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Burned Alive

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I had never been in so much pain in my 16 years of existence. The tears streamed down my face, all I could think about was the terror of being hospitalized In Costa Rica. It’s bad enough going to the hospital In your hometown or even someplace you’re unfamiliar with In the United States. I couldn’t even imagine being put into a hospital where you’re language, and way of doing things are completely different from theirs. Looking at myself in front of the bathroom mirror, I could feel myself start to sweat. My shoulders had become a raw, blistered back splash against my bleach white bath towel.

I couldn’t move my arms or my neck. Testing my own capability to move my arms, I lifted them. The second I started, I Immediately brought them right back down. It had felt as if my skin was being ripped off piece by piece. I started getting hot.

Drip by drip, I could feel the sweat running down my forehead. The pain started to become unbearable.

I wanted to crawl out of my skin. My eyesight was slowly fading. Little black blurry spots were slowly replacing the horrifying image I had seen moments before. I squeezed my eyes shut as hard as possible hoping that the spots would go away. I opened them again, and everything was black. It was as If I had gone blind. My legs dropped out from underneath me, and felt the Ice cold marble floor.

Ashley had walked Into the bathroom oblivious to what had just happened.
"Are you ok?" she asked.
I didn't answer.
She asked again "Are you ok?".

I just layed there. The soggy wet towel I had used to step out on getting out of the shower was now glued to the side of my cheek. Disgusted by the grimey feeling, I had become too distracted to answer her.

“I’m going to get mom”.

"What happened?", "Why are you just laying there?” My mom wanted to know.
She looked like she had just woken up from the dead. She was still wearing pajamas. Her hair was straight up on one side, and flattened down on the other. She had a line running across her face from her pillow.
"I just want to lay here". I peered through the little gap in between the shower door and the floor. I looked at the cream colored swirls on the marble floor. Each swirl glistening in the light.
Talking was starting to make me nauseous. The only thing I wanted to do was lay on that cold marble floor.

“Karisa, do you know how serious this Is?”. The blisters had started to develop; white dime size bubbles were splattered across my raw shoulders. “People who get burned this bad are suppose to be put into the hospital.” She stood In the doorway staring at me. She was making It sound like I let this happen on purpose, like I wanted to be miserable.

"This Is how people get skin cancer" She cried. I layed with my back to her silent. "Well are you going to be able to go zip lining later?"
"Yeah”. Although I said yes, I was cringing Inside thinking about having to do something that required me to lift my arms.

"Are you gonna get off the floor?"
"No, I just want to sleep here for a little while." She left. In the next room, I could hear my mom crying to my dad.

"I don't know what to do. Her back is completely burnt. There's no way she can go ziplining".
"It will be ok, we'll go to breakfast, come back to get her, and we'll go" he said, already over the subject.

A few hours had passed, and I somehow managed to convince my mom I could handle zip-lining. There was no way I would miss out on once In a lifetime chance like that. We were picked up, and after almost an hour of being in the van, I started to feel sick once again. That nauseous feeling I had earlier that morning was back. I pushed it off. Once we arrived, I started to have a bad feeling about what I was about to endure.

I geared up, and waited In line with our group.

My mom who was going to stay back while we all went zip lining asked me once more "Are you sure you want to go?".
"Yes". That was It. There was no turning back.

Once it came my turn, I walked up to the ledge of the hill we were on, jumped off the ground so the guide could hook me onto the cable, and then he let me go. As I flew through the trees, I started feeling sick. Over and over again I tried reassuring myself everything was fine.

I ended up making it to the second tree before feeling faint. Getting dizzy standing hundreds of feet up in the tree, I clung onto the lightweight rope railing that barricaded the edge of the rickety platform. My heart started racing out of control.
"Dad, I'm getting sick."
“Do you need water?”
I just looked straight up at the tops of the trees. I watched the wind blow the branches. Each tree rocking back and forth keeping rhythm. I listened to the rustling of the dried out leaves. I wanted the pain to go away. I longed the feel the breeze. That's when everything went black again. My eyes were wide open. I knew they were. But all I could see was darkness.

"Dad, I can't see anything!" panicked, I tried reaching out my hands to him. Feeling around the air trying to grab onto anything that was there I dropped down to the floor of the platform. After a minute or two, I could see again. I sat there for a few minutes trying to calm down.

"We need to get her off of here" said my dad.

The guide hooked up my harness to his, and we transcended down the cables. Once we reached the ground, we hiked back to the top of the hill my mom was waiting for us on. Walking up the flight of stairs to get to the top of the hill, my legs had felt as if they were going to buckle underneath me. My head pounded with every step. After about half an hour the group came back, and we left.


Until we went home, I was miserable. I couldn’t do anything. The pain was unbearable. I didn’t sleep for days because laying down was so painful. I could only swim at night or early In the morning before the sun got too strong. I could barely move.

Within a couple of months my shoulders were healed. The scars as well as the hundreds of freckles on my upper back are still there to remind me of the pain I endured. Because of what happened In Costa Rica, I am now more susceptible to developing skin cancer than I ever would have been. Every time I'm outside, I monitor the new moles on my shoulders for fear of developing skin cancer. I can’t afford to forget to put on sunscreen while I’m outside, because now my skin is so much more sensitive to the sun. Just a little too much sun exposure could mean the worst for me.




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