Ah, the familiar smells of potassium nitrate and sulfur have once again filled the air. As our neighbors routinely placed their fur babies indoors for the evening, many of us ventured outside to add to the festive atmosphere of lighting fireworks with our friends and loved ones. The Otto’s were no different and this year we had the pleasure of introducing a new experience to our little Isabella. Armed with eye and ear protection, we were ready to go. Cassidy delighted in the fact that we bought a family pack of an assorted variety of fountain displays, Saturn missiles, bottle rockets and a few artillery shells. You can catch a video by clicking the image below of the few that we were able to light.

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Cassidy enjoying the fireworks before danger struck.

The night did not go as planned in fact. No, no. It ended with a bang…and blood and tears and the destruction of my favorite silly lobster shirt. About a third of the way into our pack of fireworks at around 8:30 pm I was suddenly struck in the face – hard. I’ve been in my fair share of fights growing up and what this felt like was a combination of getting sucker punched on the left side of my jaw and then lit on fire.  The overlapping doses of adrenaline and pain made me realize at that very instant what happened – someone’s artillery shell somehow missed it’s destination in the sky above us and instead took aim on my face. When it hit me, it blew up and ripped my beloved lobster shirt and burned my neck, chest and stomach. Daya and Isabella were in the car watching the show so my immediate concern was to make sure Cassidy was okay. She looked scared but was unharmed. Just to make sure, I asked if she was okay and she nodded her head. Judging from the looks in everyone’s eyes I could tell I’d probably been hit pretty good. I told Cassidy to help gather our belongings. We needed to leave so I could assess the damage at the car to see whether a hospital visit was warranted or not. By the time we got to the car Cassidy finally let it all out and began to cry. It was hard for her to watch an artillery shell hit and explode in her dad’s face. Once Daya saw me she rushed over with Izzy’s baby blanket and pressed it up on my neck where blood was coming out.

The adrenaline did a fine job from preventing me to feel the full brunt of the pain so I used the opportunity to drive us home while doing my best to let Cassidy know I was going to be okay. As tough as I was trying to be for her, I kept wondering if I did indeed need to visit the hospital. “How much does one need to be burned before your body’s defense can’t keep up?”, I wondered.

Perhaps it was the lack of faith I’ve been holding on to for the past few months or maybe I had just realized the gravity of the situation but during the drive home I asked my family if we could take a moment to pray together.  I wanted to spend a few minutes and ignore the pain to acknowledge to God that this situation could have been a whole lot worse and thank Him that it wasn’t. What if, heaven forbid, it was Cassidy, Isabella or Daya who was hit instead? I was alive and aside from a few painful burns, everything was still attached and my spirits remained high.

Being married to a nurse has it’s perks. Daya knew exactly what to do and jumped right into action. I asked if I could do all the painful stuff myself like cleaning the firework residue from my wound while she treated my face, neck and torso with iodine, Neosporin and bandaged me up. By 11:30 pm I looked like an official burn victim. Knowing our night was cut short we still tried to make the best of it by watching nearby firework shows from a window upstairs.

With an ice pack over my swollen face and burned up chest I decided to sleep on the couch. Before falling asleep I kept thinking over and over again how thankful I was that it was me who was hurt and not my ladies. As my mind began to play out each scenario I reminded myself only to think positive thoughts and fall asleep to those.

Aftermath

It’s been over a week since the accident and for the most part I’ve healed pretty good. However, it does appear I will be left with a scar on my jaw. That’s what beards are for I guess. Daya now says ‘No more fireworks’, but I say, ‘Just be more aware of your surroundings.’ One thing we can all agree on though is that will be the last time we light fireworks at Boom City.  Looking back on that night there were only three people “supervising” the field and when I did get hit, no one came to check on me.  As you can see in the video, there were children everywhere and after having experienced what I did, there’s no way I’d ever allow my children nor anyone else’s in such an uncontrolled and chaotic environment.

Our family hopes you had a safe and enjoyable Independence Day. We look forward to many more SAFE holidays to come!