My name is Anthony “Tony” Azzinaro, my wife Kathryn Lindsay and I are three years out from our accident, we both sustained burns and felt a need to give back to the Burn Community. We are newly minted SOAR Volunteers from Summer of 2021. We both retired in 2017 and our accident has thrown a curve ball into our plans for “Retirement”. Our motto has become this life after burns will be different but why can’t different be better!

In January 2022 I was asked to contact Richard “Rick” Lambert a recent burn survivor who was still navigating being released from the Burn Unit. He was staying in a hotel near the Burn Unit in Tucson, AZ and receiving daily wound care by Burn Unit Staff. He remained there until he could be released to home and his wife, Sue, could manage his daily wound care and other needs to support their daily existence.

When Rick and I first spoke, his questions and concerns reminded me of my own at that time of our release. Rick and I spoke several times and because of their age, I was also concerned about Sue’s welfare as it is my firm belief it is much harder to be a Caregiver to a burn patient than it is to be a burn patient. Because burns are unique to every individual regarding severity, location, rate of healing, physiotherapy requirements, what types of pain you are feeling and reasonable expectations for life after burns not to mention any trauma you may have to deal with during recovery Rick and I continued to speak. I relayed my experiences to him to give him some sense that he was not in this alone. After several phone calls I suggested Rick join our Burn Survivors Support Group as he could gain additional opinions on what he was feeling and develop reasonable expectations for his situation down the road. I would like to add Kathy and I are COVID ZOOM Babies and have rarely met most of our peers or ABF Support Members after we left the hospital except by ZOOM…..kind of weird.   Rick joined our ZOOM support group and after a few months we started to talk about other “stuff” and checking in with each other outside of Group. We had common interests, Rick lived in an “off the grid” solar community and I was very interested in exploring the possibilities of solar at our home in Arizona. Rick and Sue invited us to their home in New Mexico to check out the solar system and get some hands on input.

Kathy and I go East every summer to Western Pennsylvania and I told Rick I would like to take him up on his invitation when we head back to AZ in the Fall. Honestly I have learned in life if you do not put a circle on the calendar to make things happen they simply don’t happen. Kathy and I discussed it and we carved a couple days out to visit Rick and Sue in New Mexico on the drive back to AZ.

We got into town and met. After introductions Rick and Sue suggested we head to one of their favorite eateries for cocktails and dinner. They took us to a most amazing restaurant in the Gila Mountains built in 1865. Over cocktails we find we are all foodies and even though our past lives are very different we clicked around food and drink, travel, lifestyle, retirement goals, etc., etc.

Kathy and I do not have a lot of friends since we moved Out West but we have added two to our list. There is Life After Burns…