A true story...  

ByteChaser2 54M
2834 posts
11/18/2005 8:09 am

Last Read:
6/21/2007 3:59 pm

A true story...

Death's door was closed the day I arrived...

Ok, so I wasn't actually dead. To be precise, I was quite alive and conscious - physical pain attesting to that vital fact.

I was 16. Working after school in the Chem and Biology lab there. I was tasked to clean up after the days experiments and setup for the next days labs. Once all that was accomplished, I was permitted to conduct experiments on my own. - It was actually in the job description! Obviously these employers had no clue what kind of mischief I could get myself into given this kind of latitude...

I was cleaning up the locker, organizing the various chemicals and reagents. Placing all the highly reactive articles in one space, the inerts in another. All of it alphabetized for easy retrieval.

There was this can of red phosphorus. It hadn't been used in a while and had begun to rust. As I cleaned the container I read the warning label which read, in part; "Do not mix with potassium Chloride". No why, though any semi-conscious person could well have figured out why. I mean, it's phosphorous! It BURNS! Hot and ALOT...

So, being the thoroughly clueless and inquisitive dip shit I was... Can you figure it out? Yep... dumb-ass decided to see *why* one should not mix these two chemicals...

I placed about a tablespoon full of the phosphorous and another of potassium chloride into a ceramic crucible, lightly stirring it with a glass rod.

Now, there's a reason, an EXCELLENT reason, why one should never mix these two. It becomes a contact explosive.

And it exploded. Well, explosion really isn't an accurate description here. It flashed. A white hot plume of flame shot out of that crucible, throwing burning phosphorous into the room. After I'd been released from the hospital (wait for it... I'll get to that momentarily), I surveyed the damage in the lab.

Have you ever watched cartoons where some hapless character or other takes the brunt of an explosion? The character is blackened and crispy, and the wall behind usually features an unburnt silhouette. I swear, that's what the back wall looked like!

Back to the story though... The flash burn heated the ceramic crucible such that it actually shattered into the metal sink I'd been mixing over. The glass rod instantly exploded from the heat as well.

I'd sustained deep second degree burns to the right side of my head, face and chest, first and second to my right cornea. The skin and fingernails were burned and peeled back on my right hand - decent third degree burns - and another deep third on my left elbow. A spot of phosphorous had landed there and was still smoldering in the emergency room a half hour later.

Have you ever heard that in combat, a mortally wounded man will, almost without exception, call out for his mother? I didn't... And for good reason too. It was Dad that I wanted.

Dad was a retired Navy Corpsman. He'd seen trauma in Vietnam. Real trauma. He was always cool and collected in an emergency and seemed to know exactly what to do in any critical situation. Mom, on the other hand, was a deeply emotional woman given to flights of panic in the face of the most insignificant adversity. I didn't need panic just then. I needed help.

I broke into the office and made a call home. I'm not entirely sure we had a nine-one-one system back then... but I knew my home number and I knew there was someone there who knew what to do. Mom answered the phone, so as calmly as I could, I asked for Dad. She knew something was wrong the second I opened my mouth and went onto her typical panic mode. Eventually Dad heard the commotion and picked up his line. Finally!

"Dad, I'm burned. Help me, I'm burned..." and I passed out from the pain.

Just a side note here folks. If your ever in a burning building with no way out but a 40 story window... Jump. I'm serious! There is no pain in the world like a burn. No adjective even comes close to the explosively intense pain of a decent second degree burn. Falling hundreds of feet to your death is EVER so much more preferable, believe me.

So anyway, Dad coordinated a rescue effort using friends in town and close by the high school, had me transported to the neighboring town to the hospital. I woke up just as the doctors began irrigating my eyes and cleaning the various burns. and passed out again almost at once.

The following week, bandaged and coated in silvadine paste, began a three month long torture regime of daily cleaning and debridement. I'd whimper like a little baby every day driving to the hospital. I had no thought of dignity, crying as the doctors scraped and cut and pulled the dead skin and flesh out of the wounds.

I so wanted to die. But alas, death's door was closed the day I arrived...

Lapkin4u 43F

11/18/2005 8:49 am

Wow thats awful Byte! I bet you listen to warnings now, don't you? If nothing else it's a lesson learned and thanks for sharing it. You never know when somebody else may be wondering the same thing...hmm I wonder what would happen if I mixed this and this...Good lesson to teach! I'm glad that you recovered and are with us today!

caressmewell 54F

11/18/2005 8:52 am

You were a very lucky young man that day, stupid, but lucky.

ByteChaser2 54M

11/18/2005 10:49 am

Hi Lapkin - yeah, I'm kinda happy to still be around too, at least for a while longer anyway!

ByteChaser2 54M

11/18/2005 10:51 am

I was CaressMe... Both lucky AND stupid. But I'd rather be lucky than good

rm_sj365 57F
2414 posts
11/18/2005 12:36 pm


"debridement" even the word has a painful sound to it.

I'm glad you chose a happy ending tale. well done! yayyy

ByteChaser2 54M

11/18/2005 1:19 pm

Wow... A veritible stamp and seal of approval? No humming or "la-la-la-ing"???

Got another one for me sj? I'm psyched now

ByteChaser2 54M

11/22/2005 6:55 am

I got plenty enough scars silhouette! In places to make a doctor blush

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