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Please Support Kelsey's Recovery Journey from White Island Eruption

  • Kelsey's July Update     1 August 2020
    Posted by: Rochelle (Shelley) Waghorn
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    Hey guys,

    Sorry I’m a bit late with a July update - it’s been a busy busy month.

    You may have seen on the news that I went away on a “volcanic getaway” (hahaha...) to Ohakune with a group of friends. I’d had huge anxiety about going away leading up to it - not just being at the base of three live volcanos, but also because I’d had several flashbacks, panic attacks, and my mood is less than unpredictable. I was so worried I’d have a bad spell and ruin both my time away, and everyone else’s.

    Thankfully, my brain behaved itself, and I had the most wonderful and relaxing four days I’d had in months. It was so nice to feel like the old me for awhile.

    We had a really difficult two weeks once we got back from our holiday, with a death in Tom’s family, calving starting on the farm, some blank spots were filled in for me by the police about what happened on Whakaari once I’d left after the eruption on our “rescue vessel” and everything that happened and didn’t happen afterwards.

    On top of all of this, I made the difficult decision to send my dog, River, away for some additional training that I have been unable to give him myself since the eruption. I miss him so much, but only 7-sleeps until he’s home now!

    I had another check up at Waikato Hospital on the 28th, too. They’re still super happy with how all of my grafts are looking (thanks Hutt burns/plastic surgeons!), but I will be returning to the operating theatre in the next few months to have some minor graft breakdowns on my hands sorted - and an imbedded dressing removed from my upper arm!

    I brought myself a weighted blanket this week with the donations you have all so generously put towards my recovery. They’re designed to help alleviate anxiety, improve sleep, calm the nervous system and help with PTSD. So far, I absolutely love it (I’m wrapped up in it on the couch as I write this!)

    I think mum said that this page is due to close next month, so in case I don’t get another update in before then, I want to say how thankful I am for each and every one of you who sent me - and more so my family, so much love and kindness - especially in that first month where everything was looking pretty grim. You made us all cry (good tears) with your words, your memories of me, your gift baskets, and at the generosity you all showed us with your donations towards my ongoing recovery. You’ve kept us all going more than you will ever know.

    At this stage, I don’t have concrete plans on “where to next”, but I’ll be keeping those that are interested up to date on how I am, when my next surgery is and what I’m doing over on my Instagram page (@kezzelsify).

    Once again, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

    Stay safe.

    Kelsey x

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  • Hello From Kelsey!     15 June 2020
    Posted by: Rachel Christie
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    Hello again,

    Another month has passed, and I’ve achieved more goals - I’ve made it safely onto and off of the ground, I’ve made myself a few cups of tea and not dropped the kettle, and I left my Whakatāne bubble for a non-hospital related reason (my first in over six months), I’ve been showering unaided and alone, I’ve been moisturising my grafts and changing my own garments (speaking of - I’m now wearing garments on my legs now, too (dubbed “my wetsuit pants”)), and I walked to the mailbox down our driveway on my own. Another big thing I achieved (albeit briefly), I was totally dressing free (I’ve opened my elbow up again).

    One piece of bad news is that my clotted jugular vein, which was first discovered in Hutt Hospital (early January), which was then discovered to have collapsed in May, is still blocked and collapsed as of an ultrasound last week. We’re still waiting to hear from the specialist about where-to-next. In the meantime, I will keep taking my blood-thinners, and try not to hold my breath when doing exercises lying down.

    Other than that, physically, I am doing really well. There isn’t a lot I have found (so far) that I can’t do, but I do fatigue quickly, and in turn, that really affects my mood. I am having a lot of days where I am tired, struggling, sad, angry, scared. But, I guess that’s just where I am with my recovery.

    I stress very easy, too, and unfortunately, it has meant I have had to cancel appointments I was looking forward to because my thoughts get on top of me, and I can’t recover from it quickly. I’ve been leaning heavily on my partner, Tom, as well as my psychologist - I certainly do not take them for granted, and they have been amazing at helping me get through my dark days.

    The six-month anniversary last week was hard, but I was able to be surrounded by my close friends from work, Hayden’s family and my family and partner.

    Tom and I have some plans on a couple of holidays over the next couple of months before things get hectic with calving and mating here on the farm, and we’re currently looking into some future plans - watch this space!

    Once again, thank you so much for your kindness, your generosity and your supportive messages you have all been sending me. They mean the world to us.



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  • This Months Update (by Kelsey)     20 May 2020
    Posted by: Rochelle (Shelley) Waghorn
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    I just wanted to give you guys another update on how I’m doing.

    I had a checkup in Waikato Hospital Hospital earlier in the month, and it all went really well. I was measured up for new compression garments, and the surgeons were all really impressed with how my grafts, donor sites and scars are healing. Based on that, at this stage, I have no foreseeable surgeries - I stay at 14 trips to the operating theatre for now!

    The range of motion I have in my arms and hands is nearing full range of motion, but there is still some work to do on my knees. Given that I gave them a bit of a thrashing with my falls, they have only just managed to totally close over. Because they’ve been open for so long, and because I was so paranoid about stretching them and tearing them even more, I do not have total range of motion when bending my knees. Yet. Now that I’m all closed up, my Physio and I will be focusing on getting that bend back so I can get back to squatting in front of fires (at a safe distance) and getting down to the floor to pat my dogs without the use of a chair or box.

    I’m still learning how fragile my skin is - just today I went to take some tape off my arm and pulled off a piece of skin.

    Mentally, I have my days. Some days I am good and everything feels easy. And then some days, I wake up stressed and panicked for no reason - everything becomes hard, and I cry. A lot. But, I’m working on it, and trying not to call myself too many unkind names. I know my body and mind are doing their best under incredibly trying circumstances, but some days are just a lot to take on.

    I’m trying to look ahead, past all of the rehab and appointments, to what I could do in the future. I haven’t got there yet, but its early days.

    I can’t believe that even in the midst of a global pandemic and economic uncertainty for SO many people, you guys are still “giving a little” to put towards my recovery/future. Nothing has humbled me more, or made me realise that the world is actually full of so many good people.

    I am lucky for so many reasons, and your help is making my future ever brighter.



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  • Today I turn 26. (A post by Kelsey)     12 April 2020
    Posted by: Rochelle (Shelley) Waghorn
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    Somehow, I’ve made it to 26.

    I’ve survived a boat fire, a near-miss car crash, a volcanic eruption, 45% full-thickness burns, fourteen trips to theatre, and so far, a global pandemic.

    My body has a million scrapes, scars and burns, which I’m learning to love everyday.

    My mind and soul are still catching up and trying to accept what has happened over the last four years. For some reason, it’s started to catch up today.

    But I’m here, and that’s all that matters.

    I’m so proud of how far I’ve come, how resilient my body is, and I couldn’t be more thankful for all the love and light I have in my life. Even if I can’t be with them all today.

    Happy birthday to me, and here’s to a slightly quieter next four years 🥳

    Thanks again for all of your support and messages. I appreciate each and every one of them.

    If you want to see more of my recovery journey you can follow me on Instagram @kezzelsify

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  • An Update - From Home 💕     17 March 2020
    Posted by: Rochelle (Shelley) Waghorn
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    Well, I’m home!

    In total, I spent 49 days in Hutt Hospital - 10 of those in ICU, and 5 of them in an induced coma. During those 10 days, no one could tell my family whether I was going to make it or not. Thankfully, my little beaten up vessel pulled through, and I made it up to the burns/plastics ward where I spent another 39 days.

    I was transferred to Waikato on a tennis-ball-coloured air plane. I only spent 16 days as an inpatient at Waikato Hospital, which, actually, would have been a lot shorter had I not fallen over on my very first weekend leave, which landed me back in Whakatāne A&E. Not exactly the way I’d planned on going back to see and thank the team there. Needless to say, my doctor back in Waikato was more than apprehensive about letting me have the following weekend at home. But, we convinced her I’d learnt my lesson, and I was granted the next two weekends home.

    A grand total of 65 days in hospital. Plus 14 trips to the operating theatre totalling around 70hrs (including recovery).

    I was discharged on February 13th with the idea that I wouldn’t have any unplanned visits from medics until my two week check up back in Waikato. True to form, my body had other ideas. Before my first dressing change at home on the Monday following my release, I passed out in the shower. Twice. In doing so, I skinned my shin and traumatised my family for life (again..). Cue the ambulance, IV line and a whole lot of blood pressure checks.

    Thankfully, other than a collapsed jugular vein and some oozy fingers, I haven’t had any other surprises.

    Words can’t describe how good it is to be home - my own bed (that doesn’t inflate and deflate randomly), the fresh air, the view from the lounge, and of course, our two dogs. My days are still full of physio, hand therapy, OTs and district nurse visits, but I am home.

    Thank you once again for your continued support, love, advice and donations. They really mean the world to me.

    Be careful out there, and wash your hands x

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  • Update from Kelsey     8 February 2020
    Posted by: Rachel Christie
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    With all the bad going on in the world at the moment, I feel like some good news is in order!

    I’m doing really well.

    I had my arms, hands and a small portion of my stomach grafted on December 11th - thankfully, my back and butt were great donor sites.

    I don’t remember a lot from my time in ICU and my first few days on the ward because I was on some sweeeeeet pain meds. Turns out I’m not good on ketamine. 😅🤷🏼‍♀️

    My legs, lower back and some touch ups on my upper arms had their donor/cadaver skin removed and were grafted on December 27th. Now this proved to be quite “uncomfortable” (to put it gently....) given that my back and butt were “harvested” a second time, along with some strips from my upper thighs.

    By this stage, I’d been (painfully) upright only twice between these two graftings with a lot of assistance from my beautiful Physio, family and a handful of nurses. So there was a lot of blood, sweat and tears put into getting me where I am today after my final graftings.

    I am fairly mobile now, albeit wobbly and minus some strength.

    I am slowly regaining the use of both of my hands - my right is worse than my left. But I’m working on that everyday.

    There’s been complications - blood clots and infections, but my surgical and ward team were on top of it before it ever got too bad.

    Monday marks 9 weeks since Whakaari decided she would clear her throat. 9 weeks since I received full thickness burns to about 45% of my body. 9 weeks since I lost work colleagues and good friends.

    My body has been going full-tilt since, to the point where my heart rate whilst in my 5-day coma was 157. Nowadays, it’s still around 100.

    Everything is healing twice as fast as anyone predicted, and although I have my moments, I am proud of the huge progress I have made. I’m covered in scars and relocated skin, and that’s okay with me.

    Once again, thank you thank you thank you to everyone for their donations, their kind words, their time and hard work.

    I wouldn’t be here without you.

    Kels (“Special K”)

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  • A Message From Kelsey     23 January 2020
    Posted by: Rachel Christie

    Kelsey's progress is now so positive. Thank you again for your incredible support for her!!! I am now extremely happy to share a message from Kelsey,

    'Thank you to everyone who has reached out or helped my family since December 9th. And to those who have generously donated to my Givealittle, I’ve been reading your comments in small batches as the kindness is overwhelming. It’s hard to fathom the amount of love and support from people I met through work, and even people I haven’t met.

    Thank you so much to the emergency services, doctors, nurses, surgeons that got me from the Whakatāne wharf, through ICU, to the Plastics and Burns Unit. You literally saved my life, and ensured I will go on to live a long and beautiful life. Here’s hoping that 14 trips to the operating theatre are the only trips I’ll take!

    Thank you doesn’t seem like a big enough word(s) to my family and partner who have been by my side from day one, through the low-lows to the “baby’s first step” highs. You’ve been through hell with me, and I am lost for words in how to thank you all. I’ll just keep pushing forward, and hope that that will do for now. '

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  • First update for 2020     8 January 2020
    Posted by: Rachel Christie

    Thank you so much for your continued support and concern for Kelsey. We all continue to be overwhelmed by it.

    Kelsey is doing well. She continues to have surgery every few days.

    She had a really rough week following Christmas. Hard for Kelsey and really hard for her partner and family. Your messages of strength, love, support and prayers truly helped them all through this. Kelsey, true to her nature, has dug deep and is working really hard on her recovery path way. She even managed to sit up for the first time in 2020 on Saturday with the support of the physio team - huge progress!!

    Kelsey's mum has been with her throughout. Her partner and family are incredible - walking the journey with Kelsey, supporting her all the way xxoo

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  • Thank you!     19 December 2019
    Posted by: Rachel Christie

    Thank you so much for your incredible response to Kelsey’s Givealittle page.

    We are truely grateful and feel humbled. The messages have touched us - some made us laugh, some made us tearful but, all of them have made us feel the love, compassion and strength that Kelsey and the family will need.

    Some messages have been read to Kelsey and all have been kept for her to read further on in her journey.

    Kelsey remains in critical care but is no longer in a coma. She is sedated and still having surgery every couple of days. She has had her family beside her throughout.

    The healthcare has been phenomenal - they are not only there for Kelsey but also for her family. We appreciate each one of them.

    I know your continued support will help Kelsey and her family get through those tough times xxoo

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