A not-so-fierce dragon named Tyler tells the tale.
He's 7 1/2 years old, and on a beautiful spring day he has a terrible sneezing spell. Flames from his nose badly burn his chest and hands.What happens to Tyler unfolds in an unusual coloring book, "A Dragon's Tale," that describes the hospital experience of a young burn patient. The book is being used at University of Utah Hospital's Intermountain Burn Center as an educational tool.
Center personnel, who wrote the book, decided to use Tyler Y. Dragon, instead of a child, to portray an impersonal situation rather than an incident that a burned child may have experienced.
However, Tyler was named for a real Tyler - a patient Sandee Oliver, the story's author, cared for several years ago when she was a registered nurse at the burn unit. The child has visited University Hospital many times since his recovery.
The illustrations, done by Glenn Denna, a burn unit orderly, are large and simple enough to provide physical therapy for the patients' hands as they color.
The story of Tyler tells about surgery for certain burns, the importance of diet, various therapies and the anti-scar pressure garments some burn patients must wear to help their skin heal properly.
According to Marilyn Groussman, a unit social worker and project coordinator, patients who understand what's happening to them do better, and the book is designed to help even very young children who will hear the story read.
However, its creators believe the book's most important message is that although burn victims may look different because of their accidents, they are still the same people.
Jacob Tranquilino, a 9-year-old Evanston, Wyo., resident, can attest to that.
Jacob, the first young patient to get the book, spent 2 1/2 hours coloring the pictures and reading the story. He's since gone home and will take the book to school so his teacher can read Tyler's story to his class.
Since it takes about a year for scars to heal, young burn patients, whose appearance may be changed, sometimes have a difficult time with friends and classmates. If the patient's friends learn what happens when someone is hospitalized with burns, they're less likely to say and do hurtful things, the book's creators believe.
Oliver believes that adults as well as children can be educated about the special clothing - including face masks and gloves - that burn victims wear while recovering.
"People are used to seeing casts on limbs but pressure garments, especially face masks, aren't familiar and may be threatening," she said, recalling a California incident in which police were called when a burn patient wearing a mask entered a fast-food restaurant.
Mountain Fuel Supply, a Questar company, underwrote the printing of the book, which Groussman plans to sell at the American Burn Association's convention in New Orleans. Proceeds will help send U. Hospital's young burn patients to summer camp.