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Jim Wheelock - Walking to Recovery

$3,300 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 69 people in 3 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
+ Read More
September 29, 2018...
Today marks the first anniversary of the fall that hurtled me out of the life I led into seven months in several hospitals and one very, very, very bad nursing home -- not to mention five months, to date, cabin-bound in my apartment building.
In my current wheelchaired state, I’ve been reflecting on what a strange experience it is. I realized that other than my apartment, I haven’t been ANYWHERE I used to go to in this year; not a restaurant, or a bar, a movie theater, a drawing session, or even a super-market, places I know so well I can walk through them in my mind.
Except that they may have changed, or they may not even be there. I can picture going to Meltdown Comics, but then I know from Facebook that they’re gone, victims of overdevelopment. I think of people in my favorite waterholes, and, like Schrödinger's cat, they may or may not be dead, because to me the box has not been opened.
No real conclusions here, just long thoughts as I stay awake, avoiding sleep that leads to waking into another too similar day.
I’m working to get better, but it’s discouraging, lonely and cost more than I have.
Oh hell, I might as well mention the GoFundMe...
https://www.gofundme.com/help-jim-wheelock-working-to-walk
+ Read More
This update finds me in more of a critical financial situation than usual. This GoFundMe has been going really slowly lately, and I need some rapid response attention and support from you.
Right now, I need to raise $500 before October 1st to make some back payments on one of my storage units, otherwise, my possessions there will be auctioned off in Mid-October. This is an actual crisis.

In addition, I need to get funds to pay for some doctor recommended compression stockings, the Circaid Juxta Lite Compression Wraps, to help treat my diabetic wounds. These are around $200 a pair, which neither Medicare nor MediCal will cover.

This, of course, is in addition to my regular expenses -- rent, utilities, internet, food and supplies. My goal in creating this was to alleviate my financial worries so that I could concentrate on getting out of my wheelchair and back to a normal life. I’m Still so stressed on this that even small tasks become Herculean missions, and it’s become hard to do the things I need to do to achienve that goal.

I need to ask you once again to please respond quickly. Even small donations go a long way. Think of it as buying me that coupla beers I know you've been meaning to get me the next time you run into me. If you prefer some other method than GoFundMe, please contact me and we’ll discuss it.

I thank you again for your support. I wish I didn’t need it.

Best,

Jim Wheelock
+ Read More
In a few weeks, it will be the first anniversary of the fall that knocked me down the rabbit hole into health care hell.

When the adrenalin rush that carried me through the first night in the emergency room wore off, I was alone, and I didn’t know if I would live, let alone ever walk again.

Today, I’m not where I expected to be, and certainly not where I hoped to be by now, but I’m still here, and, yes, I still need your help. With it, I can continue to work to the point where I can leave my wheelchair behind forever.

This is the first update I’ve done on GoFundMe itself since I began, largely because so much has been happening and not happening in my efforts to rebuild my life that I’ve had a hard time focusing to put it into words.

To those of you who have come here for the first time, welcome. I hope you’ll understand the situation I’m in, and come on board to help.

I very much want to thank all of you who have been here before, and who have donated to get me this far. You guys are the good ones. I need to ask you to continue doing the heavy lifting. I ask you to please consider donating again, even of it’s a small donation.

This campaign has been progressing decently, but I’ve hit a slow spot that I hope we can crawl out of, with your help.

I go into detail below on my progress and sometimes lack of it.
However, if this is getting too long-winded for you, I’ll cut to the chase: I need you to donate what you can, right away if possible. You can see the amount raised so far, just to the right of this page, and you might say to yourself, “That’s plenty! He doesn’t need help from me”, but you’d be wrong. The money shown is long since spent, and new bills are piling up every day. I don’t have a family that can support me. Right now, besides my meager Social Security, your donations are the only funds I have coming in.

The idea of this campaign is sustain me for the long run, for whatever it takes for me to get healthy and get fully mobile. It means continuing to ask for help until I’m far enough ahead to live beyond a state of constant financial stress.

Please do what you can, and also please share this page far and wide, as frequently as you can.

Now the details...

First, my diabetic leg wounds have become more of an issue than they had been. As I mentioned in my original introduction to this GoFundMe, I feel they were badly managed when I was in the rest home, which has come back to hurt me now.

Right now, I have open wounds in four locations, primarily on my left leg and side. They’re responding to treatment. But it is onerously slow going. I get daily nurse visits to treat them, and see a doctor at the Wound Center at Glendale Memorial Hospital every week.

At this stage, I depend on special wheelchair transport to get there. These jaunts are currently the only chance I get to
leave my building and see some of the outside world.

To help move my wound healing forward, I had a surgical performed using the VenaSeal Closure System. It uses a kind of glue gun that has a long tubular nozzle that is extended into a bad vein from the ankle through the groin. The “glue” is then released as the tube is slowly pulled back out of the vein, filling it up so it can’t do any more damage, keeping blood from leaking out of the vein and forming dangerous clots in the leg.

My insurance covered this procedure, but it doesn’t cover some of the other treatments my doctors have recommended, such as the Circaid Juxta Lite Lower Leg Compression Wrap, which would apply constant pressure to the wound areas. To get this will cost roughly $100 a leg. This is one of the many medical costs I’m campaigning to cover, along with non-prescription medications and supplies, which are constantly needing to be reordered, utilities, and, frankly, food.

I continue walking. On a good day, I can do 12-15 loops of my apartment building’s courtyard, using the walker and, for safety’s sake, with a helper pushing my wheelchair behind me. I’m building up endurance, but it’s very slow. To make matters harder, my nursing service has told me that Medicare will no longer pay for what little Physical Therapy they’ve been covering. I’m currently looking for an affordable physical therapist to work with me on the days my care-giver isn’t available. To state the obvious, it’s a matter of money.

That’s the point, unfortunately. I have the expenses any one does -- rent, food, utilities, internet, but beyond that I have the costs of my medical needs.

As I asked before, please be kind enough to keep me moving. There’s still a ways to go.

I thank you in advance.

Best,

Jim Wheelock

September 5, 2018
+ Read More
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$3,300 of $13,000 goal

Raised by 69 people in 3 months
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