Every burn injury is serious. Some are life threatening, demanding all of your energy to recover. This may mean long periods of bed rest, medicine regimens, and treatments. It’s a big job that takes time on your part, and compassion from your loved ones. Likely, you will feel stressed by your injury and recovery. Your sleep habits, diet, energy levels and comfort levels will change during this time. You may experience side effects from treatments or medications. Your body may look or behave differently. Emotionally, you may feel a sense of loss, wishing your injury never happened and wanting the recovery process to be over as soon as possible.
The burn team who cared for you during your hospital stay works very hard to ensure your recovery, but when you get home, you will need to be patient with yourself. Dealing with frustration and worry is part of life after a burn injury. You can help to speed your recovery by following all medical instructions, as well as eating, drinking, and resting properly. Be aware that your nutritional needs will increase following your burn injury because your body is working harder to heal. This means you’ll need more calories, vitamins and minerals and protein. High-calorie, high-protein meals are recommended, along with protein supplements.
Getting Help from Loved Ones
Family members will be concerned and want to help, so ask them to create a plan for family visits and helping out with specific tasks, like cleaning, laundry and paying bills. Knowing what to expect from each day can help to ease your emotions. Family members may also feel a bit frightened about caring for you and your injuries. Your medical team will provide the information they need to get through the early stages of your recovery at home. If you are feeling especially anxious, ask about anxiety medications your doctor may be able to prescribe.
Controlling Your Pain
Another common issue for burn injury patients recovering at home is pain control. Pain serves several purposes – it tells the brain to protect the injured area, and it lets you know that you need to take care of yourself. Calming techniques, such as deep breathing, imagery and meditation are surprisingly effective in the treatment of pain and reduction of anxiety. The pain from a burn injury may stem from different sources, such as the injury itself, skin grafts, dressing changes, or physical therapy. A specific type of pain from burn injuries occurs from “stretch receptors” found around the burn. This feels like a pulling sensation as the burned area shrinks during healing. For severe pain, morphine and other strong medicines can help to control pain sensations. The overall goal is to feel more comfortable and, as your wounds heal, your comfortable periods should last longer using less medication.
Once again, follow all medical instructions given. Do not skip physical or occupational therapy, even on days when you feel sore or weak. Therapy is an important component of recovery, and avoiding therapy can lengthen recovery times as well as causing secondary issues with your joints or the grafts contracting – becoming too tight – which can affect your ability to move.