He used to be the one offering others a helping hand.
Daniel Carlos had his health and his own company, and he got involved in the annual Truck Light Parade a few years ago to aid the Mustard Seed Food Bank.
But recently, Carlos has found that things have a way of going sideways in life, and now he is the one needing assistance.
A father of five, Carlos was inspecting a chimney in August when his new fall restraint gave way. He hit the roof, fracturing two vertebrae in his back, and then, as he was sliding down, grabbed hold of a rope, ripping his arm out of its socket.
The restraint was later found to be defective and he has been off work ever since, trying to support his wife and kids — including a newborn — on what he receives in workers’ compensation.
“It’s been a painful recovery for me to try to get movement back into my lower back, and try to get back to work as soon as possible,” Carlos said.
In the meantime, his income has been decimated. He receives $1,400 every month, but rent eats up almost half of that, leaving little for bills and food for his wife and their three sons, ages 11, two and one month. (Two older daughters from another relationship have lived with their mother.)
“There’s nothing left over at the end,” he said. “I find myself getting further and further behind.”
He’s doing intensive physiotherapy to try to get back to work as quickly as he can, but that won’t happen before Christmas.
After being the one who helped others, “it’s kind of weird to be on the other end of the scale,” he said. “I’m just so humbled.”
All of which would be hard enough, but Christmas has been especially tough for Carlos in recent years. His younger sister, Mary Louise, died of meningococcal infection in Royal Jubilee Hospital on Dec. 21, 2004. She was just 19.
In a story published in the Times Colonist at the time, the family said she had been sent home after a four-hour wait in emergency. She returned later that day with more serious symptoms and died a short time later.
Carlos has had a difficult time celebrating the holidays ever since, he said. But he’s hoping, with a bit of help, to still make it a special time for his children.
“I think it would give us a bit of hope, too,” he said.
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