Life is Harsh!
This is one of my favorite photos of my husband Scott. It was taken on our wedding day, and yes, that is the judges actual seat and gavel in the actual courtroom where we were married.
Those are also Scott's actual fingers holding that gavel, the fingers that were all amputated after his burn injury. The fingers he took for granted, would always be there.
This lens is about real life, and all those little things we take for granted, those little things we don't even remember to be grateful for from day to day. Yes, life can be terribly harsh and hard, but we wouldn't grow very much as humans if everything was simple and easy.
If life didn't have hard times, we wouldn't be able to recognize and appreciate life's good times. Thanks to all of life's challenges, we are able to grow and feel and laugh and cry and really be alive!
A Word from Bambi
Most of the content on this lens was written by my husband Scott. I'm just the one making the lens. I will be putting (by: Bambi or by: Scott) in the sub-title area, just so you the reader knows who wrote what.
Towards the bottom of this lens, right above the guestbook, you will find links to other lenses about Scott, including the story of his burn injury accident. We are making this lens in the hope that it can help other people going through challenges in their lives.
On August 6th 2002, my husband Scott was severely burned in a flash fire explosion. During the first week of his hospitalization, the doctors informed me that his fingers would most likely have tp be amputated. More than a month later, I was the one who had to sign the surgery authorization for the doctors to amputate. Signing that paper was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. Intellectually, you know it has to be done, that if they don't amputate the fingers, he could lose the whole hands. Still, emotionally you feel almost responsible, it's almost as if you are cutting them off yourself.
Before the accident Scott was a very tactile person. An artist who made amazing creations out of wood like the picture frame in the photo. Scott used his hands for everything, even more so than the average person.
Scott loves the outdoors, and spent most of every summer canoeing the Upper St. Croix River. Fishing and camping, often for months at a time. He also spent a lot of time at his parents cabin, cutting down dead trees, doing building improvements and painting.
Scott was very physical, doing all kinds of manly-man stuff like chainsaw art, and riding his motorcycles. His profession reflected this, Scott was a painting contractor and also did a lot of building, home repair and maintenance type work. All very hands on and get your fingers dirty kind of work.
Our fingers and hands are so much a part of daily life for most of us, that we rarely even think about them, let alone imagine life without them.
Scott's life before the accident
By: Scott Watson
Hi, I'm Scott and on August 6th 2002 I was burned over 85% of my body in a flash fire explosion. Due to the severity of my burn I lost all of my fingers. Both of my pinkies are completely gone, my three middle fingers are marble size nubs and each of my thumbs are about an inch long. The doctors inserted pins into each of my fingers to keep them from contracting backwards as they healed.
There were some strong emotions that I had about losing my fingers. My first emotion was anger. I don't remember this because I was still intubated and on a lot of morphine.
The Harsh Reality
I guess I knew on some level that my hands were in pretty bad shape. When my wife, Bambi would visit me in the hospital I would wave my hands at her and try to get her to tell me about them. When she would try to change the subject, I would start grunting and waving more frantically. After she finally told me that they would probably have to amputate my fingers, I got so mad that when she would try to look at me I would turn my head the other way. When she went to the other side of the bed, I'd turn my head the other way.
That was the only time I was really angry about losing my fingers. I realized pretty quickly that I didn't have time to be angry. I needed to focus my energy on making my hands work again, as well as the rest of my body. Another emotion that I didn't have time for was self-pity, or as my friend Burt puts it "the boo-hoo's." No one was going to do this for me. Sure I had help from some great therapists, doctors, nurses and my family, but ultimately it was up to me if I ever wanted to use my hands again in any capacity.
From Mourning to Acceptance
My first real emotion was disbelief, and it was strong. I was coming out of a drug-induced coma and becoming aware of reality. Was this real? How could it be? It was real. Bambi and I both felt like we were stuck in the same nightmare and that we'd eventually wake up and say "Wow! That was scary." Surreal is the word that best describes how we felt. There was also sadness, not to be confused with self-pity. It's totally okay to mourn the loss of something as important as your fingers or any other body part that you've lost.
It's okay to cry. I know it's not macho or whatever the "code" is, but it sure made me feel better at the time. After that, for me at least, came acceptance. I said to myself, "alright, I'm burned, my fingers are gone and they're not going to grow back and I'm gonna have to live with it." This didn't happen overnight. I knew deep down inside that my fingers weren't coming back, but on the surface I still thought that they might. Lizards grow their tails back. I was always telling my therapists, friends and family that maybe if I soaked them in Miracle-grow plant food, you know it says, "Miracle and Grow," who knows? I figured they just needed time to grow back. I mean, it took 38 years for them to grow as long as they were before.
Humor! This may not be for everyone, but it worked for me. I won't go into details, but I can find humor in some pretty strange places, I'm pretty warped.
Determination finally set in after dealing with all those other feelings. It was time to make my new hands work. The doctors inserted pins into each of my fingers to keep them from contracting backwards as they healed. My therapists gave me stretching exercises to do. The exercises seemed small and silly at the time, but I had to believe that my therapists knew what they were talking about.
So when they would tell me to do ten repetitions of something, I would NEVER do less than eleven. When the stretching would get painful, that's when I knew it was working and I wouldn't stop until it was excruciatingly painful. Once the pain subsided, I would start all over again. I would stretch until I was exhausted. I couldn't pinch my thumb and pointer nubs together when I started, but after a couple of weeks I was able to pick up little pieces of foam and drop them in a cup. This was great progress and very exciting!
I was doing the foam rubber exercises while strapped to this contraption called a tilt table. Besides losing my fingers, I also couldn't walk because of a condition called drop-foot. One day while I was strapped to the table and playing the pick-up game, I asked the therapist for a pen and paper so I could try to write. It took some doing, but I finally managed to grip the pen. Every time I would touch the pen to the paper, the pressure would make me drop the pen. I was learning what would be the strongest and most lasting emotion, FRUSTRATION!
I'm not sure how long it took, but I managed to scribble out a barely legible love note to Bambi. It was just two short lines and a signature, but it was a gigantic accomplishment.
One of my biggest challenges while in the hospital was learning to feed myself. I didn't much like doing it. Patty, my main therapist, made me a Velcro strap that went around my right hand that a fork or spoon could be slid into a little slot. At first Patty would put the cuff, as it was called, on for me and sit and coach me on how to use the new device. It was horrible! If I could manage to scoop or poke some food and lift it off the plate, the chances of me getting it into my mouth before it fell off were slim to none.
At first when Patty realized she was missing her own lunch break, she would get impatient and just feed me. I liked that! She soon saw through that though and started putting on my cuff, positioning my milk with a straw in it so I could drink and then she'd leave so I had to feed myself or go hungry. Sometimes I did really well, other times it was a mess. Sometimes I could finagle a nurse or PCA into feeding me and sometimes I just gave up and didn't eat. After a lot of practice, I was usually able to finish my meal before it got too cold. Hospital food is bad enough hot.
Getting Better All The Time - The Road to Recovery
It was pretty exciting when I learned how to get the wrapper off the drinking straw, but what really blew me away was the day I opened a pack of crackers by myself, I told everybody!
The problem at the time was that even though I was getting better at feeding myself, I still didn't like doing it. I'd feed myself lunch because Bambi wasn't there, but I would get her to feed me breakfast and dinner. Patty was pretty upset with me for not feeding myself.
Then one day Bambi brought in Chinese food for dinner. She got all of the boxes set up and got me into my wheelchair and pushed me up to the table. She was getting ready to start feeding me when this feeling of extreme guilt came over me. I hated being taken care of by everybody! I was supposed to be learning to feed myself, why shouldn't Bambi be able to eat her meal in peace?
So I asked her to put my cuff on me and put a spoon in it because I was having soup. She asked me if I was sure, I said yes and ate like a champ! It felt so good to see Bambi across the table from me eating her own food instead of feeding me. It was the best meal I had in a long time. The best part though was the next day when I saw Patty. There was no guilt and I bragged about how good I had fed myself the night before.
Scott The Artist - Things Scott has created since losing his fingers
A Learning Process
It just got better from then on. Now, I can make and eat my own sandwiches. I can use a knife and fork to cut my own steak without a cuff. I can eat pizza and chicken with my hands, yeah I've come a long way!
I've got a hundred stories like the learning to eat one. There's not one single thing that I didn't have to learn to do again. Brushing my teeth, learning to smoke, using my power tools, especially the sawzall. Driving, spending money, even wiping my butt, I really mean everything! Re-learning how to do it all again was and still is frustrating. I drop things, can't pick certain things up, need help with some stuff and everything takes longer to do now.
A Different Life
Yes, frustration is a major emotion, I get mad, smash things, kick things, grunt, yell and swear, but I'm also very grateful. Feeling grateful came to me very early after coming out of my coma. How could someone all burned up and missing all of his fingers be grateful? At first I wasn't all that excited about still being alive, but since I was I started to count my blessings. I was grateful that I could still see. I was grateful that the doctors didn't have to amputate more than just my fingers. For a while they thought I might lose my left foot. I was grateful that my wife and sons didn't abandon me. I was grateful that I would eventually walk again, not easily, but I would.
I was grateful that my hair would grow back, there's just too much to list, but I was and still am very grateful. I must say that now I am very happy to be alive. My life has changed a lot, but isn't that what life is about? Now I'm involved with helping other burn survivors through the SOAR volunteer program. I enjoy visiting the doctors, nurses and therapists at Regions Burn Center and volunteered to work at the burn injury information booth at the State Fair. I was actually surprised at how many people were interested in my story. I do woodworking again now and have even built and donated some birdhouses for burn fundraisers. I could just go on and on, but basically my life is different now without my fingers, I've had to find new ways to do a lot of things and I'm clumsier and slower than I was before, but I can pretty much do everything I did before my accident again now, and all in all life is good.
Things Scott can no longer do since his accident
1.) Pick his nose
2.) Wipe himself in the bathroom without a stick
3.) Fishing & putting hooks on line, casting normally, baiting hooks, etc...
4.) No longer able to do the extremely detailed & intricate artwork & woodwork he did before.
5.) Cannot run
6.) No longer able to work an airbrush
7.) Unable to work on his truck mechanically or even open the hood with out the aid of a special device.
8.) Unable to tolerate hot & cold temperatures due to skin grafts & loss of sweat glands. Scott is only able to sweat from the top of his head, his groin area & the bottoms of his feet. Thus when it is hot out he sweats profusely in those areas & the rest of his body throbs.
9.) No longer able to ride a motorcycle. My dream is to some day have enough money to get a chopper custom made for him that doesn't require fingers to operate.
10.) This used to be that he couldn't camp and canoe alone anymore, but in the last few years this came off the list because Scott now can camp and canoe on the river again and spends a few weeks enjoying his favorite activity every summer now!
Things Scott Can Do Again!
Able to Climb Tall Ladders Again
Able to Build Anything Again!
Able to Get A Tattoo Again!
Able to Camp & Canoe Again!
Life Really is Good!
Thanks For Visiting! - Please take a moment to say hello
EMangl on October 21, 2012:
oh boy, what a story ...
miaponzo on May 28, 2012:
OMG you are so brave to share all of this with everyone.both of you! Blessed!
SteveKaye on March 31, 2012:
What an amazing story. Congratulations on your courage.
Joan Haines on December 20, 2011:
I wish you both all good things.
Wendy Henderson from PA on April 04, 2011:
Amazing Story. Thank you for sharing it with me. :)
purplelady on April 03, 2011:
What great stories you have. Thank you so much for sharing a special, hurtful part of you and Scott;s life.
CCGAL on April 03, 2011:
I'd already seen your burn story lens, but this was the first time I'd seen this part of the story. Words fail me, so I'll just leave a little angel dust here for you along with a quick prayer for both of you.
Deb Kingsbury from Flagstaff, Arizona on December 13, 2009:
Wow, that was a powerful story. Thank you for sharing this. I admire your (both of you, I mean) strength and attitude. You're both inspirations.
anonymous on October 21, 2009:
Oh my goodness, what a story, Scott worked so hard to come back from his disaster and you were right there with him. A terrifying and inspiring story. Thanks to both of you for sharing it, this is going to help a lot of people.
Patricia on May 27, 2009:
Wow! What an amazing story and Scott has so much strength as do you. Scott is an inspiration! That sounds so difficult to go through.
Spook LM on May 21, 2009:
Congratulations on the 50th. didn't have a clue about it as usual. I apologise for taking so long to get to this truly splendid page. Once again all the best to all of you.
anonymous on May 21, 2009:
Amazingly inspirational! Thank you for creating this lens!
Stephen Carr from Corona, CA on May 20, 2009:
Such a powerful lens and very inspiring. Great job.
alli82 on May 20, 2009:
This is an amazing story. Thanks for sharing and being so real about it.
Cheryl Kohan from England on May 13, 2009:
Every time I look at one of your lenses I am amazed at your courage. And Scott's. Congrats on lens #50!
Janusz LM on May 11, 2009:
You guys are an inspiration for us all! Well done on your 50th.. Blessed by a Squid Angel :)
anonymous on May 09, 2009:
Fabulous! You are both very remarkable people! Congrats on #50!
Mary from Chicago area on May 09, 2009:
Congrats on your 50th lens! Great job!
Kylyssa Shay from Overlooking a meadow near Grand Rapids, Michigan, USA on May 09, 2009:
Life is good! Your husband lost his fingers but he has something few people ever get in the first place - a true and loving partner. Your love for him and your joint zest for life shines through your writing. You both deserve all the good things life has to offer.
*The little word for me to type in for the spam filter is 'uberlove' which I find strangely appropriate.
Light-in-me on May 09, 2009:
I am so very moved by this, 5*s from me, I wanted to let you know that I did read you're in a flash lens about a week or so ago and gave it stars, but I was in a hurry so I did not leave a comment.
I am so very impressed by you and your husband's outlook on life.It really made me examine myself and my attitude about life in general.
Take care so nice to meet you and Scott.....
religions7 on May 09, 2009:
Impressive - really. Oh & blessed of course :)
Faye Rutledge from Concord VA on May 08, 2009:
Thanks for sharing your story, it's very inspirational. You should write a book about your ordeal. It would help others that are going through tough times. Great lens, and congratulations on 50!
cjalba on May 08, 2009:
It really is a very inspiring story. God is good all the time! I'm leaving you my 5 stars.
Achim Thiemermann from Austin, Texas on May 08, 2009:
Scott and Bambi - you continue to be a great example for us...to put our petty concerns into perspective, or to draw strength from your story for our more serious issues. Thank you again for sharing yourselves with us. Love, 5*s, and a hearty SquidAngel Blessing. :-)
GreenEcoBean on May 08, 2009:
That is an incredibly moving story, and this is a really nice lens. 5*!
Mickie Gee on May 08, 2009:
Nice work, Bambi and Scott!
Tonie Cook from USA on May 08, 2009:
Overcoming great odds are not easy, and often it is not easy to talk about. This is definitely a ten star lens, and you get five from me. Well done, and congrats on your 50th lens. You are about to enter The Land Of The Giants.
ncpaynes on May 08, 2009:
This is a truly awesome life story. You and your husband are what life is all about. Thanks for a giving me a great jump start to an otherwise normal weekend.
Shari O'Leary from Minnesota on May 08, 2009:
As always, you have a great lens! I don't know if I could talk about such things as easily as you do. If you don't nominate yourself for Giant in June, someone else is going to.
jamiew23 on May 08, 2009:
Great lens :) 5 stars and great content was a very touching story :)
Tarra99 on May 08, 2009:
What an incredible story!...amazing character and strength!
A lens full of inspiration and determination! Excellent!
...and congrats Bambi on lens #50! *****
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on May 08, 2009:
What an awesome way to top of your 50 lens goal! What I love about this lens is the perspective of many years. You are both able to share with realistic honesty and humor. Tragedy, yes, but as you say life is good. Amen. You two are overcomers! Keep on keeping on! You're officially blessed!
Simeyc1 on May 08, 2009:
Wow - what an inspirational Lens! It's amazing what the human spirit can do in hard times. You and your husband have faced so much and have come through together very strong. His determination is amazing, and it's really incredible to read his journey and how he overcame these struggles.
The word disabled means many things - and I truly believe that I am the disabled one for Scott has achieved so much.....if I could apply just a little bit of the determination and pride that Scott has then I true can achieve something.
Success isn't measured in money, or owning things, but in Strength, Courage and Spirit - Scott and you are the most successful people I have ever had the pleasure to have read about...
Laniann on May 08, 2009:
What a wonderful story with a happy ending. It brought tears to my eyes and later a smile to my face. As the days go on Scott will be adding more on the list of Things Scott Can Do Again!
Annette Geiger on May 08, 2009:
What an incredible and moving story. Thank you for the reminder that life is good in even the toughest of times. What a great 50th lens! 5*
Kiwisoutback from Massachusetts on May 08, 2009:
Awesome 50th lens. This story is truly inspiring. Squid Angel blessed, and thanks for sharing even more!
MikeMoore LM on May 08, 2009:
A very inspiring story. If I were an Angel, I would bless this lens. :)
Leanne Chesser on May 08, 2009:
This is an amazing lens . . . I'm kind of at a loss for words, actually. Thanks for giving out of your experience, for helping others, for your positive attitude and strength, for your real emotions . . .
Carol Fisher from Warminster, Wiltshire, UK on May 08, 2009:
This is such an inspiring story. Scott has displayed such determination and courage to accomplish all he has done since the fire. It's especially inspiring that he is giving time and effort to help other burns victims. I am sure the whole process has been terrible for Bambi too. Seeing somebody you love suffer and struggle is a terrible thing to endure.
I wish you both all good luck and a long and happy life together. A wonderful lens.
Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on May 07, 2009:
Thank you, Bambi and Scott for sharing your story with all of us. It's a story we can all learn from. And what a way to publish 50! :) Blessed by an Angel!
GrowWear on May 07, 2009:
Wonderful inspiration here, Bambi and Scott. Happy 50th lens, Bambi!
luvmyludwig lm on May 07, 2009:
An amazing lens and even more special because it's number 50. wow! You and Scott are so open and it is such a pleasure to read about the two of you. :)
Dee Gallemore on May 07, 2009:
I, too, thank you for your openess and honesty . . . but most of all the way you shared your story. This lens is an awesome labor of love!
Sojourn on May 07, 2009:
Scott and Bambi, the first lens I read about your burn story never left me. It's an impossible story to forget anyway, but I think what touched me most was the openness with which you share every emotion and the way in which you seem to have come through it with a renewed passion for life. I wish you all the best and hope that the custom motorcycle can become a reality someday. Thank you for sharing. Sincerely, Erica
TwinsMama LM on May 07, 2009:
Thank you for writing such a heartfelt and honest lens. It is such a beautiful tribute to all that you both have gone through. You should be so proud of what you have accomplished. Great job documenting your progress through the years through photos. 5* for sure.
bdkz on May 07, 2009:
Thanks for continuing the story, what an inspiration.
ctavias0ffering1 on May 07, 2009:
Another amazing lens, congrats on reaching the magic 50 so soon 5* and a sprinkling of Angel Dust for both of you
Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on May 07, 2009:
Wonderful..inspiring lens. 5*
Rachel Field on May 07, 2009:
Great lens, Bambi and Scott! What an inspiration you are! 5*