"Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself."

Saturday, July 3, 2010

You've come a lonnnnng way, my baby!

Today is the 2nd anniversary of my son, Clifton's accident. Most of my readers know of it but for the new ones, I'll give a quick explanation. I received a phone call on this morning, 2 years ago, from the hubby...telling me not to worry but that there was an accident @ our shop & our son was being care-flighted to Parkland. He assured me that the EMT's said that it was minor burns, not much worse than a really bad sunburn & it was just a precaution that he was being care-flighted. So we headed to the hospital & the whole way there, I'm anticipating him being released & was planning what meals I'd make for him. When we arrived @ the hospital however, we were immediately ushered into a private consultation room w/ a Dr & a social worker. I knew it wasn't going to be good but nothing could have prepared me for what they told me. They told me that there was a good chance that he would not live & that if he did; his life, as he knew it before, was over. That he would be disfigured & disabled & that he suffered 3rd (& even 4th degree burns on his right hand) over 43% of his body. My world came to an end on that day ...or so I thought at the time.

I still suffer from anxiety attack flashbacks when I think about those days. I'm serious.... a full-blown anxiety attack.... w/ my heart racing & feelings of panic...just from remembering. I don't see how I functioned! But I did & in the process, I learned a whole lot about myself. I learned that I'm a heckuva lot stronger than I ever would have thought & although I may have feelings of panic, I don't react to them. I do what I gotta do 'cause that's the cowgirl way! ;o)

I don't think I will ever be able to celebrate the 4th of July again though. I'll never forget sitting in the hospital waiting room, praying my son would live, trying to will it into being; & seeing the fireworks display on the TV news. I was completely astounded that the world went on....how could that be, when mine had stopped? So fireworks will always be associated w/ that & all the feelings that I felt at the time. Not to mention all the firework related burns I heard about during my time @ the burn unit. Anyway, Clifton spent almost 2 mos in the hospital & had a long, hard fight ahead of him. But what a fighter he is...Chuck Liddell ain't got nothing on him!

I'd like to share w/ y'all just how far he has come w/ a pictorial over the past 2 years. For those who didn't see the extent of his injuries, it's really hard to grasp the severity of them. Cause Clifton has come that far! He had multiple skin grafts (I think it was 6...those days are a blur but it was both arms, both hands, right shoulder, abdomen & right thigh) & 2 fingers were amputated from his right hand (he was burned down to the bone...which is fatal more often than not). The Drs told us that our lives would never be normal, that Clifton's life would never be normal (healing powers they were full of but sooo lacked in bedside manner)....that he would require my care for at least a year. But they didn't know Clifton! He was not only self-sufficient but caring for a newborn w/in 4 months.

This first picture was taken just a few weeks before his accident.

This picture was taken after he had been released from the Burn ICU (so the bandages from his face had already been removed) & was in the Acute Care ward. It was a little over a month after his accident. It was too soon for him to be released from BICU but there had been an explosion @ a local factory & they needed the bed. Clifton was in the best shape in the BICU so he was it. He had an in-room, round the clock nurse for the first couple of weeks though.

Clifton has asked me why we didn't take pics right after his accident, when his own mother didn't even recognize him. *rolls eyes* It kinda wasn't a priority...DUH! Anyway, this was his first time to stand, so of course I snapped a shot w/ my phone, to share w/ the family. Not only did he stand, he walked the full length of the hall, amazing the PTs. But it was just the beginning of Clifton's determination to work @ getting better...only the beginning!

Clifton's firstborn Noah, was born one month to the day after he was released from the hospital. And although he was in great pain, Clifton stuck it out during the entire labor, then c-section delivery & hospital stay.

Here's the family home from the hospital. At this point, Clifton still couldn't use his hands to put in contacts so he wore glasses.

This picture was taken late Sept...just 3 months after the accident. To see the pain on Clifton's face is just heartbreaking for me.

But he & Stacie drew strength from each other. Love this sweet, sweet picture (taken the same day) capturing that. We are so fortunate to have her...Clifton sure knows how to pick 'em! A whole lot of women would have cut & run but she stuck it out... through thick, thin & burned. (Clifton is always making dumb jokes about his burns so he'll appreciate that little attempt @ humor)

This was taken @ Halloween & as you can see, by then he was able to use his hands to put in contacts. What a feat!

This was a shot from an article in the FW Star Telegram in November. It was taken in front of the burned wall of our shop. In a nutshell, Clifton was draining diesel fuel that someone had mistakenly put into a gasoline powered car. He was using an electric fuel pump to drain it & although it's standard practice in the automotive industry, in this instance it somehow ignited. Clifton's brother Dustin, wrapped Clifton in a tarp & pulled him away before the car exploded.... thank you God & Dustin! The reporter who first covered his story was so touched by it that he did a follow-up.

By Thanksgiving day (just 4 months after the accident!), Clifton was tossing the football around. Those Drs didn't take into account, my boy's determination, in their prognosis, did they?

This shot taken Christmas'time of '08, shows you just a bit of his wounds. His abdomen was even worse (when he was released from the hospital he had wounds deep enough to stick the whole tip of my finger in...up to the first knuckle!) & his other arm was also burned up to his bicep...it just doesn't show in the pic. Anybody who has any dealings w/ burns, knows how incredible it is that Clifton is sitting w/ his arm stretched out over the couch, w/ burns under his armpit. That should have taken him years to achieve, if ever. He's just incredibly strong & determined! And of course Baby Noah provided him w/ lots of inspiration.

Christmas-time '08

By Easter of '09, Clifton was looking just as handsome as ever.

And really kicking his nephews' butts @ football!

May of '09...the fishnet like texture of the skin on his arm & hand is from the grafting. It's absolutely amazing that it's not more noticeable! He just looks like he's spent a bit too much time in the sun. That florrid complexion he & I have (& hate!) was very good for the burns. Since the blood flowed so near the surface, it aided in skin regeneration. It's why his face has so few scars even though it was also burned. I guess I probably should stop complaining about my florrid complexion, huh? I mean, I passed it on to Clifton & it helped in his healing so I should be very thankful that I have it.

Summer of '09...still playing football. Here he is in a huddle w/ his nephews for a girl/boy football team. If I remember correctly the girls won....HAHA!

another one from late summer
Noah's first birthday...mid Sept. I told you Stacie was awesome...she lets Clifton have a room to keep all his "bachelor days" decor in. It's a mecca of neon lights & beer signs. LOL

late Sept '09

Christmas '09

By February 2010, Clifton was back out on the field playing semi-pro football!

You can read more about his miraculous return to playing football in this post. I have to share w/ y'all what Clifton said when he read that post. He said (& I quote), "I quit thinking of it as an accident a long time ago & started looking on it as an opportunity." Is that not a remarkable attitude or what?

I'm sad to say though that Clifton suffered a torn ACL in his second game of the season & he says he's tired of being hurt & that his football days are over. GLORY HALLELUJAH! (over the end of his football playing...not the torn ACL). I will admit though, that his determination to be back out on the field, was a huge inspiration to work, work, work despite the pain, pain, pain & that he has benefited from all that work. I'm just tired of worrying about him being hurt!

This last heartwarming picture was taken on Mother's Day 2010. I cannot tell you how proud I am of these 2 people! It took a lot of love, determination, prayer, support, inspiration & drive but I am very, very happy to say that "alls well, that ends well" & this story certainly has a happy ending.

I'd sooo like to say that his fight is over & that he is now pain-free but I can't. Just yesterday, after a day of working on his sister's car, his face was sooo full of pain that it broke my heart. I'm not gonna dwell on that though but instead, thank the stars above that he has the strength to deal w/ it & overcome it & that every day, he proves those doctors wrong!

Clifton, your amazing spirit & grit, gifted not only yourself, but your entire family w/ the gift of a normal life. You will always be my hero & I love you so!


Tarnished and Tattered said...

Wow Cami,
What an amazing post! You sweet Clifton is surly a strong boy, having a good woman & Mother to support him & help him thru helped a lot, I know! He really looks like you, so does Noah. Burns are absolutely the WORST pain in the world. Just think about how bad it hurts when you burn your finger cooking. I cannot imagine the physical pain he was in & the emotional pain for you. As a Mother you story is a true nightmare. Bless your whole family Cami for making it so far in 2 years. Miraculous! Love you lots. Lisa

Knitty said...

I had to wipe my eyes more than once to finish reading this. Love and determination is personified in your dear son.

Jenny said...

Cami, Oh my. What a tale of triumph. And determination. And of guts and grit and knowing when not to stop.

This touched me. You raised such a strong man. Be proud of yourself, too, in this equation.

I cannot imagine how much your tender heart suffered seeing your child in so much pain and suffering.

Sharing in your joy in this small, two dimensional slice of this story was amazing.

There are so many heros in this story.

It is a wonderful independence day story.

Thank you for sharing it.

Leann said...

Oh Cami

I can hardly see through my tears. What an amazing young man you raised to have that much strength and determination (and Gods grace) and be where he is today.

God Bless you all my sweet friend.


Connie said...

What an amazing story, sweetpea! Ooooh my, I can understand it because although my son wasn't burned, he was beaten by a gang a little over a year ago for coming to the rescue of a young woman. I admire you son's courage and will pray for him. He looks gorgeous now though.

Read our trial here:

Your daughter in law was stupendous also, as mine was.


Charlene said...

Oh Cami!!!!!!!!! This story just breaks my heart as well as makes it soar!!!!!!! What an amazing MAN your Clifton is. A true inspiration for sure!!!! Your whole family & this world is blessed to have Clifton here with us. His story should be shared. It is one full of miracles & LOVE! Cheers for him, Stacey, you & the whole family!!!! And I pray that his pain lessens & that he is surrounded in healing. Your strength is also amazing my friend. To not cave is a miracle! You are both so strong. I am so proud to call you my friend. Best wishes to Clifton in another full year of what makes him happy. LUCKY LITTLE NOAH! And by the way... you can't deny that boy. He looks just like you! HUGS! Charlene

karlascottage.typepad.com said...

This was a heartbreaking post. I know exactly what you meant about how you felt when you were at the hospital hearing the news, its a huge physical blow to hear something awful about your child like that.

Thank goodness he is doing so well. I have a feeling that he inherited some of his mom's great spirits as well as her complexion!!

Secondhandrose said...

What a blessing it was to read your story of strength and love. It's a miracle. thank you for sharing.


Kim @ Starshine Chic said...

What an inspirational story & man. You should be the proudest mom in the world (I know you already are). I've read stories of burn victims & I can only imagine the pain they go through in the recovery process. Just having a minor sunburn hurts so bad. Thanks for sharing your family's story.

The Quintessential Magpie said...

Cami, I am speechless. Your son, his wife, your family and YOU are all amazing. He is my hero with his attitude. WOW! And I appreciate you sharing this story. It is truly awesome, and I salute this young man and his drive and courage! And he does look amazing. Those doctors did a fabulous job with his skin grafts!

I hope you can enjoy the Fourth this year, and celebrate knowing that the Lord gave him his life back, just like Lazarus. Firecrakers are not really my thing, either, but I do like to take the time to think about everyone, past and present, who have sacrificed for our liberties. God bless them every one, and God bless your sweet son and his testimony of hope and yours for your love for him! I hope this year, it will be easier for you and that you can draw a full breath. I can't even imagine what you went through.


Sheila :-)

Stacey said...

I'm so glad that he has continued to recover and thrive! Thanks for sharing this with us.

Grumpy and HoneyB said...

Cami, I am so glad that Clifton has that never give up attitude. His strength is a reflection of what his momma taught him.


Cami, you post just makes me shudder at the thought of what you all must have gone through initially and throughout the miraculous healing process of your dear Clifton! But what a wonderful healing and beautifully spirited young man to accept the gift of life and strive to overcome this monumental challenge. What a beautiful family he has, both inside and out. Oh that Noah is one delightfully gorgeous baby! You must be so in love. Thank you for sharing this story of hope and healing. Prayers will continue to be sent y'all's way. ~ Angela

Anne - Fiona and Twig said...

I didn't know ANY of this, what a remarkable, inspiring story!

Alison said...

Cami that is one strong young man you have reared. Such a wonderful recovery in such a short time.

Christine Edwards said...

Clifton's determination is surely a sign of the support and strength he received from his family and friends. What an amazing story, and an amazing man. Here's to better days each and every day.

Dorthe said...

Oh dear Cami, what a nightmare, for all of you, what a terribly accident.I read it yesterday, but was so touched by your story, that I had to wait,writing you.
It must have been so awfull for his wife,too,-and then expecting a child in the same time,-oh sweet, how strong you must have all been.
It is fantastic that your Clifton, got so long in only two years,--
I wish him all the best , I think he is a great fighter.
Hugs and love, to uou.

www.MaisonStGermain.com said...

Wow, what an amazing story, man and family. I am so happy that things turned out so well. His attitude is just amazing and that was probably a great part to his recovery:) I hope you all enjoy your weekend. Your story has made mine:)
Blog; Capers of the vintage vixens

donnaj said...

what a remarkable son you have~and a strong family you all are~

Beth A. from Songbird Hill said...

Praise God for his wonderful blessings of healing. Clifton is an inspiration to us all to keep on keepin' on. He certainly has a wonderful wife to stand by him through this. (Not to mention his wonderful Mom!)

Linda said...

Cami~ thank you for sharing Clifton's inspirational story! God bless you all, and I will keep him in my prayers for continued healing!

Lori Katies Rose Cottage said...

Cami ~
Clifton is an amazing man ~ This is a wonderful post that truly puts life in perspective as to what is really important ~
What a blessing your sweet daughter in law is ~


Terra said...

what an uplifting story. I am so glad I stopped in to read. Clifton is an inspiration for sure.

My Crafty Little Page said...

Oh my gosh, Cami - heartbreaking what you all went through. The pictures hit home even more seeing his progress and the way your grandson grows during the long ordeal. I understand about the flashback anxiety. My son had an accident several years ago in his garage and cut fingers off his hand. The neighbor (who happened to be the safty director at Dell) heard his scream, called an ambulance, recovered his fingers. In your mind you see your little baby's sweet little hands and face - oh it was awful. Well, I know the pain must have been unimaginable but his recovery is remarkable. Sending you a big, big hug and some prayers! xoxo Nancy

Jan Vermillion-Thomason said...

it's a miracle that i came to your blog and read this post.
photoshop elements 6 is trying it's hardest to suck the life out of me and i actually don't remember why i'm here (i've been to the dentist w/ that wonderful gas in the middle of reading this story) but, i'm so glad that i am:)

your son is such an amazing example of who i try to be every day.....he turned something yicky into something challenging and character building. wow.
it would have been so easy for him to allow himself to buy coordinating party goods and have himself a big 'ol pity party for the rest of his life.
he's so your son, my sweet friend.
he looks like you and i see your spirit in him.
you have every right and then some to be proud of the man God gave you.
praise God and hallelujia to clifton.
omg, and to his wife. she probably doesn't realize the extent she played in his healing.

p.s. that baby?? too precious!!

miss you, love you, jan

Jan Vermillion-Thomason said...

oh, wait,i forgot to say something important.
knowing how painful burns are and learning the extent of your son's burns i have such esteem for you.
i can only imagine how difficult it has been for you to watch your son suffer. as a mother i know that it was pain that sent you to your knees on a regular basis.

you are a reader's digest story.
you are amazing.

ttfn, jan

Karen said...

Cami - I am speechless. And I can barely see . . . everything is blurry.
I saw a few posts about your son playing football . . . but I didn't put it all together. I am so glad you reposted the entire event . . . now I understand.
Mom - you did well. I don't know how . . . but MAN - you did good!
As for Clifton . . . it sounds to me like it was just shear determination! He knew that new baby was coming! :)
This was so heartwarming. He has just accomplished a huge undertaking . . . beautifully.
(clink) A toast! Here's to Clifton! :) Karen

Theresa said...

Hi Cami, I am amazed at the determination it took for Clifton to make it where he is today! What a blessing he is and that sweet baby gave him reason to keep on keepin' on!

I can't imagine what you felt and all that you went thru. Nothing is worse that watching your child in pain! I am thankful that he is where he is and will pray for pain free days ahead!


cindy said...

Cam, what an amazing story. I know that you and I have talked about this before, but to see the pics, wow. Your son is an inspiration to us all. Thank you for sharing this in greater detail.


Claudia said...

This is such an amazing story, Cami. I've read about your son's injury before on your blog. His strength and determination - as well as the support and love from his family members - is truly inspirational. I know he still suffers, but every day is a miracle in his life.

Bless you and your family.


Valarie said...

Wow, what a truly inspirational story. I am new to your blog, and cannot believe what you have gone through. My heart aches for you, and rejoices with you.
xxoo Valarie

Stephanie ~ Angelic Accents said...

Gosh, Cami, I knew it was bad, but this is soooo very inspiring! Clifton is a monument to faith, love, hard work, and healing! I love this post! Thank you for sharing your beautiful boy and his family!

Big TX Hugs,
Angelic Accents

Linda Hahn said...

What an amazing story!! You are sooo lucky to have him in your life---what a fighter!! I've had 2nd degree burns twice and know how painful that was, but it's so hard to imagine the extent of his injuries and pain with 3rd and 4th degree burns. The tears are just rolling down my cheeks. Thanks for sharing such an incredible story about an amazing family and it's special son. You are truly blessed as is he. I will definitely add all of you to my prayer list. May God bless you all--but especially Clifton.

Diane said...

Cami, Thanks for sharing your life with us all it is an amazing story about how a strong willed survivor your son is. And a great wife he had to see him through it all. I do know what you mean about feeling how can the world be moving right along while yours has just stopped... that is a feeling I had when my daughter was sick! I will never forget. Hugs to you and your amazing family. (; Diane