Gratitude through trauma

Richard and Jennifer Gerety spoke candidly with the Irrigator about Richard’s recovery since receiving significant burns while working the Caldor fire.

From his room at the Firefighters Burn Institute Regional Burn Center at UC Davis Richard commended the staff and level of care he’s received, “Everyone, the doctors, the nurses, they’re nice, professional…great care.”

When we spoke with Gerety he confirmed that he had already received skin grafts on the backs of his hands. “I’m recovering well. I’ve been able to reduce the amount of pain medication I’m on. I have less pain. The tricky part has been figuring out how to manage the pain from daily treatment.” His burns have to be thoroughly cleaned daily. Removing dressings, damaged tissue and otherwise cleaning the injured area causes significant pain due in part to exposed nerve tissue.

On Monday, September 13 Richard said, “They used skin from donor sites on my thighs for my hands. They’re still monitoring my arm from my wrist to my armpit, and areas on both of my legs to determine if I’ll need more surgery. Depending on how the skin around my elbow and knee heals in the next two days it could cause range of motion issues, so I might have to have grafts done on those areas too.”

An update came from Jennifer on Tuesday confirming that Richard will be undergoing further graft surgery to improve healing around his joints.

During our conversation the Geretys shared their mutual appreciation for the support they’ve received from their community. “People from everywhere have reached out. We’ve gotten cards, phone calls and, text messages from so many people. In the community, outside the community. It’s been a humbling experience,” said Jennifer.

“I can’t thank everybody…for all of the help that’s been offered, the cards…I appreciate it. All of the support we’ve received makes this easier. I’m going to continue doing the best I can to get better. I’m in good spirits, and everyone’s support makes it easier.” He laughed, “I was joking with the nurse the other day about being at a hotel. I have air conditioning, windows, a t.v…what else do I need?”

Profits from this year’s 39th Annual Westley-El Solyo Fireman’s Ball will be donated to the Gerety family. The tri-tip dinner and dance is on Saturday, September 25. It will be held at the El Solyo Fire Station in Vernalis. Tickets are $40 each and are available to purchase from Westley-El Solyo firefighters, or by calling Patterson Fire Station 51 at 209-895-8130.

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