My Road To Recovery

Life as I knew it had drastically changed for me on August 14, 2001, when my brother Kendall Campbell and I were injured in a gas stove explosion in our home. Due to the severity of our burns, we were unable to be treated in Jacksonville, Florida. Therefore we were flown via life flight rescue units to Shands Hospital in Gainesville, Florida and then the next morning to Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, Texas. Since the incident, the road to recovery was very difficult for me to overcome. I vividly remember putting the pieces together in my mind, trying to recollect the events that led up to me lying  in an ambulance being driven to my elementary school field, where a rescue helicopter awaited for us.  

Every day I prayed to God, thanking him for granting my fighting mother with endurance, patience and strength as she ran back and forth to me and my brother’s hospital rooms. I couldn’t imagine the thoughts and emotions that she faced with knowing that her children would never look the same as we did that morning when she had prepared us for school. Even to this day, my mom admits that she could only identify us by our feet, because our toes were the only parts of our bodies that hadn’t been burned by the explosion . My mother never left our side, which was quite a chore as a single parent of three young children. Fortunately, my older sister Ron’Nekya hadn’t been physically injured by the accident, however the emotional toll it had on her was just as impactful. From as far as I can remember I’ve always admired my older sister. She has always been one of the most beautiful people I’ve known. I can recall one day lying in the Intensive Care Unit at Shriners Children Hospital with a feeding tube in my nose, yelling out to every hospital personnel that walked by “hey, my sister is coming”. I was overwhelmed with excitement that I was finally going to see my sister for the first time since the life altering tragedy. Considering the distance of the hospital from our hometown we didn’t have many visitors, so the day that my sister and older cousin Terena were able to travel and see us, meant the world to me.  

On the other hand, another vivid memory that I can recall from my “road to recovery” was the level of low self-esteem that I had gained from the scars that were left behind after the incident. Even after I had recovered I would walk around with my head down, literally and figuratively touching my chin. Depression, fearfulness and regret were words that one could use to describe my new outlook on life. I couldn’t believe that my natural, long and beautiful hair had to be shaven off so that the doctors could use the skin from my scalp for graphs. I just couldn’t fathom the reality of how my skin looked, but more importantly I couldn’t bare the amount of excruciating pain I was forced to endure. I was devastated!  

My turning point didn’t come until one day my doctor looked and me and said; “Andrea, if you don’t pick up your head, I’m going to be forced to put a neck brace on your neck for support”. That was the day that I realized my negative outlook on my situation was not going to make things better for me, however it was only going to cripple me from seeing the true blessing in my situation. On that very day, I began to accept the fact that God had chosen me to be a living testimony. And that was the day my “road to recovery” truly began…

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