Fast Confession - the Czech missing half his body, Daniel Křeček: Please help me buy a positioning wheelchair
Two years ago, his life turned upside down. A boyish mischief, for which he paid with the entire lower part of his body. Fortunately, the doctors managed to save him. Daniel Křeček has had countless operations, won his life back, learned to live in a wheelchair and found a girlfriend, now he has to fight for his life again. His spine is pressing against his intestines, wherefore he needs a special positioning wheelchair. He asks the public for help and shares his story.
How come you're missing half your body? Remind readers what happened to you.
I did something stupid. What happened was that my friend and I climbed onto a train car and I was hit by an electric discharge.
How did you get on that train car and why?
It was a disconnected tanker. We had twenty minutes to kill before our train home arrived. We were taking pictures at the station and saw a parked train car, so we thought we could try to climb on it and take a photo.
How did the discharge hit you?
In an arc, the current flew out of the wires and switched to me. It shot right through me in that moment. I was completely out, I was unconscious. I fell on my back between the cars and broke my spine. And when I landed, I started burning.
So you had burns.
Did your friend call an ambulance? Do you remember anything, or do you only know what other people told you?
My friend told me that he'd climbed back down from the car and started extinguishing me with his hands and jacket. Then he ran quickly to the station for help, shouting that his friend was on fire. Someone ran back with him and they called an ambulance. Afterwards they took me to the hospital and then quickly flew me by helicopter to Vinohrady.
It's been four years. What's your take on it over time? Is it already a part of your life?
It has become part of it. I can't turn back the clock, it was a boyish mischief for which I paid, I think, a high price. I have no choice but to live with it. And I have to say I'm trying. I try to live a relatively normal life. Just like everyone else, but without legs.
Your parents had to be scared out of their minds. How did they find out?
In the evening the police arrived, my father went to Vinohrady the very same evening.
What did the doctors say?
They said they had operated on my broken spine. Then I was in artificial sleep and they were working on the burns.
At what stage was it decided that they had to take half of your body?
Over time. After this, I was in Motol at the spinal unit, where I learned to operate a wheelchair. Then I went to Kladruby, where three bedsores appeared on my body. That gave me a blood poisoning, so they took me back to the hospital in a serious condition. And afterwards it was one thing after another.
Are you missing any important organs?
The bladder is gone, but I'm not missing any important organs. I have kidneys, liver, practically like a normal person. Only the bottom is missing, the pelvis and everything with it.
What did your parents say?
They tried to accept it, they visited me, they tried to support me. They accepted it the way it is.
Were you still studying back then?
I was just about to start a new job on the next day. I didn't.
What has changed since then? You learned to live in a wheelchair, you found a girlfriend.
When I got back from the hospital and everything was more or less fine, I went to stay with my grandparents. I was at home for a while, I was visiting my friends. One day Týna contacted me so we could meet and talk. Since then, we started seeing each other and gradually it grew into a relationship. We've been together for two years now.
How does such a relationship work? Physically?
It's different, but it's possible. (smile)
Is a wedding and family planned? How would it be handled?
We haven't considered a family yet, we don't want any children for now, we'll see in the future. We would both like a wedding, but there is still time.
Would potential children be solved by adoption?
Through stored genetic material. I'm not sure if there is any, but my doctor and I also discussed it and the bank that stores the genetic material said they would pay for it. Then we didn't talk about it anymore, I don't know the details.
Your girlfriend is a student, you are on a disability pension. What are your plans for the future? You said you wanted to do business together.
It's mainly my girlfriend that wants to do business, I would like to help her by doing accounting, I'd take a course.
What is your education?
Elementary, I hadn't finished high school back then.
Why don't you finish it now?
I haven't really felt like it yet. I think that course might be enough for me... (laughs). But it's true that I could finish high school. But I admit I've never been much of a study type.
If you want to sell coffee, you need a car and a driver's license, which you got. How did that go?
I was at a special driving school. It was harder because of the coronavirus, but I made it. Now I can drive, I bought a special car and I can drive.
Many people suffer from phantom pains. Do you have them too?
I do. Sometimes I feel tingling in the leg, it transforms into pain, it's uncomfortable.
Do you have any health problems?
Currently, my biggest health problem is the spine, which presses on the intestines when I sit. It could burst.
You say it so calmy, but it's no joke.
It's not. If it bursts, I'll probably die.
Why don't you have an electric wheelchair?
At first, I didn't want the electric one at all so I can keep my hands busy. I've recently learned that I will need an electric one after all.
So that you can position yourself and not just sit.
I don't understand why this model is produced only in Switzerland and costs a million CZK. How is it possible?
They make them here in the Czech Republic as well, but the one from Switzerland is good in that it would fit in my car, it's more compact. If I bought it here in Czech Republic, the ones currently produced here are very large, it wouldn't fit in my car and I would be forced to buy a transporter, which is much more expensive. It would cost me just as much, so I prefer to keep my car to bying a transporter that I might not even be able to drive.
But you still need help. When you get to the car and get in the car, someone has to put the wheelchair in the car.
Yes. If there is a situation where I have to go alone, I will keep the mechanical one, because I can get in with it myself.
Okay, but you still can't leave it outside.
I can put it in the car, I load it in the passenger seat and go.
Many people with disabilities are in the risk group within the coronavirus. How has coronavirus affected you?
At the beginning, when it started, we paid attention to safety, we didn't go out much. From what I've seen lately, I'm not afraid that much anymore.
How many operations have you had?
It's an estimate, but I think around seventy, eighty.
All under general anesthesia?
More or less all of them.
Many people are afraid of anesthesia.
I like it. When I go under, it's with enthusiasm.
Girlfriend Kristýna: But the amount of times he was under has probably some consequences. He keeps forgetting things and it's not just because he's a guy. We've read somewhere that anesthesia can cause this.
Do you like it because you can get a fantastic sleep?
Yes, I made sort of a game out of it. When I go to the operating room and they have to put me to sleep, I fight it like crazy and try not to fall asleep. I have a record of nine seconds (laughs).
You said you would like to travel. Where would you like to go the most?
We plan to go to Los Angeles, to America.
Why there of all places?
It's a very nice place, the Hollywood sign and so on, we want to see it.
You've known your girlfriend since kindergarten, do your families know each other that way as well?
They were aware of each other but they didn't really talk much, no. Týna's parents know my grandmother and grandfather because they live in Křemice. They know my mother too, because she hung out with Týna's sister when she was a child. It's quite interconnected.
Were they excited about your relationship?
I don't think there were any negatives.
Don't your parents and grandparents push you to that aforementioned wedding and children?
No, it's purely up to us.
Do you have any funny story from your life without half of your body?
There are a lot of stories. I fell out of the wheelchair before Olympia, it was badly done there, badly evened out. I got stuck on it and was thrown out of the wheelchair. Or when I messed up and drove up a bigger curb. I staggered when I was already in the air and fell. Some gentleman driving around braked until the tires screeched, asked me if I needed help, that was nice.
What are people's reactions when they find out about your situation? That you are not "only" paralyzed, but have no legs at all?
Sometimes they look strangely, but that's normal.
It can evoke all sorts of emotions.
Rather, I think the people around me are afraid to say anything so as not to hurt me, to offend me. I've come to terms with everything and I'm fine, but people who don't know that are afraid of offending me, they act reserved.
What about haters?
There are people on Facebook who say all kinds of things, but I completely ignore it. I laugh at it, it makes my day better, I don't think about it.
What did they say?
When Týna's friend shared the fund-raiser post, some guy had the guts to comment that she should buy me some legs so I could climb on that train car again. There are various comments, but I don't worry about any of them.
So you're holding a public fund-raiser collection for the new wheelchair now...?
Yes. The insurance company won't pay for it, and I really need it. In addition to being able to save my life, which I have already fought for so much, it will also help me to become more self-sufficient. I recently went on a trip with my mother to Železná Ruda. But there was snow. I wasn't able to ride on it alone. My mother had to help me all the time, to push me. I felt so helpless. You can't imagine. I wanted to cry. If I had this special wheelchair, I wouldn't need any help.
How can people donate?
Thanks to the good people, to whom I am grateful very much, we have already collected a little over half a million CZK. Whoever wants, can donate any amount to a transparent account at Komerční banka, the number is 123-2992890227/0100.