Monday, December 8, 2014

Protecting Littles from HOT Things // Olive's Burn Story

As many of you know, Olive badly burned her hand about 10 days ago.  She pulled my very hot curling wand down on top of her left hand.  We were out of town when the accident happened and it was stressful / hard on the whole family.  She had surgery last week and we are hoping to get great news about her hand this week.

I wanted to share my story in hopes that I'd raise awareness so that nothing like this ever happens to your child or children you are around.  Since Olive's accident, I've been told countless stories of other children being burned with coffee, hot fudge, light bulbs, fire places and curling irons.  It can happen in the blink of an eye so if it's HOT keep a very close eye on it.

Protecting little ones from HOT:
// Kids are fast and can figure out ways to get to things they are curious about.
// NEVER leave your HOT hair tools unattended even if they seem out of reach.
// Figure out what the lowest heat setting is that will curl your hair and set it on that.  Those tools get really hot and it's best to keep the temps as low as you can get away with.
// Ask for help or ask someone to keep an eye on your kiddo if you need help especially if you are out of town or in an unfamiliar location.
// The cords for any hot tools are dangerous!  Kiddos can grab them and pull the tool towards them so it's just as important to keep the cord out of reach too.
// Keep hot drinks away from the edge of the table.
// Turn all of your pot handles towards the back of the stoves so they aren't hanging over the edge.
// Make sure everyone is far away from the oven when you go to open it.
// Test water temperatures before washing your kid's hands, putting them in the bath, etc.
// Light bulbs get extremely hot so keep lamps out of reach.
// Fireplace screens get really hot so always watch your little ones around them.
// Keep candles up high
// Grill with caution when tiny hands are near

A few other tips:
// When you travel, make sure have your pediatrician contact numbers, insurance cards and social security number for your child.
// If your child should ever get burned, run their burn under cool water.  Do not put ice on it because   you'll likely damage the burned skin.
// Call your pediatrician if you are at all concerned about a burn.  I learned that kid skin is thinner than adults so burns are extra severe for them.
// Go get opinions, second opinions and see specialists to help deal with the burn.
// If you have a chance, pack snacks, drinks, bottles, favorite stuffed animals, pacis, and a few toys because trips to the ER involve a ton of waiting and more waiting.
// Also pack you kiddo socks for any hospital visit because they'll put them in a gown and it's chilly.

I realize it is impossible to protect little ones for every danger out there, but I'm hoping that if I take a few extra steps I'll be able to avoid anything like this ever happening again.  I feel just terrible about the whole thing and I'd love to keep it from happening to another little one.

I decided to write out a play by play of our last week mostly for myself to record the events.
I realize it's a lot to read,
but I wanted to have her story written down.
FYI: There aren't any gross pictures because nobody wants to see those.
Feel free to skip and just reread my above message if the full story is too much :)

10:30am I was getting ready up in my room at my parents house.  I'd just done my makeup and was almost done with my hair.  I stepped out of the bathroom to get dressed and made sure to push my curling wand back as far as possible on the counter.  As I was getting dressed, I hear Olive scream in the bathroom.  I ran the few steps and was horrified to see the curling wand had fallen on her.  I grabbed it off of her and scooped her up.  I checked her head for burns, examined her and then immediately saw she had burned her hand badly.  She had on a thick shirt so it may have saved her from burning in other spots on her arm.

I yelled for Kevin to get some ice, which she would have nothing to do with, then we took her downstairs to show my mom.  My mom thought we should probably take her in to the hospital because it looked bad, helped us run cool water over her hand and I called her pediatrician in Mississippi.  It was the holiday weekend so I got directed to an after hours nurse.  I left a detailed message and hoped I'd hear back quickly.  Within 10 minutes my phone was ringing and I was explaining how Olive's burn happened and describing the burns.  She said we needed to head to the hospital because the burn on her wrist was so large and still white.  The three burns on her first three fingers were already blistering.

We packed up and headed to the closest ER.  Olive was crying and pulling on her burned hand.  It looked so painful and it was awful to see her so uncomfortable.  I was replaying the accident in my head and beating myself up the whole time.  There was nothing we could do but hurry to the hospital.  Kevin's dad was on-call so we called to tell him we were coming in with Olive.  He let the pediatrician on call know we were on the way and said he'd see us there.  We got checked in and Olive was slightly distracted by the fish tank.

We didn't have to wait too long to be called back.  They took her temp and got her vitals which made her mad.  We were ushered back to a small room to wait for the doctor.  As we were waiting, Kevin's dad came by to see us.  He said he was glad we brought her in and that she really burned herself good.  Olive was curious about the room and wanted to play with everything.  It proved to be a good distraction for her.  Kevin and I were worried and had a harder time focusing on anything but her injury.  Opening cabinets, spinning the wheels on the hospital bed and play with the toys I brought helped pass the time.  She snacked and still pulled at her hand a bit.

We were seen by a few doctors.  They all agreed that it was a bad burn and decided they'd use some heavy cream on her burns, bandage her up and send us home with a pain medicine prescription.  They were no strangers to seeing little ones with hand burns, but they did say the kids usually burn the palm of their hand because they grab the tool.  So Olive's case was a little unusual.  Olive was completely over being confined to our room and nap time was quickly approaching.  She started throwing a fit, screaming and was nearly inconsolable.  Kevin and I were both stressed, exhausted and wished we could make it all better.  Time tends to crawl by when you are waiting in the ER.  Olive finally settled down in time for a nurse to come in to bandage her.

Kevin sat on the hospital bed and held her on his lap.  He held her still the best he could.  I helped the nurse open packages and she held on to Olive's arm.  The nurse was young and seemed annoyed which didn't make the situation any better.  The cream could not go anywhere but her burns so we had to be really careful.  Olive was red faced, exhausted and uncomfortable.  She just wanted to be snuggled so Kevin handed her off when the nurse finished.  They loaded us up with supplies, prescriptions and said to please come back tomorrow so they could recheck her since we were out of town and wouldn't be able to see her pediatrician.

We headed back to my parent's house and Olive stayed asleep.  I was home alone with Olive for a few minutes and shed a bunch of tears over the whole thing.  How could I be so careless??  Why wasn't I watching her more carefully??  So many questions and no good answers.  She napped for about 4 hours and woke up in good spirits.  She visited with my parents, played a little and took her medicine.  She seemed annoyed by her bandage but was quickly adapting.  We continued to watch her closely and stay on top of her medicine because we did not want her to be in pain.  We were all worn out and slept hard.

We woke up the next day, relaxed a bit and took her back to the ER.  She got to see the same doctor who said the burn was looking better, but was still serious.  He had the nurses rebandage her and they were really sweet to Olive.  They were all moms and really related well with kids.  The doctor gave us instructions to head to her pediatrician ASAP and possibly visit the burn center in Jackson when we got back.  The idea of needing to go to the burn center made me anxious so I prayed we wouldn't need to go.

Olive went straight to sleep after leaving the hospital.  I think she was exhausted from the whole last 24 hours.  She woke up feeling good so we headed on a little road trip to The Polar Express train ride.  It might seem weird to take her on this, but we'd been looking forward to it since July.  The cousins on my side were all going, wearing matching pjs and we thought we'd give it a try.  Olive napped again on the way up and did well on the train ride.  She's a busy girl so her biggest complaint was being confined to our bench seat.  She got to see Santa, eat a cookie and had a window seat for the train ride.  We hurried home to hang out with Kevin's parents and Olive touched every ornament on their trees.

SUNDAY the 30th
We woke up and had to rebandage Olive's hand because she'd been pulling at the gauze.  We loaded up our car, headed to a quick brunch with our parents and then headed back to MS.  Olive was a great traveler and it seemed like she was in very little pain.  It was an easy day of travel and I was so thankful for that.

I got up early to call Olive's pediatrician to get her seen ASAP.  Turns out her doc was out for the next two weeks, but they could get me in to see someone else in the practice.  We headed in for our 9:30 appointment.  Olive did great and let the doctor look at her burn.  The doctor said it was a serious burn and she wanted us to be seen at The Burn Center in Jackson.  My heart sank because I knew things were serious.  Not that I didn't think they were serious before, but hearing that she'd make me an appointment in the next day or two made things really real.  She also checked Olive's ears and said they were both perfectly healed from her double ear infections a few weeks ago.

We left her office and headed home for the day.  I called and texted family to update them, cancelled all plans for the week and waited to hear from the burn center.  They never called so I called them that afternoon.  They listened to my story, saw the referral and made Olive an appointment for 8:00am the very next morning.

We woke up before 7:00am to head in to our appointment that was 30 minutes away.  We were thankful to have a burn center in Jackson, but I was unfamiliar with the area and wanted to give myself a little extra time.  Kevin had to work so Olive and I headed in together.  We were a little early and I had lots of paper work to fill out.  We finished everything and just waited our turn.  As we were waiting, I glanced around the room.  The burn center was full of people with all kind of burns - faces, hands, feet, legs, etc.  There were a few other kids with bandaged hands and everyone kind of had a sad demeanor.  The room was really quiet except for a TV and people didn't really make conversation. 

We hurried back when they called our name.  I had to retell the story to the nurse and got a bit teary eyed.  I still felt terrible about the whole thing and things felt very serious at the burn center.  The nurse was sweet and reassured me that accidents happen.  She said she needed me to hold Olive so she could look at and photograph her burns.  Olive was a dream patient and did really well.  The nurse looked things over and went to consult the doctor.  The doctor came in next to say that Olive DEFINITELY needed debridement surgery for her burns to help give her the best chance to heal on her own.  She said they would normally keep her today and do the surgery right away but they were busy reattaching a little boy's fingers.  That put things in perspective a bit as we made plans to return at 5:00am the following day for surgery.

My head was still spinning at the idea of my 18 month old having surgery.  I really hoped they would clean her up a bit, rebandage her and say she was going to be okay.  No such luck. When she left the room I started to cry.  I was overwhelmed and so sad.  I was beating myself up for the whole accident and couldn't believe her burns were so serious.  Thankfully it took the nurse a while to return so I had time to process things a bit.  Olive was completely oblivious and just wanted to play peek a boo so she could say "I see you" to me.

The nurse returned explained no food or drink for Olive after midnight, gave me a giant list of instructions and answered my questions.  We checked out and I started texting/calling family and friends to update them.  It was hard to explain everything so I did my best and we got on the road.  As we were driving home I got lots of text saying people were praying for Olive and our family.  I started crying again because I was thankful for the support.

We got home and I was still trying to wrap my head around the plans for the next day.  Kevin and I were finalizing plans and digesting the details of our appointment.  I emailed my Bible Study ladies and my MOPS group asking them to pray for Olive.  They did and then I got a phone call from one of the ladies.  Her husband is a plastic surgeon and she offered to let him take a look at Olive to confirm that she needed surgery.  We appreciated this offer, but we'd already put Olive to bed.  I texted her pictures and she texted right back that he thought Olive should definitely have the surgery.  This was really reassuring and we all headed to bed early after packing for many unknowns about our plans for the following day.

We woke up at about 3:45am, got ourselves ready, got Olive out of bed at 4:25 and were on the road at 4:30am.  Kevin's boss gave him a work at home day so he could be with us.  I really don't think I could have made it through the day on my own.  Kevin and I both had a pit in our stomach because of all the uncertainty of the day ahead.  The drive was pretty quiet and we were both nervous.  Olive, on the other hand, was chatty and it hurt my heart to see how clueless she was about what was about to happen.  It was extremely foggy out, but we didn't have too much trouble getting there.  We got checked in, more paperwork, new areas of the hospital and into our room around 6:00am.  We changed Olive into a hospital gown and she looked so cute.  It was hard to believe she was going to have surgery in just a little bit.  She was chatty, happy and wanted to play with everything in the room.  The automatic paper towel machine, tv remote and rocking recliner were the highlights.

We had a parade of hospital staff come in and out of the room to get information.  We were a bit surprised that things took so long or that they had a baby waiting for 2 hours to go to surgery.  I'm glad we were the first patients of the day because waiting with a toddler is no fun.

It was finally time to head upstairs to the surgery floor.  I was doing okay until they wheeled in the surgery crib bed.  I got misty eyed and knew I had to be strong.  I told myself I didn't want to cry in front of Olive and upset her.  I tried to think happy thoughts and pray for Olive to distract myself from crying.  We arrived on the fourth floor and got settled in our holding room.  We met the anesthesiologist, nurses and Olive's surgeon.  They explained everything and we got a little more anxious.

They gave Olive some nose spray anxiety medicine to relax her so that she would be nice and calm before surgery.  It burned for a little bit so she kept coughing and gagging afterwards.  We felt bad, but within five minutes she was starting to chillax :)  She was wobbling around, swaying in our arms, having swimmy eyes, smiling and giggling.  She was completely loopy and it definitely lightened the mood.  She was like a little drunk baby and was being so silly.

Kevin asked all kind of questions and it was almost go time.  We brought bun-bun (Olive's favorite bunny) and her paci for her to have in recovery.  The staff assured us they'd take care of her as if she was their own.  They also said they'd call us to keep us updated and that her surgery should take about 30 minutes.  We handed Olive off to the nurse and she just smiled at us.  They walked down the hallway and we headed back down to our room.  We waved by, she was fine and I cried as we walked back to her room.

We got three phone calls during her surgery and Kevin always jumped up to answer.  1. Anethesia is going great, 2. She's done.  Surgery went well.  Expect her fingers to heal great on their own and we'll keep an eye on the spot by her thumb.  It was the deepest so we'll reassess next week to see how it's healing.  Leave her bandages on for one week.  We will take them off at her follow up appointment.  3. She's doing well in recovery and we will bring her down to her room shortly.  We were relieved and could stop nervously pacing the room.

Four or five nurses returned her to our room.  She was babbling to them and seemed really happy.  They commented on how sweet she was and how she had so much to talk to them about.  We were feeling really thankful and optimistic.  They handed her off to me and I realized she still had her IV in and they needed to get her vitals.  She got real mad real quick and we were frustrated that they didn't try and do all this when she was so happy.  We had to hold her down with flailing arms and legs to get the IV out and they could not get vitals for the life of them.  So they left us in the room with a screaming/hot mess of a toddler and it took about 30 minutes for her to settle down.

Thankfully Daniel Tiger was on TV so I rocked her and we watched that together.  She finally drank water and calmed down.  Kevin had to request pain medicine for her because they didn't give her any.  They kept telling us she wasn't in pain, but we weren't convinced and wanted her to have something.  They asked if we brought any pain meds and I looked at them like they were crazy.  I would have brought something along had I known I'd be in charge of her post surgery pain management.  Olive was acting totally out of character so I think the meds helped.  They came in a little later and got her vitals and discharged us.

We headed home and all took naps.  Olive pretty quickly adjusted to life with her giant hand bandage.  We stayed home all week to help protect her hand and are hoping she's doing some super healing under all that gauze.

Olive was boycotting her nap, got mad and ripped off all of her gauze.  Luckily we had her video monitor on and quickly ran upstairs.  She did not touch her wounds and it ended up being a quick fix of just rewrapping her hand.  It gave us quite a scare and we are keeping a closer eye on her.

We have a follow up appointment tomorrow and are praying for great news!!


  1. My heart just bleeds for both you and sweet Olive. I cannot imagine what this feels like as a mama to go through nor can I imagine the pain for a little one. I've personally suffered terrible burns, so understand as an adult, but for your sweet little, I just want to give her a big hug :) Will be praying for swift healing!

  2. Awwh! Olive is one tough little girl! She is blessed to have amazing parents like you! Don't beat yourself up too much, it was an accident. It just happened in a split second. Y'all took the preventative measures to make sure she was ok. Prayers that she will heal completely! :)

  3. So scary. Great tips for others though. I'm glad to hear that she's on the mend!


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