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Jim Wheelock - Walking to Recovery

$9,052 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 182 people in 11 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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UPDATE 6/18/’19 -- This is a more upbeat Update than I’ve been able to do in a while. A special thanks goes to the wonderful supporters among you who made this possible, and one anonymous one on particular.

My brilliant excavation team was able to clear out my storage spaces in Vermont in time to meet the deadline. For those of you who have been with me for a while, you know this issue has been an albatross around my neck ever since the robbery there, some five years ago.

It’s a huge relief to have this at least partially over. Getting this done has always been one of my goals in this GoFundMe campaign. As I recover from my fall 21 months ago, and adjust to handicapped life, my hope is to become as free of crushing debt as possible.

I’d planned to do this done at a more leisurely pace over the summer, but a change in management at the storage facility made it necessary to get everything out by the end of last week or face dire financial penalties.

Huge thanks to Sean Laine, Cathy Laine, and Amanda Laine of Laine, Inc. for rising to the occasion. They did an amazing job under nearly impossible circumstances, and did it at a reasonable cost. Sean and family are Jacks-of-All-Trades, doing, among other things, farm and road work, lawn and garden care, computer services and who know what else. If you have work to do in the Southern New Hampshire/Southern Vermont/Western Massachusetts area, I highly recommend you contact them. Sean’s on FB, or contact me for his number.

Due to the health and financial issues that are the usual subject of these updates, I couldn’t be there to dig through the debris myself. With the Laines, I was able to get the amount of input I needed via photos and live video. It helped a lot with my stress levels.

The convicted and largely unpunished thief did much more damage than I had realized, ripping apart every box in the place, giving the Laines massive piles of debris to dig through. He also seemed to have a thing for smashing chairs. The dining room set I’d hoped to sell complete is now down to a table and one chair.

Shown in the photo is the trash trailer, filled with maybe a hundred crushed and collapsed boxes, including all that remains of the $137,000 comics collection that was to see me financially through retirement. In the inset, you’ll see what was stolen from just one of the boxes of Golden and Silver Age comics.

We rescued a lot of things important to me, including my own artwork, my mom’s paintings, and my dad’s WWII Navy duffel bag . We found a few comics and other gems the robber missed, some of which will likely wind up on eBay in the future.

What’s left is now safely at a temporary home at an undisclosed location. After a few days rest, we’ll start the difficult process of sorting, dispersing and shipping everything. There will likely be a yard sale as things progress.

I’m at a sort of lull in my crises for a few days. This GoFundMe remains my only income beyond my tiny Social Security check. We never quite made my goal for the storage mission, and I had to use money earmarked for bills, food, and medical supplies. Your kind donations would be much appreciated, via GoFundMe, PayPal or any other means. Please contact me if you need further info.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk

Again, thank you all for your support.

Best,

Jim Wheelock
+ Read More
Thanks to some incredible kindness, we only need another $200 to put this puppy to bed. My work crew deserves your support. Please donate! Even small amounts will get us there! Thanks!
We're in the 6th Day of clearing out my storage spaces. They've had to dig through hundreds of boxes smashed by the robber. They'll finish getting things out today, and then take all the trash away tomorrow.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk

For info, see the earlier update below.

UPDATE 6/13/’19 -- In Vermont, my team is into Day 5 of clearing out my storage spaces. They plan to get the rest of my salvageable belongings out by tonight and then finish up and take the trash to the dump on Friday. The thief did a lot of damage; they’re dealing with maybe a hundred torn apart boxes, with their contents strewn all over. They’re working long hours to get this done.
I desperately need your help to pay this wonderful crew. I’m still short about $600 to do that. Please donate what you can through GoFundMe or via PayPal right away. Any other method is good, just PM me. Small donations are always welcome. Of course, if you can do more, it's much appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk

These spaces have been an albatross around my neck ever since they were robbed about 5 years ago. Circumstances, including my 20 months and counting recovering from my fall, have kept me from dealing with it until now, when I have to.
Here in California, I continue to struggle with my recovery from my fall and other health issues. I’ll be spending most of the day at the Wound Care Center at Glendale Memorial Hospital, getting treatment for my diabetic leg wounds.

Please donate and share this post. Thank you.

Jim Wheelock
+ Read More
UPDATE 6/13/’19 -- In Vermont, my team is into Day 5 of clearing out my storage spaces. They plan to get the rest of my salvageable belongings out by tonight and then finish up and take the trash to the dump on Friday. The thief did a lot of damage; they’re dealing with maybe a hundred torn apart boxes, with their contents strewn all over. They’re working long hours to get this done.
I desperately need your help to pay this wonderful crew. I’m still short about $600 to do that. Please donate what you can through GoFundMe or via PayPal right away. Any other method is good, just PM me. Small donations are always welcome. Of course, if you can do more, it's much appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk

These spaces have been an albatross around my neck ever since they were robbed about 5 years ago. Circumstances, including my 20 months and counting recovering from my fall, have kept me from dealing with it until now, when I have to.
Here in California, I continue to struggle with my recovery from my fall and other health issues. I’ll be spending most of the day at the Wound Care Center at Glendale Memorial Hospital, getting treatment for my diabetic leg wounds.

Please donate and share this post. Thank you.

Jim Wheelock
+ Read More
URGENT UPDATE!
I’m really in the crunch in this clearing out my storage units in Vermont crisis, and I need your help!
Here in California, I’m wheelchair and walker-bound, and struggling to make a full recovery from my fall 21 months ago, while dealing with diabetic ulcers and other medical issues, and endless health care red tape.
At the same time, at this very moment, in Vermont, I have the excellent team of Sean Laine, Cathy Laine and Amanda Laine clearing and sorting out my storage spaces -- the ones whose robbery of my nest-egg childhood comic book collection, appraised at $135,310.22, plunged me into unexpected poverty, exacerbated by the fall that put me in medical rehab for 7 months, and a long, continuing, home recovery. I need you’re kind donations RIGHT NOW to raise another $600 to pay my crew, and cover shipping and dump fees.
I need to do this now to take advantage of a buy-out deal that will save me $4000 in debt if I can get everything out of there by this Friday. I’ve had to put ALL the money I currently have into this unexpected crisis-slash-opportunity, leaving nothing for bills and even food.
We’re finding a lot of things that are important to me including my own original artwork, my mother’s paintings, and my father’s WWII Navy bag, with his helmet, inscribed with all his ports-of-call during the war. Below are some pictures of what the team is doing.
You kind folks have already helped me finance part of this but we didn’t quite make the goal, and I still desperately need more of your help to get this done! I can’t work right now, and this GoFundMe is my only income beside my tiny social security check.
Please donate through GoFundMe or via PayPal right away. Any other method is good, just PM me. Small donations are always welcome. Of course, but I could use a few bigger ones. Your help is much appreciated.

https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk

The backstory of the robbery is in The Brattleboro Reformer’s account of the plea-bargain deal in which the confessed thief, William Brown got off with a suspended sentence in a true miscarriage of justice, is below:

https://www.reformer.com/stories/man-pleads-guilty-to-multiple-burglaries-and-more,146105

I thank you all for your past and future help.

Best,

Jim Wheelock
+ Read More
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Raised by 182 people in 11 months
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