Darlene Foster's Blog

When Dreams Get Interrupted

Posted on: April 1, 2011

What happens when dreams get interrupted? In 10 seconds, 28 year old Lisa’s life changed and her dreams were put on hold. Please read, in her own words, this inspiring, touching story on how she handled it.

The Power of Prayer

On May 24, 2000, the day after my 28th birthday, my dress caught fire from a candle on the floor. I panicked and ran across the room, fanning the flames. My friends tackled me down and poured water over me. Although the entire incident was under 10 seconds, I sustained 3rd degree burns over 71% of my body. My face and fingers were spared, for which I am continually grateful. Of course, the rest of my body is scarred, but I consider myself very lucky.

I was living in Austin, Texas at the time, but I was visiting San Francisco when the incident occurred. My parents came to me from Ontario (like a miracle! Slavko nor Bonnie had flown in over 20 yrs, a nervous situation for both. To think of my classic, handlebar-moustached, small town barber of a father in San Francisco! ) I was on every life support system, antibiotic, etc. with 15 tubes coming out of me. My poor parents to have to see me this way! I was suspended in an ongoing frightful hallucinogenic haze of drug-induced coma for 6 weeks while the Forces of Life united to preserve Lisa Baltich: the awesome and crazy ingenuity of western medical crisis care (growing new skin and stapling it on!) combined with the immense power of prayer.

I was not consciously aware, then, of my family being there with me. However, they factored into my hallucinations, my psyche. I absolutely knew they were there and from them I drew critical comfort. I’m quite certain I would not have survived without their presence. They experienced many energetic instances, such as my heart racing with panic to frightening levels, whereupon the family joined hands in a circle around me and concentrated on calming me down. They watched the monitor as my heart rate descended to a safe place. I had so many people praying for me! My friends back in Toronto and BC were informed, and began to pray. My friend who meditates told her teacher and the class sent healing energy to me. My Aunt had her online community praying. My father’s customers told their church group. My friends back in Austin who were with me when I was burned, were holding sweat lodges and ceremonies. They were holding benefits to send my cousin Misty to me. My hometown of Welland, Ontario held numerous fundraisers to support my parents in San Fransico for a month.

The power of prayer is not to be underestimated. Although this was a terrible thing to have happen, there is a beauty in the way people pull together, are a part of a spiritual energy and witness to healing events and even some magical details. People were consistently so kind and caring at every turn. I really don’t believe I would have “made it”, survived, without all that Energy on my side. Truly I do feel blessed. I simply cannot imagine going through something like a burn without a support system. I mean people survive the most horrible things imaginable, the world over. It boggles the mind what people endure!

While I was in acute rehab in the hospital, I was approached to sit in on a Hidden Burns support group at the (US based) World Burn Congress put on by The Phoenix Society for Burn Survivors. It just so happened to be taking place in San Fransico that year, and I was the first burn survivor to attend while still in hospital! How incredible for me, who had barely had a chance to digest this life-changing challenge, to be welcomed and comforted by this Inspiring Family.

One of the really beautiful things about attending a Burn Survivors Convention (there is also a Canadian based Burn Survivor’s Conference every other year) is the complete abandonment of physical-appearance-baggage we carry around. At first, when I looked upon some of the severely disfigured, I felt so awful for them, what they must go through, and wondered how I might carry on a conversation. Within moments that falls away entirely as the beauty of that individual shines through. Within moments you cease to even see the scars, but only that person. There are hundreds of these survivors, all glowing with the glory of being together, as we understand each other. The feeling of being a part of such a large family is truly special.

Even before I was burned, I was no stranger to body image issues. I was an overweight adolescent, enduring harsh ridicule. When I lost weight I felt I had wrecked my body, with its sagging skin and stretch marks. I could not love or forgive myself. During my 20’s I threw myself into dance and much physical activity. I had finally sculpted a trim and fit body to the best of my ability, and was starting to love and accept myself. Then I got burned, and had the whole ‘carpet pulled out from under me’. My skin was eternally scarred, my hair shaved off, my piercings removed, and I gained a bunch of weight. But I was able to love my body, for surviving. When I was able to get out of the bathtub by myself again, I swore that I would never harbor an ungrateful thought toward my body again! But, as time went on, I focused my negative body image on my weight, and slipped back into that punishing lack of body-love.

It’s an ongoing struggle for all of us, whether we are burned or not, but certainly one of the big lessons I feel comes from this experience is that WE ARE NOT OUR BODIES. It is not important to have a beautiful body. Who we truly are comes from within us. I am never ashamed of my scars.

Recently, I was given another extraordinary opportunity to reconnect with my Burn Family at the 2009 World Burn Congress, and I wish to thank The BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund and The Future Is Mine, who with caring and generosity helped me to attend. In closing I would like to extend a prayer of thanks to the Burn Community at large and to the amazing support network that act as Angels to those who are going through the most trying of times. Blessings to all of you!

By: Lisa Baltich

This amazing story and others like it can be found at http://burnfund.org/our_programs/adult_survivor/survivor_profiles.php

4 Responses to "When Dreams Get Interrupted"

Burns are really painful beyond imagination. I am always amazed to hear how anyone survives this agony and lives life with newfound appreciation after their experience.

This personal story of Lisa is very touching and encouraging to anyone that suffers deeply in this world. She is a beacon of light and a testimony to the power of prayer and love. Thank you for sharing her story with us. Blessings to you, Lisa…

Thanks Carol Ann. Lisa is an amazing person and I feel it is important to share her story with the world.

A very powerful story, Darlene. Thanks for sharing this with us. Hard to image.

So true Laura. Not sure I would be so brave.

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