by Travis Johnson
It was a very beautiful day until my life changed forever.
I had been playing mine craft for about two hours and it was time to bath my nanny had called me so I went to bath ,as I put my foot in the water I immediately went into shock causing me to slip into the bath. I HAD BEEN BURNT. I had ran into the shower helping my burn, sat in the cold room, and couldn’t wear any clothes. The doctors said this helped a lot with the time that it will take to heal.
Now I had anesthetic and a drip with painkillers and I still felt as if I was going to die. Now imagine those kids in the Baragwanath hospital with out anesthetic or any painkillers with 3rd degree burns throughout their body’s and couldn’t have their parents with them on the other hand I had my granny my mom my dad my grandpa my step dad my aunties and uncles. They don’t have any toys either.. Just imagine this. u guys go on holidays get everything we want and all these children are sitting in the hospital crying everyday . Now think what it would be to be them.
I survived, but even more important I learnt! I learnt to value what I have each and every day.
Last year we had an “Old man” called Livingston ride for us. I always used to see him riding/or running around Melrose. One day I asked him what he was training for and he told me his story. He is a retired truck driver who has always loved sport. At 67 years old he has run the Comrades eighteen times, the Soweto Marathon twenty times and done the 94.7 eleven times. His goal is to run the Comrades twenty times, but says his body is getting old. He rode in his Bara shirt last year and will do so again this year. He had a really old bike and we decided to try and find him a sponsor for a new bike. A very generous person offered to buy Livingston a bike, so yesterday he went to get his new bike. A big Thank You to Cajees Cycle Corner who were great and gave us a bike marked at R 7500-00 for R 5000-00, which included pedals and a new helmet. Robyn, who took him to buy the bike said “ His smile showed his excitement and dream come true, he is one super happy old man” If you see Livingston and his new bike during the race, stop and say Hi to this exceptional “old man” who we are truly honoured to have as a Bara Burns Unit Ambassador.
Our journey began on the 8 February 2013, when 5 year old Siyabonga was admitted to the Paeds Burns Unit. Siyabonga sustained 35% flame burns to both his legs and part of his stomach. This took place as he was left unattended and was cold and hungry and decided to try make himself some food, in the process setting himself alight. He sustained large areas of deep partial thickness and full thickness burns to his legs. As per Physio protocol, all children admitted to the Unit are assessed prior to surgery and I will never forget the first time meeting Siyabonga. His little round face with very big frightened eyes stared back at me like a little dear caught in headlights. I was instantly drawn in and reassured him that everything would be okay to which he gave me a firm nod.
In the period that Siyabonga was in the Unit, he underwent 9 different surgeries ranging from sloghectomies to debridements and multiple skin grafts. Not a day went by that he didn’t receive therapy or some form of love and kindness from the staff in the unit.
During his ICU stay Siyabonga was brave, but once he was moved into the general ward his true character and strength surfaced and flourished. Many children came in and out of the unit around Siyabonga which drove his motivation to also go home further. Many tears, screams, giggles, laughs and smiles were shared with Siyabonga. He was constantly pushing himself to get better and one day during a gym rehab session he actually said to us ‘look how good I am today, I’m getting better’, to which we all agreed and excitedly congratulated him. During his last skin graft and surgery, splints were made to help keep his legs straight and the image of Siyabonga walking a few days afterwards like the Tin Man from the Wizard of Oz will never leave me. Siyabonga was finally discharged on the 26 June 2013, a bitter sweet day for all of us that had to say goodbye to him. He had single handedly crept in and cemented his place in all our hearts for the rest of our lives.