Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Tommy Healing well and some new BIG news!

Good morning Friends

Yesterday we were in a workshop being held by the Government and there was no way I could update you guys, sorry!

As is the nature of life at TLC our difficult times are often accompanied or followed by some extraordinary events - God's way of saying "Don't panic, I'm still here and I know what's going on".

Tommy is doing really well, every prayer that has been said for him has helped an extra piece of his charred skin heal beautifully! Yesterday he had his first physiotherapy session to regain the full use of his hands. Whilst he is very stiff and he said the session was pretty uncomfortable it appears that he will not lose any of his functioning but will only need some therapy before he is back in action.

We Praise God for His mercy and are so very, very grateful to all who contributed their support at this very terrible time.

As we reach a place where we can take a breath another development at TLC occurs.

As most of you know, it has been TLC's intention for several years to extend our Mainhouse to accomodate the few children who continue to fall through the cracks in the system and require permanent care.

The extending of our mainhouse became more and more problematic as we discovered issues related to our waste water system, our town planning department and the rising costs of building new structures. There was a time when we didn't know what we would do, we had raised some money through our faithful support base but had no where near enough to overcome these problems.

And then in a 6 month period, beginning at the darkest time for TLC last year, when we had no money and thought we would close, God opened a door for us. The property directly adjoining TLC's top end came available for sale.

Using what we had in the building account we were able to motivate to donors and the great German Funding organisation Ein Herz Fur Kinder for the rest of the money. The offer has been accepted and we pay the deposit today!

It is a lot to take in and there is a lot of explanation you will all want and need so I have decided to use our Season Giving blogsite to keep everyone informed and up to date on what's going on with this project. It will begin tomorrow, as today I have to complete an assignment for the course I am doing.

We Love You All

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Another Miracle: Tommy comes home!!!

Hello friends

Today is GLORIOUS!

Theo arived yesterday and went to visit Tommy staright from the airport!

And then they said he could come home!!!!

The doctor was so impressed with the healing of the hands he said Tommy could come home, as long as he can go in to the hospital every 3 days to change the dressings.

We are so happy. It is such a relief and a blessing to have him safe back home. God has been so good and I really thank each of you from the bottom of my heart for all the prayers you sent up for him, God is faithful in His promises!

I will keep you posted in his progress and the developments as we repair the house and replace his personal belongings.

We Love You All

Friday, June 24, 2011

He is in the General Ward!

Hello Friends

Our news from yesterday is fabulous!
Tommy was moved to the General ward yesterday and it is just so wonderful to hear the medical fraternity using words like "miraculous" and "unbelievable" :-)

He is in much better spirits now and is completely obsessed about coming home! He is determined to do everything possible to make his departure from hospital as speedy as he can!

I joked with him yesterday that if he makes it too quick he won't have a bed at home yet! His response ... It's fine I'm going to sleep in Mommy's bed for a while anyway :-)

I guess he is entitled to such comfort after such a trauma!

Thank you all for everything you do and continue to do for all of us!

We Love You All

Thursday, June 23, 2011

He can breathe!

Morning Friends!

Yesterday WAS a very busy day as I predicted.

This is what is looked like:
8:30 RICOH team members arrived at TLC for the launch of their MasterChef competition.

They will be competing in teams over the year to create the most delicious, best presented and most totally awesome lunches for the TLC kids!

9:30 I had to leave the team to prepare while I went to collect a donation of meat from an adoptive family and the BIDVEST group who collaborated to generously bless TLC with 130kg's of meat!

1:00 the first lunch setting was presented and at 2:00 the second one is put out for the kids who return from school at that time!

Each of the kids got a personalised juice bottle!

Elma and Nadia struck up a great friendship

Dishing up was frenzied fun!

2:30 The RICOH bigwigs (and now close friends!)  met with us to discuss developments on the TLC farm, have a tour and celebrate with us as they were instrumental in making all this possible!

4:30 I had to squeeze in homework and exam revision for those who needed it

6:30 I left to visit Tommy
Tommy is breathing all on his own! And he smiled a little!

He even managed a few minutes with his RICOH IPOD!

He was suffering with terrible anxiety but I think this is a side effect of all the trauma and the meds.

He also has his voice back now! This makes things a whole lot easier!

God Bless all of you who have come together to help us at this time!

We love you all

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tommy can eat!!

Hello Friends!

I am so happy tonight because they have removed his feeding tube! It was a ghastly fat piece of plastic going in right in the centre of his belly just below the ribs and it made me so unconfortable to see it and now it is gone!

His throat is healed enough to eat soft things like yoghurts and the foul tasting protein shakes he has to eat to help with the healing :-(  I'm sure it won't be long before he is eating normally again.

They also seem to have succesfully reduced his dependance on the ventilator so we are hoping to hear some good news soon about moving him from Intensive Care to the General ward.

He was very tired today, probably because of having to breathe and eat more on his own but he seemed happy enough and was keen to show me that he could wiggle his fingers. You can just see the blackened tips of the fingers, as if he was working with oily car parts but the oil was dry.  Here are some pictures he wanted me to take of the fingers.

Tomorrow is set to be a VERY busy day and so I am not sure I'll get to updating you all but I'll do my best to do it as soon as it's possible.

Once again we send you all cyber hugs
We Love You All

Tuesday 21 June

Morning Friends

Last night I could not write because I could not find my 3G card, I looked everywhere and eventually at about quarter to 11 I gave up. This morning I spent another good hour looking and ofcourse I found it exactly where it was supposed to be and where I had looked at least 20 times before! GRRRRR!

So the update for yesterday...


Tommy had an emotional day yesterday. During Mom's visit he cried and cried, he tried to get out of the bed and make Mom take him home. It seems that as he heals he is more and more desperate to be home.

When I went at 3 o'clock they would not let me visit as his hands were being cleaned and so they were exposed and vulnerable to infection.

Poor boy. He seems to be holding more breath on his own now but they are still taking it slow, which I think is wise.

As an update for all who are sending help:
# The ticket for Tommy's best friend, Theo, has been paid for
# The cost of his glasses has been covered
# The music "IPOD" has been replaced

The insurance are sending a builder now that the assessor has been because they want measurements to give an accurate quote.

Thank you all for sending so much love and support
We Love you All

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Sunday 19 June

Hello Friends

It's been a harder day again today I'm afraid. Tommy had a difficult morning because they reduced the oxygen help from the ventilator to see how much he could manage on his own. It wasn't much unfortunately and it became quite an ordeal, which culminated in him throwing up. It was very traumatic for him and he was really upset that he can't seem to catch his breath.

Mom was there luckily so she did her best to soothe him and when I visited this afternoon he seemed a bit better. He was able to ask me if I could bring him some small pieces of ice as his mouth felt hot inside and he was craving ice. Mom took some with her tonight, crushed ice in a little ice bucket. Hopefully a soothing comfort for him.

I know all of you reading are reading because of Tommy but I wanted to share another sad story, if you don't mind. It seems that tragedy is making the rounds at the moment and today I experienced some that hit very close to home. Please don't feel you have to read on. I just need to tell this story so that it is not all stuck in my mind as I try to go to sleep.

Our cook, Cynthia, lives in a township not too far from us called Orange Farm. It is a mixture of steel shacks, self built homes and government houses called RDP houses. These houses are tiny matchbox buildings, unplastered airbrick walls and only 1 electrical outlet.

Living next door to Cynthia and her family were 2 young men. Bongani (20) and Vusi (18). They had been orphaned several years before and whilst they had one of the government houses to live in, they struggled to manage. An uncle of theirs lived in a shack in the yard to help offer some adult assitance as Vusi was still finishing school and struggled with epilepsy,  and Bongani worked night shifts fairly regularly.

Two days ago, Vusi spent the day washing the 4 blankets they owned and he lay them out to dry inside near their one bar heater. It was a horrible day and the blankets did not dry by evening. Vusi went to sleep with no blanket and Bongani was out at work. Somewhere in the night the blankets caught fire and Vusi tried to crawl to the front door and escape but it appears that midway he suffered a siezure and was killed when his head hit the small broken television laying near the bathroom.

Cynthia and her husband, Stephen heard the sound of breaking glass at around 2:30am and went out and worked feverishly to put out the fire and find Vusi. They were devastated to find that they were too late to save Vusi.

Cynthia came to work and asked if we could help with some food for Bongani as he was beside himself with grief and unable to go to work. I packed up some food and a few new blankets that we had recently been given and drove with Cynthia to drop them off.

It just broke my heart. This young man, now all alone, motherless, fatherless and now brotherless. It is beyond comprehension how much suffering there must be in his heart right now. His house smells like acrid smoke and there is a big black streak up the bricks where his bed must have burned. You can see little patches where the two must have tried to apply plaster to the bare brick walls when they had a little money to spare.  The house is freezing because many of the windows are broken and the roof is exposed as there is no ceiling but worst is that he has to live there in this building that is such a terrible and constant reminder of all he has lost.

The idea that I had brought such measly offerings makes me so depressed. I wanted to do so much more. These are the times when I really hate how poverty is able to keep people in bondage until the lie broken or dead at the feet of society. I wish so much that I had an endless supply of resources to help people like this. It is just so unfair.

Thank you all for listening and may I ask you all to pray for Bongani and seek God's compassion for him.

We love you all

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Saturday 18 June

Hello Friends

The last two days have been a little hectic. There are a whole lot of tiny chores that need to happen now that my little brood and I are seperate of the "mainhouse". Beds to make and wet beds to change, clothes to fold and "stuff" to organise. It takes a lot of time and energy and so last night I was just not up to writing, sorry.

Things with Tommy seem to be improving in small steps.

Yesterday he slept through my visit - he was asleep when I got there and had not woken by the time visiting hours were over. I could not bring myself to wake him since I am a firm believer in the healing effects of sleep, but he was furious! Every visitor since then has been silently but clearly and vehemently instructed to wake him during visiting hours, so today when I went he made me promise that I would not let him sleep through one again.

When Zoe visited him last night she found a nurse there speaking to him in Sotho. His registered name is Itumeleng and so she, and apparently many of the staff just assumed he could speak the language. He was so happy to see her and pleaded with her to "TELL THEM I SPEAK ENGLISH!".

These are good signs. He is feeling stronger in himself and I believe it won't be too long before he can hold his own oxygen and they can remove the tracheotomy and let him move to a general ward.

Anyone who knows about South Africa knows how much the country loves any excuse for a holiday so it shouldn't surprise you to know that although only Thursday was a holiday most people took Friday off too and so it is like a 4 day weekend. This means information is a bit scanty so I will be sure to update you when we get more information on his hands.

Today he was mostly concerned about the strange little tremors he seems to be having. His body twitches and shakes in small movements, uncontrollably even when he sleeps. He is also itchy all over and it worries him and so I have told him I believe it is just his body's way of managing the trauma - I hope it eases as time goes on.

I must say that his face has healed miraculously. Today there was barely a hint of the scabs and damaged skin that had been visible before. He was so much improved in fact that he even asked for headphones so that he could hear the television or radio now that his ears are cleared of the wounds.

We pray that God will show the same mercy to his hands and that they too will heal as remarkably.

Thank you for all your prayers
We love you all

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Thursday 16 June

Hello Friends

And Happy Youth Day.
Today is June 16th, a National Public Holiday in our country where we celebrate the strength and resilience of our youth.

How appropriate then that Mom has written a beautiful tribute to Tommy on her blog which can be read at

Our visits went well today. Tommy says on a scale of Not depressed being a 1 and very depressed being a 10, he would say he is a 3.  I think this is pretty remarkable really, I know many people in the world who would be a whole lot more depressed than that for a lot smaller reasons!

His face is looking so much better. They have cleared away most of the damaged skin and now you can really see the new skin. Whilst it is obvious there will be some discolouration of the skin, it will I believe not be as bad as it might have been. Thank you for all your prayers in this regard!

An interesting thing I noticed today was how the skin around his eyes and I believe his eyes as well was saved because he was wearing his glasses. It's amazing, he has perfect white lines where the glasses frames were over the bridge of his nose and along the sides of his head, it looks like a little racoon mask.

Out of curiosity I had a look at his glasses when I got back and they are destroyed. The frames are bent and buckled and the glass itself looks like it was sandblasted. These were new R5500 glasses, specially made for his eye condition, called Low Vision. I will be using some of the donations people have been sending to get a new pair made, as he is lost without them but the medical insurance will not cover a new pair so soon after the last ones.

Tomorrow he scheduled for another dressing of the hands and he is really stressed about that as the last one was so painful. I have asked the nurse to mention this to the doctor in the hopes that they can give him a little more pain relief.

I'll be in touch soon.
We love you all

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday 15 June

Hello Friends

I am happy to report that Tommy is improving. The doctors have managed to turn the ventilator pump off and he is able to breathe through it using his own muscles. This means that in a few days they may remove the tube altogether and then he should get his voice back. This will be a great relief for him because he is so frustrated with not being able to talk.

The burned skin on his face is being plastered with a moisture filled gel which keeps it from getting taut and allows it to seperate from the underlying skin without pulling or causing more damage. He finds the sensation a bit irritating as his body tells him to rub or scratch the dead or dying skin off and of course he can't.

He indicates that his hands are painful and when I asked if he had seem the damage to the hands he said he had and that it had scared him. I reassured him that everyone is doing the right things and tried to encourage him as best I could.

All the nurses in the unit now know his name and people are constantly popping there heads in to greet him. He seems to want to hear every detail of the goings on at home and so the visiting hour passes so quickly.

He was distressed when the time came for me to leave, he does not like the nighttimes as he is awake a lot and it gets lonely. This is the hardest part for us too, knowing that he is feeling pain and is unhappy just makes us want to be there all the time.

Pray for God's comfort and that the pain will lessen.
Thank you to all of you and God Bless you
We love you all

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday 14 June

Hello Friends!

Sorry I missed yesterday! I know you are all waiting for any news but yesterday came and went in an exhausting blur and I just couldn;t get to the blog!

Yesterday Tommy had another debridement. Zoe, who visited him last night, says his face looks much better than she had thought it would. It appears that the top layers of skin are peeling away, leaving new and unscarred, healthy looking skin below. This is really great news. We had heard that because gas burns so fast the burn does not always go to the underlying fleshy areas and so the scarring may be minimal and it seems this is the case. We are so grateful for this!

His hands however are still of grave concern. We are trying to get the specialist burns hand surgeon to come and have a look but for now they are saying he will need splints to help the hands heal with as much mobility as possible and he will definately need skin grafts to cover the wounds and likely several surgical interventions to help things along.

Mom has gone across now to see him and she has taken the little file with all your lovely encouraging emails to read to him. Remember the address is and we will be sure to give him all the messages.

The repairs to upstairs should begin any day now. The insurance assessor was here today and we will find out soon how much we will need to contribute to get everything back on track.
Our Board of Trustees has decided that should there be a shortfall we will take some money from our savings for the property next door but we are hoping this will not be necessary.

Whislt life is still topsy turvey, my kiddies think living in the mobile home is FANTASTIC! Here are a few pictures taken on Similo's birthday.

Matthew, James, Murphy and Mighty playing with the Car mat in the sun!

Mbali and Ruth prefer to be inside. They call it "helping" :-&

Similo, Christian and Sibu climping in the plum tree outside the front door.

Thank you for all the kind messages, please know that whilst I cannot write you all an individual response to your letters of support, they are very much appreciated!

We Love You All

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Sunday 12 June

Hello Friends

Another trying day I'm afraid. Tommy was lucid and in good spirits this morning when I went to visit him. We spent the hour trying to communicate with some very weird sign language. His boxing glove hands make that extremely difficult and frustrating but I think he got answers to a lot of the questions he had.

In the afternoon Mom went and she said he had a whole lot more questions and she couldn't make head or tail out of what he wanted and so eventually they we're both close to tears and decided to give up the conversation so Mom just spoke, trying to fill in as many gaps as she could think of.

By this evening when I went again, he was quite unwell. I had taken Crispin with me as he had asked in the morning but now I think that might have been a mistake. Poor Crispin first went all weak and had to sit on the floor for sometime, then he came and stood next to the bed while I spoke to Tommy, when I looked again he had his head on the sidebar of the bed and could only cry and cry and cry which made me cry and cry and cry and then Tommy got really upset and sick.

We are all so emotionally exhausted it only takes a moment and all the composure you have managed to gather crumbles. Crispin sobbed all the way home, my heart just aches and the poor child begins his first set of highschool exams tomorrow. I just wish we could press pause on the world so that TLC can just gather its wits again and we could have time to sit with each child and really find out how they are doing. It is so hard.

Thank you to all of you who have sent us special encouragement and please can I remind you all of the email address for Tommy, it is  He was really excited about the idea and I will start reading the messages to him tomorrow I think - probably a few at each visiting session.

Remember us in your prayers.

We love you all

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Saturday 11 June

Hello Friends

Another late entry, sorry you had to wait. It has been a busy day.

Saturdays are normally busy as we have sports meetings to get the kids to, catechism for the younger ones and many visitors who come around.
Today was also Similo's birthday and so it is only now that I have a few minutes to catch you up on the news.

Tommy is conscious and seems lucid. He cannot make any sound at all but his eyes speak volumes. He was able to indicate that he is not in any pain (which is great) but there were obviously other things bothering him and he was not able to make them clear to us which is so frustrating and upsetting for everybody.

Poor thing, tonight during Mom's visit he was trying to lift his top half from the bed and side to side, she thought he wanted to be lifted up a little more on the pillow and when she went to help him she found a sharp plastic clip that usually attaches to an IV line but that must have been forgotton and it had found its way behind him and had dug great big dents into his back. Heaven knows how long he has had to endure that discomfort! It is so devastating for him not to be talking. He cannot even sign a bit either as his hands are bandaged up like big boxing gloves.

The Doctor was there this afternoon during my visit, he says Tommy is doing well now and that they would like to do a skin graft from his thigh to his hands on Monday. Please pray for special grace when that happens as I know from Ben that he often said the graft was more painful than the burn in many ways.

Things are all out of balance for us here. Now that I am in the mobile home I feel disconnected from the other mainhouse kids and there has been so much sorting and packing and organising to do I have fallen behind in many other important areas. It is like trying to keep up your fulltime job while moving house, raising 10 kids and worrying about a loved one.

I appreciate all the love you have sent and ask that you reserve a few prayers for me too please :-) I am holding on but it has been a tough week and sleep is hard to come by.

Bless you all
We love you

Friday, June 10, 2011

Friday 10 June

Hello friends

So sorry for the late update today. Things are spiralling faster and faster and I am falling further behind in many places.

Tommy seems to once again be coming out of sleep. He is restless but seems more coordinated and less frantic. He can open his eyes now but doesn't seem able to make sense out of things. His eyelashes are singed into little blobs of white and his eyes are blooshot as can be, but at least they open.

Today the Dr's had to debride his hands and remove all the damaged skin, which is a very uncomfortable thing. The Dr seems fairly sure that the hands caught a lot of the explosion and will likely be the areas needing the most attention and after care.

Sorry again for the short update but yesterday we moved 14 of us from the mainhouse into the 3 bedroom mobile home so that repairs upstairs can start next week. 3 bedrooms and 14 people you ask?
Well, yes it's kind of like camping  (we even have triple bunks) but with a group of over excited under 6's and a lot more "stuff" than you would normally take camping :-)

Thank you all once again for your prayers and blessings.
God Bless you
We love you all

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Thursday 9th June

Morning Friends

So today is one where things seem almost too hard. Tears sit too close to the edge of ones eyes and ones brains feel like they have gone into hibernation.

Tommy was restless during last nights visit and the nurse says it is because they are reducing the sedation. This means he can now hear us talk and it was obvious he knew we were there and what we were saying but you can see he feels trapped. He wants to talk back, he wants to swallow or cough and he can't. It was terrible to see him trying so hard to control these things and feeling like he was suffocating becuase the ventilator only provides air when it is prgrammed too so a big deep breath is not possible and coughing or swallowing are also impossible. The nurse had to suction him and he was so uncomfortable.

Please pray for gentle hands to care for him and God's comfort as he becomes conscious. It is going to be a hard time for him.

Viv is setting up a special email acocunt for all your messages of encouragement that are meant for Tommy. It will be and you can send through things we will print out and read to him or, when he well enough, let him read on our laptops. It should be active in a few hours so feel free to use it when you can. I know he will appreciate hearing from all of you.

We love you all

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday 8th June

Good morning friends,

Tommy was a little restless last night. His body seems to be twitching a lot. I expect it is the nerves and muscles way of dealing with all the subconcious pain and discomfort but I will be asking the doctor when I see him.

The builder came back with the quote for the repairs to the building and it totals to R208 750.
We are seeing what portion our insurance might pay and then we will need to fundraise for the rest.

The repairs require that the entire wing is gutted down to the floors. The ceiling will be replaced and new insulation put in. The geyser will be moved to an external wall and this will free up a little more space. The big room at the end will be divided through the middle to make a corridor right to the end with a fire escape door - it has long been a worry that the current fire escape plan is terrible ineffective in the event that everyone need to evacuate from upstairs.

This will mean we will have 5 rooms in place of 4. The rooms will no longer have built in cupboards and we will have to purchase a free standing one for each room.

The builders start on the volunteer cottage repairs on Monday and will be available as soon as we give them the go ahead to start upstairs too.

Please put the word out to your groups, I know TLC has plundered everyone since last year but if there is even a little help available it will reduce the stress by that much.

Here are a few pics:

Please keep Mom in your prayers too, she is having a tough time and this kind of stress she really does not need.

We love you all

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Evening 7 June 2011

Hi friends

It's been a hectic day but thankfully Tommy appears to be much more settled and peaceful. I believe this will help the healing process and I am thankful that he is not feeling any pain at present.

The gas company viewed the explosion site today and are confident that it was "user error" that caused the explosion. The gas must have collected during Tommy's efforts to switch it on.

The insurance company will review our claim and we are very grateful to TLC Holland for their gift of the money to repair the volunteer cottage we desperately need to put people into again.

Can I thank each and everyone of the over 300! of you who have written, called and sent messages to us during this terrible time.

The counsellor will visit us tomorrow afternoon and hopefully give the children a "safe" space to talk about how they are feeling. We find most of them too worried about causing us stress and so they don't talk about how upset they are. It is not ideal.

We love you all

Tuesday 7 June

Hello Friends

I went and saw Tommy last night. I am relieved to say he seems much more comfortable and peaceful now that the tubes are not in his throat.

Another love tap from God is that the ICU nurse in charge of Tommy in the daytime is one of the few South African TLC volunteers from ages ago! Her name is Cecelia and she volunteered at TLC almost 9 years ago, now she is a wonderful nurse and amazingly is responsible for Tommy during the day shift.
We are so grateful to God for this becuase we know she will be gentle and loving towards him.

Thank you all for your kind thoughts and prayers
I will write again this evening.

We Love you all

Monday, June 6, 2011

Monday 6 June

Hello Friends

Thank you for the outpouring of kindness and the endless prayers that are being sent.

Tommy was moved into an isolation cubicle within the ICU last night. The Dr's believe it will help keep any likely infections at bay and the room is easier to cool as he has a recurring temperature.
I will be visiting him in a few minutes to see the results of the operation where they inserted the ventilator through the trachea and the feeding tube into his stomach. I will let you know more tomorrow about this.

For now could you let your networks know that we have had to work out a solution to the problem of relocating the children who are now roomless due to the damage to upstairs.

1) Joshua and Reuel  will move into a volunteer cottage - this means we have to fix the damp and crumbling wall problem in the cottage known as Somewhere Els. This will cost R119 000 - we have R20 000 toward this already.

2) the boys from upstairs will move into Joshua's vacated room downstairs.

3) For right now Ellen and Theresa will have to stay where they are but when renovations begin we will have to cram them in somewhere - likely in the upstairs lounge with me.
And when Tommy gets back ... well hopefully the repairs will be done before then.

The repairs (and insurance possibilites) for this renovation should be quoted on within the week and then we will know more.

We appreciate all of the love you have sent us from around the world.

For those who asked what you could do for Tommy especially - these are his banking details and since he has lost everything of his own he will be very grateful for any help toward replacing them.



ACCOUNT:       007963084

CODE:                006405

IBAN:                 SBZAZAJJ006405

Bank’s Address:
Standard Bank of South Africa
Southdale Shopping Centre
36 Alamein Road

We Love you all

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Tommy hurt!

Dear friends

Whilst many of you know about our tragedy this weekend I thought we should record it here for those who may be a little out of the loop.

On Friday night at around 8pm, Tommy was in his room preparing to go out and celebrate Crispin’s 15th birthday. He was pottering around and began trying to light the gas heater in his bedroom. It was a bitterly cold night and it was the first time this season we had tried to put the gas on, it is not uncommon for the heaters to need several minutes of “bleeding” to allow the air in the pipes to work its way out and be replaced by gas which can then be ignited. Something must have been wrong with Tommy’s heater because when he clicked the flint to create the pilot flame, the entire room exploded like a bomb. The neighbours even heard the explosion and chaos ensued.

Tommy was badly burned and rushed to hospital where he remains in ICU, sedated and on a ventilator. He is unable to breathe on his own and will have a tracheotomy operation tomorrow to allow the ventilator that he is on to not have to go down his throat the way it does now. He will have hole for a feeding tube made in his stomach at the same time as the nasal gastric tube is causing damage to his nose and it keeps bleeding.

His hands are badly burned too although we are not sure exactly what damage these have as they are bandaged up like to boxers mitts.

Needless to say all of this is just far too close to our traumatic memories of our Ben. The kids are in varying stages of shock and emotional meltdown and Mom and I are barely able to keep it together. The temptation to be physically sick is never far from us. How this can have happened to our Tommy on top of everything else just destroys my ability to reason completely.

The wing of the house where Tommy’s room was has 3 small rooms and 1 big room. The drywalling partitions in all of these are going to need tearing down and rebuilding. The force of the explosion bent the walls out, blew out the windows and cracked the ceilings.

We are having the builders come in and give us a cost estimate but as you all know TLC can barely afford to keep the normal costs covered let alone add this kind of thing to our budget. If any of you have a creative way to help with this feel free to email us your ideas, our brains are not working completely rationally yet.

Thank you to all who have offered up prayers for our Tom and those who have sent words of support and encouragement we appreciate you all and ask for your patience with us if we are slow to respond to things for a while.

We Love you all