Christian Short Stories

Reassurance Awakened
By Katherine Payne Ostrom

Katherine writes: "Expressing deepest feelings and emotions bring satisfaction to this middle age Asian American female!"

'Home' meant residing in a garage apartment. I enjoyed working split shifts cooking French fries at Rawleigh's restaurant. Terribly shy, lacking self-esteem, I acquired independence, and a stubborn attitude. Possessing hyper-charge energy I did what I wanted. After working hours, I browsed 'decent' clubs. Socializing among strangers, I displayed the latest eye-popping dance moves. God didn’t exist. I asked him no favors. Life continued until February, 1981. After an exhausting day I came home. Finishing a bath, I thought. "I must put on my green robe. It's going to be chilly." I relied on a box heater for extra room warmth because the radiator outside my bathroom never seemed sufficient.

Awakening next morning, I discovered my nude body sticking to the upper sheet. Carefully prying my skin loose, I glanced at my right arm. Above the elbow rested a dark purplish, black patch. Burnt skin? Groggily, I stumbled towards the bathroom. Analyzing my body through a full-length mirror I shouted, "No!" I couldn't believe my eyes. My lower right back had burned to a crisp. My left shoulder sported an ugly burn.

I obtained a shiny left black eye, and two busted, swollen lips.

Ironically, I wasn't clothed. If clothed, I might have caught on fire, and possibly burnt to death.

I had injured myself. Being epileptic I could, without warning have a 'fit'. Grand-mal seizures made me jerk. Having convulsions, I lost total awareness.

I noticed dried blood stains glaring from a glistening bathtub, and a porcelain basin. I noticed cooked flesh on the radiator's left front frame. Seeing this, I broke down. I cried.

Regaining composure, I reviewed the injuries. Strange, I felt nothing. Taping two gauze pads on my arm burn, I went to work.

Andy, our 'bus' boy, passed me, accidentally knocking off both pads. My boss Rawleigh asked, "What happened?" Explaining my plight, and showing him my back burn he shook his head, stating, "Jap, go to the doctor. Take the day off."

As a walk-in victim carrying no medical insurance I demanded treatment as an outpatient.

Explaining I must be treated for severe burns, I replied, "No." I received a physical therapy treatment. Next day I ran a fever and cold chills. Unknown to me my body was dehydrated, prone to inner infections. Biting pride, I staggered through Rawleigh's informing Linda, my manager, "I'm sick. I'm going to the hospital."

My doctor admitted me in a local hospital as an emergency case victim on February 5, 1981. Yes, a birthday surprise becoming a horrible nightmare. Flat on my back I had no say what to do with my life.

Three patches needed to be changed. I had two physical therapy treatments a day. I dreaded them. The gauze wrappings and pads lost moisture, sticking to my burns. Imagine changing into fresh wrappings after a burn continues gluing to the old padding. Worse, I endured 'scraping' off dead skin with an instrument after soaking in a metal whirlpool tub at controlled hot temperatures. Vividly, I pictured myself gritting my teeth, and biting my tongue to hold back anguished tears.

Nurses regularly made rounds three to four hours. A light sleeper I tuned in from sheer boredom to watch television. Channel 39 won first place. Readily, I adapted to favorite teen reruns, and to Pat Robertson's 700 Club.

I admired his faith in God. To me he had it altogether, living his life for God.

Close friends brought religious literature. Being a passionate reader I absorbed words from the Bible as a sponge absorbs water.

My physical condition worsened. My body could not produce skin. I was anemic. Talk about scenery. I was a sight displaying three patches, an I-V tube, and a hemoglobin bag, needed to rebuild red blood cells. After three weeks a surgeon stated he must perform a skin graft. Concerned about this ordeal, I shot point blank questions.

"How long will I be on the table?"

"Anywhere from three to five hours."

"Where will you take the skin from?"

"From the top layer of skin of your right leg."

"Is there a possibility I might die?"

He smiled. "Yes, but I think you've regained your strength and are young enough to make it through this operation."

Alone again in my room I felt uneasy. Weeping tears, desperately I prayed. "Forgive me. If you think my number is up I hope by your mercy I'll make it to the lowest level in Heaven."

Checking my vital signs after the operation my doctor appeared worried. Questioning the nurses he found something combined with the oxygen in my bloodstream lowering my blood pressure. A nurse stayed on duty late that evening. Each time I closed my eyes she nudged me. Later I learned if I had gone to sleep I might have died.

On his last visit the doctor replied, "You must not eat now, but only drink some 7-up. I think you can get some rest now."

I slept, feeling reassured everything was alright. Seriously.

(© 2011 Katherine Payne Ostrom – All rights reserved. Written material may not be duplicated without permission.)

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