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My skin was burned off by a cauldron of baked beans: Mother left paralysed when vat of ‘lava-like’ food tips over on camping tripSarah Conner left with injuries after vat of baked beans was blown on to herThe mum-of-one needed four skin grafts and two operations following dramaThe 35-year-old has now recovered and spoken of her trauma to help others
14:08 GMT, 27 December 2012
A camper was left with horrific injuries after a cauldron of boiling baked beans was blown on top of her by a strong wind during a family trip.
Mother-of-one Sarah Conner was forced to spend three weeks in a specialist burns centre and endured four skin graftss, after the fiery mixture of boiling water and scalding baker beans landed on her.
Sarah, of Anna, in Texas, has now described how she could see her skin 'peeling away' as her clothes were removed after the 'lava-like mixture' covered her legs, arms, back, side and buttocks, searing her skin in an instant.
Smiling again: Sarah is now able to enjoy life again after recovering from the horrific burns
On the road to recovery: Sarah with a 'get well soon' card from her nephews
The accident left the 35-year-old former gymnastics coach, who had just started a teaching course at the time of the accident, in the Parkland Memorial Hospital's Burn Centre, in Dallas, for three weeks.
She then spent another six weeks being cared for by family before she was well enough to return home.
But she said the harrowing experience has changed her life for the better, encouraging her to return to gymnastics and putting her on the path to a new career in radiology.
She said: 'As much as the scars affect me, I couldn't imagine not having them now.
'The limitations in my mobility and the scarring I've suffered have made me a survivor whereas before I was just living.
'Before, I was going to school and I was just living my life but the accident has made me look at life so differently.
Healing process: The mother-of-one now posts pictures of her scars online to help other burns' victims
'Everything can be taken away from you and your entire existence can change in the matter of a couple of seconds.
'Everything I do now needs to have meaning and I'm focused on changing other people's lives for the better.'
Sarah had been celebrating Labor Day weekend in September last year with her boyfriend Randy Dinsmore, 39, who has two sons from a previous relationship, with family and friends at Lake Texoma, on the Red River between Oklahoma and Texas.
Operation: The 35-year-old was left with serious injuries and needed four skin grafts following the nightmare accident
She had been excitedly telling her
companions about her new teaching course when a gust of wind blew over
their campsite, knocking over the pot of baked beans on to Ms Conner.
She said: 'Randy's sister, Debbie, has first aid training and straightaway she was telling everyone to get my clothes off me.
'They stripped me completely naked and as they were removing my clothes I could see my skin was coming off with them.
'I looked down and there was just nothing there – just blood and black, burnt flesh.
'When they took my shorts off, my skin literally came off with them in front of my eyes, it was like watching a horror film.
'That's when I started to realise that it was bad and that I was hurt.
pain started to kick in and it was like nothing I had ever experienced,
it was a throbbing, stinging, pulsing kind of pain that was relentless
and always intensifying.'
To add to her horror, Sarah realised the commotion had attracted a crowd of onlookers so she managed to scramble, naked, into a near RV.
She was then wrapped in sheets doused in ice water and crouched in the back of an SUV as it raced to Texoma Medical Centre.
After doctors took a look at the burns she was airlifted to the burns specialist in Dallas where for the next four days she suffered horrendous nightmares that her family had been told she had already died and she was being tortured in secret and subjected to painful experiments.
When she awoke four days later, she saw the face of her sister Rachel, 31, by her bedside.
She said: 'As soon as I saw her, I knew it was real. But the next thing I thought was that if it was real, I could survive it.
'I could get out of there and I was going to be okay.'
Burns: Sarah's skin was badly hurt by the boiling food which landed on her arms, legs, back, side and buttocks
Healed: But she has since recovered and her experience has taken her on to a different course in life
After three weeks in the burns unit, Sarah was put in the care of her mother Nadine, 53, at her home in Kansas while Randy returned home to look after her daughter, Carlene-Marie, 20, and his sons, Joe, 17, and Nick, 18.
She was unable to dress or wash herself and needed 24-hour care.
Sarah also needed daily massages and physiotherapy to help heal the sites of her skin grafts and regain the mobility in her tightened skin.
Over time, Sarah regained her mobility and even took up her former passion of gymnastics coaching again as it helped her flexibility.
While she was recovering, she also reassessed her path in life and decided teaching was not for her.
Instead, she enrolled on a course to study radiology in the hopes of working alongside medical professionals like the ones that got her back on her feet.
Sarah is also determined to reach out to other burns survivors via social media in the hope that they can take some inspiration and encouragement from her journey of recovery.
She said: 'I posted some pictures of my injuries on Facebook and the reaction I got from other people who had suffered burns was incredible.
'Many people said that if I was brave enough to show my scars then they didn't feel so bad about showing their own.
'They are intimate pictures – not just my legs or my arms – and they are personal to me.
'But knowing they have inspired other survivors of burn injuries has given me the confidence to show them to the world.'