Nichole the… Burn Victim Part 2

It was May 6, 2018. It was 1:45 AM. It was 8 hours and 15 minutes after my burn. My boyfriend was sitting next to me, for the first time in the past 8 hours it felt like time was normal. The seconds were not going slower or faster like they were before. Time was just passing and I could see his face and his smile trying to convince me that ill be ok. He brought my phone charger and I was able to have a text conversation with my mom and reassure her I was in good hands and he was with me and she should sleep. My mom is never up that late, I was worried about her. I knew my boyfriend was tired because he had woken up early that day to go to work. He sat in this really uncomfortable looking chair next to me with his back against this white curtain that separated us from the next trauma patient. A young doctor came down and told us he worked with the burn unit and wanted to see my hand and how bad it was. He told me he would have to scrape my hand, I had no feeling in my hand. The hot oil saturated my hand for over 8 hours, and my nerves were affected. At this point, I was only on a saline IV drip because they were trying to hydrate me, and I refused pain meds because I found them unnecessary . The doctor filled up this white plastic little tub with some kind of pink solution and wheeled it over on a small silver table. The doctor took out, what I thought was gauze, dipped it in and started to scrape the white fried skin off of my hand. Slowly, gently. It just so happened that my boyfriend was sitting on my right hand side.. my bad hand side. I just remember watching, maybe a little too close, my skin just falling off with each swipe and it was mesmerizing. My boyfriend and I had front row views of the skin that was hidden under this disaster. I was breathing slowly and controlled as I watched patiently, until he got to my index finger. He pulled the bad skin too far and yanked healthy, unburned, unsinged, unnecessary pain, skin. I wanted to throw up. I felt like the wind had been stolen out of my lungs and I felt the tears come back up like a rush of water. It bled, it bled a lot. I could see in my boyfriends eyes that “oh, fuck” look. I might have even said those words out loud. I took a breathe, and another and another until I could manage my pain and let him keep going, he was almost done. I was happy when he said he was done, I felt like I could relax a little and there wouldn’t be another chance for him to pull good skin. He explained to me that the white is the deepest part of the burn. There was a little bit of red that surrounded circles of white. The doctor pushed down on the white parts, he asked me if I could feel it. I couldn’t feel anything. I looked at him puzzled. He pushed again in a different spot and I felt nothing. There were so many thoughts going through my head, what does this mean, why cant I feel anything, when does it come back. Can I please just cuddle with my boyfriend and fall asleep? He said he would check on my room in the burn unit, that was around 2:30 am. It was just me, my boyfriend and everyone else dealing with trauma. They had the lights down low which was such a change because everywhere else seemed so bright. They told me I should get some sleep and I told them I wasn’t able to but to get a blanket and pillow for my boyfriend because he was exhausted from working all day and now being here with me through the night. He slept, he looked so peaceful and I couldn’t help but smile cause he was there. I fell in and out of sleep. When I would lay on a chord connected to a monitor or IV wrong it went off like I was robbing a bank. I texted my mom and told her I was in a good place and that she could come see me tomorrow and I would let het know what was going on. My mom never stays up that late. I laid there and laid there and laid there. Finally, around 4 am a nurse came down and said the room was ready for me and we could go up. Freida, that sweet, sweet nurse named Freida. I instantly felt comfortable and like I was home when she introduced herself with her smiling face and giggling speech. I caught her up on what happened and she caught me up on what was going to happen from now on. She looked at my hand and laughed at the wrap that the doctor attempted to do on my hand as it unraveled itself. There it was, my pink and white hand.

I hated that yellow gauze that was left on my finger. I hated the way it pulled where my good skin and new bad skin met. She taught me how to wrap my wound and said there would be a doctor doing rounds in the morning to see how my progress was. Freida turned one of the chairs into a fold out bed so my boyfriend would have a more comfortable place to sleep. We had the whole room to ourselves, it was quiet and we told jokes and said sweet nothings and whispered goodnight. I didn’t sleep much, I kept waking up to make sure my boyfriend was still breathing. It was around 7 AM, Freida unwrapped my hand cautiously and told me the doctor would be in soon. A little bit later a doctor walked in looked at my hand and told me he wanted to send me home to see how my hand heals on its own. I would need to make and appointment for that Thursday to check on it, it was Sunday. Frieda worked to get me released and reminded me of how to rewrap my hand, how to clean it. I was worried about leaving with an open wound on my hand, but that’s what was suggested by my doctor. I wasn’t prescribed any medicine. By the time we got out of the hospital it was 11 AM. My boyfriend helped me into his truck and we were on a mission to get some delicious food. I babied my hand, I didn’t let it touch anything and kept it close to me because I was so terrified to make it worse. We had steak, my family was texting me wondering when I would be home so they could see me. When we arrived to our house my parents, sister, brother in law and nieces were waiting to give me a big embrace and ask questions and everything else to catch up on all the info. We all sat on the couch and my mom looked at me with the eyes only a mother could give her kid, I was exhausted and needed to sleep. They left and I fell asleep for a while. I woke up and it was dark out and I needed to shower and wash my hand. I have never needed anyone in my adult life have to help me with what I thought was such a minimal task. I made it into the shower and let the water hit my hand and I cried, I couldn’t wash my hair, I couldn’t wash my own body. I didn’t know how to use my left hand because I had spent my life depending on my right hand, my now bad hand. He came in and saved my from my disappointment in the shower, this man loves me, that’s all I could think as he helped me through another hard part of this injury. After the shower it was time to show what I had learned from the nurses and I rewrapped my hand with the help of my boyfriend and we went to bed. I didn’t sleep much, again. I woke up to him leaving to work and a little while later my mom text me to take me back to my job to get my car that was left behind. She picked me up and while we were driving I put my arm down in a resting position and I felt this pressure I hadn’t felt before. I lifted it and it went away, down back again, up and gone, I kept picturing a lava lamp with every move. I told my mom and she looked at me and said that isn’t good, I already knew that. I called the burn clinic and let them know that I was scheduled to see the doctor Thursday but I needed to see them today. I now had an appointment for that day, we picked up my car and my mom followed me to the hospital. We waited, I could feel the pressure building. Finally, we were sent to a room and I met my new doctor, Dr. Grecia. He took a look at my hand and asked if I had asked to be sent home. No. He shook his head said I shouldn’t have been discharged. He took a moment, then said he wanted to admit me and perform surgery that day if he was able to get an operating room. My hand was oozing and doubled in size, it was infected.


Nichole the… Burn Victim Part 1

It was my third day. It was May 5, 2018. It was 5:30 p.m. I was working sauté and another cook who was hired the day after me was working grill next to me. The next few minutes feel like only segments of memory, like snapshots. I remember facing the stove and some one reaching in front of me to get a pan, I turned to look at tickets and begin to prepare my orders. I got plates setup. When I went back to the stove there was a cast iron pan smoking, I knew it could be bad if it was on the flame much longer. I reacted quickly to avoid a fire and grabbed the pan off the stove with a towel in hand. I didn’t know that the person who had put it there put too much oil, I didn’t know that the oil would spill on my hand and after I felt that oil hit the top of my hand I only saw snapshots. I saw my lead grab my arm and ask if I was ok, the next thing I knew I was across the kitchen and by the First Aide box trying to convince her I was ok. I remember sitting in the office waiting for the chefs to come and decide what they should do with me. I started telling jokes, I started to shake, I was embarrassed and not understanding the severity of what had just happened. I was told that burn cream isn’t going to do anything because the oil was frying my hand. I looked at it, it was white. One of the chefs got a bucket full of ice and water and told me to dunk my hand in it. I couldn’t feel the cold, I couldn’t feel anything on my hand anymore. I remember looking at the bucket and seeing particles of food crusted on the sides of it. I thought to myself about how my hand could get infected because that was unsanitary, and not wanting to say anything because I didn’t want to look weak. I remember telling my sous chef there is no crying in the kitchen, I held the tears back that I refused to cry. I was told to get into my executive chef’s car with this bucket of ice that my hand was dunked into to go to Urgent Care. The drive felt like forever, she was telling me about a burn she had, I didn’t care. There was a really young boy in urgent care coughing and his mom was holding him and I remember trying to keep a positive face so he wouldn’t get scared of my fried hand. They took me to a room and inspected my hand, I didn’t have the ice bucket, they said they would be right back. The feeling came back, not quickly, but it made time seem so slow and fast at the same time. I was alone, I let a few tears fall while my body started to shake again. I called my boyfriend and kept a good voice on so I wouldn’t worry him. He asked what I needed, I told him I don’t know, I’ll be ok and ill send him some photos.

My phone rang, my boyfriend said, babe that is really bad. How do I get to you? What’s going on, are you ok?? I cried a little more and I told him I’m trying to be tough and I would call him when I was done at urgent care. We got off the phone, I could hear it in his voice. I could hear that I should have been really upset, that I should have been crying my eyes out but I pushed through. The doctor came in and they had the look on their face that I felt from my boyfriend’s voice. He saw my few tears I let leak as he told me he couldn’t do anything for me and I need to go to the hospital because it was that bad. I took a breathe, he told me to take a breathe. I told him it was my third day at this job and that I didn’t want my chef to see me crying. He said ok, you got this, breathe. Deep breathe, get up, wipe my face and start walking out. My boyfriend called again in concern, I told him I was going to a hospital and that I didn’t know which one, I told him to call my parents but not to alarm them. I see my chef and she asked what the doctor said, I need to go to the hospital its too severe to treat here. She told me she had already dumped the bucket of ice water because she thought I’d be treated there. We found a hospital, we drove about twenty minutes. The feeling was rushing back into my hand like it was on fire. I had it in front of the air conditioning vent cause I didn’t know what else to do. She informed me that the other chefs had asked who put the pan there, he didn’t step up, he didn’t admit that he put a quarter cup of oil into a pan instead of only a tablespoon. I was so upset, I couldn’t believe that they didn’t take responsibility, I couldn’t believe she was telling me this right now as if waiting for me to blame myself. My hand was on fire and I just wanted to be alone and not alone at the same time. We finally made it to the emergency room and I stood in line with my hand on fire now and my body freezing. Still trying to play it cool and act like I am tough and I am gonna be fine. The nurse behind the counter saw my hand and called me over immediately he started taking my blood pressure and temperature. I feel like he could see in eyes that I was holding back tears. He said we need to get her to a room we can do intake there. The hallways felt like forever, everything looked new and empty like no one else knew this hospital existed except for me and my chef who was still by my side. It was 7 pm. My chef had been on the phone with another and I could tell she was getting antsy. I was getting hooked up to monitors and an IV, my phone was dying and my mom was calling me and my boyfriend was texting me and I just wanted to fall into a hole and never get out. My chef was watching me like I was going to say everything is fine. So, I did, I told her she can go back and I’ll be ok because I had nurses and doctors to take care of me now. She waited though, she wanted to see what the doctor would say. I don’t remember who the doctor was, but I remember her telling me that they wouldn’t be able to help me at the hospital because I have a significant burn and I need to be in a burn unit. I had the option of having some one come get me to take me to the burn unit or by ambulance. Ambulance, I knew that would be the most sterile way to go. I was able to tell my chef she can go and I’ll take it from here because now we have things figured out, it was 8:30 pm. She wished me luck and walked out the room, as soon as I couldn’t see her back I turned my head towards the nurse that was checking my vitals and I ugly cried. All the tears I had been holding back for the last three hours of pain came shooting out of my eyes. And all I could say was my career is over, I can’t believe this happened it was my third day, I have been doing this 15 years and this is how it ends. My mom kept texting and I told my boyfriend that I was going to be transferred by ambulance to the burn unit closer to our home. I talked to my mom on the phone and now I could hear it in her voice, the concern, the worry. I didn’t know how to tell her that I was ok through the tears that I was crying and the pain I wasn’t feeling anymore in my hand. I didn’t want pitty eyes, I was so angry. My phone was close to dying. It was 9:30 pm. I don’t remember what was on the TV. I could smell the cooked food smell on my clothes. It felt like forever waiting for the ambulance. Around 10 pm I was told that the ambulance was there and being sterilized. 10:30 pm and my boyfriend was trying to find out when he should head over because he was waiting for me to get into the ambulance. It was 11 pm, and I, at this point, thought the ambulance had left without me. I could hear the gurney coming down the hall. I felt hope. I texted my boyfriend that I was finally going by ambulance. They helped me get onto the gurney and we were headed there. We were on our way to the right place, the place where I’d be able to hug my boyfriend and take a breathe. I asked the paramedics if there was any way for them to charge the phone and they did. I felt like if it died he wouldn’t be able to find me and I would be alone and my hand wouldn’t stop burning and if I could just hug my boyfriend everything would be ok, but if my phone died how would he know to go to the trauma unit first. It was charging, a paramedic started asking me questions about my burn. He told me that I should have been airlifted when it had happened. It was almost midnight, it took almost an hour to get to the right hospital. We pulled into the ambulance bay and I saw my boyfriend out the back window. I saw him with this look on his face trying to see if I was ok. I wanted to scream to him that I was finally there but security made him go to the front of the hospital. My heart sank. I told the paramedic that I needed my boyfriend. The trauma nurse came out to help unload me. I told him my boyfriend is somewhere and I need him. The gurney hit the double doors and I was now in trauma. I told anyone that came to check on me that I needed my boyfriend and he is here and I need him now because this happened at 5:30 pm and it is now past midnight. One of the nurses found him and brought him to the back, he hugged me so tight, he had that look on his face that the sound of his voice had told me he had. In that moment, when he hugged me, I took a breathe.

Nichole the.. cyclist.

Start the school day with friends, end the school day crying, go home and play with friends, go home crying. That’s what I remember for most of my childhood when it came to friendship. It never mattered to me how bad these people made me feel, the next day I was back by their side like their words hadn’t cut me like daggers. There was one time we were at school for girl scouts, every girl in my class was a girl scout. I remember it had been a pretty tough day for me and the girls I hung out with were talking to my big sister.. not even just talking, they looked like every word coming out of her mouth was a rainbow. I was so annoyed and mad because I always wanted to be looked at like that and my sister did it so effortlessly. So, I got on top of the yellow monkeys that were in their view, my legs hung over one bar and my arms over the next. I was trying so hard to be cool, instead I fell right onto my back. Their laughter was almost more paralyzing to me then the breath that I wasn’t able to breathe. It wasn’t until my sister was hovering over me to make sure I was ok that they stopped laughing. I have never seen people pretend care so easily. The next day of school, went back to being friends and the next afternoon, went home crying. At home, we had neighbor kids, they also looked up to my sister, and they also teased me almost everyday. And everyday, I went back and rang their doorbell to play. I don’t know if it was because I was lonely or pathetic, but I never really stuck up for myself, just return to the ones that hurt me and apologize to them about crying and beg for them to accept me for another day. The worst it ever got was seventh grade. By this time I had already written a few goodbye letter, cut myself, starved myself and whatever else a preteen girl could do to her own body. I started therapy at school because of my actions, stupidly the school allowed for one of my bullies to join me. I remember finding out everything that I had told in session my whole class knew. Not just that, she added, she told people I was being promiscuous with boys behind the movie theatre and where ever else her imagination put me. I hadn’t even had my first kiss. My parents took me out of private school for eighth grade, to start fresh. There are times when I wish I could talk to little me and tell her that I should just make new friends that were kind, caring and accountable. Then again, I wouldn’t be who I am today if I didn’t experience all of the heartache that I had known as a kid.

Nichole the.. Theresa Marie Bulisco

The first three days of my life I was Theresa Marie Bulisco, I had two older sisters, one older brother, a birth mother and a birth father. I was born in a hospital that no longer stands and the only place that Theresa existed. At least, that’s how I saw it. Twenty years later I received a phone call informing me about the siblings I had, the birth parents that let me go and the human I was for three days. I found out that in those three days Theresa was almost kidnapped because my oldest sister feared that I would grow up into the same life she had escaped. One of my aunts had also offered to adopt me so that I would at least still be in the family. The entire time I had been growing into Nichole, an entire family was dreaming of Theresa.