A Queen's University student learned firsthand yesterday what it means to become too attached to your work. You can join Unsolved Mysteries and post your own mysteries or
Fourth-year fine arts student Kathryn Wehrle had to be rushed to hospital after she became stuck inside a full-body plaster mould several classmates had applied to her for a project.
"I was completely covered - my head, my face, arms, legs and my mid-section - and I had straws in my nostrils to breathe," she told The Whig-Standard.
"I was lying naked on a table in a studio in the basement of Ontario Hall as they were wrapping me with plaster and reinforcing it with other material. It was a shroud of hardening plaster."
Wehrle, 22, said sculpture students often have to do projects that involve moulds.
"This kind of thing is done all the time ... you know it's like when kids make face masks," she said.
And everything did seem normal until the students Wehrle tried to wriggle out of the mould.
"I noticed a problem when the plaster started seeping around the bone on my ankles. And then the mould started sticking to my skin," she recalled.
Lying face-up on the table and unable to see because the plaster had sealed her eyelashes shut, Wehrle could feel her classmates frantically trying to release her from the mould.
"All I could feel was that this thing was all over me. It was heavy and I started to get cold. It was like being in a cave because it was damp and cold."
They worked for more than an hour, but her left ankle was wedged inside the plaster.
"The bone on my left ankle really hurt," she said, adding that she thought she might start to hyperventilate because she was becoming more stressed and her breathing had quickened.
Soon after, a professor arrived to see what was happening. When he discovered there was nothing he could do, he called an ambulance.
"I was blinded. The only way I knew I was at the hospital was that I remember the smell," she said.
Moments after she arrived at Kingston General Hospital emergency room, she was seen by medical personnel who started the process of cutting off the heavy plaster mould.
For Wehrle, this was the most terrifying part of what she calls a "freakish experience."
"All I could hear was the saw and all I could do was scream," she recalled.
"I was freaking out screaming and everything. It was a jarring experience."
Then came the pain.
Wehrle will never forget the sting of having the mould "ripped off" her arms and legs.
"They had to do it that way because the plaster had stuck to all the hair on my body," she said.
"When they ripped it off, they tore all the hair off my legs."
Even after she was freed from the plaster, Wehrle still couldn't see.
So nurses wheeled her to the shower where she washed away the remnants of the plaster that still caked parts of her face and body.
She said she couldn't believe it when she was released from hospital a couple hours after she arrived.
"I've got little cuts on my arms and legs," she said.
"My wrists and ankles are sore. My legs are pretty pink."
She also couldn't believe she had spent most of the day in a full-body mould before medical personnel could get it off her.
"I couldn't believe that it was 4:30 p.m. ... we started [plastering] around 11:15 a.m.," she said.
Wehrle is thinking of the whole experience as an accident, but isn't sure when she's going to volunteer to become part of a body mould again.
"I would do it again ... maybe not soon," she said.
"I don't know if it was poor planning on making the mould or if the plaster was a little watery or if was just a freak accident."
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