Dear friends I’ve started a GoFundme for TJ as I want to arrange some assistance to get him through this difficult incident that has happened in his life. If you read below you can read exactly what happened to TJ in his words that caused this horrific injury. He was high sticked going to the net in the eye playing hockey and a ton of damage was sustained to both the outside and inside of his eye. I’m here asking for your support to help him get through this tough time as he goes through the uncertainty of multiple surgeries and potential for long periods of time off work during the subsequent recoveries. He just bought a new house and is getting married in 2 short weeks. There is even uncertainty on what he may or may not receive from the ASHL under their insurance policy, and anything that may come from this could take months to sort out. Anything we can provide will help to take the stress and pressure off of TJ’s finances and allow him to focus 100% of his time and energy on getting better. TJ has always been a great fundraiser for Hockey for Heart and his heart is a big as they come when it comes to generosity. He is too proud to ask for anyone’s help so I’m reaching out to ask if you could donate even $20 to help him out. I’m hoping through this Gofundme I can raise enough to give him the peace of mind to not worry about the bills coming in and so he can focus on following the doctor’s orders and his recovery. If you've ever met TJ you know what a great guy he is. If you haven’t met him let me tell you that this unfortunate accident couldn’t have happened to a nicer human being.
From here below are TJ's words
I've been holding off on posting this picture for quite some time as it has been a roller coaster of pain, emotions, and uncertainties for me as I deal with what ended up being the scariest and most significant injury I've ever experienced in my entire life. Last weekend marked two months since I was injured, my eye is still swollen shut, and I have only had the use of 1 of my eyes.
I was carrying the puck to the net on a play I have probably made thousands of times in my life time. This time though, an opponent’s stick came up and struck me under my visor. Everything went dark. I've had injuries playing hockey in the past, but I have never screamed out in pain the way I did that night. I knew something was seriously wrong - I couldn't see out of my left eye and there was blood everywhere. The looks on the faces of my teammates and the referees as they screamed for an ambulance to be called are difficult to forget. Before I knew it, I was in an ambulance on route to the hospital.
I had severe lacerations to my tear duct, drainage ducts, upper eyelid, nose, my eye was swollen shut, I was missing a piece of my lower eyelid, there was damage to the nerves around the eye, and there was damage to the muscle responsible for opening and closing the eye. Inside the eye, the pressure of my eyeball was double what it normally should be, my iris (blue in my eye) had been detached, the lens was damaged, the cataract would need repair, and they couldn't tell how badly damaged the retina was or how much of my vision may or may not return due to the swelling and blood in my eye.
It's been two months of appointments and tests with eye specialists, retina surgeons, and reconstructive surgeons. I have had 1 reconstructive surgery the day after the injury, and there will be more before they can truly assess the damage that’s been done. I've been on antibiotics, pain medication, antibiotic creams, and have 5 different eye drops which I have to take multiple times a day. It's become clear that I will likely be on eye drops for the rest of my life and will be dealing with this for months before we have any concrete news.
The priority has been put on doing everything possible to rest the eye, decrease the swelling, minimize any strain/stress put on the eye, and to keep it as protected as possible so the eye can heal quickly and they can finally begin the next phase of surgeries. The real scare has been what this might mean for my vision. I’ve had some difficult appointments and tests to say the least. The first appointment with the Retina Surgeon left me in tears after being told there was the possibility that my vision would not return and him even referring to my eye as my “spare tire”. Since then, I’ve had multiple scans, ultra sounds, and tests and with each week there is more and more hope I will get a percentage of my vision back. We don’t know what that percentage will be, but I will do everything in my power to get as close to 100% as possible. Everything was dark for the first few weeks, but I’ve started to see shapes, lights, colours, and more.
I've had highs and lows, the pain at times has been unbearable, and I've found it very hard to remain positive and focused on my recovery. Why now? Why just after buying a house, two months before my wedding would something so awful happen to me? How would I afford my bills, mortgage, and other expenses with the possibility of multiple surgeries and lots of time off work? Losing any percentage of vision in my eye is scary because this is my eye - it's my life, my career, and so much more that could be affected. I'm not able to drive, I get motion sickness very easily, the head aches come and go, light bothers the eye, I have very little depth perception, and next to no peripheral vision on my left side. The things that used to be simple are now difficult and challenging. Not being able to work, be active, lift, bend, or even leave the house for anything other than doctors’ appointments became my reality for the first few weeks after the injury.
The truth is, without the support I have received from my fiancée, family, friends, teammates, and colleagues; I would not have been able to make it through all of this. The well wishes, support, thoughts, and prayers have been what are getting me through this tough time. My fiancée, my Anna, she has been my rock. Without her, I could not have come this far. She has put up with me when I know I have been at my worst and for this I am forever grateful. She has been my chauffeur, my doctor, my nurse, and she has kept me positive the way that only she could. Words cannot even begin to express how grateful that I am to have her by my side.
My parents, Trish, Martin, my grandmother, Anna's mom and nana have all come to so many of my appointments, to my surgery, and to visit me and cheer me up. I have had so many more cards, gift baskets, visits, calls, texts, and emails from my groomsmen, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, teammates, and colleagues. To be completely honest, the support has been overwhelming. I'm so blessed to have so many truly amazing people in my life.
I'm thankful for how amazing my work has been as they have been so accommodating, supportive, and understanding. I received approval from the doctors to return to an accommodated work schedule while I waited for the surgeries to begin, at which point I would be off work completely to recover. Working has helped keep my mind distracted and I’ve even managed to be a productive member of the team while still being able to minimize the strain on the eye and protect the eye from any risks. I’ve been able to work while still following the schedule for my medication and eye drops so that the eye could heal as soon as possible and the next phase of surgeries could finally begin.
We finally received good news and my next surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning to repair the upper and lower eyelids, drainage ducts, and they will go in and do an exploratory surgery to see which muscle was cut/damaged, and hopefully repair it all in one surgery. It is a little intimidating that they are going to have to open up the area above my eye and explore the damage, not to mention I’m going to be awake throughout the entire procedure. The priority has been given on fixing the outside structure of the eye and repairing the muscle so that I can open and close my eye. It’s going to be a tough 3-4 week recovery period after this surgery, but once the outside of the eye is fixed, they will finally be able to run the appropriate tests to help determine how my vision is, and then move forward with any of the internal surgeries needed to repair and mend the damage that’s been done.
I have a long road to recovery ahead of me but I am going to fight and do everything in my power to gain as much of my vision back as possible. I'm going to focus on the small improvements, wins, and battles that take place every day and I will get my life back. For now, I wanted to reach out to everyone who has kept me in their thoughts and prayers to say thank you from the bottom of my heart. 95% of the time I am thinking positive thoughts and I know that by being patient, following the doctors’ orders, and focusing on recovering will have a huge impact on the outcome of all of this.
To all of my buddies still wearing a visor to play hockey, please consider putting a full cage on. I can tell you this has been the most trying and difficult experience of my life and I wouldn't wish this upon anyone. Life is so precious and everything can change in the blink of an eye. Cherish every moment and don't dwell on the things you cannot change. Live your lives to the fullest and don't waste a second. Don't stress over things that are out of your control. Spend your time focusing on all of the good in your life and be appreciative of all the time you get to spend with those who mean the most to you.
With all of your love and support, I know that I will have good news to share with everyone soon. Thank you once again for being here for me and my family during this troubling time. Please continue to keep me in your thoughts and prayers.
- Doris Vessaoker
- Sean Fontyn
- david widman
- Grant Moore