The waning months of 2018 have not brought much cheer to the Van der Velden family of Jacksonville, Florida.
William and Alaina, both retired navy veterans have two daughters; 18-year-old Alexis and 17-year-old Christina who they call “Chrissy.”
Alexis is on the Autism spectrum and struggles each day to deal with the world. Other than family troubles, fall didn’t bring any particular pain to Alexis.
Mom Alaina, on the other hand, suffered a good deal of trouble. Somehow, she contracted West Nile Virus, which led to encephalitis and spinal meningitis. Alaina survived her infections and is finally starting to mend.
Chrissy has had the worst of it.
The 17-year-old has cystic fibrosis; an incurable but treatable disease that primarily attacks the lungs, and causes frequent infections and difficulty breathing.
Chrissy’s health took a sharp downturn as autumn arrived. The teen has spent the past three months trying to get well. She has mostly been confined to the hospital, and was only able to be at home for a week on two occasions out of all that time.
Things got really bleak a few days after Thanksgiving. Chrissy was moved to the hospital’s intensive care unit as she was unable to breathe on her own, and soon dropped into a coma, kept alive only by machines.
The doctors told William and Alaina to prepare for the worst, Fox News reported. Chrissy’s body was exhausted after two years of fighting the various health complications associated with cystic fibrosis, and it seemed to be ready to quit.
The Van der Velden’s are a family of strong faith, and despite the grim prognosis, they kept praying for a Christmas miracle.
On Dec. 5, their prayers were answered. Instead of slipping out of life, Chrissy van der Velden returned to consciousness.
According to the family’s GoFundMe page, “We have remarkable news!! On 12/5/2018 when Chrissy’s parents went to see her, the nurses told them they have a surprise!! Chrissy was awake!
“Her eyes were open, she grabs your hand and she is trying to communicate. She can answer questions by nodding her head yes or no!! She tires very easily and closes her eyes. Our Christmas Miracle is happening!”
A Long Road Still Ahead
Chrissy and her family still have a long hard road to travel before she is finally healthy. Her parents realize that but they are counting their blessings.
“We take every day minute-to-minute, and live off hope and prayers,” Alaina told Fox News.
“[Chrissy] still needs to get better just to be put on the list to be eligible for a dual lung transplant.”
Chrissy is still in precarious health. She has had drains installed in her liver and gall bladder to drain discharge there. Cystic fibrosis can affect the liver, kidneys, and gall bladder, changing the way the body digests fats. She has also had a long-term IV line installed.
She is on antibiotics for her infected gall bladder but the long-term antibiotic regimen has killed all the beneficial flora in her stomach, which led to a clostridium infection, necessitating even more antibiotics.
Financial Ruin, But Incessant Hope
To add to the numerous medical bills the family is facing, their cars have broken down. The family has been forced to rely on rented cars and Ubers, which is much more expensive—and eats up the money they might use to repair their own cars.
The medical bills, of course, are overwhelming. With Chrissy and her mother spending so much time in the hospital, and then more time visiting doctors, plus paying for medication, the family is facing a grim holiday season financially.
That is why they have created a GoFundMe page but Alaina van der Velden doesn’t just ask for money.
“If you have it in your heart to give, we would be eternally grateful. If not, just a simple thought or prayer can work wonders,” Alaina posted on the page.
“Our whole family is struggling right now while Chrissy is in the fight for her life!!”
Alaina continues, “Please, if not a donation, a prayer (we need all we can get), and a share would be awesome!!”