Wheelchair a reminder of Christmas accident three years ago

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 22, 2011

By Nathan Hardin
ROCKWELL — Before a family friend called, Debbie Muncy said 2008 had been the best Christmas her family had ever had.
Muncy said her children had gotten a Wii video game console that year and were playing in the living room. She was sitting in an armchair reading a book she had received.
Despite not wanting him to go, Muncy said she let her 16-year-old son, Adam, drive to his friends’ house to see what they got for Christmas.
Adam had stopped at one friend’s house and was on his way to a second when the crash happened.
From the start, emergency crews didn’t give Adam much of a chance to live.
He was so “touch and go,” Debbie Muncy said, that she was afraid he would die on the helicopter to Carolinas Medical Center-Charlotte and she wouldn’t be there.
“They really didn’t give us much hope of where he is today,” she said. “They thought he was going to be pretty much a vegetable. He’s surprised a lot of people.”
And as the third anniversary of Adam’s wreck rolls around, he continues to surprise.
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Officers told the Muncy family that Adam ran off the right side of Faith Road and overcorrected.
He was T-boned by a passing car as he crossed into the left lane.
Tammy Young, a friend of the Muncys, said she had a daughter in Adam’s class and remembered hearing the news that day.
“They really didn’t think he would live,” Young said. “It was so terrible. It could happen to anybody.”
Adam has no memory of the wreck or his time in the hospital.
At least he can’t remember the pain, Debbie Muncy said.
“He was in intensive care for six or seven weeks,” she said. “They moved him, as he progressed, over to Levine Children’s Hospital to the rehab floor.”
Adam Muncy stayed at Carolinas Medical Center until mid-March. When he came home, his family put up a bed in the dining room because he stayed primarily in the bed and needed near constant attention.
“He continues to progress,” she said. “But he still needs total care.”
Adam’s right side has minimal movement. He still has a tracheotomy because of damage to his lungs, and speaking is very difficult.
“I’m still a genius,” he said, smiling.
But Adam Muncy’s biggest frustration is his inability to walk.
• • •
An avid BMX bicyclist, Adam was ranked 49th in the state in BMX competitions at the time of his crash.
Small bicycle figurines sit atop dozens of trophies that line the walls of Adam Muncy’s room.
For Adam, though, the best part of his room is a large Monster Energy Drink refrigerator that sits near the door.
The fridge, which — like his room — is filled with green cans, was a souvenir of the 19-year-old’s recent tour of a Coca-Cola plant that makes the beverage.
One of the plant’s employees gave Adam the tour after he met the former East Rowan High School student in a grocery store parking lot.
As a surprise present at the end, he was given the Monster cooler.
Getting Adam from his bedroom to the rest of the house is one of the more difficult times of the day for the Muncy family.
“His room is not very accessible, unfortunately,” Debbie Muncy said. “This is an old house.”
Adam Muncy’s room is on the first floor, but a narrow doorway, slim room and several steps make taking his wheelchair into it impossible.
“We have to pretty much carry him out of there,” she said.
• • •
The Muncy family has also struggled with bills because of the constant treatments, nurse supervision and medications required.
David Muncy works as a truck driver and is on the road away from his family from Sunday to Friday each week.
Debbie can’t leave Adam alone, but said her husband calls frequently to make sure the family is OK.
His absence at the house, however, makes home nurses essential.
The Muncys have had a considerable amount of problems with keeping nurses, Debbie Muncy said.
They’ve been through several recently and are interviewing others.
She said home health nurses are often paid low salaries, which hurts the Muncys’ chances of finding longterm solutions.
“Make sure you stress they’re the lowest paid,” Adam Muncy said.
His mother attributes the revolving door of RNs to two things: Adam’s frustration with new nurses, and his love for snakes.
He has only one snake in the Salisbury Avenue home now, but at one time he had several.
Aspiring to be a herpetologist as a child, Adam Muncy loved dragging assorted reptiles into the house to examine.
Now he takes to the Internet to research snakes, often educating his nurses as they maneuver the keyboard and mouse for him.
But as Adam Muncy has done throughout his recovery, he surprised everyone recently when a nurse came to his house and brought her iPad.
Adam began moving his hand along the Apple device, playing several games on his own.
Debbie said she and her husband bought Adam an Xbox 360 the Christmas after the wreck, but he wasn’t able to play it.
With new tablets requiring minimal movement, Debbie Muncy said, Adam may again have the world at his fingertips.
So she put out a plea to friends on Facebook to help her raise funds to get Adam an iPad 2 for Christmas this year.
They answered the call.