Annette Hayden Havre Daily News email@example.com
Heaven Love, 7, a second grader at Lincoln-Mckinley Intermediate School, lies in ICU at the University of Utah Burn Center in Salt Lake City this morning, where she has begun the long road back after being set on fire in her home over the holidays by a candle. The little girl's exhausted mother sat by her side Thursday evening while speaking to the Havre Daily News in a telephone interview. "Heaven's doing OK, she's mad ... mad at the whole thing," said Adrienne Love, a single mother of four. "Today is the first day she has been awake. Last night she came off of anesthesia so now she is aware. She is in a lot of pain. She doesn't remember not a whole lot, because of the sedation. The anesthesia made her hallucinate. With the anesthesia, when she was sleeping she would start screaming that she was on fire sometimes. But now she's awake she doesn't remember. They told me with burn patients that is normal, especial with kids. They can't remember." The terrifying accident happened Dec. 29, 2008, in the family's living room as the child's mother and siblings in other rooms of the house. Adrienne was in the bedroom talking with her 15-year-old daughter, Alexandria. Heaven's 9-year-old sister, Kiara, was playing in the living room nearby, and the child's big brother, Travis, 13, was in the bathroom. It was late, close to midnight, and the family was preparing to turn in after a busy day of holiday hustle. "I was heading to the bathroom when I heard the screaming," Adrienne said. "A god-awful screaming like nothing I have ever heard before. I walked out the bedroom door and saw Heaven on fire and she was running. "I was trying to catch her, telling her stop," Adrienne said. "I kept telling her to stop, you know stop, drop and roll. She came running toward me, the fire was going all over the living room and dining room as she ran. I almost had her then she went running in the other direction. My son, Travis, heard me yelling at her to stop and her screaming. I saw as he opened the bathroom door, steps out and saw her in flames he just grabbed her, bare hands, and put her in the shower and turned the water on. He was so fast." A miracle had happened. Travis, who lives with Asperger’s Syndrome, is not known for quick responses. "He doesn't usually react quickly," Adrienne said, "but something clicked. He flipped the water on and took her shirt off fast. He told me later he just wanted her to stop burning. Afterwards he just had, amazingly, a little burn on his forearm. He was really fast he was just in shorts and she was in flames." As Adrienne looked back over the long days of watching her daughter lie in the hospital then undergo skin grafts, she realized the entire scene of that terrible night had unfolded within minutes. "Alex's boyfriend, Grayson Windsor, arrived as it was all going on," she said. "He saw the house full of smoke and the commotion. He saw, and he started my car. It was snowing and so cold we put big sweats on Heaven and drove right to the hospital (Northern Montana Hospital) emergency. "There was a pregnant lady in front of me when I went in. I told them my daughter was on fire they all came out and got her into the emergency. They took her back, took her clothing off, they had to assess her burns," Adrienne said. "They told us that night it looked like she needed to be flown out, but they couldn't because of the storm. They stabilized her, then she was in ICU. They sedated her. I saw when they took the clothes off, she was like a big blister, blisters everywhere. "They were trying to bandage her, and she was crying and shaking so hard they had to calm her down." The next morning NMH staff advised Adrienne that they had arranged for a jet to fly in to the Havre airport and transport Heaven to Utah. "It was about 9 a.m. when they said a chopper still couldn't come in, and they were making sure Utah's jet could land in Havre," Adreinne said. "I had one hour, and all I could bring was a backpack. They could take one adult with Heaven. In Utah we were met by a whole team. They were all ready for her." Heaven sustained second- and thirddegree burns over 35 percent of her body with the majority on her torso and left arm. In Utah, doctors also discovered the child was showing as a type 2 diabetic, her kidneys were not functioning well and her heart was malfunctioning. "In the begining they said her urine, how dark it was, meant her kidneys were not functioning right," Adrienne said. "Once we got here, they said she was type 2 diabetic, and tests were showing her heart was pumping too fast. They said it could be all caused by the injury. She had never been diabetic before or had heart trouble. She is on medications now to slow her heart down, because when they had her sedated her heart was still racing. They have been giving her insulin since We've been here." Heaven's condition is slowly improving. On Jan. 2 she underwent her first skin graft surgery, which took close to four hours. Skin was removed from both of her thighs, from the top of her knees to her groin all the way around, Adrienne said. As of Thursday the graft, though fragile, seemed to be taking well. "They stapled the grafts on then wrap them and she had to lay flat, so she was heavily sedated until today. The had to use anesthesia to take the bandages off on Monday to check if the grafts were taking," Adrienne said. "They said everything is looking good. They checked them yesterday again and they still look good. She still has just one spot on her stomach that is iffy. She might still need touch ups of skin graphs after this jaunt the doctors call it. Her hands are doing good. They didn't have to skin graft her hands. They said the skin will fall off on its own and heal. They look bad, but they are doing good." And the cause of it all involving a simple holiday candle may never be fully known. "The only person who saw it happen was my 9-year-old and she was so panicked, screaming and in shock, she doesn't remember much," Adrienne said. "The candle was on top of the entertainment stand. It's taller than Heaven. We think she was trying to blow it out, that she must have reached for it and dumped wax on herself. Her shirt was real flowy we think the wax dumped on her and caught her shirt on fire." Adrienne has been told by doctors to expect Heaven to remain in the burn unit through January and possibly into February. Adrienne has a room at the Ronald McDonald House in Salt Lake City, but spends most of her time by Heaven's hospital bed. With state medical insurance on the children all that she has, Adrienne said she has no idea what kind of medical bills she will face when all is said and done. In the meantime she is trying to figure out how she will pay her rent and other bills while she is away, and how she will pay for two plane tickets home when Heaven is healed. "My other three kids are staying with their grandparents while I'm here," she said. "I paid my rent for this month, but my last day of work was Dec. 29. I work in Great Falls as a resident technician at Gateway Community Services, it is a women's group home. I work there over the weekends and I come home during the week with the kids." While family, friends and community members wait for further word on Heaven's condition they are planning a fundraiser to help raise the money the family will need. The Heaven Love Benefit fundraiser will host an Indian taco sale and silent auction Saturday, Jan. 17, at the Eagles Club. South Country will provide the music. Donations of silent auction items are needed. And can be donated through Linda Johnson, 2627192 or 265-4712. A benefit account for cash donations has also been opened at Bear Paw Credit Union. Donations can be mailed to Heaven Love Benefit, 201 2nd St., Havre, MT 59501. Cards can be mailed to Heaven and Adrienne Loce c/o University of Utah Burn Center, Attn: ICU, 50 N. Medical Drive, Salt Lake City, Utah 84132.