In 1962, Sonny Ray’s father rushed him to the emergency room on Lockborne Air Force Base.
“Nurse, nurse, we are going to need more help in here, now,” the doctor in charge barked. “Can you believe this,” another nurse asked. “Let’s go people,” the doctor said urgently. The little boy, only two years old, was resisting two grown men. Every time they thought they had him secured he would wriggle free. The head nurse had located two more interns to assist with the little boy. The boy continued to struggle. The pitiful screams of the little boy could be heard in the entire ward of the burn unit. The boy had been rushed to the hospital by his father. The little boy had second degree burns on both of his feet, well past his ankles. The two year old had been burned in scalding hot water. His skin had curled up; and as his older brother would describe the carnage years later; Sonny Ray’s feet looked like the color of red
jell-o, smeared in vaseline, and in blood.
The doctor had attempted to calm the little boy, but the pain was beyond description, and the boy did not have the ears to hear anything spoken to him this day. The doctor’s unpleasant task would now be to remove all the dead and dying skin to prevent infection from setting in. The doctor had already administered two injections in order to ease the boy’s pain, but to no avail as the boy continued to struggle. Sonny Ray was sweating profusely, his screams growing ever louder. The doctor choked back his own emotions as he continued his pain staking task of peeling off the remaining dying skin; piece by piece with a large pair of Air Force issued tweezers. The handsome boy with the wavy brown hair cried out again. “Nooooooo!! No! No! No!” Sonny Ray chanted, his little checks flush with anguish. No tears could come as the searing heat of excruciating pain soared through his body. “Should I give him another injection?” The gristled head nurse was on the verge of tears as she continued to assist the doctor with his gruesome task. “Not yet, one more now could kill him,” the doctor said without looking up.
Finally the intern asked. “So what happened to him doc?” The doctor paused looking over the top of his glasses. “His mother said she was bathing him and forgot to turn on the cold water.” The head nurse understood the inflection of the doctor’s voice, and what he implied, although not speaking on it directly. But they all knew.
“This boy is a fighter,” the head nurse said quietly as she handed the doctor a fresh sterilized pair of tweezers. The doctor glanced again over his glasses.
“That he is, but I have to wonder; what’s going on inside that two year old mind.” The two interns held Sonny Ray fast, as he began to feel the affects of the third shot that the head nurse had just administered. The little boy’s eyes began rolling in the back of his head. The easy part was over.
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