Mistaken Again for Meth Lab Burn Victim

Several weeks ago I was dumbfounded when a store clerk expressed his perception I’d been burned in a methamphetamine lab explosion fire. I wonder how many people jump to that conclusion these days. And then there is this news article today, “AP IMPACT: Meth fills hospitals with burn patients.” I suppose I should give the pharmacy clerk some credit for recognizing what parts of the body are most affected: “What’s more, meth-related burns often sear some of the body’s most sensitive areas – the face and hands.
“I don’t think a lot of these patients will be able to re-enter society, said Dr. Lucy Wibbenmeyer of the burn center at the University of Iowa. “They’ll need rehab therapy, occupational therapy, which is very expensive.””


I’m feeling a little guilty linking this site to my law practice site; but now that I’m a practicing Florida attorney I can do more than just relate my own personal story, I can try to help other burn survivors and families navigate the hurdles associated with burns. I’ve been fortunate with my opportunities, but the reality is many burn survivors are victims of missed opportunities because of their burn scars and misconceptions people have about abilities and appearance, which lead to otherwise unintentional discrimination. I’m being polite.

Exercise and Burns

I heard this the other day while watching the US Open: “to be great you have to actually do something.” I cannot recall who said it or the context. 9-9-10


I try to exercise as much as I can. I jog and walk, but I’ve recently taken up tennis (teaching my son, and the recent addition of his two friends). After about two hours my clothes are drenched. I drink a lot and pace myself to not get overheated, and years of practice on that front are really starting to pay off with my endurance. My back is regular skin so it does sweat a lot (actually everywhere not burned sweats a lot–sweat droplets forms on my legs). My parents had me doing yard work and jogging shortly after I was burned–I will confess I hated it very much, but the benefits are still with me (we lived, and I continue to live in Florida). Some of parts of my body that never perspired now do become moist with sweat, but mostly the burned areas are dry. It is interesting to see the partners that form on my tee shirt: the back is soaked, but the front is mostly dry except for a few wet areas that escaped being burned.

The body has an amazing ability to adapt, but it does take time and experience (training or repetition).

Last summer I replaced my roof on the detached garage. It took me close to forty actual hours of work to scrape off the layers of old roofing–it was the most difficult aspect of the job. It was very hot, and I was drinking nearly 2 gallons of gatoraide each day. I finally found a rhythm that worked: 30-40 minutes on the roof and then an hour break to cool down. Right at 40 minutes my productivity dropped off to where I’d make a movement and then rest. But once I realized my threshold and the job became a lot more manageable. The last thing I needed was a heat stroke or some delirium from exhaustion causing me to fall off the roof. I love Florida and life too much to cut it short by some foolish disregard to my body’s capabilities. That said, I do tend to push myself–I hate the restrictions caused by the shackles scars have inflicted on my body.

Law Enforcement and Unwanted Attention

Yesterday, while waiting in the pickup area at my son’s school with other parents, a school official (I didn’t recognize) walked over to me and asked if I was picking up a student. I said yes (my mind was thinking what a stupid question…of course, I’m picking up a student that’s why I’m waiting here), and she lingered a bit saying no more, and then walked away. About a minute later a police officer came over to me but stayed a few feet away watching me; and then my son called over to me, and the officer said, “have a nice day” and walked away.

It seems innocent enough, but no other parent was asked if they were waiting for a student. Anyway, it’s unwanted attention, and simply makes one feel like a criminal.

This happens a lot at retail stores with security folks.