Blunt Talk About A Terrible Ordeal

EDITOR'S NOTE

March 24, 1991|By Elizabeth Large

This week's cover story is about one burn survivor, and about what all burn survivors go through in readjusting to the everyday world after their terrifying ordeals. What medical reporter Jonathan Bor decided not to do was write a miracles-of-modern-medicine story -- although the advances in plastic surgery techniques are fascinating.

He first interviewed Lawanda Fales, who eventually became the subject of the sidebar to the main piece. Her story is dramatic and interesting, but Jonathan felt it wasn't typical of the experiences of most burn survivors. Through Ms. Fales, however, he found the burn survivors support group at Francis Scott Key Medical Center -- and through it, Ann Kuebler.

"Annie is one of the most frank and honest people I've ever interviewed," says Jonathan. "In the group she talked positively about the outcome, but she was blunt about the problems. She gave a very realistic picture of what life is like for burn survivors."

Ms. Kuebler's children were fairly young when she was burned,and they went through difficult adjustments in the aftermath. She was protective of the three younger children, Jonathan says, but she felt the oldest child, Austin, who was 15 at the time and is now 20, was emotionally prepared to discuss his experiences. Austin, Ms. Kuebler's doctors, members of the support group and most particularly Ann Kuebler herself have given us a riveting story of what it's like for a burn survivor to re-enter a world that places such a premium on physical $H attractiveness.

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