In August of 2018, Alexis’s life changed. While driving home late one night, she ran into a stalled abandoned vehicle and was immediately hit by another car. Two good Samaritans risked their own lives and pulled her out of the vehicle, but not before the car caught fire. 9% of her body, mainly her face, neck and chest, were burned to the third degree, and she was rushed to the Burn ICU at UCSD. There, Alexis underwent several debridement surgeries, and after being released she continues to have laser surgery every two months. While in the ICU, Alexis was unsure of what was next. Her face was burned, hair shaved off, and she was wrapped in bandages and stuck with IVs and tubes. Because of how fast everything was healing, she was released home after 11 days, where she remained for another month before going back into normal life. Although Alexis was healing well physically, she was feeling emotionally wounded and alone.
Two months later while interning at the Palomar Medical Center Emergency Department, she was stopped by an EMT who asked about the scarring on her face. She explained it was a third degree burn, and that she had been in a car accident two months prior. She grabbed her paramedic partner, and after conversing, they realized they were the unit that transported her to the burn unit. Because Alexis was in EMT school at the time, she was able to do two ride-alongs on the same unit that saved her just two months prior. During this time, the EMT’s shared with Alexis information about the Burn Institute and how they help burn survivors after their injury.
In the months following, Alexis felt very alone. She didn’t really know what kind of support there was for burn survivors, and felt isolated and lost. Not only did she look different, she had to adjust many parts of her daily life to accommodate to her healing and additional surgeries. All she wanted to do was be normal again, but there were so many mental and physical obstacles in the way. That’s when she connected with the Burn Institute…
After learning about how Alexis was feeling, she was invited to attend Camp Beyond the Scars as a Leader-in-Training. This would be her first chance to meet other survivors and learn she was part of a larger community–a community that was eager to give her the support she needed. As a part of the camp program, she worked with children and shadowed counselors, even teaching ukulele and leading jam sessions during camp. “I had so much fun working with the kids and sharing my story with them. I wanted to show them that it was possible to live life after being burned. It’s crazy how close you can get to people in one week. They aren’t just campers and counselors, they’re my family.” Alexis is now eager to come back year after year, with hopes of becoming a counselor in just a few years!
Since camp, Alexis has embedded herself in the many programs and services the Burn Institute has to offer including monthly support groups, open mic and young adult meet-ups.
“The Burn Institute has provided me with so many amazing opportunities and I’ve been blessed with so many amazing people I now can call my family. Along with these opportunities, I’ve been offered support to help me push through the trauma I’ve experienced. Without this organization, I wouldn’t be who I am today.”
To support burn survivors on their healing journey, just like Alexis, you can make a gift online. Thank you for your support!