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Jim Wheelock - Walking to Recovery

$4,179 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 92 people in 5 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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Today is Giving Tuesday, and, unfortunately, the way the dice of life are currently rolling, I need to ask you to consider my GoFundMe ( https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk) in you donating plans.
It’s been over a year since my fall. I continue to make progress, both in my walking and in the healing of my diabetic wounds, but it’s hard and it’s taking much longer than I hoped. Right now this campaign is my only source of income, and I need your help to keep going.
In the next few days, I need to cover roughly $700 ($200 on my massive electric bill caused by my oxygen concentrator, $400 for the portion of my rent not covered by my Social Security check, and with the remainder going for food and other necessities).
Anything you can donate would be deeply appreciated. Even small amounts help a lot. If you prefer using PayPal or a check, please contact me by PM.
Thank you for reading, and I hope for helping. Please be kind of enough to share this, as well.
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I’ve put off posting about my own needs for a while out of respect for the multiple crises here in California, and for Veteran’s Day.
I can’t continue to avoid my issues, as much as I would like to.

My goal in setting up this GoFundMe to help my recovery was to get ahead of my needs, which has not been the case. I can only post as I go and hope for the best. I continue to need your help as I move forward with my recovery. I’m unable to work, and this remains my only source of funding.

I’m a private person, and doing this GoFundMe is difficult for me, but, having scraped by on the November rent, I have almost nothing left, and there are immediate expenses I have to deal with. I need you to ask you once again to please donate what you can, as soon as you can, and share this notice as well, ideally including this or your own introduction.

I accomplished a lot last month, backed by my donors, I was able to rescue the possessions I had in storage here in L.A., and close-out one more monthly expense. I also was able to complete the pair of my Juxtalite compression stockings, which have made a big difference in the healing of my leg wounds, even though I still need daily nurse visits to dress them. My walking (with the walker) has improved steadily, and I’m starting to climb stairs again, although it’s still difficult.

Here’s a slice of what I’m up against right now:

To start, the huge $548.64 electric bill shown in the visual here remains largely unpaid. I was able to buy more time, but the disconnection crunch approaches rapidly.

Beyond that, Winter is actually coming soon in L.A., and I have to be prepared. Apartments here are built to remain cool in the heat, so baby, it gets cold inside. I canceled my gas service when I was in the rest home, and never restarted it. Now, I find SoCalGas is demanding an $80 deposit to start it back up again, claiming they closed the account rather than me. I need to do this right away, since it requires a service call to restart the pilot lights.

Adding to the fun, I have to make the annual $45 payment on my Safety Deposit box in Vermont before the end of the year. I’ve got some valuables and family papers there, and I face penalty charges if they drill open the lock for lack of payment. Unfortunately, I can’t close out the account without going there in person, which I can’t do anytime soon.

I also have a $97 phone bill due on the 15th, and need to make a payment on my remaining storage area in Vermont. I also need to spend money on basic things like food and supplies not covered by my insurance, and in the near future, a new round of rent and other major costs will come around.

Obviously, I’m not the only person who needs help in this crisis-filled time, but with your aid, I can do these things, put the hours in working on my recovery, and someday dig myself out of the sad rut I’m stuck in.

Besides this GoFundMe, you can donate by any means that you wish. If you prefer PayPal, you can contact me by PM for my e-mail,Remember, even small donations count a lot.

Thanks for all you’ve done in the past, and I hope will do in the future.

Jim Wheelock
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UPDATE: 11/1/’18

I’m writing a quick update in the minutes before I head out to my regularly scheduled Wound Center appointment at Glendale hospital.

With your help. I’ve been able to cover a lot of ground this month, both physically and in terms of digging out of the hole I’ve been in, but it’s a battle of the pennies. All of the money I got in this month has gone out immediately for non-insurance covered med supplies and to clear up my immediate storage situation (which will save a fortune down the road).

I need to get another $350 into my account right now to resolve a mini-crisis. This goes for the part of the rent my Social Security doesn’t cover, to avoid a disconnect on my phone service, cover my Lifeline service, make a payment on my massive $500-plus electric bill, and buy little food at the end of the day, if I’m lucky.

I’m asking you to please send what you can now, because all of this is due in the next 3 days, and GoFundMe takes a few days to process. Even small donations help a lot, especially now. You can also contact me for my e-mail to use the faster PayPal.

You folks are a bulwark of support, and I appreciate all you’ve done and are doing for me.

On the plus side, on Monday I was able to make it through a five hour van journey to City of Commerce using just the walker (because the pick-up van couldn’t fit my wheelchair). I was trying to get Access transportation, which is a subsidized service for handicapped people. Basically, they make you go to their office and wait several hours to convince them you deserve low-cost transport. With luck I’ll get approved, and be able to finally get out into the world a bit.

More later. Right now, it’s time to get ready for the wheelchair transport pick-up.

Thanks once again,

Jim Wheelock
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UPDATE:

October 22, 2018

As I write this Update, my birthday is breaking across the world, hour by hour, like a personal New Year’s, which, of course, it really is. Today’s visual is a triptych of where I am now. I have some reluctance in putting this out in the face of global good wishes, but it needs to be done.

While I have things to celebrate, many of which are thanks to your kind help, there is a bleakness in the fall air.

This campaign has never really taken off, but your continued donations have helped me to get a long way ahead from where I started. I need to ask you to donate once again, and share my campaign as much as possible, as my crisis has become a daily endless grind.

This birthday’s going to be pretty austere, but a year ago, I spent my birthday trapped in the Stalag 13 of nursing homes, not knowing I was going to be spending another miserable six months there.

I’m home, at least, which is a lot to be glad of, although it’s a constant struggle. By that measure alone, I’m doing better than I was a year ago -- much better. On the dowside, I’d hoped to able to get out of the house and go somewhere for my birthday, but having to pay $120 for a wheelchair transport to have someone buy me a $4 beer just isn’t in the birthday cards.

On the very plus side, the walking is going pretty well, although I’m nowhere near where I expected to be. I thought by now I’d be leaping down stairs to the car and tooling off to the outside world. As it is, I’m still practicing step-ups on the stairs you see ahead of me in the photo. After a forced hiatus, I finally got my Physical Therapy instructor back for the five sessions my insurance allows. He made me realize how much progress I‘ve made since he last saw me, even though I’m still far from my goals. Without PT support, I continue to do step exercises and 9-12 laps of the building courtyard on the days my care giver is available to back me up.

Healing takes time, and time is money, or vice-versa. Of course you know that,

Urgent, but not illustrated, I continue to need another $200 dollars to cover the remains of a deal to close out my storage space here in Hollywood. The owners are willing to drop more than $700 in fees and charges if I pay this and get everything out by the end of October. Since I can’t even get there, let alone move any boxes, I’m relying on a good friend for help. With some luck this will happen. In the meantime, I’m trying to clear as many boxes out of my apartment as I can, to lessen the impact of the stuff returning. Once this immediate issue is dealt with, I can turn my attention to sorting out what’s left in my storage space in Vermont, the one that was robbed of the things that were my retirement nest egg. This will be a daunting task by long distance remote control.

Back to the photo, I continue getting treatment for my long-time diabetic leg wounds, which require daily nurse visits and a weekly trip to the Wound Center at Glendale Memorial Hospital. The wounds are much improved, in a large part due to the Juxtalite compression stocking I wear on my left leg, which the collective you helped me purchase. In the photo,you can see that islands of flesh are forming in the wound, slowly rebuilding the layers of skin, an unexpected found metaphor for my life at the moment. I need a stocking for the right leg, as well, which I will get as soon as funds are available.

Also, as you can see in the photo, LADWP, my electric company, has presented me with a massive bill. This was accrued due to the huge power needs of my oxygen concentrator, and the necessary use of air conditioning throughout the sweltering summer months. They’re willing to do a payment plan as long as I pay a large percentage, at least several hundred dollars, right away. This is one of the places your donation will go to right away.

Beyond this, I have hefty internet and phone bills due even as we speak, as well as the portion of my upcoming rent not covered by my miniscule Social Security payment. I also have continuing medical and personal supply need not covered by my insurance that I need to keep up on, and, of course, food.

Transportation is one of the biggest problems I have. My insurance currently pays for medical transport to doctor’s appointments and such, but I’m stuck as far a doing anything of a personal nature.
Access, a government subsidized transport set-up, is my best hope of doing normal things at an affordable price, but dealing with them so far has been problematic. To get it, they require you to go to their office in distant City of Commerce and prove that you’re handicapped enough to deserve their service. This is about a four hour round trip. The trick is, they won’t take my wheelchair. It’s a few inches too wide for their van set-up, which means I’ll have to make the trip, and future personal trips, using just my walker. Unlike even a few months ago, I can probably do it now, assuming I can get into the van at all. That’s a question of how hard it will be for me to step up into the vehicle. The only way I’ll find out is when the come to pick me up. Right now, I’m trying to book an appointment for Monday the 26th, so we’ll see.

I’m making a lot of progress, and I’m happy about that, but this recovery is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and it’s sometimes hard to believe that anybody else understands. It’s hard asking for all this help while maintaining a sense of even a shred of dignity, but besides my tiny Social Security payment, your help is the only income I have these days.

Thanks for reading this, and thanks to all of you who have gotten me this far. I’m asking you to donate, again, and I’m asking some of you to donate for the first time. While I love the bigger numbers, any amount you can help with is appreciated with the same amount of heart. Please share this, and do it often. A little intro from you at the top helps a lot, and if you find you can make a donation yourself to inspire the sharees, all the better.

At the request of some donors who prefer to use PayPal, I’ve set up a satellite campaign on GoGetFunding which accepts it. PM me for the link. Because GGF takes a big percentage, I prefer to get PayPal directly from those so inclined, but the GGF option remains. Please PM me at GoFundMe or on Facebook for my e-mail address. If you want to use a check or some other form of payment please get in touch.

Once again, thanks to you all for your interest and help. The struggle continues, such as it is.
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$4,179 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 92 people in 5 months
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