A podcast by Emily Francona
One of the most dramatic places I think that I went to a several times on trips was Cusco Peru. We were very high up in the Andes. It took a while for me to get adjusted every time we went, I would get out of breath just climbing a few steps, actually. But burns were a particular problem in that population because the indigenous folks who lived in the mountains were using open fires. And so there were a lot of burns and very little access to treatment, as I mentioned. One of my most, and there’s actually a book published that’s like a coffee table book, which is not in print anymore, which I still have and there’s a picture of this patient I’m going to talk about. She had been burned as a young as a ten-year-old. I think she tipped over a pot of boiling water, and it burned from her neck down, mostly her neck and chest and stomach and her arms.
And so when she was brought by her mother at the age of 17 to our team. You know, when you see a patient like that, who is scarred so severely that she actually was bent over, like, in the shape of a “C”, if you can picture that. Because the scarring had was so tight that she couldn’t even lift her head, to look ahead. And she had trouble eating because her arms were scarred to her torso. So you might think well, where do you start? What, what can we do? Were only there two weeks and this is a major, major issue.
So what we would do is we would ask the patient and their family. What do you want us to do the most and will tell you what, what we can do, you know. She wanted to be able to see. So she wanted us to release her neck scar so that she could lift her head and look ahead. And she wanted one of her arms released so that she could feed herself. I’ll never forget this patient.