Meet Michael…

“Healing takes work.” Those are the three words Michael would use to describe his journey since he was severely burned in a fire pit accident ten years ago this July. Michael was camping in Idaho when he fell into an in-ground fire pit causing second and third degree burns on over 50% of his body, keeping him in the hospital for over three months.

After his accident, Michael felt isolated and alone, leaving him bottling up any feelings and emotions surrounding his tragedy. Within 6 months of being released from the Burn ICU, Michael moved back to San Diego and began trying to move forward with his life, shutting out the reality that he required any further healing. After three years, Michael finally saw the need for an emotional support system. He reached out and discovered the Burn Institute where he became involved with the Young Adult Retreat, a program offered to burn survivors designed to provide a mechanism of emotional support from a network of others who have shared, and continue to share, similar experiences. After this intensive four day self-discovery experience, Michael felt overwhelmed and unable to process the journey he was embarking on. This caused him to pull back from the Burn Institute and return to feeling angry and bitter about his accident.

After a few more years, and a couple of road bumps, Michael decided it was time to face the inevitable and stepped back into the Burn Institute’s doors. Thanks to supportive and caring program staff, he has faced his insecurities and truly started his healing process. Michael now participates in our monthly Adult Support Group and not only benefits from the program, but acts as an encouraging resource to others going through similar life experiences.

“It took almost 10 years for me to realize that my struggles aren’t mine alone. My healing could only really begin with me forgiving myself and taking the steps to understand, that with a little help and support, I don’t have to be alone in this.”

With his self-named 10 year “Burn-iversary” this month, Michael is traveling to the Idaho fire pit where he was burned and visiting the doctors, nurses and staff who took care of him at the University of Utah Burn Unit. His family and friends will be there to support and document this inspiring reunion. Stay tuned for an update on his trip in next month’s Beacon.

“Someone once told me that I deserve to be happy, I am allowed to forgive myself. For a long time I didn’t think that was true. I would not allow myself to be forgiven for this tragedy that caused so much pain to those I hold so dear.  Now that I am able to forgive, and begin the steps toward really being healed inside, life seems so much more worth really living, not just getting through.”

The Burn Institute congratulates Michael on the amazing progress he has made and thanks him for his dedication to helping other members of the Burn Institute family, whether it be through support groups, community outreach or just a friendly conversation, Michael is always giving back.

To make a donation, and help other burn survivors through their lifelong healing, click here.