She suffered from 3rd and 4th degree burns, underwent six surgeries, but her strength and determination to survive encouraged her to live.
Editor's note: This article was originally published on August 25, 2020. It has since been updated.
Spending time with friends and family is a special time for most of us. The banter, laughter, and deep conversations with our loved ones are often what keep us going. But sometimes these happy moments change into tragedies that change the course of everyone involved. Halie Tennant had one such moment.
Halie, a resident of Hotspur, Victoria, was camping with a close friend of hers when a horrific incident occurred out of the blue. On May 30, 2020, Halie dozed off near the fire in her camping chair. Her friend was also sleeping when she was woken up by a strange murmuring sound, reported the Chronicle.
Halie's friend was greeted with the shocking sight of her lying face down in the campfire, without moving. "My friend heard a weird noise and before she even registered what she was seeing, she was out of bed and running towards me," said Halie and continued, "I was face first in our campfire and I was making no effort to get out."
When Halie was asked what really happaned, she couldn't remember much. She believes that the chair must have tipped onto the blaze while she was sleeping. Her friend pulled the 29-year-old out of the fire and poured ice-cold water over her burnt face to keep cool it down. She then drove Halie home to her husband, Mather, 2km away from the camping site. He, too, helped Halie keep her face cool by running it under tap water till the paramedics arrived.
A Medevac helicopter and an ambulance were called to rush Halie to The Alfred Hospital, where she was put in ICU as the docs realized her injuries were serious. Her entire face, chest, and left wrist had sustained 3rd and 4th-degree burns, reported The Daily Mail.
She spent eight days in coma, after which she was transferred to the burns ward. She underwent six surgeries in total including those that had the damaged skin being removed and skin being grafted on the face, neck, eyelids, and mouth. She spent nearly two-and-a-half months in hospital!
Even though all the procedures were done well, the healing process wasn't easy. Her everyday functioning was impacted by little things that people take for granted. "I was released from hospital for a week and a half and had to be readmitted due to my eyelids not touching," she said explaining her pain. "Once this was fixed, the surgeons looked at me again when we were getting ready to discharge and made the call to operate again on my mouth, as it had contracted so much that it couldn't open enough to eat something of a fork or spoon," she said.
Adding about how she missed her family through the entire journey, she said, "COVID was the hardest part of my recovery, I really missed my family and friends. While in ICU I was only allowed one visitor for one hour per day so Mathew, my mum and my dad took turns sitting with me."
Talking about the beautiful relationship she shares with her husband, she said, “I don't remember any pain; I remember asking Mathew to love me no matter what and him saying 'yes'. The hardest thing was losing my identity. I'm not a vain person, but your face and its characteristics are important in how you recognize yourself. Not knowing who you are any more is a hard thing to come to terms with."
As if her recovery was not hard enough, some people didn't have the compassion to react the right way to Halie, who had survived such a huge challenge. She said, “The only comment I have received in person outside the hospital was a man walking past and he told me 'you look like a zombie' and kept walking,” reported The Sun.
Halie Tennant, 29, from Hotspur in Victoria falls face first into campfire and burns her face | Daily Mail Online https://t.co/z4f5wwteqJ— Vernon Dixon (@VernonDixon14) August 19, 2020
The survivor is thankful for all the support she's been getting from her family, online well-wishers, and especially her husband. Being the strong woman she is and talking about her determined journey to recovery, Halie said, “My biggest supporter would have to be my rock, my husband, Mathew followed by my best friends, parents and my own personal cheer squad on the exotica tribe Facebook group."
Thanking her supporters once again she said, “You have all helped me and kept me positive, laughing and honest, thank you a million times over." “I am unable to work, I currently can't drive, but I have a better outlook on life," she concluded.