Friday, April 23, 2010

Ever heard the saying, “things always happen in threes?”

Well, lets just say that after my rough start to the new year, I definitely have had my fill of “threes.” Let me explain….


Anyone in this area will remember that on January 29, 2010 the skies opened up and we had a pretty good snow fall. It knocked out power all over WNC. Because of the weather, I didn’t attempt to travel over Cowee Mtn to go home, so I stayed with the Hopkins on Tilley Creek. I’m kind of glad that I did….I definitely would have been stranded at the cabin, in the dark, and alone for the night. It was fun sitting in their living room swapping stories over candle light and laughing. Michelle and I even went sledding down the hill.

Speaking of which, we were bundled up like crazy. We drug a 1946 (I just made that year up…but it was old) metal Coke Cola sign up the hill and then flipped it over and took a couple rides down the hill. We never really made it very far due to the snow being so powdery, but we were too frozen to get a real packed down run going. So we gave up and went back inside to warm up.

The next morning, we made a 9 course meal (not really, but it felt like it) for breakfast. Michelle made coffee over the woodstove, I used the grill to scrambled eggs before the gas ran out, I made biscuits in the woodstove, and hash browns and sausage on top of the woodstove. Definitely felt like a Pioneer Woman at that moment. It was pretty phenomenal.

After sitting around Matt and I decided that we were about bored to tears b/c we still didn’t have power, so we ventured out to town. We went to Main Street and done a little shopping. I found a great deal on a Columbia micro fleece (50% off) [this will be important later on] and we got some pjs at the Life is Good Store. We decided we’d go visit Michael, Kristy & Alannah. We got to their house and Michael & Alannah were sledding in the back yard. They had made a snowman earlier, he had a “snow-hawk,” as Alannah called it. Alannah was zooming down the hill and of course, Matt and I had to get in on the action. We only went a couple times each b/c we were not dressed for sledding. Then we all 5 get into a snowball fight, girls against boys. I believe the girls won….Alannah was a snowball making-and-throwing machine! After enjoying some time with them we decided to head back to the house.

We called to see if the power was back on, and it wasn’t so we decided that stopping for lunch in town was the best option since I didn’t know if could handle Round 2 of being a Pioneer Woman for lunch. After we ate, we headed back up to the apartment and found that the power had come back on. Yay!
Jan 31st, proved to be a pretty day, but still very cold, and very slick. What part of the snow had melted (which wasn’t a lot) had turned to ice, but the sun was out. Matt and I helped Sam & Michelle cut some firewood and then they headed out with a load of it. I got the bright idea that Matt and I needed to go sledding down the hill. We grabbed the Coke Cola sign and took it to the top. I told Matt he had to go first b/c I wanted him to make sure it was safe. :0) I gave him a little push and off he went. The path that Michelle and I had started on Friday was a solid sheet of ice and the metal sign acted as a great sled!
Matt landed a little more than halfway down the hill and carried it back to the top where I jumped in. He gave me a little push and off I went. I hit a snow bump and turned around backwards. (I do NOT like getting turned around on a sled.) I was screaming. I was not slowing down and I knew I had already bypassed the place where Matt had stopped. In those short few seconds I debated on whether or not to bail from the sign. [Side note: this is a very old metal sign = rusty edges = tetanus (of which I was not current on my tetanus shot, so really it just was not an option.) I knew if I bailed out of the sign that those edges would catch and cut me.] So in a brief moment of panic and horrible decision making, I decided that I would stay where I was and let fate lead me. So much for that! Fate led me straight into the side of the house.
I crumpled up like a crash dummy and dumped upside down, by the time I realized what had just happened. I was in the shape of a pretzel. My legs and arms were going every direction, the top of my head was in the mud and dirt at the edge of the house from run drainage from the roof, Willis the English Mastiff apparently thought I wanted to play and he jumped on me --- all 100lbs of him. I was seriously screaming by this point. I was in so much pain. I really thought that my left leg was broken. I could feel the sharp edges of the sign cutting into me and thought I had a nasty cut as well. I also really couldn’t feel my left shoulder. (my entire left shoulder/body hit the side of the house, so it took all the impact.) Matt ran down the hill LAUGHING to see if I was ok. Then helped me up. Nothing was broken or cut. But I had one NASTY bruise on my leg from the sign.

It has been almost 4 months later and I still have a bruise and knot on my leg in that spot.

All in all, I felt like Clark Griswald when he took his slicked up sled down the hill.


Again thanks to the snow, on February 12, 2010 while at work, it began snowing quite a bit and within a matter of minutes, the roads were covered and it was obviously getting serious real fast. And because I was too chicken to try and trek over Cowee Mountain, I chose to drive to the Hopkins’ house. 

I had just started up Tilley Creek and when it snows it tends to be a little more serious there, I reached down as I always have and put my car in 4x4 low. I had no more made it 20’ when I felt the tires start sliding. My first thoughts was to not try and correct it, to just go with the way I was going and work my way out of it. I had no longer got it corrected, when I felt it do the same thing again. You know how you can multitask in the craziest of ways and how your mind can race – well that’s what I was doing at this point. I was trying to keep it in the road w/o panicking and at the same time I was trying to figure out why my 4x4 was not kicking in, I was praying like a beast too. That I wouldn’t be hurt or that I wouldn’t hurt anyone else or damage anything. Whew. That just wears me out writing about it.

Needless to say, all of my attempts to correct were done in vain. I made a beautifully executed (HA!)180º turn and my car stopped only when it slammed into the side of the bank; facing the direction I had just come. Luckily, I had on my seatbelt or I would’ve ended up in the passenger seat b/c I was now at a 45º angle in the ditch, leaning against the bank. The car literally landed parallel to the bank, so its not like I slid nose first or rear first, so I knew if I had damage, it would be down at the bottom. Papers, purse, phone, everything went flying into the air and landed somewhere on the passenger side of the vehicle.
I was really lucky b/c a couple of men were driving behind me and saw what happened. They asked if they could help me out. I told them I would try first. I put the car in 4x4 hi this time, and tried to get out. But the slick snow and the angle I was at in the ditch just was not in my favor. So this precious man offered to drive me out. He ended up driving the entire ditch line before he was able to get it out.

I finally found my cell phone and I called to make sure that Michelle had made it home ok b/c I had wrecked, she had. I literally crept the other 2 miles up to Matt’s house. A snail could’ve passed me. By the time I got out of the car I was shaking like a leaf and ready to just sit down and chill for a bit with a cup of coffee. Whew. Traumatizing!  And there was n'er a scratch or dent on my car!  Thank you Lord!


Incident #3. The “Mother” of the incidents and seriously the most harrowing of incidents. At least in my eyes.

I arose on February 20, 2010 to a beautiful, crisp morning. I was looking forward to it because I was going to go shopping with a friend. I was excited. I had gone through my morning routine, showered, brushed teeth and was in the process of getting ready. I had debated on lazy I wanted to be, did I really want to blow dry my hair? Finally I decided that I just as well. So I dried my hair and then was looking at it in the mirror and thought to myself “hum, it looks nice and voluminous today.”

Then for whatever reason I still cannot discern, I decided that I needed to build a fire. I do not know why though b/c Matt was in Franklin helping a friend cut wood and I was leaving to go shopping, so in hindsight, I was building a fire for nothing.

The previous month or so when it had been so cold out side and snowy, I had seen Matt use a diesel supplement on the fire to help get it started. So I decided that I would do it as well. I had seen him do this over and over and it seemed to work rather well.

I reach into the fireplace, pour the diesel on the little pieces of burnt wood still in the fireplace and I hear a ppppffffshhh. It sounded as if I had poured water on the coals. It sounded as if I had just put them out. So the next obvious thing for me to do is to light it back, right? I reach over with my right hand and grab the long lighter (you know the kind, they are kind of gun shaped?) I still had the un-capped diesel fuel in my left hand. I snap the lighter and have a flame and lean my hand towards the fireplace. As quick as lightening, I have a flame kissing my cheek, literally.

All I remember is squealing and running into the kitchen with my hands flapping at my hair. I felt my hair and realized that it was absolutely singed. I flipped my head back over (I was bent over at the waist) and when I looked up I saw that black smoke was boiling and billowing near the ceiling. Just for the record, STOP! DROP! ROLL! was the last thing on my mind at that moment.

In a panic I ran outside b/c I knew I couldn’t be in the apartment, fearing it would blow up. I had dropped the diesel fuel in the floor and it had spilled out. When I got on the porch, I noticed that my hands were black as soot (no pun intended.) And the cold air was making them burn. I yelled for Michelle but she didn’t hear me. (I believe now, that it was more like one of those screams you do in a nightmare and it is barely a whisper….you know what I mean??) So I walked over to their house. If you don’t know, the walk to Matt’s parents house from his apartment is probably no more than 50’ or so. I started having a panic attack, I was crying uncontrollably, I couldn’t breathe. In short, I was a toxic mess.

I get to their door, walk in, and see Sam & Luke. Both of which look at me like I’m an idiot. I’m sure they had no idea what to expect or what had happened to me. I tried to tell them through my quick, sharp breaths that I didn’t know if the apartment was on fire. Finally after about 3 attempts and Willis the fun-loving Mastif jumping on me and pushing me against the wall, did they finally understand what had just happened and rushed out the door to check on the apartment.

Michelle came out of the bedroom and saw that my face and hands were black and that my hair was burnt. She took me straight to the kitchen and put cold water on my hands and a washcloth on my face trying to get the black off. Then she piles me in the car and off to the ER we go.

I was super worried about Matt being mad at me b/c I just knew I had burnt the apartment down or at least made a horrible mess. I was worried about Mickey, who I was meeting that she would be sitting at the Food Lion waiting on me. I had all kinds of things running through my mind and I still couldn’t breathe. Michelle made all the necessary phone calls while on the way to the ER. She was so calm and collected (although I knew she was faking….but I appreciated it…I was enough of a basket case without her being one too. Haha).

We get to the ER and this precious lady and son let me go before them. I was immediately taken back to a room and the evaluations started. I’ve never been so scared in all my life. I was froze to death and they made me take off my jacket. I was still crying. I was slowly getting my breathing back to normal.

Then I had a horrible thought flash through my mind, skin graphs. Remember the episode of Grey’s when the apartment building caught on fire? The Asian kid was severely burnt and they were having to peel his skin off without giving him any pain meds? Yes, this is the image and thought that crossed my mind. PANIC! I start crying harder and asked the nurse in one word sentences if she is going to take my skin off. She was sweet and looked at me and said that she didn’t believe that would be necessary. Some relief came over me, but not a lot b/c she wasn’t a doctor and I knew she couldn’t tell me for certain.

Then I was asked if I wanted Michelle to come in with me, I said yes I needed someone in there for comfort. But when the nurse came back, Matt was following her. Tears streamed down my face. I have never been so happy yet worried to see him. I just knew he would be so mad at me for making a stupid mistake and for catching the apartment on fire. But he wasn’t mad. He as just relieved that I was ok. That I was not hurt any more than I was. (I even think that he had tears in his eyes, although he would never admit it.)

The doctor came in, checked me out, looked me over, gave me a speech on how I should never use a flammable on or near a fire. “Believe me, I know!!!!” is what I wanted to say to her. She explained that I had a flash burn, that although I was burnt, I hadn’t actually been on fire. The flames had just “brushed” my top layer of skin. She went on to say that the burns I had were first degree and to use a cream and let it get air and I would be ok before long. She wrote me a script and left me in the care of the nurse to get bandaged up. The nurse came in and put a cream on my hands and chin, then put gauze pads and then wrapped me up like a mummy. My hands looked like white lobster pincers. To keep the gauze on my chin, she wrapped my head up. I looked like I had just had some kind of serious head trauma.

I was told that my mom was in the lobby. I asked if she could come in. Matt went out and Mom came in. She came around the corner and tears were streaming down her face as they were mine. By looks alone, I know she was terrified for me. But at that moment I looked worse than I actually was b/c of the bandaging being wrapped around my entire head. I felt so much comfort with Mom in there with me. She was making me laugh and it made me feel so much better, at least as much as I could. It was just comforting. In a few minutes, I was released and told to follow up and the wound clinic on Monday. I had help putting my jacket on and walked out of the ER into the beautiful sunshine.

Let me take a moment to explain this jacket. Remember from Incident #1 the new jacket that I purchased 50% off? This is the jacket that I had on when the accident happened. I thank the good Lord that I did have it on for a couple different reasons. 1) I had a tank top on underneath it, so had it not been on, my entire right arm would’ve been burnt. 2) The (R) arm was actually melted on the jacket b/c its made out of polyester, you can still see the “whiskers” where it was melted. Although the outside of the jacket was polyester, it had a thin fleece lining on the inside. This thin layer of fleece kept the polyester from melting and adhering to my skin, burning it further. So I am so very grateful and thankful that my new “ruined” jacket had a fleece lining to protect my arm.

I got outside and was immediately concerned with my hair. Oh gosh the smell! It was nauseating. I could smell it for days afterwards. Mickey came to the house and helped wash my hair. I had to be in the sink with the blessed stuff. GAG! I could see chunks of hair falling out. Ok girls, remember as a child being just curious enough to either take the curling iron or hair dryer to your Barbie’s hair? Remember what happened? Yes, that is EXACTLY what happened to my hair. It was coming out in these nasty clumps. I had a couple of burned spots, one in the very front on the right side, a couple more under neath my hair, but still obvious. Over all I’m glad that’s all I lost was a little skin and hair….and not my life.

I spent the entire next week at home resting b/c I couldn’t do anything. I couldn’t work, but my hand was bandaged in a way that wouldn’t allow me to type or write (being that I am right-hand dominate.) I had five different appointments at the wound clinic where they would lance the blisters, let them drain and then pull the blister membrane off my hand, exposing the new baby skin. I have a weak stomach and these appointments were very overwhelming and caused me to be very nauseous and light headed. Almost to the point of passing out, but I never did.

Later, I learned that I didn’t have 1st degree burns at all. My chin was a 1st degree burn, but the top of my hand was most definitely a 2nd degree (you blister with 2nd degree), and was told that my pointer finger was a very bad 2nd degree, almost 3rd. (you lose feeling with a 3rd degree.) I didn’t have feeling in my finger for about 2 weeks, even now it is still spotty in places.

Matt and others were very helpful in assisting me with doing things. I couldn’t wash my hair, had problems dressing myself, couldn’t drive. So I am so thankful to everyone who helped me while I was “out of commission.”

The apartment was NOT hurt in the least bit. Sam & Luke were able to clean up the spilled fuel out of the floor. They had to put the stove pipe back on the stove b/c it had blown off the fireplace. They said that they had cleaned up a LOT of hair too. That it was stuck to the walls, on the floor, in the kitchen, everywhere. The lighter that I had used was white. But in the blast or whatever you want to call it, it had turned jet black, except where my hand was at, and it was still very white in that area.

Now I am much better, my hand is SUPER baby soft where the skin was burnt. I have to use a 100spf for a while to make sure that I do not fry my hand in the sun.

***WARNING: I’ve posted some pictures and they are graphic in nature.***

wow look at that hair!

That's not a turtleneck - that's where they had me wrapped like a mummy. (day of accident)

tried to get  a pic to show how black my had was...but it didn't work. (day of accident)

chin wrapped - and the bald spot on the obvious! (day of accident)

left hand bandaged (day of accident)

Right hand bandaged (day of accident)

A blister is forming.  (day of accident)

a few hours later its bigger (day of accident)

Blister next morning (2.21.10)

Chin & Somewhat fixed hair (2.21.10)

Hand after Wound Clinic (2.22.10)

I'm at the Wound Clinic - First time I've been able to look.  They were getting ready to peel all the dead skin off.  Almost a week later (2.26.10)

They only wrapped one of my fingers!  YAY!  More mobility!  (2.26.10)

The pink area is fresh new skin.  It was more of a "film" of skin.  VERY sensitive.  (2.28.10)

Back at work, almost 2 weeks after the accident.  (3.4.10)

2 weeks after the accident. (3.05.10)

What my hand looks like today, 2 months later.  (4.23.10)


  1. Okay, so while I was reading Incident #1, I sat in my classroom laughing. I can just see you hitting the side of the house...since I know you are okay, I think it's funny!

    Just's Spring! Since snow/fire incidents are sure to be over,I suggest you steer clear of water....that stuff can be dangerous!

    Love you.

  2. I will say, that Incident #1 is funny....actually quite hysterical now that I look back on it. But at the was so not funny.

    I can also say I've had reservations about doing any water related sports this summer, but I think I will try my hand regardless. :)

    I love you too.

  3. Anonymous3:03 PM

    I don't want to sounds mean but I had to laugh off and on through this post. I loved your detail and your discriptions. I hate you have to go through this but it makes me laugh.
    Love you and I am glad your hand and throat is better.

  4. yikes, Deidre! Glad you are ok! and hope your summertime adventures are... well... less hazardous to your health! :)

  5. Jules8:37 AM

    Can I just say that if I would have caught on fire… like you did.. I would just layed down and died… L omg… bless…


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