At 16-years-old, I had hiked out to a very remote beach on Vancouver Island with six of my friends including my brother.
We got very drunk.
I decided to stay awake and drink the leftovers by the beach fire until I fell into an alcohol-fueled sleep.
I woke to searing pain down my left arm.
I felt my face, which was smooth as plastic, and my eyelids were burned shut. Somehow I’d rolled into the fire and woke up with 14% full-thickness burns mainly to my face and along my left arm.
I tried to make enough noise to wake the others, but I think I was the only one who could hear me.
I couldn’t see anything with my eyelids burned shut.
I finally pried my left eyelid open a fraction with both hands. Now I knew the general direction of the other guys.
My brother Rob heard my crying and climbed out of his tent.
When he saw me–my blackened face and the extensive body damage caused by the fire–he lost it.
Two friends stayed with me, while the two guys ran 4 miles for help.
Several hours after my accident a small helicopter arrived!
The flight team strapped me onto a stretcher that was attached to the bottom of the small helicopter that buzzed me back to Bamfield Hospital.
I had lost the use of my right eye and I needed a new nose, and God knows what else. I had endless variations of donor sites.
It was amazing how much skin you go through!
I was discharged from the burn unit after 115 days and nights.
Slowly but surely I got stronger, but I had a long way to go.
I went under for many more surgeries (14+) over the next three years.
I wore a plastic mask for quite some time. I got my new nose, and I got titanium implants for a prosthetic eye and ear and wore “pressure garments” for years.
While going through the endless surgeries I started running to get stronger.
I ran the Times Colonist 10k against my doctor’s advice with 6000 other folks.
I was hooked! A marathon came next.
Currently, I have run 15 marathons.
I married my girlfriend Jane, and we have a six-acre farm in scenic Cobble Hill, BC. with horses that Jane manages, plus chickens and pigs.
Our “Bed and Breakfast” Hillcrest Farm is busy in the summer and we both love to welcome guests to these wonderful surroundings.
And as a professional chef, I currently work full time as a cook in Victoria at a Complex Care facility.
My race continues to include mountain biking, marathons and connection with the burn community to offer support when needed.
That’s my story of a happy boy and a strong man.
BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @ryanshinesburnfoundation)