May 4, 2014 was the best night of my life. I got to marry my best friend. It was such an exciting time, talking and dreaming about the future. Our honeymoon to St Thomas felt like a little taste of what the rest of our lives would be like.
Our first year if wedded bliss started out crazy! Ed is an EMT helicopter pilot working a crazy schedule. While I am a professional ballet dancer, dance instructor and fitness coach. I felt I was dancing my best and feeling my best! Landing principal roles in our performances. I was feeling at the top of my game with the most amazing husband, family and friends. Between my performance and touring schedule and Eds hectic work schedule, along with our two kitties, and our acreage, we somehow found time for each other.
A couple short months into our wedded bliss, the first chain of events happened. I had a busy day ahead of me, with an outdoor performance and a guest choreographer in town setting Snow White; I was the title role! That morning a cyst ruptured in my ovary. I pride myself on my super hero pain tolerance. It was the most painful thing I had felt. It was crippling me. We rushed to the hospital, which led to a diagnosis of Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome. My whole world was rocked after being told I would have a VERY difficult time becoming pregnant. As soon as I was released from the hospital I rushed to work and finished my very demanding schedule of rehearsals and teaching until 9:00pm. You can read more about PCOS in Sugar coated theory
Two months later, Snow White shows ended in a success and I was now in the always stressful and time consuming theater week for the opera Carmen. At the same time I was also rehearsing the leading role of The Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker, and leading roles for a show I would perform with Ballet Vero Beach. Ed called telling me he was flying to a hospital near my work. The plan was to meet him at the hospital, fly back to the hangar and drive home with him once he got off work. I would be back in time to leave and teach my students. I was starving so I stopped quickly at Paradise Bakery to grab my favorite soup. I grabbed the to-go bag and away I went.
In my car moments later my leg was covered in the boiling Autumn Squash soup. I immediately ripped my jeans off. I was so scared to look down. When I did it was an out of body experience… It was not my leg. It had to be dream. The leg I was looking at was a sickening blackish, purple color. The skin was lifted off the leg and swirled around in a tie-dye look. I couldn’t breathe I was in so much pain. All I remember is one hell of a curb check and finally pulling into the emergency room where Ed would be.
A young man came out and asked if I needed assistance. I laughed and said yes, but told him I had no pants on. He ran in, grabbed a nurse, a wheelchair and a blanket. The nurse ducked down to look at me in my little two-seat convertible. She asked what I needed help with. I told her I burned my leg but didn’t know if it was bad enough for an emergency room visit. She ducked down even further to get a look at my leg. After she gasped, I unfortunately knew I was looking at a very large bill.
She carefully covered my pant-less booty as I attempted to get out of the car. I couldn’t put weight on my leg, so she then had to lift me into the wheelchair as I was holding the blanket over my leg. By this point I was shaking uncontrollable. Anything that gently touch my leg shot me through the roof. Even the slightest breeze was torture. She rushed me into a room. I will never forget the feeling of them putting room temperature water on my burn. It felt like my thighs entered a tundra.
I was trying to keep calm, cracking jokes with the nurses. Laughing at how I just got done detailing my car, and what a messy soup-disaster it is now! Explaining what horrible time it was to burn my leg; right at the beginning of fall fashion! How could I wear my cute leggings and boots? Or my new jeans I just bought. I asked them to find my phone in my purse. They couldn’t find it until the young man at the front desk brought me my soup scorched iPhone to me. It was totally fried…
I used the hospital phone to call Ed, that’s when the tears and pain came in. Why does that always happen? Whenever someone asks how you are doing, the water works happen. Especially when it is someone you love and who is so nurturing towards you. Ed was in the room within seconds. He arranged for my parents to come pick me up and he would meet me at our house after he flew the Heli back to the hangar.
At this point I was still stubbornly refusing any pain meds. By the time my parents got there the pain intensified so quickly. I laughingly said, “Why do my legs hurt so bad?!”. The nurse answered my rhetorical question saying, “Because you have NO skin on your legs!!!”. Her somewhat annoying answer brought me back to reality and I finally gave in and took those awful pills. And that’s as much as I remember!
The next day I had a doctors appointment. To get my leg checked out. I didn’t know what to expect. I hobbled my burnt legs into the doctors office and the first thing he asked me was how many pain pills I took that day. I proudly said zero. He looked at me with pity. He unwrapped my bandaged legs and let out profound sympathy. (Note to medical staff: Never give us sympathy. It only makes us feel sorry for ourselves and pain then intensifies). Haha
He asked his nurse for some sort of scary looking tool. He then apologized before he began to tear the entire top layer of dead skin from my raw, no flesh leg. I was holding on to my biggest supporter and I think I crushed every bone in it as they worked on anti-pain med legs.
After what felt like an eternity of agonizing torture, I again could not put weight on my legs and had to be pushed out in a wheel chair. I silently cried in the truck as awesome Ed drove me home. They said I need three months of bandages on my legs. I was extremely susceptible to infection.
I then I had to go to Wound Care every other day for debridement. I have never dreaded anything more. They would tear off skin each time I went in there. But the most painful part of these appointments would be when they took a knife and cut hashtags into my leg to lift up the layers of dead skin. Each appointment got more and more painful. They told me that was a good sign, that feeling was coming back into my leg. HA! I fainted the first time I looked at my leg after they unwrapped it. I also learned watching them score my leg causes fainting too. I am NOT a fainter either! First time for everything, I guess!
They told me to take 8 weeks off of exercise… Two and a half weeks later I was at the gym taking Zumba classes, running in the treadmill, taking company class and teaching again. I honestly do not know how to rest. And to me, that was resting! I was terrified of becoming out of shape and losing an opportunity to perform.
I unfortunately missed out on my performances with the Opera. But I managed to wobble in and watch from the audience. I also missed out on performing the lead role in The Nutcracker. Although, I took on a small acting role. I couldn’t imagine missing out on The Nutcracker also.
I was back performing and rehearsing with the company after The Nutcracker. And everything was somewhat back to normal, minus the large scar in my right thigh. I also could not perform without tights or tattoo makeup on my leg because my scar would be too distracting.
A year and two months later the scar is looking much better! It is still painful from time to time, especially in extreme temperatures or with restricting clothing. I still keep it out of the sun, put scar treatments on it, take a daily Vitamin E supplement, and massage it in hope of someday having a scar free leg.
I am very lucky to have such a caring and supportive family. I can also proudly say I am not ashamed the way my legs look. It is me now. This burn did not hold me back from completing any of my goals, including appearing on the hit series So You Think You Can Dance season 11!