The long-awaited day has finally come, it sure wasn’t easy and it took a lot from me to gather the courage to take this huge step forward in my life. I had been putting a lot of thought into this for a while now and it’s about time I’ve decided to put my story out there to share with the world. I’ve got to say that this was by far one of the biggest challenges I’ve had to face. I’m in no way doing this for fame or money, I don’t care about any of that. My goal is that by sharing my story with others who have experienced similar physical and emotional distress will not only help them but will also help me. I’m completely aware of what I’m getting myself into and how society can be but I’m willing to take the risk. Accidents happen around the world every day but unfortunately that’s how life works sometimes. I was such a cheerful little girl barely learning how to live when it all happened. I don’t remember much, but the moments I remember will forever be imprinted on my memory.
In August of 2000 was when my life took an unexpected turn that changed my life forever. I was only 4 at the time of the accident. It occurred in my hometown called Hughson, CA where I still reside. It was during the night while my dad was outside heating up oil in a cooking pot in the backyard of our home along with my grandpa who witnessed everything. My dad was preparing it to make pork skins for a family party. We’re mexican and my dad had always liked to make carnitas, which is spanish for pork skins. Well, as a little girl I was so attached to my dad that I would nearly follow him everywhere. My mom attempted to keep me inside that night, because she was getting ready to work night shift, but I escaped and went out into the backyard. It was dark and the only thing that was giving out a little bit of light was the portable stove burner.
My parents until this day don’t clearly understand how it happened, because it all happened so quick. I don’t understand either due to how young I was and most of it was a blur for me. We don’t really like bringing up those bad memories, but basically what happened is that I tripped and fell backwards into the pot the oil was in. According to my dad, he heard me scream which he then realized I had fallen in. He begged my grandpa for help, but he had gone into shock. My dad reacted instantly in the way that he didn’t care what he had to do to save his little girl, and as crazy as it sounds he stuck his hands in the pot to take me out. My mom and my two older brothers overheard my dad scream and they ran out of the house to see what was going on only to find me unconscious in my dad’s arms. My oldest brother was the one who called 911. When help arrived, I was immediately rushed to the hospital in a helicopter. I suffered from 3rd degree burns from my shoulders to my hamstrings and a little bit towards the front of my stomach and my hips. Nearly 50% of my body was burned with no injuries to my face, which was considered a miracle. My dad also suffered from 2nd degree burns from the fingertips to a little over his wrists. He received treatment at the UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, CA. I received treatment at the Shriners Hospital for children also in Sacramento, CA as well. The hospital has been recognized as one of the best hospitals in the world. I was in the ICU/Burn unit for nearly three months, hooked up to monitors, given countless doses of medication to ease the pain, received plenty of blood transfusions and even went baldy. I had a 50/50 chance of survival because doctors weren’t sure if I was going to resist treatment due to how critical my condition was. I was only 4 years old, but I was a brave little fighter.
Not only am I extremely grateful with my dad for saving me but I’ll forever be immensely grateful for all the doctors and nurses that cared for me and helped my family and I get through an extremely difficult situation. One of the doctors that deserves the biggest recognition is the one who cared for me from the very first day I went in to a couple of years after my recovery, Dr. David Greenhalgh. I will always consider Dr. Greenhalgh as one of my heroes. It’s crazy to think that some of the doctors, nurses and other members of the hospital still remember me just like I remember them. Every time I’d go in for an appointment and told them my name they would look at me in utter disbelief that it was me, and just amazed at how much I have grown. All these people will always have a special place in my heart, because I believe people who work in those professions and are dedicated to saving lives are truly angels. I am here now almost 17 years later talking about my story. The years since my accident have been really tough for me. When I was younger, I was bullied in school for my appearance, sometimes because I had to wear pressure garments to protect my scars. I was teased and called names from kindergarten to the sixth grade and a little bit in high school.
In the past I had never gone out wearing a bathing suit in the summer or clothes that revealed my scars, because every time I’d go outside in public showing them all people would do is criticize and stare. As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned to careless what people think of me and just ignore the hate. Since the age of 4 I had undergone multiple reconstructive surgeries, specifically skin grafts until the age of 18 including physical therapy. I had the opportunity to get more surgeries, but I decided I no longer wanted any. I would just rather stay the way I am, though I would be dealing with some minor complications with my body in the future. On July 31, 2014 was the last surgery I had, and it was just a few weeks before the college semester started, which I was really excited for. Unfortunately, things didn’t go so well. A week after I had surgery I got an infection on my wound that led me to the ER. Long story short, my plans for going back to school were cancelled. I was so disappointed.
Prior to deciding what career path I wanted to take after graduating high school joining the Air Force was one of my ideas since my sophomore year until senior year. The idea faded away because I felt like I wouldn’t have been physically able to withstand military training due to my condition. It would’ve been cool to be the 3rd one in my family to become part of the military. For years I’ve dealt with insecurities, low self-esteem issues, depression and with so much internal conflict that at one point I felt worthless and had doubts of my own existence. It certainly took a while but there came a day where I just couldn’t take it anymore and I had one of my worst emotional meltdowns. It was the day when life knocked some sense into me. I’ve come to realize a lot of things starting with how incredibly fortunate I am to have life and most importantly my worth. I now understand that my outer appearance and imperfections do not define who I am as a person. I may not have the best body, a nice face or in general perfect, but that’s not what matters at all. What really does matter is the inside, who I am as a person because true beauty lies within. It’s truly a blessing, I have an amazing support system that is my loving family, yet one of my biggest supporters of all has been my number one, my mom. I don’t know what would be of me if it weren’t for her. She has continuously been the one to lift me up when I’m down, she has always tried to make me feel better about myself. One thing she has often told me is that over everything I should be thankful for the simple fact that I’m alive and healthy. Her unconditional love and support have been the absolute best. I love and appreciate her very much. Overall, I express my deepest gratitude to each and every one of the individuals who have helped and stood by me through thick and thin, regardless of anything.
Early in the month of April I came up with the idea of getting my second tattoo done which I’m so happy to say I now have. I know that body modifications such as tattoos are permanent marks. We’ll live with those our whole lives, and getting them removed isn’t so easy, but when I found this one I absolutely fell in love it and thought it would go just perfect with me. The tattoo reads From every wound there is a scar, and every scar tells a story. A story that says, “I survived.” I chose the best spot to get it done too, because every time I look back in the mirror not only will I see my scars, but the tattoo. It will always be a reminder that I fought a battle between life and death and God decided my time wasn’t up yet, I still had a purpose in life to fulfill.
Fast forward towards the end of April I ran into a community of burn survivors through and Instagram page called burnsurvivorsupport. I reached out to them and within 2 days I received a response. Thanks to them I found the opportunity to get my story out there. The whole idea of sharing my story was put together because of the tattoo idea and the burn survivor community. I’ve read so many stories of people who have suffered from the same tragedy of burns, which inspired me to do the same. I knew that I would upload a picture of my tattoo on social media once I got it, so I found that as an advantage to make it public. At the beginning, I was afraid to share this and I nearly turned back, but I know it will be so worth it. It comforts me knowing that it’s for a good cause to help and make a positive impact on someone’s life. With time passing by, I’ve begun to view life with a better mindset and understanding that everything happens for a reason. It has been one long journey, journey that still continues, but it fills me with joy to say that I sense a lot of wonderful things are coming, because the best has yet to come for me. Even though, I’ve had to endure so much pain and suffering from a very young age, nevertheless little by little I’ve learned to transform all of that into strength and motivation. Time has gone by quickly and now I am a happy soon to be 21-year-old college student who is pursuing a career in Business/Office Administration, a beauty and makeup enthusiast and a photography lover. I’m just a person who dreams of accomplishing her goals and of a bright future.
Honestly, I’m thankful for my struggle because it has made me grow into the person I am today. I identify myself as a strong, hard-working, determined, genuine, overall a woman with a heart of gold. Throughout my life I’ve run into people who’ve tried to tear me down, but I will never let bad experiences turn me into a bad and resentful person. I will just continue to grow, work towards becoming the best possible version of myself, surround myself with positive energy and block all negativity. I believe that what goes around comes around. Whatever we do in life whether it’s good or bad will come back to us, that’s why I’ll be sure to always spread goodness. This negative and cold world of today sure needs it. I may not be where I want to be yet and I know it’s going to be a long and challenge filled process, but I believe in myself and that I will get there. One day at a time. One thing for sure is no matter how high I’ll go in life I’ll never forget how low I once was or where I came from.
To whoever gets to read this thank you so much for taking the time to do so. I feel like I just lifted a big weight off my shoulders and set myself free from this burden and such an isolated place by sharing my story. The best advice I can offer for someone who is currently dealing with any problems in their life know that no dark storm last storm lasts forever, for every single one there is there will always be a brighter day. There is always light at the end of the tunnel, it’s just a matter of pushing yourself, filling your mind and heart with positive and happy thoughts. Most importantly never lose faith, hold onto hope, because with God everything is possible. Truth is it all starts with you and the effort you’re willing to put in. I admit there’s times where I still find myself wanting to give up, because it tends to be the easiest thing to do. As I look back how far I’ve come, and the amazing progress I’ve made to just give up everything like nothing, triggers my mind and my body to push harder. I know that there’s people out there who would love to see me fail, but there’s no way I’ll ever give them the satisfaction of seeing me in that position. I may have been a victim of bullying at one time, I’ve been judged and knocked down, in general been through hell and back so many times. In spite of it all, I will continue to rise over everything like I always have and strive for success. There’s a quote that goes something like “Fall down 7 times stand up 8.” I’ll continue to stumble and fall, but on the ground I’ll never stay.
I want to encourage those who are afraid to speak up and reach out for help. We all go through struggles, we all have stories. There is always someone here to listen and whether you believe it or not you have a purpose in this world just like me. Above everything our lives are our most valuable possession. Don’t let the fear of being judged or anything get in the way of doing what you feel is best for you, most importantly for your mental health. Letting my story be widely known is the best choice I have ever made. It’s something I never imagined I would end up doing much less within easy access of just a click on a page, but as I said before I’m doing this for a good cause. I hope that I can inspire people to do the same. Sometimes it’s necessary for our well-being to let everything out in order to feel that sense of closure and be able to move on. Truthfully, only God and I know the pain I’ve suffered both physically and emotionally since my accident, and even if I may never heal completely from the inside I’m at peace within myself, because I know he will continue to comfort me and mend those pieces back together. He will continue to guide me every step of the way and give me the strength to carry on with my life and live happily.
To my fellow burn survivors and others who have survived other horrific experiences, we survived and have overcome so many hardships in our lives, but nonetheless our hearts were given a second chance to beat, to walk on this earth and live this beautiful thing called life to the fullest. It’s a miracle that we are here. There is only one life, we’re given today and tomorrow is never promised, for that reason we should never take it for granted. If it’s God’s will I want to look back years from now and say I did it, and hopefully one day in the future I’ll get to share this with my own family. This is just one milestone of many and I just can’t wait to see what other amazing things the future has in store for me. June 3rd, 2017 marked the end of a chapter and the beginning of a new one. My name is Coni Oseguera, and I’m proud to call myself a burn survivor.
“No matter your social status, how powerful you feel you are, we are all equal. We came here by birth and will leave in death” – Billy Graham