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An Unlikely Friendship

Everyone, meet Francis Wallace (pictured below). Francis read my article in The Washington Post back in April 2014 and found me through Google. It turns out he didn’t have to do much stalking as my name and pictures are very searchable. Haha. Yey, what every person wants– personal stories and hideous photos blasted all over the internet for years to come! ; )

Anyway, back to my story. Let’s flashback to not even 2 weeks ago when I received an email on my Linkedin page from Francis. His message wash short. “Hi Cristina. I read your story in The Washington Post. I am also a burn survivor. Can you give me a call, please?” You know me, whenever anyone writes me after knowing about my fire accident, I immediately write back. This time, I gave Francis a call. Upon completing the phone call, I learned a few things about Francis. Francis sounded like a gentle man who happens to live right outside of Washington, DC– very close to me. He read my article in the Post a few months back, lost the article and went on a frantic search to find me. He just felt like he needed to meet me. For anyone to want to meet me makes me feel special. Why me you ask, right? Well Francis has written a book called, A Will to Live and was in the final editing stages before production. He wanted to meet me because my story in the Post resonated with him and he felt that I had a story to tell and he wanted to hear it. Being the trusting person I am, I made an appointment to meet with Francis at a coffee shop in Washington, DC. Of course once I told my sister I was going to meet with a man alone whom I had never met before in D.C. during the the early morning hours, she freaked out. I however didn’t. Remember when I told you that Francis sounded like a gentle man over the phone? He also made sure to tell me that he was married and has daughters. He then added me on Facebook so I knew he was a real human being with a life of his own and I gathered that he was a religious family man. He wasn’t a cookoo for coco puffs who wanted to use my hair as tooth floss and my skin as a door mat. Well at least that’s the vibe I got. So last week I met up with Francis.  We both happened to arrive at the same time, park, and walk while talking to each other on the phone. As soon as I turned a corner to head to the entrance of the coffee shop, there he was– Francis Wallace. As soon as we saw each other, we gave one another a big hug.

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Francis Wallace is a 75 year old black man who was burned on over 85% of his body at the age of 25 in a fire that stemmed from an outdoor BBQ Grill. Then there is me–a 30 year old, white female who was burned at the age of 10 on less than 5% of my body in an accident that stemmed from a garage fire. Francis and I connected over a sweet tea and cappuccino. We spoke for almost 2 hours. He told me that his book has been years in the making, but it wasn’t until 2 years ago when he really got serious about finishing his book. The stories that Francis told me about his life not just about the fire, are INCREDIBLE. Real, raw and they made me yearn to want to know more about his life. I shared some of my stories to Francis and he said to me, “Cristina, you have a story to tell. There is a reason why we both survived. Let’s share our stories together.” Francis is right. I do have stories to tell and have written around 20 pages of a book that I began a few years back. I just keep putting it off. I was hoping that this blog would suffice, but Francis pushed me and said that I needed to finish my book.

Francis doesn’t know me well but he knew that we were meant to cross paths and work together. After meeting Francis though, it seemed as though we had known each other for years. How can two completely different people feel a connection? How could one person who is very religious and the other person who considers herself more spiritual than religious have a deeper connection? Francis and I share a significant experience in our lives that dictated the rest of our lives. Francis and I may seem like we are from two worlds apart, but we aren’t. We are both living, breathing humans that believe in a greater power that somehow allowed us to keep on going and live the best life we could live despite falling down several times throughout our lives.

Francis is my new friend and will be my friend for life. I cannot wait until Francis’ book comes out and I get to go hear him speak and do book signings. I wish a ton of success for him and I know he wants the same for me. Francis and I decided last week that we are going to both begin speaking at events while he promotes his book and I finish my book. Francis and I have an unlikely friendship, but underneath it all, we are the same. I cannot wait to share more stories. I’ll get Francis to do a video blog with me on my Youtube Channel and we will continue working together and pushing together to be the best people we can be, because after all, we made it out of those fire accidents alive. We are so damn lucky to be alive.

 

 

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When People with Differences Hate on People with Differences


Hello!

I hope you are enjoying life right now. I am glad it is sunny and around 72 degrees outside in Washington, D.C. today. Of course, I am stuck at my desk. But at least I can look out of the window. Haha. Anyway, I had trouble falling asleep the past 3 nights. When my mind won’t shut off, I medicate myself. I know– so not healthy to do, but I’ll either take Tylenol PM or Mucinex 12 hour syrup. Those 2 medications work wonders. They worked so well though that I ran out of them, dammit! So there I go at around 10:00pm the other night scrambling to find something that would put my mind at ease and allow me to sleep in peace. The only thing I found crowded in with all of my health and beauty products was NyQuil PM. So I took a shot of NyQuil. Well that worked until 4:00am the last two nights. Then from 4:00am on, I was wide awake. Which is fine. I got to record my video for Youtube without my dog, Belle, or my fiance, Jason, walking around in the background. Last night however, after I tucked myself in to bed with a shot of NyQuil, I lied there thinking about the most random things. A memory from when I was 10 years old popped into my head. I actually think about this memory more often than I ever thought I would and I feel compelled to share it with you. So the story goes like this…

It’s early afternoon, I am getting back into the swing of things at school after my fire accident. I have 3rd degree thick red burn scars all over my chin and part of my cheek and 1st and 2nd degree burns on the rest of my face. I don’t exactly look like your average happy 10 year old kid. I got that. I understood that I was different looking. I expected adults to treat me better, but in most cases, they were the absolute meanest people to me. Well, little did I know that I not only had adult haters, but I also had adult haters with disabilities! Every other month, my school would gather in the gym to watch a performance of some sort. This time around, a team of handicap basketball players came to play basketball and show off all kinds of neat tricks. They were trying to teach kids that you can do whatever you set your mind to and that in the end, regardless of how we look, we are all in fact humans and ultimately the same underneath. What a sweet lesson to teach, right?

Thirty minutes into the game, the Manager of the team went around to pick students to volunteer and play basketball with the team in wheelchairs. I saw all of my fellow classmates raise their hands so high for the chance to play, so I then thought I would raise my hand a little. Of course, the Manager found my slightly risen burned hand in the air and chose me to get out there into a wheel chair and play with the team. I shyly went out onto the court, and when I got into my wheel chair I noticed some of the guys on the team looking at me with disgust on their faces. I ignored it and began rolling around in the chair. The game began and everyone was rolling around and the ball got tossed to me. I got excited, placed the ball in my lap and began rolling around in the wheel chair looking for a person to pass the ball to—the person I wanted to pass to immediately rolled away from me. I then turned to my left and tried to pass it to someone else and this guy still had a weird look on his face from even the sight of me, so finally I decided to just make a shot—- and of course, as my life goes– I threw an air ball. I was immediately then escorted out of my chair and told to go back to my seat with the other students where I proceeded to get made fun of by a few male classmates.

This memory makes me laugh now, but also has me confused. Why in the world were handicap people disgusted by me? Shouldn’t we all be on the same team? Team Different! But the truth is, we are all human and there are certain things that gross us out and sometimes, we only think about how grossed out we are, and sometimes we show it on our faces, and even sometimes we have verbal diarrhea and say something completely messed up or inappropriate out loud. I try to be as non judgmental of people’s physical traits because I am in fact a burn victim. I’m sure when I say something, people are probably thinking, “umm you are one to talk, Crissy.” So I prefer to keep my opinions to myself and remind myself that we are all human, we all judge and we all react in different ways. It’s okay. But please when you catch yourself showing your facial expressions of disgust or saying things, think about the people around you that you affect. While I am so used to people staring at me, saying things, etc, I can’t help but let it affect me for a minute before I move on to the next thought. But that memory will be implanted in my head. No one is perfect. No point in being mean. All it ends up doing is making yourself look bad or insecure. So moral of the story– there is no Team Different. We are all human underneath. I guess the basketball players were teaching the right lessons after all.

 

Love my Readers! Have a great day!!

I Can Smile Like a Regular Person Again!!! Today is a Great DAY!

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Good Morning!

I finally have my video ready to load onto Youtube. But first, here are a few shots I took before and after the video. None of these photos are re-touched in any way, shape or form (as you can tell). Can you believe how much better my chin looks?? I can actually smile facing to the front now. I haven’t smiled like a regular person in years. Really–YEARS. I still have a little bit more work to have done on the scarring and shape of the chin, but for the most part, I am VERY pleased that Dr. Dubrow and Dr. Nassif have been able to change my life by actually doing what they said they were going to do to my chin. In my 10 operations prior to the one in late 2014, I had Doctors (some quite arrogantly) tell me that my chin was going to look amazing and as if I never got into a fire accident. Sadly, they were all wrong and kept botching my surgeries. I felt defeated, and ended up believing that this was the way I was supposed to live my life….with a scar. So I did what any person would do– I made the best out of my situation. And I continue to live my life with pure happiness. You have to come to that conclusion before you can seek any sort of happiness. You have to tell yourself that you only have one life to live and you have to make the best with what you have, and if you want something more, then you have to work for it. A lot of people want easy solutions. It can all be easy if you remove the negative thinking and only seek positive energy in your life. I do understand though that some people are born depressed or angry. Anyway, more on this later. For now– here are some shots taken this morning. I lightened my hair. Do you like it? Well, don’t answer that. I always get 50% of people telling me they love it, and then the other 50% like me so much better with the darker hair color. You can never please anyone. Oh well!

Have a great day! Anyone going to watch the new season of E!s’ Botched? How about watch Dr. Dubrow and Heather Dubrow’s new talk show after Botched??? I will be tuning in as I hope you do too : ) Check out my video on youtube later if you want to have a little laugh!

P.s- Thank you to the Merideth Veira Show for mentioning my name when Dr. Dubrow and Dr. Nassif were on there talking about Botched! Great show. I got a few emails after that episode aired.

 

HAPPY WEDNESDAY & MORE UPDATES!!

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Hey Sugars!

Thank you for the continued support. I couldn’t be more grateful of what came out of sharing my story to millions of viewers. I hope to continue helping more people who feel like they are the only people going through certain things and I will be sure to update you shortly.

I see that my bestie Cristian/Bambi is getting lots of positive feedback on the pictures of part of my apartment he helped decorate. He loves hearing from the Readers who have contacted him about setting up an appointment to check out their space they want his help with. He is whoring himself out for $25 per hour to my awesome Readers. He usually charges $125 per hour. Trust me–even if you spend 2 hours with him in your home, he will work with you on what you already have and arrange things in a way that will make your home look SO MUCH BETTER. So anyway, thanks guys!

P.S-I just got engaged!!! Follow me on INSTAGRAM TO SEE ME GO THROUGH THE WHOLE WEDDING PROCESS & UPDATE IT MORE WITH PICTURES! I DECIDED THAT MY FIRST YOUTUBE VIDEO WILL BE OF MY SURPRISE ENGAGEMENT. CRAZY HOW IT HAPPENED!! I WILL UPDATE MORE SHORTLY!!

Have a beautiful WEDNESDAY! Talk soon!!!!!

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3000+ Visitors!! Happy Monday!!

So this is how I'm feeling right now in my office!! When you go from less than 100 people looking at your blog, to over 3000 in a week, your mind is blown. I thought 100 people was a lot of Visitors and was super excited to keep writing for those 100 people and robots. And then I did Press for Botched and WOW, 3000+ Visitors later and here I am gettin' my groove on. Ha. Thank you to the various media outlets who support this blog and all that I want to do to make life a little easier for those of us who are a little different looking than most other people. When I hit the 5000 page load mark, I will create my own Gif and put it up there. That should be motivation to help spread the blog, right? ; )

Anyway, let me share a story with you about this past weekend trip. As I have mentioned in previous posts, my brother is happily married with 3 boys all under the age of 7. They live in this beautiful town 30 minutes outside of New York City called, Maplewood, NJ. The boys are so well behaved and often, parents try to model their parenting skills off of how they see my brother, Carlos and his wife, Annie, parent.

Well, I knew since the boys were born, I would have to one day have that dreaded talk with them about what happened to my face. However, it’s been 7 years since the oldest one was born and he never made any comments about my chin. To him, I’m just his Tia Crissy. So I figured my brother and Annie had the talk with him at some point. Surely, no kid is this quiet when curiosity strikes their sweet minds, right?

Cut to a few days ago when on this past trip, the 7 year old treated me like I was a celebrity. Haha. He pulled out The Washington Post and mentioned how cool it was that his ‘Tia Crissy” was in the paper. At one point at dinner on Friday, he pulled up this hot plate to his chin to smell the food and he accidentally burned himself. He touched his chin and with the most excited look on his face, says, “wowwww, now I know how you felt when you burned your chin. I may also end up with a scar!” Throughout the weekend, he would continue to proudly show off my article in The Washington Post. It’s interesting how I have spent 20 years of my life shy and insecure about my chin and here I have a 7 year old who thinks it’s cool to be different. People have called me brave and courageous for years, but really, the real brave and courageous people are the ones who are able to embrace their physical differences and not be so concerned that how you look might offend other people. The brave ones are the people who are able to look past the physical and see the beauty within someone. I admire my nephew who is so special and doesn’t care that I have a scar– because at the end of the day, he’s just proud that his Tia is in the paper and made it for being different. I love you my little Carlos Eli and cannot wait to see how you continue to grow and inspire the young and…old…er.

I’ll write again tomorrow. xo and thank you all for continuing to read my posts. You’ve made my year. : )

The Premiere is Almost Here!

Hey Everyone!

I have been moving all day for 2 days straight with Jason into our new apartment in the NOMA neighborhood of Washington, DC. We LOVE our new home but geez, it is such hard work to move 2 people into one place for the first time. I had to take some time off too because The Washington Post contacted me about featuring me in their Style Section. How insane is that? I never thought my name would be in the paper until it’s shown in the Obituary Section. It was incredible working with Ellen McCarthy, the Reporter and Nikki Kahn, the Photographer. Such an honor that a Pulitzer Prize winning photographer came and took pictures of my crusty bum. After moving all day, I checked myself out in the mirror  and no joke, this was staring back at me:

images (Credit: Charlize Theron in Monster)

 

 

 

 

Nikki is an excellent photographer because after she got there, she said she got some great shots. She thankfully let me freshen up while she took photos to capture me in different stages of getting ready. I trust her. She wins awards and works for the Post. But that would happen to me!! Haha.

Anyway, the premiere is coming up and as you know, the show is called, Botched. I was not only burned with 1st, 2nd and 3rd degree burns on my face and hands, but after going through several reconstructive surgeries, one Doctor did a real number on me. He is world renowned. So I trusted him when he said he could fix me. But unfortunately, the result was horrendous and I was left with a chin the size of a morbidly obese person. I’m not kidding. I’m not exaggerating. It was devastating. So of course, I had to take that experience and try to make the best of it. I lived with a huge chin for 9.5 years…until I met Dr. Dubrow and Dr. Nassif. When you see the show tomorrow, you’ll see a ton of photos of me from the age of 10 until present day. Below are a few of the photos of me when I smile with a large chin. You really notice the size of my chin when I smile. So I tried to not smile unless my hand or a scarf was covering my chin. On Wednesday morning, I will be posting a picture of myself now that the swelling from the November 2014 surgery with the Doctors has gone down even more since filming ended. I feel so much more confident. I can actually smile in a picture and not feel like the world is amused or horrified when they see me. I’m so nervous!

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Now when I don’t smile and look at the camera in different angles or somehow am able to cover my chin with my hair or something else, my chin doesn’t look as huge as you can see below:

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Tomorrow, you’ll see the result of what the Doctors did on me. I was still swollen in January when they did the reveal so on Wednesday the 15th, I will post the latest photo of me.

Anyway, I’ve got to do what I’ve got to do in order to help others who feel alone. We all have a story to tell and tomorrow you will hear mine. Thanks for the support! I’ll write another post tomorrow. xo

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