Listel's young son fights to recover from a second bout of GBS
Christiaan Scheepers is no ordinary Grade 2 pupil. He is an exceptionally hard worker and will finish this year - despite being in hospital for months battling a crippling disease: Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) for the second time. He first contracted GBS when he was five and recovered fully. Then, in May this year, the GBS was back.
He was discharged from hospital in August but is still in a wheelchair and needs to be fed, bathed, dressed and generally cared for, but his attitude is amazingly positive and the physiotherapist and paediatrician are satisfied with his progress. Despite this condition, Christiaan has kept up with homework and writes by clutching the pencil between his wrists. Christiaan has three siblings and the community of Heidelberg has rallied around his family to help them financially, as the outstanding medical bills are around R 600 000,00! Our Angel since last week, is SEESA, who will be contributing funds from their September Golf Day to 4 Good Morning Angels recipients, including Christiaan. Read more on the work and projects of SEESA at www.seesa.co.za
Dear Angles team!
Trust you are doing very well?
My name is Gideon Basson, I grew up in Heidelberg, a small town about 60 minutes from Johannesburg.
I was born in Heidelberg and completed both my primary & high school careers in the same town surrounded by the same people for the best part of 18 years. My parents both teachers had a colleague Willie du Plessis (now retired), a great friend and an absolute brilliant teacher.
Willie treated every single child in his classroom as his own, and I‚??ll never forget while in grade 6, he one day mentioned that his wealth is his kids.
Well, Willie & his wife Ingrid had 6 children. As you can imagine rising 6 kids have its challenges, but never once did I hear or see any one of the family ask for anything or demand to be helped. The Du Plessis family set the example of caring, patient, understanding and love for one another like I have never seen in my life. In fact many years after leaving school my brothers and I still refer back to their family dynamics and what they stood for.
You might be wondering why on earth I am telling you all this. The 6 children have all grown up and started their own families. They are raising their families with the same love, understanding and patients in which they grew up!!
Listel (daughter of Willie & Ingrid) & Lucas Scheepers son‚??s, Christiaan was diagnosed with a disease called Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) on 27 May 2009 at the age of five. Guillain-Barre syndrome is a serious disorder that occurs in 1-2 out of 100 000 people, when the body's defense (immune) system mistakenly attacks part of the nervous system. This leads to nerve inflammation that causes muscle weakness. GBS damages the nerve's covering (myelin sheath) and causes nerve signals to move more slowly or stop working altogether.
Typical symptoms include:
- Loss of reflexes in the arms and legs
- Low blood pressure or poor blood pressure control
- Muscle weakness or loss of muscle function (paralysis)
- Sensation changes
- Tenderness or muscle pain (may be a cramp-like pain)
- Uncoordinated movement
Other symptoms may include:
- Blurred vision
- Clumsiness and falling
- Difficulty moving face muscles
- Muscle contractions
- Palpitations (sensation of feeling the heart beat)
Emergency symptoms (seek immediate medical help):
- Breathing temporarily stops
- Can't take a deep breath
- Difficulty breathing
- Difficulty swallowing
- Feeling light-headed when standing
When Christiaan was admitted to ICU in 2009, all the typical symptoms occurred and he was paralyzed in both arms and legs. Although he was not ventilated, he experienced muscle weakness to such an extent that he had difficulty coughing and breathing. He was admitted as a private patient, stabilized and discharged after 10 days. The total hospital costs were approximately R80 000, excluding doctors' bills, bloods & x-rays. He recovered well and when he was brought in for a check-up to the paediatrician in January 2011, he was functioning almost 100% normal except that the muscles did not yet have the same endurance as before.
On 25 May 2011 he was admitted as a private patient to ICU again with a relapse of GBS - this occurs only in 3% of the cases. Symptoms were much more severe and he was ventilated within 24 hours of being admitted. At his worst, he was capable of slight movement in the toes, left thumb and some movement in the neck from side to side. He could not swallow or speak yet had to be fed through a tube. He had blurred vision, drooled a lot and struggled constantly with pains and cramps in his legs. He also struggled with sensations of extreme high temperatures.
His condition improved gradually until he could breathe on his own, swallow and speak again and was discharged on 5 Augustus 2011 after 72 days. He is still in a wheel chair and needs to be fed, bathed, dressed and generally cared for, but his attitude is amazingly positive and the physiotherapist and paediatrician are satisfied with his progress.
Christiaan is in Grade 2, my mother (Petra Basson) is his teacher. I saw some of Christiaan‚??s homework the other day and was blown away by the quality of work. I couldn‚??t believe that Christiaan, only 8 years old, has such a positive attitude. To give you an idea, he can‚??t hold a pen in his hands like you and I, he holds his pen between his wrists and produces flawless work. He sets an example for ever single member of his class. When someone says they can‚??t do something, Christiaan is a reminder of how grateful one should be for what you can do every day.
His classmates all look out for him. They help to carry his book case, help him to find his way to the carpet during a play break and encourage him to do things. He still can‚??t walk and has to be carried everywhere he goes. Christiaan never says he can‚??t do something; he will try and try until he gets it right. (My mother uses Christiaan as an example to inspire kids whose work is below standard, with massive positive results). Christiaan is truly a fighter and I believe his positive attitude stems from the loving and caring environment he grows up in. Christiaan has twin sisters and a brother who loves, encourages, protects and motivates him.
While he was in hospital Listel (mother) & Lucas (father) took turns to visit him in hospital between their work and other family commitments. Christiaan‚??s special situation has made this family very strong, but it has taken a lot of strength from the family, brother and sisters, grandmother & grandfather to see them through this hurdle in their life.
Hospital costs amounted to almost R450 000 with additional costs of a further R100 000 for x-rays, blood tests, sonars, doctors and physiotherapy. He still needs physiotherapy on a daily basis, but he is an amazing child with a strong focus on what he CAN do and his family fully believes that he will heal 100% with time.
Recently his class won a ‚??kaskar‚?Ě competition and was given R2000 as price money to go and eat out or do something fun with. The class decided not to use the money and enjoy themselves, but to give the R2000 to Christiaan; to put towards the medical expenses. Wow, that was unbelievable.
The primary school he attends (Laerskool AG Visser in Heidelberg) as well as members of the Heidelberg community are constantly trying to make the financial burden on the Scheepers family lighter with fundraising initiatives. Unfortunately the need is great.
Currently the outstanding bills top R600 000 and you can just imagine how long it will take the family to pay this off. Not to mention the ongoing support Christiaan will need as he continues to recover and improve.
Lucas (father) is a contact worker and Listel (mother) earns a salary. The responsibilities toward the medical expenses and their family are huge. They turn every cent around 3 or 4 times to make sure it is used correctly and that all their monthly commitments are met without fail. A more loving and caring family I have never seen and I know they will not rest until all the bills are settled before returning to a normal life with Christiaan. The whole family understand this and have put their own needs on hold in order to provide for Christiaan. I am blessed to know this family and to know what they stand for. With the current financial climate it‚??s very difficult as you can imagine to fill everyone‚??s needs in the Scheepers family.
The family does not know that I have contacted you. If there is any way in which Good morning Angles can help Christiaan, I know he and his family will be forever grateful.
Thanks for the wonderful work you do!
ANGEL: Paul Rothman and Magdarie van Staden from Labour Law, BEE and Skills for Business company, SEESA Gauteng
SPONSORING: Seesa recently held their annual golf day and will pay R 11 000,00 of the funds generated towards Christiaan's medical treatment
ADDITIONAL: Good Morning Angels will add another R 4000,00 from the Good Morning Angels Fund towards Christiaan's medical and other needs.
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