Homeless, Steve, 37, was in a coma for 10 months after elective weight-loss surgery two years earlier in Columbia, Mo.

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“The doctor said I was fine. He says, ‘You can go home.’ So I went home, and I just could not eat nothing. Everything I ate I threw back up. I started throwing up blood.” He went to the Blessing Hospital emergency room and was then flown back to Columbia for emergency treatment. “By the time I got to Columbia I had already done died on the helicopter twice before I got there. …

“By some God-awful miracle, or some higher being in this world deciding I shouldn’t die, I don’t know, I mean it was just weird.  It’s just you going into a coma, and you only think you’ve been asleep for a day, but it’s been 10 months. You’re just like, ‘Okay, where did all my life just go for almost 10 months straight?’ It was just weird, you know?”

Steve’s sister took him in, but then her landlord said there wasn’t enough room in the apartment for his sister to care for him. For a time, they moved from hotel to hotel. Eventually, things didn’t work out with his sister so Steve went to the Salvation Army.

“They took me in and helped me out by getting me some clothes and stuff. Then basically I’ve been homeless and bouncing here to there, but you got to do what you got to do to survive. You really do. It’s hard, but they say only the tough survive. There’s got to be some truth to that.”

February 2017:  Steve claims inadequate care resulted in permanent injuries to his feet.  “They didn’t do any exercising to my feet or legs (while in the coma). They told my dad that there was no use, that I was going to be brain-dead. They didn’t exercise my feet or my toes, or stretch none of my ligaments out, so everything shriveled up.”  Steve says he refused amputation. Walking the five blocks to a local soup kitchen that he relies on for meals each day is an exercise in pain. He says he has difficulty getting pain medication and blames that on the current opioid epidemic.  “Doctors just look at me like I’m just, I don’t know, like I’m a drug addict or something because I ask for pain medication. It’s hard to be in pain every day. I’ve been up at the fourth floor at Blessing Hospital here in Quincy, Illinois like three times now for attempting to kill myself, because I was tired of being in pain. There's nobody around here that will touch me or help me. It just, it's upsetting.”

February 2017: Steve claims inadequate care resulted in permanent injuries to his feet.

“They didn’t do any exercising to my feet or legs (while in the coma). They told my dad that there was no use, that I was going to be brain-dead. They didn’t exercise my feet or my toes, or stretch none of my ligaments out, so everything shriveled up.”

Steve says he refused amputation. Walking the five blocks to a local soup kitchen that he relies on for meals each day is an exercise in pain. He says he has difficulty getting pain medication and blames that on the current opioid epidemic.

“Doctors just look at me like I’m just, I don’t know, like I’m a drug addict or something because I ask for pain medication. It’s hard to be in pain every day. I’ve been up at the fourth floor at Blessing Hospital here in Quincy, Illinois like three times now for attempting to kill myself, because I was tired of being in pain. There's nobody around here that will touch me or help me. It just, it's upsetting.”

February 2017:  Steve is living with an impoverished couple that took him in to help with monthly rent and utility bills.  “Sometimes you just want to give up. There’s mornings when I wake up where I don’t want to do this no more, but I know that if I don’t I’m still going to be here, I’m just going to be laying there and suffering instead of trying to better myself a little bit as I can. By the time I pay rent and pay everything I need to, I don’t even really have enough to buy my own clothes. I‘ve got to get clothes donated to me because by the time I’m done paying all my bills there’s nothing left. There really is nothing left. I’m basically struggling, like I said, going to these food pantries just trying to survive. I just wish that if I could make a plea to anyone, it would be, don't look at us like we're a pest upon society. Help us.”  

February 2017: Steve is living with an impoverished couple that took him in to help with monthly rent and utility bills.

“Sometimes you just want to give up. There’s mornings when I wake up where I don’t want to do this no more, but I know that if I don’t I’m still going to be here, I’m just going to be laying there and suffering instead of trying to better myself a little bit as I can. By the time I pay rent and pay everything I need to, I don’t even really have enough to buy my own clothes. I‘ve got to get clothes donated to me because by the time I’m done paying all my bills there’s nothing left. There really is nothing left. I’m basically struggling, like I said, going to these food pantries just trying to survive. I just wish that if I could make a plea to anyone, it would be, don't look at us like we're a pest upon society. Help us.”  

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