Sharon Pearson

How I Survived A Fire? – Story Of Sharon Pearson, A Burn Survivor

The accident took place 3 years ago, “I’m still recovering”, Sharon Pearson, tell us her story…

In this edition, we interviewed Sharon Pearson, who lives at Grand Forks, North Dakota, USA. Sharon met with a horrific fire accident in a small town near Minnesota.

Sharon recollects the incident…

“On Christmas Eve 2017, I was getting ready at my in-laws’ house in their bathroom and there was a candle lit near the toilet. I leaned over to use the toilet and the flame of the candle caught my hair on fire (no, I didn’t have any product in it, I get that question all the time). The fire travelled to my forehead, scalp, ears, and the sides of my face.  I screamed for about thirty seconds, going to the sink in a vain attempt to put my head out.” Sharon recollects the fateful day, which turned her life around.

Before this could sink in to our minds, Sharon continues, “Luckily, my husband heard my screams and used the hood of the sweatshirt I was wearing to snuff the fire out, but not before I lost some of the cartilage on my right ear and received full and partial thickness burns to my forehead, the sides of my face, my ears, and my scalp.”

Sharon Pearson with xeroform

Sharon with yellow xeroform, three days after the incident


For Sharon, it took a long time to recover…

“I was ambulanced to the ER in Hallock, MN, where I was assessed to be too severe to be dealt with at the small-town ER.  They then gave me enough morphine to take the edge off the pain and airlifted me and my husband to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, MN. I was there for four days, during which time they shaved my head, taught me and my husband how to take care of my wounds, and assessed me for many different things including vision (my burns came within a centimetre of burning my left eye).  I wasn’t able to open my eyes until the second or third day because of the swelling, so my husband came in handy with meals.  They let him stay in the room, which was essential for my morale.”

Fire accident recovery needs a lot of emotional support too…

“They were also going to prescribe something for anxiety to help with the flashbacks, but I have bipolar disorder and anxiety already and was already on the medication they were going to prescribe anyway.  They released me the fourth day with plenty of xeroform (a dressing that’s basically fabric soaked in petroleum jelly) and two different antibiotic ointments that I don’t remember.  We were to come back weekly, then biweekly, then monthly as I healed.  Because I was on oxycodone, I couldn’t drive, so my husband’s work was so gracious to provide days off for that and adjusted his lunch schedule so that he could do my three times a day dressing changes.”

Recovery could be challenging everyday…

Sharon continues, “During my recovery, I have faced such challenges as hyper granulated tissue (which they treated with silver nitrate sticks which were insanely painful), infections (which I was hospitalized for twice, plus the many infections they didn’t hospitalize me for), and weak skin. I was offered skin grafts at two months, but I declined.  I was prescribed them October 2018 and January 2019 but both times the surgeon deemed me too healed.”

sharon recovered

“Sometimes I regret not getting skin grafts when they offered me them, because I’m still healing today.  I have gone to two different burn centres, a dermatologist, and a wound specialist and have had good and bad experiences. The bad experiences mainly were bad because a doctor let his ego get in the way of seeing a problem, a doctor didn’t trust my observations or thoughts that anything was wrong, or a doctor had so little experience with burns and wouldn’t listen to the burn specialists’ advice.  Like I said, I’m still healing, due in part because of a string of recent infections. The burn specialist I recently saw has me on an antifungal shampoo and antibacterial body wash, and Bactroban, in addition to shaving my head every week because you just don’t know how much critters can hide in hair. This new regime has been effective, so much so that I should be all the way healed by the end of October .”

How a freak accident changed her life forever…

“Honestly, the accident was a freak accident, but I am more cautious around candles and open flames. I can’t believe I once let candles burn unattended, or allowed birthday candles for children with loose long hair.  Even once I get my hair back, I will never light anything, not a candle, a cigarette, a firework, anything, without my hair pulled back.  I also am more cautious around campfires. I don’t leave a live-fire unattended and my children, my nieces and nephews know not to light their marshmallows on fire around me because it makes me anxious and it really isn’t safe.” As she says, we can’t think we can never be in a fire accident. It can happen to anyone, anytime.

Sharon, a month ago during her anniversary

Sharon, a month ago from her anniversary


What does she want to tell everyone?

“I would share with them that life can change in one stupid instant, so cherish every moment with family and friends. Also, asking is better than staring, and doing neither is probably the best choice.  And one other thing–never assume you can pray over someone while they’re working.”

As she signs off, it put us in deep thought. One such fateful day that turned Sharon’s life upside down. Even as she lives in one of the developed countries, finding the right support for recovery remains a challenge.

In India, we citizens don’t have the awareness to fire safety as also are the struggles of a burn survivor. Sharon’s story is a reminder to all of us that anyone can be caught in a fire accident.

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