Friday, September 12, 2008

Burn Unit

Saving lives after the flames

Did I give up reading in the last year? Not really. I have been preoccupied with moving and convalescence, and reading helps restore balance to my universe. This book is a prime example.

When my nephew and his wife, Christian and Stephanie Nielson, were badly burned in a plane crash in August, in the midst of tears and prayers, I found myself with far more questions than answers. Up to this point, I have known no one who was a major burn victim. And somehow I couldn't see pestering all the loved ones on the front line with my gazillions of questions, when they had far greater demands on their time and thoughts and hearts.

So I reverted to habit and sought out books on the topic. Burn Unit was by far the most readable and helpful of all the books I read. Barbara Ravage takes the reader into the burn unit of a major medical center/teaching hospital, and shows us the devastation wrought by burns on not only the affected area, but the whole body, the whole person, and the whole family.

Besides a unflinching stare at the physiological process of burn damage and healing, we see the committed personnel who work in a burn unit, the procedures, such as debridement and skin grafts, that are peculiar to burn treatment, and follow two victims through the entire process. Add a comprehensive history of burn treatment, and the last question I have is: how did she make it so compelling?

I don't know, but I am grateful. This is the book to read on major burns.