Monday, June 10, 2013

What To Do In Case Of Fire

My brother Hudson is a larger-than-life character. He is Lazarus Long and he is Hemingway and he is Byron. Brilliant, eccentric and, at times, self-destructive. It should go without saying that people like this do not have ordinary campfire experiences; They go up in flames.

And when they are convalescing, the nurses bring them beer.

The event took place last Saturday night after Hudson had worked a long week and pulled a couple no-sleepers. He lives in the hills of West Virginia where parties are held outdoors, far from running water and electricity. Hudson was with strangers and he was manic. Since I was not on the scene at the time, I cannot testify to what actually occurred, but the long and short of it is that Hudson was transported three hours away to the nearest Burn Intensive Care Unit. His right side was covered in burns, complicated by gasoline.

Mama and I drove up there on Sunday. A six hour drive to his home in Hinton and three more hours to Huntington. (You know, Marshall University as in We Are Marshall and Go Herd?) We had no idea how long we'd be gone, but it turned out to be an entire week!

Because of the high risk of infection (in what is surely the least sanitary hospital stateside), visiting hours are more or less rigid. We couldn't stay the night. A nurse referred us to a hospitality house about 20 minutes away. It proved to be a Godsend. Great accommodations (including a double kitchen and private room with bath), lovely old ladies preparing home-cooked meals every other day and a price that couldn't be beat.

The first few days, I took pictures and was all upbeat. Mama and I did our best to advocate for Hudson and make him comfortable, all the while becoming more weary ourselves. It started to drag. Thinking every day that the next day we'd be outta there, only to get our hopes raked down by the bowels of disappointed endeavors, I lost the will to carry my camera.

Our ritual sundowners each evening were the highlight of our days. (Did you know about this?)

Finally, on Sunday, he got his discharge orders and we made the trip back to Hinton. Hudson was awfully uncomfortable in the car. But I'd found a copy of Ender's Game in Huntington and read aloud to my captive audience for those three hours which made the time fly. While he recuperates, Hudson will stay with his employers. They and my cousin Andrew will help care for him.

Mama and I took turns driving and reading aloud all the way back to Greenville, SC. We got about 3 quarters of the way through the book. (We left off at that part where the older boys gang up on Ender in the showers.)


Here is how Hudson looked when we got to him:

(That's a beer he's got! They brought him one with every meal, including breakfast.)

This is what we had to wear to be in his room:

This is our room at the Hospitality House: 

So, yeah. This should pretty well explain my absence.


  1. Additional Notes:

    1. It was awesome to get to spend so much time with Mama! We are both so busy in our day to day lives that we don't always keep up so well. Lots of good conversation and laughs.

    2. Hudson can be a major grumpy gus. He can also be a total delight. I doubt I would have held up under such conditions. He was a trooper and Lord knows if he will ever get back to his previous physical state.

    3. Despite the petrol, the burns were 2nd degree and treated with Aquacel, a modern alternative to skin grafts.

    4. I don't know how people traveled before the invention of GPS, iPhone maps and the like.

  2. I hope Hudson recovers quickly. What a scary thing to deal with.