David Sereda has two definitions of pain: the kind he felt before October 2018 and the kind he felt after his devastating burns.
Last year, the Calgary psychologist suffered a seizure while having a shower in his home.
“He had collapsed coming out of the shower. I looked down and I wondered, ‘Why does he have wet paper towels all over him?’ I went to reach down to pick it up and I realized it was his skin,” said Andrea Sereda, David’s wife.
The scalding hot water pooled in the tub leaving David, who has epilepsy, with third-degree burns to a quarter of his body. He was rushed to the Foothills Medical Centre Burn Treatment Unit.
“The pain was excruciating. Probably on the verge of passing out where you can’t do anything other than scream and cry,” David said.
Combined with the pain was the stress of not knowing if his feet would be amputated. The father of four spent two months in the burn unit undergoing three surgeries followed by six months of rehabilitation.
“Seeing him like that, it was a very visceral response. I felt like I couldn’t breathe. Like somebody was sitting on my chest,” Andrea said about tending to David’s daily dressing changes at home.
Now the Sereda family is giving back to the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Society that helped them so much. David and Andrea hosted a Zumba dance event in the southwest community of Woodbine on Saturday to support the charity.
The society funds education and equipment at the Calgary Firefighters Burn Treatment Centre. Funds go towards purchasing items like the heat lamps that were used to regulate David’s body temperature.
“Because they harvested his back for skin grafts, he was basically an open wound from the neck down. It’s very difficult to control your temperature so they have heat lamps,” Andrea said.
David has gone from nearly losing his feet to dancing on them at Saturday’s Zumba event. He credits a positive outlook, daily physiotherapy and CFBTC staff for his remarkable recovery. The CFBTC is the primary burn treatment referral centre for burn patients in southern Alberta, southeastern B.C. and southwestern Saskatchewan.
“We are very lucky to have the support of the firefighters, and it became apparent to me over David’s time there just how much their work has directly impacted us,” Andrea said.
“There’s so many amazing nurses we got to spend time with and the physiotherapists who were phenomenal. I don’t know if David would be able to walk around and jump around and do all the things he does with our kids if it wasn’t for physio seven days a week.”
In addition to raising funds, David is also urging people to check the temperature of their hot water tanks to help prevent scalding injuries.