctor and refuse any kind of test, unconscious individuals who would come to only to say things like “I took a green pill but I don’t know what it was” or “I got high four times tonight, but that’s not why I had the seizure”. Unfortunately these folks seemed to command much more attention than Sophie, so it was pretty frustrating to wait there.
Eventually they took her upstairs where a nurse painfully rubbed off all the wax, revealing lots of raw flesh. Then they coated her face with antibiotic ointment and told us to come back tomorrow when a burn doctor would be there. They also gave us some Percocet so she could sleep. We went home.
We went to see the doctor the next day. She basically instructed us on how to clean and apply ointment to the wound so it wouldn’t get infected. We have to do that every few hours for a week or two. It was classed a second degree burn, which means that the top layer (the epidermis) is destroyed and the second layer (the dermis) is damaged but only to a partial depth. We were told there can be some scarring with this kind of burn, but it should be minimal. All we can do at this point is help it heal.
Sophie’s been doing okay. This has been extremely stressful on her, but she’s a trooper and she was joking even as she waited in the hospital. I’m going to include a picture of her now, on the first day after the burn. Be warned, it is not for the faint of heart, but it gives an idea of what she is going through: Here it is.
And here’s a picture from last week in Chile, in happier times.
I think she’ll be okay, I think she’ll heal up fine. But there’s a bit of a road to that.