Lexie Khounphithack: My Story, My Words
21 years old and oh god, it doesn’t make me feel very good. I was at a birthday party when I was 13 and a half, there was an aluminum food warmer that had fire and water and it had a lot of food on it, it was actually coming out of the counter top and I saw it so I had to give it a little nudge and it just ended up collapsing. It splashed me and all the water came on to me and it kind of went on another person but it didn’t really affect the other person. I remember going into shock after and the rest is history.
My recovery process was only a couple months. It was only like three months; I was in the hospital until April 3rd. I got treated at UMC, in Las Vegas. It’s our only burn center in Nevada so a lot of people from Utah and Arizona come to our burn center. I got involved with burn organizations by the child life specialist at the time, she actually had mentioned there was another camp. I didn’t get involved with Alisa Ann Ruch Burn Foundation until I was 16 years old but I got involved with other burn camps and organization when I was on one of my last visits to the hospital when I was 14. I recovered in April and she asked if I wanted to go to a camp and I kind of wanted to go because it sounded fun, I mean it was camp and I love The Parent Trap so I wanted to go to have my moment and am kind of sad I didn’t have a twin like Lindsey Lohan in the movie but yeah, I went and I was so amazed that I wasn’t the only person like this.
I actually had never heard of organizations for burn survivors or any burn survivor services. It was something really new to me and actually I just realized something a couple years ago, one of my mom’s ex boyfriends was actually a burn survivor, a hidden burn survivor. His are on his legs but I don’t remember how much he is burned, I remember he would show me but I know he was really uncomfortable with his scars and I always think about that because I don’t want to be uncomfortable with my body, I already was.
For a long time, I had struggled with having hidden burns just because I have friends that have visible scars and they made me feel like maybe I don’t deserve to be at places like World Burn Congress or camp. I was only in the hospital for three months and I didn’t even have to get surgery so I feel like my situation was kind of less than, even though that’s not correct but that’s how I felt when I was a new survivor and also when I was in high school and going to camp and stuff. I mean sometimes I still struggle with it and it’s something I talk a lot about in hidden burns support groups at World Burn, how I struggle with not feeling like I belong in other support groups and stuff like that. Now I feel ok, I am ok. I don’t feel like omg I have something but I feel ok.
I think my life has changed a lot since I first became a burn survivor to now because I used to be really insecure with my body to the point where I wasn’t ok with looking at myself in the morning. I remember the first time I started wearing shorts and I was like well, if other people can wear shorts why can’t I. That’s how I’ve always kind of talked, like if other people can do it, why can’t I? so it was kind of something I always struggled with and I don’t really talk about my struggles because I feel like other people have different situations than I do. Sometimes when I was younger, I would wish my scar looked more like a burn instead of a birthmark just so I didn’t have to explain my story because like when I need days of work and I have to give them the whole spill of what happened but I’m not ashamed of my scars and I’m ok with what I have.
Take it day by day, don’t be so hard on yourself when you’re not comfortable with something, don’t make yourself feel uncomfortable. If you’re not ok showing your scars then you don’t have to show them yet. It’s all on you. Funny joke for a Monday; there’s this guy and he is driving his 3 penguins in the back of his car and this cop pulls him over and he’s like “hey you’re not supposed to have three penguins in the back of your car, take them to the zoo” and he’s like “ok I’ll take them to the zoo”. Later on, the cop sees him again with the three penguins in the back of his car but the guy put sunglasses on them now and the cop pulls him over again and tells him “hey, I thought I told you to bring the penguins to the zoo” and he’s like “yeah I took them to the zoo but we had so much fun so now we’re going to the beach!”.