I’m sitting here writing this blog post with one hand and a few interval chicken pecks from my left hand. It’s been about 24 hours since I was on fire. That’s not a figure of speech this time nor is it an exaggeration. Last night I was finishing up the final cleaning/organizing of our apartment. Our week of STP training, plus getting campus ready had left a few things still needing to be done. I was moving items from above the stove in the cabinet (where I’d quickly stashed them when we moved in to get them out of the floor) to the pantry. I pulled a jar of elderberries out and jar of liniment, (at the time I was deciding what to move and what to get rid of). In that moment, Payton was at the table watching me. Apparently the jars had touched at some moment and the mason jar had busted a odd hole in it’s side and began to leak liquid out onto me, this spilled onto the stove all within seconds and the pilot light caught it on fire, sending a fireball of flames upward. I turned from the flames and heat feeling pain and trying to get away only to discover that I was actually on fire. Payton later said that over 2 feet of flames were coming off of my arm. As I started screaming, “Payton! I’m on fire, I’m on fire!” and trying to pat myself out, which is hard when one hand is on fire, Payton was frantically patting me down. I ran to the sink as Payton yanked the fire extinguisher off the wall and did exactly as he’d been trained in all of our orientations last year. I knew I had to get it immersed (thanks to hours of reading the section on burns in “Be Your Own Doctor”), but there was glass and such everywhere, so I ran into the hall and mentally could not decide where the best place would be to get water–the bathroom or the Miller’s apartment…the sink was too small in the bathroom to fit my arm and the toilet was not an option, so I ran into their apartment and doused my arm in water, yelling for her to plug the sink, which was beyond my mental capacity at that moment. It all happened in about 30 seconds.
That was really hard for me to write. My stomach feels all clenched and yucky inside. I didn’t want to have to relive it later so I decided to do it now and get it over with. The rest of the story ended up with the staff showing up, helping us evaluate the situation and then heading to Urgent Care nearby after we determined it wasn’t 3rd degree burns. I got seen pretty much as soon as I signed the papers after I told the lady that I’d been on fire. It was still feeling hot when we returned home, so we went out and bought some aloe juice and soaked it for a while–we were up super late. There were sooooo many people who stepped in and cleaned up (fire extinguisher dust is super messy)–our neighbors were all amazing and helped us clean, reminded Payton to put on shoes (because of glass), donated granola bars, and washed our dishes. The single guys were an irreplaceable help–it was an amazing team effort. I know this sounds strange, but I cannot help but see the incredible mercy in the whole situation. It could have been so much worse. It was alcohol so it burned quick and fast (unlike oil), my hair was pulled back, my clothes didn’t catch on fire, we didn’t burn anything in the apartment (although we did singe the corner of one of the cabinets), and I am in very little pain. It was a seemingly freak accident, yet, God’s merciful, sovereign hand, along with the prayers of my husband and other and the fresh memory of James 1, calmed my heart and allowed me to sleep.
I knew from the beginning that the “Why?” questions needed to be removed from my mind because they have never really done me much good. I am to “consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials.” I cannot explain how valuable the memorization of God’s Word is. I felt anchored to truth and calmed by the Author Himself as I dwelt on it. I could write much more on what I’ve learned in the last 24 hours, but I’ll leave that for later.
I did sustain 1st and 2nd degree burns from the tip on my finger to the middle of my upper arm. Most of it is first degree, and there is a spiral of 2nd degree twisting around my arm. I am actually in hardly any pain. I’m sleepy, both of us are. Instead of going to class we had to spend the entire day cleaning our apartment from top to bottom as the dust from the extinguisher was on and in everything. I think the “apply liberally” concept is appropriate in the case of fires. It took us 8 hours to finally clean everything. In spite of all the collateral damage, I am looking forward to writing, “My arm was on fire,” on my excuse slip for why we didn’t show up for our classes.
Payton has been the fullest of blessings to me in all of this–both of us have been drawn closer to each other and the Lord. We’d appreciate your prayers as we’re only two days into the semester and the homework is not light by any means. Romans, Family Relationships and Angelology are intense, but we’re excited because of the richness of the Word of God. James says, “Therefore laying aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility, receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.”