In 2016, I was with my dream girl, living in a 4 bedroom home in a great neighborhood. She was pregnant and working as a nurse, and I was working a side job painting a sign for a new taco restaurant in town. After work one day, I had a terrible headache. When I started towards the front door of the house, I fell over, hitting my head on the concrete driveway. I tried to get up and kept falling over. I had no idea what was happening. The techs arrived and quickly explained I was having a stroke. My brain was hemorrhaging and I was airlifted to Gainesville, where they saved my life and explained to me the severity of my condition.
After stabilizing me for 13 days, I was transferred to a rehabilitation home with specialty care. I was a resident of the nursing facility for 5 months, until one day they gave me a wheelchair, explaining it was a donation bought by the hospital and paid in full. Then they explained that without insurance or the ability to pay for their services, I would have to provide an address so they could transport me away from the nursing home. I gave them the address to the house with my pregnant girlfriend, and after the driver wheeled me into the living room, I saw my newborn son for the first time.
I started to realize that I was too much of a burden to be welcome home. I was 37 years old, paralyzed on my entire left side, and wearing a diaper. She was 33 years old, a nurse, with a 12-year-old son and a newborn, working long hours to provide for them. I soon found myself living on a picnic table at the neighborhood park next to the lake. I lived on that same table with a blanket and my backpack for almost 3 full years
I finally was awarded SSI income to help survive, but since I was in the nursing home when I originally applied, they only pay me $520 a month. I am now at the point if having to prepare for my return to the picnic table, being unable to pay rent and utilities on my income. Luckily a friend lets me crash at his house only temporarily, and it’s being made clear my welcome has been worn thin. I’m scared to death of being on the streets again, and I am still paralyzed on my left side. I can’t focus on anything other than fear and how desperately I want to just be stable in a safe home. I rarely see my now 4-year-old son due to my housing arrangement and distance. My biggest fear is to die on the street alone like so many of the homeless people I grew close to.