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The Recovery of Ausome
The Beginning of an Unplanned Journey
Notice: There will be some details shared throughout the life of this blog which will likely horrify, turn the stomachs of, and haunt the dreams of many readers. We are not going for shock value here; trust me, we have seen shock and awe up-close and personally – we would not do so to you.
The family behind “The Recovery of Ausome“, the Nelson family of Saratoga Springs UT, invites you to join our family on an unplanned journey. This journey originates within the troubled mind and spirit of a young man many may have otherwise never even knew existed.
It’s okay though because this was the way he preferred things.
The Burning Man in Sun Haven
Where to begin? I suppose for your sake, we will start at what you likely know of as the beginning – the event, the incident, or what has stuck in my head since we first decided to share a very intimate portion of our lives with you – “The Burning Man”.
On November 23rd, 2017, just before 11 PM MST our son, Austin “Ausome” Weaver attempted to commit suicide by burning himself alive. As is seemingly always the case with this level of incident – everything happened so fast.
Note: As of today (5-Dec 2017) we were able to bring ourselves to review the footage on our security system from that horrifying night. Turns out Austin was roughly halfway across the yard; attempting to abort this tragic decision, when the fumes in his truck ignited - sending airborne flames across his trailing fumes at more than 700 MPH and instantly engulfing him in flames.
Everything went from preparing to host Thanksgiving dinner for a few local friends, to a horrifying, and traumatizing experience within a few blinks of the eyes. We went from parenting a troubled young man, with a long history of mental illness and a short but intense history of drug abuse – to rushing out into the street, peeling off our own shirts to put out the fire consuming our “youngest elder son”.
The most we have been able to piece together was that, after an exchange of words and typical fatherly “Our way or the highway” speech, Austin went into his bedroom, consumed a considerable amount of lidocaine and aloe based burned gel, then proceeded out to his truck.
We did not think much of his storming to his room, or him tinkering with his truck. Afterall, he did manage to render it inoperable while tinkering with it during a previous methamphetamine-induced bender. So, it seemed about right that he would finally replace the ignition coil we discussed him replacing a few weeks prior. Just like he was advised to check the ground wire to the starter.
Checking the ground wire to the starter is precisely what I figured he was doing when his brother said he had lit a flare and crawled under the truck. The flare, at the time, was not near any open containers of flammable anything, so it just seemed like more drug-induced poor decision-making. Truthfully, this was true – until he decided to pull the fuel line and douse himself with gasoline.
From what we have been able to gather, he was able to get himself and the flare into the cab of his truck – without setting either on fire. However, the windows on the truck were closed, so the oxygen inside the truck was somewhat limited – until he changed his mind, and tried to walk away from the whole thing.
Unwittingly, our son had developed a highly efficient deathtrap – even more than he knew. Seldom taken into consideration is the fact flashovers can happen in just about any environment where a new and larger supply of oxygen is introduced to a flame. As most first responders can attest – this is infinitely more damaging when an accelerant is present. This is what occurred when a sudden moment of clarity set-in and Austin tried to walk away.
What should have been a life-saving decision would, instead, become a moment which will forever change the lives of everyone in our family, everyone who arrived on scene while flames were still bursting forth from our son, those who glimpsed the aftermath, and even some of those reading now. Although to be fair, fire or not – this incident may, in fact, be the one which saves the rest of his life.
This is what happens when the darkness of mental illness meets the unforgiving fury of the flame – The Burning Man. This is how our son became the burning man of the Sun Haven neighborhood.
The Endless Drive and the Trauma Center
Eternal minutes after the beginning of the incident, Ausome was loaded onto a Life Flight helicopter and flown to University of Utah Burn Unit Trauma Center. After an unnecessarily long and frustrating drive; courtesy of Google Maps and Apple Maps, we arrived at the hospital.
As per protocol, we were assessed to determine our mental well-being; good call on their part and later apprised of Austin’ condition. We would be informed that Austin has third-degree burns over nearly sixty percent of his body.
We were advised to not be surprised if he lost some fingers – if not both of his hands entirely. Having held what remained of his hands while the EMTs stabilized and prepped Austin to be airlifted, his mom was no stranger to this news. We were advised his kidney functions were a concern, as he would not be able to retain enough fluid to sustain healthy kidney functions.
We were also advised the first forty-eight hours are the most “at-risk” he would be – outside of surgeries.
Those forty-eight hours have come and gone. He is now retaining most of the fluids they had hoped he could retain by now, his blood pressure (while assisted) has finally stabilized, and his heart rate has increased to near-normal levels. While he remains under very heavy sedation, he is responsive to stimuli of all kinds.
These are all very promising signs he may make it to begin the grueling portion of recovery – skin grafts, physical therapy, drug rehab, and intensive psychological therapy treatments. The staff at the UofU Burn Center assured us, almost no patients who recover from the treatments Austin will be given have ever made another effort to cause any further harm to themselves or others.
Startling Facts of Self-Immolation (Suicide by Fire)
The staff at the University of Utah Burn Unit also shared some startling revelations with us regarding this particular form of a suicide attempt.
Worldwide, an estimated 10 to 20 million people attempt suicide each year.
About 30,000 people die by suicide each year in America – it’s the ninth leading cause of death in the United States, and
The suicide rate is higher than the homicide rate.
Self-immolation accounts for approximately 1% of all suicides in high-income countries (Western Europe and the United States)
Essentially, self-immolation; quite possibly one of the most horrific means to commit suicide, happens far more often than we are led to believe.
The Community Outpouring
The night of the incident some wonderful people came to our aid, helped in whatever way they could, and offered to continue doing so. Given the fact we have lived in our neighborhood for nearly two years, our first day in our home someone pegged our front door with wet wads of toilet paper, and the fact almost no one had ever even attempted to get to know us – we were shocked by the outpouring from our neighbors.
By the time we came home from the hospital, early Thanksgiving morning, the road where the fire had been extinguished, the areas where metal burned so hot the alloys began to melt, the heat shattered glass – all of it; even the burned grass, had all been cleaned up. I get a bit teary-eyed just reflecting on the care and efforts to do these things. Thank you.) The next morning word had reached the local ward; despite the fact we are not religious people, and from there it spread further still.
We woke up to trees filled with green prayer ribbons, more pies than we know what to do with, and well-wishers from throughout the Crossroads community.
The Latest News
The most recent update to the chain of events which will be The Recovery of Ausome is Austin will be going into surgery on Monday; time currently unknown, to have the narcotic tissues removed. Likewise, this will be the time when the first cadaver skin grafts will be performed.
We are told and are inclined to agree, this is the best time to perform this particular surgery. While all of the vitals are not in ideal states, they are as good as they are going to get. Moreover, the decaying tissues present a greater risk of causing an infection should they be permitted to remain.
We are not under any false impressions about this surgery. We are keenly aware this surgery; while necessary, is also going to be one of the riskier surgeries he will undergo during the “reconstruction” process.
To Answer Your Question
As mentioned earlier, the community outreach was staggering. It was honestly quite unexpected, and a tad overwhelming. Many of you asked what could be done to help, and at that point, we simply had no answers. While the amazing staff at the University of Utah did an excellent job of supplying us with as much information as they could – too much was unknown at that point for anyone to know what to expect next.
Fortunately, it is beginning to look like we are headed down a path to recovery. Unfortunately, even with the best insurance plan available – this is going to be a road which is as expensive as it is long. In light of this fact, and with the hopes to help offset some of the astounding costs, we are starting a GoFundMe page.
While we will do everything in our ability to help our son, we couldn’t put a dent in that estimate – even with a second mortgage. From standard daily expenses while in the hospital; bed charges, charges for sheets and blankets each day, the ongoing medications, IV fluids, all the way through the prosthetics – the average out of pocket expense in such cases is just under $800,000.
Staggering, to say the least.
We were not even 24-hours into things when the hospital began to call asking for funding this and that. We simply are not that well off.
I lost my job three months ago due to the aggravation of an underlying issue, resulting in significant trauma while on the job. We are fighting the Long-Term Disability company (“The Standard”) almost every step of the way – just to stay one month behind on just about everything.
Our credit cards are leveraged to the hilt, and we cannot even tap into the equity on our house due to the damage caused to our credit ratings as a result of The Standard always dragging its feet to pay a claim they already stated approved. Truth is, we were headed for dire straights before all of this happened.
Now there simply is no way we can do this alone. So, as much as it pains me to have to start a fundraiser for something every good parent feels they should be able to handle on their own – we cannot do this alone.
So, for all those kind souls who asked what can be done to help in our time of need – we can think of no greater physical need than the ability to do whatever it takes to help The Recovery of Ausome.
Plain and simple. We need your help. We need your help to spread the word, to help us raise funds, and generally to renew our own strength from time to time.
Please help; every little bit helps on this long road ahead.
The Grateful Family of Ausome Weaver
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