Mon, 07 Mar 2005

Self-Immolation

I probably won't type up most stuff from this weekend, but I figure I'll add an entry describing my bout of stupidity for later perusal.

This was on Saturday night. I'd finally decided to wear my loincloth, so that and my boots were all I had on as I headed up to the fire stack. We were burning a bunch of pallets and I helped several others carry them from their location to the fire area. When the stack was about halfway done, Rob dumped a bunch of white gas over the fire to prepare it for being lit.

We finished adding pallets. I put a bit more white gas on, fearing that much of the previous stuff had evaporated, and we were pondering ways to light it. Troy was going to use a fire staff, but I said I'd light it myself. I failed to remember the volatility of white gas, thinking of the manner in which kerosene-soaked fires light.

Troy handed me his lighter. I went to the fire, crouched down, and extended my right arm, placing the lighter up to the piece of wood that was sticking out most from the fire.

I then remember three distinct things. All of a sudden, there was fire all in front of me--the vapors in the air had ignited--and my sole thought was, "Away!" I pushed myself away from the fire and it followed me as I moved backwards. The next thing I remember is lying on the ground on my back, some distance from the fire.

Several people came over to me and asked very anxiously, "Are you okay?" I mentally checked myself, realized that my whole right side was hurting in a manner that suggested it had been burned and said, "No. Is there a wet towel?" There wasn't, but Rob and someone else got jugs of water, which we proceeded to pour over my body to cool it off.

(I was later informed that several of the women, among them Suz, Amy, and Christie, found the sight of people pouring water over my loincloth-clad body while backlit by the fire very sexy.)

I talked with someone about first aid stuff in the area, concluded that there wasn't any in the immediate vicinity, and set out with Suz toward my tent, with my first aid kit and its burn cream. We got down there, I got out the kit, opened it, and dumped out everything. I barely wanted to use my hands, because flexing my fingers hurt. Sean (Burning Sean) cut open the burn cream packets and I applied them to the places I felt most burned. Suz then used Sean's spray Bactine over everywhere I felt burned at all. I noticed that I had at least one blister on my left index finger, and it had already burst. I felt like my lips were blistering and had Suz (and, later, other people) check it, but everyone said it looked okay, just red and swollen.

After finishing the initial first aid, I felt my body feeling a lot weaker and realized that the adrenaline had just worn off, and said as much to Suz, as I sat down. When the dizziness and nausea continued, I realized that my body was starting to go into shock, so I went and lay down on the bench of one of the picnic tables. I kept babbling to Suz and Rob and Troy, who were there by then, just to make sure I stayed conscious and had something to focus on. Rob and Troy dressed the blister on my finger while I lay there.

At this point my memories blur together a bit. I remember seeing the bright orange glow from the fire reflected off the trees around me. I remember getting up and walking with Suz to see the thing (it was very big and very bright). I remember apologizing to Suz for being hurt and worrying her and for her having to essentially ranger me. At some point, Rob, Suz, and Troy left while Jill arrived. I recall having Jill check my forehead temperature, which was closer to normal when she checked than when Rob and Suz had (so I was coming out of shock).

That's most of the tale. After that, I tried going back up to the fire, but even at a distance the heat was causing my burns to hurt more, so I went back down. I sat around for a bit, just breathing and half-meditating to lessen the pain. Other people showed up, and I talked with them. As the night progressed, the burns hurt less and less, and after a number of hours (four or five?) I could wear a shirt without it hurting too much. A bit after that, I went to sleep, which my body gladly welcomed.


Phil! Gold