Raffaella was burnt a couple of years ago after she brushed past a candle and her dress caught fire. Her hands, arms, and part of her face were burnt in the accident.

Raffaella was meditating at her home and had lit some candles. As she brushed past one of the candles, her dress caught alight and began to burn. A neighbour heard her screaming and knocked on her door to check she was ok. An ambulance was called and Raffaella remained standing under running water until it arrived. When paramedics arrived, she was taken to hospital and given morphine in the ambulance to help with the pain.

When she arrived at the hospital Raffaella was assessed by nurses. Because she had been under cool, running water, Raffaella’s temperature was low and needed to be brought back to a normal level. Once her temperature was regulated and a cannula inserted into her foot, Raffaella was taken to a ward where her burns were cleaned.

A couple of days later, Raffaella had an allograft (a skin graft with skin from an organ donor). She was “so grateful” to the organ donor who’s skin had been used. Around a week later, Raffaella had a skin graft where skin was taken from the top of her thigh and grafted onto an area which had been burnt.

At times, Raffaella felt “angry” and struggled to accept what had happened to her. She found it frustrating that healthcare staff were sometimes unable to answer her questions about what the future may look like. Raffella said she didn’t realise at first that recovering from burns would be “a long journey”.

Raffaella received support from The Katie Piper Foundation. She was offered physical rehabilitation and received the help of a personal trainer to help her regain her mobility. Mindfulness sessions were also offered by The Katie Piper Foundation and Raffaella said were helpful, especially during such an isolating time such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

Raffaella was burnt during the Covid-19 pandemic, so services were not operating as usual. This was even more difficult as in addition to recovering from a burn injury, Raffaella’s Mum sadly died. Losing her Mum made Raffaella put her burn injury into perspective, she said having a burn was “not a big deal” compared to her Mum passing away.

In the beginning, Raffaella worried what people may think of her and if they would judge her. In time, she has been able to adopt an attitude of not worrying what people think and has learnt to not be so critical of herself.

Raffaella’s advice to other people recovering from a burn injury is “to not think too far ahead”. She also advises that it is ok to “whinge” and feel negative about the situation, though suggests thinking about “how much time do you want to spend doing that?”.

Raffaella had a burn injury 18 months ago and doesn’t feel comfortable dating currently. She feels she has lost her “femininity” and “sexuality” but hopes the way she feels about relationships will change with time.

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Raffaella said her identity doesn’t revolve around being a “burn survivor”.

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Raffaella initially had a skin graft using skin from an organ donor.

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Raffaella exercised her hand as the burn healed. She also used creams, massaged the skin, and tried other things like acupuncture and vitamins.

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Raffaella received support from The Katie Piper Foundation.

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Raffaella said being burnt taught her to take each day one at a time.

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Soon after her burn, Raffaella wasn’t able to attend any in-person support groups because of Covid-19 restrictions. At first, she felt like the only person with a burn injury.

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