Toyin Balogun has aimed to inspire others with her experience,” at the end of the tunnel there can still be light, being alive means I still have a purpose, I never thought I would survive my burn and come out stronger. no matter what that situation is, no matter what you are going through, hold on, there is still hope. I hope my story is would inspire you and give you a glimpse of ‘living’.
Please tell me about yourself?
My name is Toyin Balogun. I am from Oyo state. A public servant and a believer in Christ.I am a daughter, a sister to the most amazing and supportive family ever.
Tell me what happened to you on March 21st, 2016
I was involved in a gas explosion accident on the 21st of March, 2016, at a rented apartment where everything including the 2 security doors, POP, burglary proof window, the wardrobe, the walls were destroyed. I was admitted in the hospital for a month at National Hospital at the Burn Centre Intensive care unit. I sustained 35% burns on my face, upper and lower limbs (that is my arms, legs, thighs).
Can you talk about your accident and your experience in the hospital?
While at the hospital, we were told, 90% people even with less percentage of burns even after spending millions to save the patient; don’t survive gas explosion; so we should be prayerful. However during my stay at the Hospital, with God’s help through the doctors and through intercession from the church, family and colleagues, I knew God has will surely heal me. And true to their words, I saw many victims of the fire accident that were brought in the same time as mine; pass away. That was the real fear.
What are some of the emotional challenges you have faced?
I was traumatized and in shock. And I was Hallucinating most of the time. Fuzzy-headed and couldn’t even remember most things like passwords to my account and other details. I had to see a therapist who told me how to relax and breathe into a paper bag (hyperventilate) anytime I am feeling anxious. Then for a long time, I had those awful nightmares and flashbacks which either left me in tears or left me shaking. The doctors were worried I was slipping into depression at some point because I was always frowning and little sound sets me off and I get afraid of little things. I was able to slip out of this phase by speaking to a therapist which didn’t do much. Breathing into a paper bag did little to calm me down. What helped me most at this time was listening to the word of God through Pastor Chris messages. The one I remember most of the message is Audacity of faith. I so much played that tape until I was no more afraid but became bold. I started speaking God’s word concerning health, healing and the likes. Also, the support I got from my church, colleagues and family friend who interceded for me in prayers and through giving gave me the strength to stay alive.
How has the experience changed your life?
I have to say that it has made me much more closer to God in the aspect that the devil came for my life but God saved and healed me. The funny thing was that I had a premonition of the accident. I just didn’t know it was going to be so Life changing. My doctor once asked me what has after the accident and I told her “Everything”. My perspective and priority shifted after the accident. The world seems smaller. I was given another chance to live. The experience has definitely changed my choice of clothing and my diet.
What motivates you?
So far, the love God has for me has been what gives me the courage to go on. Believe me when I said there are times when I had suicidal thoughts even months after the accident. I will be like, I can’t continue living like this with all these body pains, itching and the scars. I was permanently on painkillers and antihistamines every day for almost a year. Then God healed me of the pain I used to feel when my pastor prayed for me. I didn’t feel the pain anymore. The hospital used to tell me that with time, the pain will reduce. Either that or I should learn to live with the pain if I love my kidney. I told myself I cannot continue to live like that. I have had doctors even preach to me that they are just doing their Jobs as the doctor but God is the ultimate healer. All these worked for me. My family, church, friends, and colleagues encouraged me but God was the one that kept me going. I felt his liquid love more than ever before in my life. It could only be him that I am alive. He had mercy on me and gave me another chance.
Where are you from
I am from Ogbomoso, Oyo State
What do you do to live a balanced life after your burn?
I still have little itches and still on the recovery path. But I thank God that they are steady recovery, however slow. This accident has taught me the art of patience. The word, “Time heals all wound” has basically been my key point. So I am allowing time run its course in my healing process. I try to go out in the evenings only because sun rays irritate my scarred skin and may cause severe itching. There was a time I couldn’t even sit because it will be like they poured devil beans on my body, I had to lie down before the itching subsides but now I can comfortably stay in the kitchen and make a meal for myself; with little itching though. I also go to the church to hear from God concerning my situation. These words come to mind. “My light affliction which is just for a moment worketh for me an eternal weight of glory. For I do not look at things (scarred body and itching) which are seen but at things which are not seen. For the things which are seen is temporary (it will go away) but the things which are not seen are eternal”. God always speaks to me through a different medium and God’s spirit comforts me whenever I feel down. The grace of Jesus has been my sufficiency when I feel down. And resuming work did a lot for me because I have the most amazingly supportive Boss (Dr Nairu Zakariya) and colleagues. They are there 100% all the way from National Hospital to when I was transferred to Ibadan even up till now that I resumed duties. God bless them.
What is one thing your readers would be surprised to hear?
I added lots of weight (20kg) after the accident because they kept putting me on diets that will aid my healing process. I used to eat 9eggs every day, drink complain drink.. just basically protein, fruit and vegetables. Then when I did a bit of physiotherapy because I had contracture issues. By the time I was healed, I was 80kg. Its been so hard shedding off the weight as I am still on my healing journey even after a year. What people don’t know is that it takes 1 second to destroy and years to build up. Time has been a dependable friend in my journey and no one understands that. All people see is that it’s a year plus after, why are you still 75kg and scarred up. Up till now, I still do follow-up checkup to my consultant on an out-patient basis.
Who has influenced you the most?
My mum influenced me a lot and my pastors. I allowed her to take total control of my healing process. She was strong 100% for me. Whenever I see her beginning to break down, I man-up and help her feel that you are doing a great Job. Family is everything! Even if I was in pain, I will try my best to make little of it just to encourage her because the worst pain a mother can go through is seeing her child that she trained up to become adult learn how to walk all over again, deal with pain and go through the challenges I went through. My sister also became my Life coach, always preaching to me, encouraging and praying for me.
What are your ideals?
I am an honest person and I love God. I basically work towards bettering my relationship with God and improving on myself as a person.
How would you describe your personal style?
I always liked trousers growing up but when I became an adult, I settled to wearing knee length or above the knee length dresses. Now, Its back to long flowy dresses or loose trouser. I remember telling a friend teary-eyed that so I won’t be able to wear knee-length gowns again..but she assured me that I can still look “fly” with long dresses.
What are your hobbies?
I am an introvert but I love swimming, gymming and sleeping. I laughed so much when my sister sent me a picture of a swimming trunk that sportswomen that swim professionally use. She was like, don’t worry TY, you can still swim.
Heels or flats?
I used to wear heels but now, I wear flats.. but sometimes I rock my heels but careful not to injure my healing scars.
Pants or dresses?
Right now, I am comfortable in long flowing dress
What Challenges have you faced being a Burn Survivor?
Body pain, itching, Scar contracture by my elbows and knees, Staring from people, And people feeling pity and all. Up until now, If I see anyone I haven’t seen before the accident, I break down in tears. But I have to say the tears, pain and all made me a stronger and more outspoken person. Then there are some mean people who believe being obnoxious and talking ignorantly is the best way to go about communicating my pain to me. I just smile and let it be in such cases.
What is the biggest “gift” of this experience?
The gift of life. When the accident happened, I knew I had to live. All I had to think of was my family and loved ones.
What’s the one way you celebrate your body every day?
Occasionally, I do visit professional makeup artist from time to time and do a studio shoot.
What is your philosophy about life?
Live every day like it’s your last bearing in mind that there is an afterlife.
Plans for the future?
Impact my society, inspire burn survivors, Help with hospital bills, major humanitarian services because I believed God kept me for a purpose. Most importantly win souls. I also see myself going for reconstructive surgery, getting married, having kids and all. I also aim to be a philanthropist in future because I like to help the poor and broken people. I hope I have the ability for that when the time comes.