Post courtesy of Burned Beauty
CHRIS VAN NIEKERK
Location: Toronto, CANADA
Date Of Injury: 2015
On Thursday, August 27th Chris Van Niekerk was severely burned from the chest up in a tragic accident and was rushed to The Ross Tilly Burn Centre at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.
Beyond his extensive surgeries, Chris could use your help with after-care expenses, including medicines, skin treatments, and therapy. Initial support has been overwhelming. We all want Chris to get the best help available so he can get back to his daily life. We’re confident that with your support we can help him do that.
We are all, including, Chris, his wife Kristen and their three children (Ocean, 6; Beckett, 1; and Oakleigh, 8 weeks) are grateful beyond words for any donation.
We wanted to give you updates on his journey as we go through the next couple of months. The strength, support and the many words of kindness helps Chris, so we wanted to share this with you.
August 28th – First day in the hospital with the incredible team of Ross Tilley Burn Unit. The first skin graft surgery and everything goes well with family, friends and co-workers at the hospital to give their support.
August 29th – Second surgery
August 30th – With his eyes still swollen and in a semi-concious state due to the burns. Chris still shows his passion for sports when his family turns on the Blue Jays Baseball game in his hospital room. Everytime a Jays playered scored a run, his hand gestures reflected his emotion of each Blue Jays run. Click here below how the Blue Jays support Sunnybrook Hospital.
September 3rd – GoFundMe fundraising account is created and is lauched to raise money for Chris and his family.
September 4th – Chris went into surgery this morning at 10am as planned. This is going to be a longer surgery as this will be a bigger skin graft procedure.
September 5th – Just received another update from Christophers Mom. As mentioned on Friday September 4th Christopher had a long day in surgery with skin grafting. The doctors are expecting the grafting to heal and be in good condition. Christopher will be heavily sedated over the weekend to make sure that he is comfortable.
September 6th – He has had 3 surgeries. First was his neck, chest and shoulders with donated skin. Second was his face with donated skin, and third was all of it redone but, with his own skin which came from his upper legs.
September 7th – On behalf of Chris and Kristen, their families would like to express their heartfelt thanks for the generous donations which will help Chris and Kristen over the coming months. We are so grateful.
September 8th – Christopher is in good hands with the care he is receiving at the hospital. He is not allowed visitors except immediate family for the next week or so. His eyelids are still swollen so he can`t see and his face is all bandaged up so he cannot speak. You can only imagine how difficult this is for him. He`s been sedated a lot and has a few moments of wakefulness, but he doesn`t understand what`s going on and the nurses told us not to give him any more information other than that he`s in the hospital. Tomorrow the dressings come off.
September 9th – On Wednesday Christopher had his head and facial dressings removed. Today he had the tube taken out of his throat. He is talking, making eye contact but is unsure of what’s happening to him. For his family, they have had time to process what has happened and what Chris has been through. For Chris, this is day one. Now the real work begins.
September 12th – Saturday, .Sep 12 is a happy day. Chris is lucid, speaking well and almost sounds like he did before. He has many questions and he remembers what happened but does not know why he fainted. He is so good, in fact, he invited his brothers to watch the Blue Jay game in his room. He stood up, with help from the nurses, for a few seconds today. He should be sitting in a chair tomorrow. He is strong, he is a survivor and we love him.
UPDATE January 2016 – I’m finally home from the hospital after a little more than three months. I’m definitely ready to go home and work on getting back in to the swing of things.
I wanted to let everyone know how humbly thankful Kristen and I are for the support we have received. It’s quite a long list of people and in time we will get to thanking you all, but in the meantime please know how much your support has meant to us and how lucky we are to have you in our lives.
For those who don’t know, while camping in August I somehow fainted or blacked out at the campfire. Kristen had just left for home with baby Oakleigh and I was going to enjoy the night with Ocean, Beckett and two of my nieces. I was fortunate enough to roll out of the fire and wake up on my own. After getting help from some wonderful campers, I was sent to Sunnybrook hospital for several surgeries on my face, shoulders and chest. I’ve been recovering and rehabbing since then.
An injury like this, probably like any traumatic injury is both physical and emotional. I can handle the physical but I must admit the emotional has been tough. I don’t care to look at myself, I notice all the flaws like my damaged ear, or my collapsed nose, or the scars which are still in the process of healing. With skin grafts like what I have you have to fight the skin from contracting, which limits range of motion, facial expressions, even how much I can open my mouth. I have daily exercises to do for this and don’t always see progress but I know if I remain committed I’ll get this back. I have to wear a clear mask for the next year. Waiting out the recovery time is no fun, but I’ve met other burn survivors who are further along than me, and in a few months, maybe a few years, you’ll have to look pretty hard or know my story to tell I’m a bit different. Not only that but I’ve seen so much positivity from those who have visited, other patients here, and such an amazing medical staff. Even though I look a bit different now, I will recover and become a stronger man from this experience. And it could have been worse, neither my hands, sight or hearing were damaged.
What I’m most grateful for from this experience is how my community was able to help me when I was in need. So many people were so quick to jump on board and help us, whether it was with dinners, dog walking, baby sitting, lawn cutting, or something monetary. A hockey tournament and fundraiser were held for me where I heard stories of reunions and good times. Unfortunately it’s tragedies like mine that brings people together, but I’m really proud and honoured for it. I’m eternally grateful for everything and in time I will use my experience to pay the support forward to others in need.
If you can help Chris please click HERE.