Sunday, September 24, 2006

Kim and her quilt

I have been keeping this blog very much as a report from Cairo. My life as a professional Quilter and teacher, public speaking and travel to other countries that I do in that role, and many other things that happen in my personal life do not make it to the blog.

I am about to post one entry which will give my readers a little on the other life.

On the 8th July my daughter Kim was badly burnt in Australia. She lives on a large country block outside the small city of Lismore in northern NSW and works at Southern Cross University there.

They had been cutting back a large stand of bouganvillea which was taking over one section of the garden and providing shelter for snakes. Her arms were cut and scratched from working with the vicious thorns and dragging long whippy branches to a pile. When her husband wanted to take it to the tip she refused. She wanted to burn it so it did not have to be handled again.

They did most of this by the book. Dean dug a pit the day before and the bouganvillea was put in it. They whippersnippered long grass from around the pit so the fire could be more easily controlled. She tied her lovely long hair back with a tie and put on sunglasses as she walked out the door to light it. She tucked in a couple of firestarters as there was water collecting in the bottom of the pit - Lismore is a wet area. Her husband was beside the fire with the hose running ready and she leant forward to light it.

Unknown to both of them one of the boys had decided to help by putting accelerant on the bouganvillea. It was done earlier and he had wandered back inside intending to tell them, and forgotten. It had filled the pit in the form of hevy fumes and when Kim lit the match the whole thing exploded in her arms and face.

She said it was incredibly beautiful - shimmering in gold and orange. Then she realised that she was the source of the colour. She 'dropped, rolled, rocked' as they teach the kids in school here. Her husband pointed the hose at her. Her son called the ambulance as she was too badly burnt for her husband to be willing to touch her.

She was in Intensive care for a day as they thought there was serious burning to her neck and that she might have inhaled fire into her lungs. She did not, and this probably saved her life. Most people take a deep breathe to scream.

I was teaching in Cape Town in South Africa when this happened and immediately tried to book a flight straight home. Bob managed to speak to Kim and said she sounded reassuring. I got through too and she told me the reason she had refused to allow Dean to even tell us for twenty four hours was that she was afraid I would fly straight back and she wanted me to finish the contract. She pointed out that although she had second degree burns to her hands and arms and face and some third degree areas on her arms and right hand she was not in danger, and was about to come out of Intensive Care.

I stayed, but rearranged bookings to Australia to leave quickly one I got back to Cairo. At one stage it was thought that she would have to lose fingers, but they recovered.

She was airlifted to Concord Hospital in Sydney which has a world class burns unit.It is a painful process, recovering form burns, and the treatment is a matter of endurance. Kim walked and walked - seven flights a day to the burns floor when they would let her out, convinced that exercise would help.

She healed astonishingly fast, and at one stage doctors questioned her about the way she usually lived and ate as they could not explain the speed of her recovery.

Southern Cross Quilters - an internet group I belong to - asked if she ould like 'healing hearts'. These are a heart stitched, appliqued or patched on a cream background for making a quilt to help with healing. Kim chose green, and they also decided that they would each send me one too, in an Australiana theme. Then the Canberra Quilters heard about it and they added their hearts too.

The hearts just poured in. The first envelope arrived and we spread them out on the bed to look. Both of us were in tears - so much care and concern and love form people who did not even know my lovely daughter. Each has a message and a name on the block - often in tiny letters wrapping around the heart.

I made her quilt just before I left Australia and quilted it. There were only three that did not get into the quilt, and a few more have arrived since. They will be cushions to match for her bed - at Kim's request. It was bound by a friend - Anne Eccleston - as I just ran out of time. The photographs were taken before it was bound.

This is the quilt - and if you click on the image it will take you to the set - second block of images (with set, Kim's Quilt on it) down on the right of the Flickr site which hosts my photograpy. There are lots of details to show those who wish to see them the sorts of stunning blocks that people make.

Kim's Quilt

As a gift this is almost hard to describe. So much time given generously by so many many people. I am sure it helped Kim, and it certainly helped me. As I stitched around each heart I read them all again, and there were messages that made me cry. There are many hearts from people already fighting cancer and with other serious health problems. I know it helped Kim and it is as a thank you to all the 165 who helped with hearts that I am posting this blog.


Blogger Willa said...

I have heard of the Southern Cross Quilters on another list because some of my Crazyquilting friends from Down Under are also traditional quilters. It is a great thing they did. I hope your daughter is doing well and does not have a lot of scarring. I am a nurse so I am very familiar with burn treatment. By the way, here in America they teach the kids to Stop, Drop and Roll... very similar. Thanks for sharing!

5:29 am  
Blogger Cay Denise said...

It sounds like you have a very independent daughter with a strong will. Thank you for sharing this story. I'm also glad there was support for you since you are located so far away and probably couldn't directly help in the ways you would have wanted to. I hope your daughter is recovering well.

7:39 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am so glad your daughter is recovering well. The quilt is beautiful with such wonderful shades of green in the hearts, and a truly super idea for someone to aid their recovery In a world where there is currently so much hate and destruction it's nice that people show such care for those they know and don't know.

3:15 pm  
Blogger Erin said...

I am from NH, USA and came across your blog! I too am an avid quilter. I am praying for a nice recovery for Kim, what a nice beautiful quilt! Thank you for sharing the story. You have a caring loving family, and friends too! God Bless, Erin

10:13 am  

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