Thursday, December 28, 2000

Burn victim healing beyond hopes

By Jane Prendergast
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        FORT THOMAS — Never has a La-Z-Boy meant so much at Christmas. But when this one arrives at the Everett household in Fort Thomas, it will mean that a wife, mother and grandmother who was once expected to die has instead come back stronger than anybody dared hope.

        Sharon Everett was in her car on her way home from Meijer on July 9 when fumes from pool chemicals she had bought mixed with gases from her other purchases. The combination caused a grocery bag to combust, catching her hair on fire and ultimately burning more than half her skin.

        The 51-year-old woman was still buckled in and on fire when firefighters reached her. She would lose her eyelids, ears and lips.

        Her five children spend parts of virtually every day with her at University Hospi tal. Friends and strangers have buoyed the family with meals, prayers and updates.

        Mrs. Everett still has a rough road. Another surgery Wednesday was scheduled to fix an eyelid that wouldn't close. But she's making progress learning to write with her left hand.

        She's off the morphine she took for months. Her kids decorated her room with lights and a nativity scene.

        Unlike many patients, Mrs. Everett “never tells us to go away. She always wants to do the therapy,” said Jane Lukes, her physical therapist. “It takes a lot of energy, but she still does it.”

        The patient is also helping the therapist with something — planning her wedding.

        “She's just come such a long way,” Ms. Lukes said.

        There's even talk of Mrs. Everett moving to a rehabilitation hospital. And eventually home.

        That's the reason for the La-Z-Boy. Mrs. Everett and her daughter, Kate Zembrodt, have already decided it will be hunter green.


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