GREENVILLE - Zoe Fields and her family have so much to be thankful for today.
She was injured in a fiery explosion on Sept. 22, and is now home with her family once again.
After that accident, the 15-year-old spent the next four weeks in the hospital. But, she’s home now mending from her wounds.
Zoe said she was trying to start a bonfire at her father Steve Fields’ residence outside of Greenville that fateful day.
“There was wood in the fire pit and the wood was wet,” Zoe recalled. “I was burning newspaper and added gasoline and the flames blew up.”
She said she remembered everything up until she got on the CareFlight helicopter when she was given medication.
She was taken to Miami Valley Hospital and was there for four hours when she was transferred to the pediatric burns unit at Shriners Hospital in Cincinnati, where she remained until she got to come home on Oct. 20.
“She received third-degree burns over 28 percent of her body,” Zoe’s mother, Barb Prasuhn, said. “She got burned from her fingertips to her arm pit, on her belly with a spot on the right side of her belly, a patch on her left thigh and from her hip to her ankle on the right leg. They had to cut her jewelry off of her.”
Prasuhn said she got to the accident scene before they CareFlighted her daughter. Then, she went to Miami Valley and got to see Zoe for 10 minutes before they transferred her to the pediatric burns unit.
“She was coherent most of the time and was laughing and crying,” Prasuhn said.
“I think I was more in shock,” said Zoe. “I remember smelling burning flesh. I was really not in pain.”
Prasuhn, who stayed at the hospital four days out of seven with her daughter, was there for Zoe’s surgeries, which included two sets for a total of four surgeries.
“For her stomach and knee, they took off all the dead skin and the second surgery was a skin graft, and surgeries three and four were the same, with the arms and hands that time,” Prasuhn said.
One thing that bothers the teen today is the cold.
“She gets stiff when it’s cold, like arthritis,” Prasuhn explained. “It’s not her muscles, but her skin.”
Today, Zoe is back at school, having been off for seven weeks. Her first day back was Oct. 12, when Greenville had a two-hour delay.
A sophomore, she was going to take med tech in high school and has since thought about going into nursing.
“She took the auto course and changed her degree when she was around the nurses at the hospital,” Prasuhn said. “She can’t decide whether she wants to be a therapist or a nurse.”
Zoe is currently under no restrictions. However the only thing the doctor told her she couldn’t do was contact sports, which means she can still play softball and bowl.
“He said it’s good therapy for her,” Prasuhn said.
She does have orthopedic therapy locally four days a week and has to do her own therapy at home two times a day.
She will now return for check-ups, with the next one being Dec. 20.
“I won’t have anymore surgery unless a rip a skin graft,” the teenager said.
Zoe has three compression suits she must wear with her clothing for 23 hours a day.
“They made them at Shriners to fit her,” Prasuhn said. “The suit helps minimize the scarring.”
“I have to wear it the next year or so,” Zoe added.
“Zoe always wears layers of clothes,” Barb said. “I think that’s what saved her that day.”
Prasuhn is definitely glad to have her daughter back home.
“For me, it was very trying to maintain work, the boys and her in the hospital,” she said. “My fiance Brian drove me to the hospital after work on Wednesdays and then would drive back down Sundays and bring me back.”
Prasuhn has four other children, Meridian Hemmelgarn, who is 21 1/2; Avery Fields, 17; Chase Fields, 13; and Orrin Simoneau, 5.
Her workplace was supportive, however.
“Subway has really good to me,” she said. “I’ve worked there for almost 12 years.”
Zoe is grateful to those who have been helping her at school, especially best friends Joe Martino and Lessie Cable. Lessie was with her the day she had the accident.
“Thanks to everybody, for the prayers, love and help,” Prasuhn said. “I never knew that many people knew Zoe. There were so many on Facebook that Zoe didn’t even know. Thanks to everybody and how they helped and still do. “
“People were from all over Darke County, not just Greenville,” Zoe said.
“She got cards from Texas, Iowa, Georgia, Illinois and I don’t even know them people,” Prasuhn said. “It was really great. One woman sent her a box of movies. It was overwhelming.”