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Jim Wheelock - Walking to Recovery

$5,679 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 111 people in 7 months
A lot of people think that when you’re released from medical care, you’re cured and that’s the end of it. With me, that wasn’t the case. I’m in a long, hard struggle to regain my walking ability, and I need your support to carry on, and survive while doing it.  It's hard for me to ask this, but I have to.

I’m Jim Wheelock. I’m a 65 year-old artist, writer, and current wheelchair commander.

On September 29th, 2017 I tripped on a car barrier in a parking garage in Glendale, California, and fell, impacting hard on the concrete. I didn’t see my apartment or any other part of my real life for seven months.

Instead, I was trapped in a vicious cycle between hospital stays and far too much time in a hellish rest home in North Hollywood, well-described in a review as “a place people go to die”. I nearly did, twice. The literally toxic atmosphere at the facility made two hospital side-trips necessary due to breathing issues. I had to be treated for pneumonia, bronchitis, and influenza.

I was lucky when I fell, if you want to call it that, I didn’t hit my head, or lose consciousness at all, so there was no concussion, and, while My legs were weakened severely, there were no breaks or fractures anywhere,but a laundry list of health problems surfaced that had been brimming under the surface, caused or made worse by the fall. When I went into the emergency room, I had dangerously low oxygen levels, and even now. I continue to use an oxygen concentrator, although I’m weening off of it as I get healthier. I have systolic congestive heart failure, hypokalemia, atrial fibrillation, as well as chronic diabetes. I take blood thinners, both for my heart and to prevent a recurrence of a pulmonary embolism I suffered back in 2001. I also take a strong diuretic to prevent liquid build-up in my system. All of issues are currently under control, although I am now being treated for diabetic wounds at a wound center.

In the rest home, only my physical therapists treated me as someone capable of going back into the world. Everyone else on the staff saw me as just another “lifer”, doomed to be in that place until the very end. I struggled for months to get out of there, until finally I got my wish -- because Medicare would no longer pay for my physical therapy.

I’m home now, and happier and healthier for it, but my life is a constant struggle. I spend most of my time in a wheelchair, and use a walker to walk. Every day, I’m walking further and longer, relearning and building on those skills I lost in my fall and the weeks in bed that followed. Right now, I’m largely confined to my apartment and the courtyard outside it. The only time I get out of my building is when I take an insurance-paid wheelchair transport to a doctor’s appointment.

I’m an artist. Some of you will know me from my work in TV animation on shows like THE ADVENTURES OF THE GALAXY RANGERS, G.I. JOE: EXTREME, and ALL DOGS GO TO HEAVEN: THE SERIES, or from my work in independent comics, such as TABOO, and the graphic novel, INFERNO: LOS ANGELES. For years, I was a regular at several local figure drawing sessions. Drawing helped me keep up my sense of self-worth even in the darkest times, and I miss it a lot.  I’m deprived of this until I can walk up and down the staircase to my building’s garage again,  and get in my car and drive out into the world. That time is probably month’s away, but I know it will come.

I have a care provider for about 16 hours a week. He helps me on the trips to the doctor’s, and with cleaning, laundry, and follows me with the wheelchair when I practice walking, but other than that, except for a few friends, I’m on my own. What family I have is on the East Coast, and can’t really do more than encourage me. Compared to in the nursing home, which went out of its way to make me believe I couldn’t function without them, I have to do practically everything here on my own. It’s a good feeling, but very hard on me.

I’m coming to you on GoFundMe asking for financial help to keep going. I spend long, lonely, nights constantly worrying about money.

With help, I have a sustainable life style. I live in a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment in Hollywood, California. My rent is cheap for almost anywhere, although still more than my $669 Social Security check. Staying here is still a far better choice that an expensive move elsewhere, if, in fact, I had anywhere else to go. My original plan was to retire to a reasonably priced part of Europe. This hope was destroyed when my nest egg, a carefully preserved comic book collection that was professionally appraised at $136,310.22, was stolen from my storage space four years ago. The thief was caught on camera in another robbery at the storage building, and confessed. Everything he took of mine was gone, except for a portion of my LP record collection that a wonderful local music store owner contacted me about. As far as I know, the thief never spent a minute in jail. He got off with a suspended sentence and community service in a plea bargain that I strongly objected to. The state however, cared more about saving the cost of a trial that about me and the other 9 victims. He was ordered to pay me $10,000 in restitution. The State of Vermont advanced ne $5000 at the time, which helped get me make it through, but he is now paying me off at a court-allowed rate of ten dollars a month! By my calculation, that gives him about 40 years to settle with me.

Below is a link to the Brattleboro Reformer’s account of the court proceedings. It’s relevant here because of my statement to the court, which Stephen Bissette, well known comics creator, historian, and educator, read in my absence. I wrote: "Thanks to William Brown I can have no real retirement, I will be forced to work until the day I die, scrambling to make the rent." https://www.reformer.com/stories/man-pleads-guilty-to-multiple-burglaries-and-more,146105

Sadly, that has become far worse than accurate. I’m now unable to work at all, as my health care issues and my struggle to recover my ability to walk take up virtually all of my time. The ongoing expense of both maintaining my apartment and paying for my rent, utilities, medical supplies, internet and just buying food and necessary home items is bone-crushing. What I’m asking for with this GoFundMe campaign is support to keep going on, and healing, at a point where I have few resources left, and nowhere else to turn.

My monthly budget is roughly this:

Rent - $1073
Phone/ Internet/Cable - $250
Medical supplies - $125
Lifeline monitoring - $60
Food - $250
Storage - $200
__________________
TOTAL $2058
minus- $669 - Social Security

FINAL - $1389

Evening it off, I need $1390 in addition to my Social Security every month to live. This is ongoing, every month. It’s not a lot to many people, just more than I have, and at this point more than I have any hope of getting on my own.

That’s why I’m coming to you for help -- slowly, sometime shakily, in my wheelchair and on my walker. I’ve set my goal for $13,000, which is roughly 9 months budget.

I need help immediately, and my need is ongoing, so please be kind enough to help with what you can. Small donations build up in the long run. Donations can be made from most of the foreign countries you might be in.

If you have any questions, please contact me via GoFundMe, and I will do my best to answer them.

Again, thanks for your help and support.

Jim Wheelock
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By way of an Update, 2/4/’19

Thanks, as always, for your assistance as my recovery proceeds.

With your help I was able to make it through the rent barrier a few days ago. Frankly, however, I didn’t meet my goal, the amount I need to cover my immediate expenses. One more, I put forward my case.

I still need your help to cover a lot of bills in the next few days: the automatic deduction for my Lifeline service ($56.95), my gas bill($118.32), another $105 payment on my back electric bill, a $200 payment on my storage charges, and around $100 dollars for food and supplies for the next couple of weeks. That’s $580.27 in the short run.

I’m asking you to help with what you can, right now, if you can. Besides my tiny Social Security check (gone paying the rent), this campaign is my only income. The regular GoFundMe donation system is fine, but if you can use PayPal, that’s faster. PM me for my e-mail. I also, by request, have CashApp, and can work with checks or any other method you prefer. Remember, small donations add up, although I sure could use some big ones.

I really want to get ahead of my bills, if possible, so I don’t have to live in a state of constant stress. This panic drives me so hard I can’t concentrate, making it ten times as difficult to get anything done.

Beyond that, I need to do a lot in the coming months to re-assimilate myself into the real world. I need to get my car back on the road so I can actually go places and do things. I need to get it started, first, which, after 15 months of inaction, will probably involve a new battery, as well as inspection, re-registration, and re-insurance. That will be about $400 there. I also need an eye exam and new glasses. I had an exam just before I had my fall, and my vision had changed drastically, but I was unable to follow up and get new glasses from my hospital bed. Now I need a new diabetic eye exam and a new vision prescription, and to actually get the glasses this time. Only the medical tests are covered by insurance, so we’re looking at about $400 total there, too.

My health continues to improve. Thanks to the compression stockings that you, my donors, enable me to get, my nearly two year-old major diabetic leg wound has finally healed. I still have some secondary wounds, but they’re coming along, It’s still up in the air whether I’ll lose part of my toe, though. I found a less chop-happy podiatrist, who thinks it may not be necessary, given how the infection has healed. I just had more x-rays done, and will see him again later in the week. My walker-walking continues to go well, although hampered by the heavy rains this week.

Once again, thanks again for your support. Please share this, for the first time or again.


Best,


Jim
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UPDATE: 1/22/’19

The fate of my infected toe remains up in the air, much as the toe itself does in this photo, defiantly giving me and my crack medical team the finger.
I’ve had x-rays, a MRI, and tissue culture tests. Hopefully it will all come at my next appointment with the podiatrist, with a clear decision what to do next. It’s possible the surgeon will be able to just remove the infected bone and adjacent bad flesh, and sew the toe back together. On the other hand, he may find it better to amputate the tip of the toe.

With that in the balance, I continue to be faced with a seemingly insurmountable debt, some of which has to be paid in the next few days to avoid disconnections. This GoFundMe remains my only income, aside from my tiny Social Security payment, so right now I’m forced to ask you, both frequent flyers and new arrivals, to help me out with a donation.

First off, a big thanks to all of you who have helped so far. I’m sadly aware that some of you, good friends who have been kind and generous to me in the past, are now facing far worse situations than I am in. I want to acknowledge that and I hope for the best for you.

To the rest of you, I need to persevere with my campaign as a matter of my own survival. I’m got a some major bills to cover in the next few days -- my internet, another payment on my massive electric bill, the gas bill, some parts for my walker and wheelchair, not to mention food for the next few weeks. Beyond that the rent is due in a few weeks. I need a total of about $780 before the first. Of that, I need $350 by the 26th of this month to avoid a couple of shutdowns of my own.

If you can help with any of this, it’s deeply appreciated. Even small donations help a lot -- although I could use some big ones. If you prefer to use PayPal rather than GoFundMe, please PM me to get my e-mail. Checks, CashApp, or any other method you would prefer can be made to work.

This campaign has never had the big win, but it keeps me going. My original goal was to build up enough funds to get ahead of my bills, which exploded during my seven months in the hospital and rehab, and continue to robo-call me in this long recovery period here at home. That hasn’t happened, but we march on.

There is some good news: the major diabetic wound on my left leg appears to have finally healed. This is thanks to you donors to a large extent, who financed the purchase of my CircAid Juxtalite compression stockings, which were not covered by my insurance. The compression helped my wound finally heal in a matter of months, after being a major issue for two years, and following months of inadequate treatment at the nursing home I was in.

If you can help with any of this, it’s deeply appreciated. Even small donations help a lot -- although I could use some big ones. If you prefer to use PayPal rather than GoFundMe, please PM me to get my e-mail. Any other method you would prefer can be made to work.

As always, thank you for your past and future help.

Jim Wheelock

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk
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UPDATE: 12/31/’18

As the year ends, I planned to write an update on how well things have been going for me, but 2019 decided to give me one last sharp kick in the keister. The podiatrist just left and it looks like the tip of the second toe on my right foot will need to be amputated.

I’d hoped to get through this life with all my parts intact, but it looks like that isn’t in the cards. What my nurses and the wound care center thought was a simple cut has gone into the bone. This was an hour ago, so I’m still in shock.

I need your help more than ever, now. I’m still short about $750 that needs to be covered in the bank in the next few days -- $400 on the rent, $75 for gas, $200 on my massive electric bill (caused by my oxygen concentrator), $45 to keep them from drilling open my safety deposit box in Vermont (which would cost me a lot more than that), with the rest for food and medical supplies.

I’m looking at a short hospital stay in a couple of weeks, and a shorter toe. I’d like to get these bills out of the way before I go in.

Please donate what you can, as soon as you can. If you prefer using PayPal or a check, contact me for the info you need. Even small donations add up. I’m in this for the long run.

As I said, other things are going well. My walking (with the walker) has improved immensely. I’ve been regularly able to climb up and down the stairs in my building, a long time goal, and I was able to go down into the garage and get in and out of the car for the first time in over a year.. This was a pyrrhic victory, since the battery is dead, and I can’t use the car anyway until I get it inspected, reregistered, and insured again -- none of which I can afford.

Also on the plus side, I finished my annual Post-Christmas Krampus Kard, and it’s enclosed for your entertainment, and as a small gesture of thanks for all the help you’ve given me and, one hopes, will give in the future.

Thanks once again. All the best for 2019.

Jim Wheelock
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UPDATE: 12/22/’18

Friday, for the first time, I was able to walk (using my walker) from the inside of my apartment down the front stairs of the building and into the garage, across the garage floor to the garage staircase and up and back to the front gate. On the way, I actually got to see my car for the first time since the day of my fall, September 29th, 2017.

I’ve been holding back on doing an actual GoFundMe update for a while, but I want to share what certainly passes for a victory in my small world -- especially with those of you who have helped me as this slow-burning GoFundMe campaign putters on.

Unfortunately, this kind of success is won against a constant struggle to pay the bills and buy food to eat at a time when I cannot work. Even in this holiday season I need to ask you long-time supporters for more help, and ask you new folks who’ve stumbled across this update to do the same. I’m working hard at my recovery to regain a normal life, but right now this is the only income I have besides my $669 Social Security payment, which doesn’t even cover the rent.

I don’t look it in the photos, but this walk was a personal triumph. My Physical Therapist, was thrilled. He said he thought that a less difficult stair walk would be my “graduation” a week from now, at the end of this series of sessions. I did another 6 laps around the courtyard, but I’m really exhausted.

In fact, between this sentence and the previous one, I just took a 5 1/2 hour nap. I’ve been accelerating my walking in the last two weeks, due to having another round of 5 Physical Therapy sessions, and it’s really kicked my behind.

Besides the walking, my diabetic leg wounds are closer to healing than they’ve been in the past two years, largely due to my finally getting the CircAid Juxtalite compression stockings that your donations paid for when my insurance wouldn’t. I still need daily nurse visits to change the dressings, and a weekly trip to the Wound Care Center, but it’s progress!

Right now, this month’s bills have to be dealt with. I need to raise about $750 right away to make another $205.71 payment on my electric bill, cover my phone and internet bills, be able to pay for a possible dealer “house call” to fix one of the brakes on my wheelchair, pay to keep the non-stolen items I have in storage in Vermont, cover a portion of the rent on my apartment, and hopefully have enough left over to buy food and supplies.

If you can help with any of this, it’s deeply appreciated. Even small donations help a lot. If you prefer to use PayPal rather than GoFundMe, please PM me to get my e-mail. There’s also an alternate PayPal friendly site that I’ll post in the comments on Facebook. Any other method you would prefer can be made to work.

Even though I’m still apartment-bound, this is still a far better Christmas season for me than last year, when I was trapped in arguably the worst nursing home in existence. With all the Physical Therapy and related exhaustion, I may not finish my annual internet card until after Christmas, but I’ll be sending it to those of you I have e-mail addresses for, and posting it on Facebook and Twitter.

Thank you for all your support, and best wishes for the holidays!

Cheers,

Jim Wheelock
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$5,679 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 111 people in 7 months
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