‘Leave me’: Burn survivor's offer to hubby after accident
Victorian primary school teacher Halie Tennant went camping with a friend on May 30, 2020, when she fell asleep and woke up with horrific burns all over her face.
The 29-year-old had dozed off in her camping chair, and her friend, who had also fallen asleep in her swag, suddenly woke up after hearing a strange murmuring noise.
To her shock, she found Ms Tennant lying head first in the campfire after her chair tipped over, sending her straight into the flames.
She quickly pulled Ms Tennant from the fire, poured ice cold water over her burnt face and drove to her house 2km away where her husband Mathew kept her calm.
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Paramedics then rushed Ms Tennant to the ICU ward at The Alfred Hospital in Melbourne where she spent the next eight days in a coma.
Months after the horrific accident, including several surgeries and skin grafts, Ms Tennant has opened up about the harrowing ordeal, including why she went on the camping trip and the heartbreaking conversation she had with her husband about her burns.
"If this is too much, you can leave," she told Mathew, she revealed in a piece for That's Life.
Her loving husband however refused, insisting he loved her.
She described his response as "reassuring", but said she "still struggled" to deal with how she looked.
"My face was covered in burns and scars - my identity had gone," Ms Tenant said.
She had previously said she is not a vain person but added, "your face and its characteristics are important in how you recognise yourself".
"Not knowing who you are any more is a hard thing to come to terms with," she said.
However, despite the battle, Ms Tennant of Hotspur, Victoria, said she "knew I was very lucky to be alive".
In total, the teacher spent almost three months in hospital and had six surgeries including the removal of damaged skin and skin grafts to the face, neck, eyelids and mouth.
She also explained the trip was a way to grieve a recent miscarriage she'd had with Mathew, who she married earlier this year, describing the camping trip as "an escape".
To this day, she's unaware how the accident happened but believes the chair must have tipped with her falling onto the blaze.
With the response staff quickly realising the severity of her injuries, the 29-year-old was rushed to ICU where she was immediately placed in a coma for eight days, before being moved to the burns ward to start her recovery.
"COVID was the hardest part of my recovery, I really missed my family and friends. While in ICU I was only allowed one visitor for one hour per day so Mathew, my mum and my dad took turns sitting with me," Ms Tennant said.
Eventually she was released from hospital but was only home for a week and a half before she was readmitted because of a problem with her eyelids.
"My eyelids were not touching, once this was fixed, the surgeons looked at me again when we were getting ready to discharge and made the call to operate again on my mouth, as it had contracted so much my mouth couldn't open enough to eat something off a fork or spoon."
While it has been a life-changing ordeal for the teacher, she refuses to let it control her life.
"I think of my accident as a wake up call, a second chance to do better, to be better and to look after me better," she said.
Originally published as 'Leave': Wife's offer after face burned off