Nelson Thomas Says ‘I Blame Myself for Everything’ After Car Accident That Led to Foot Amputation (Exclusive)

Last March, Nelson Thomas woke up to find his car on fire as he was being extricated.

“When I woke up and hit that pole, I thought I was in hell,” the 35-year-old star Challenge speak to PEOPLE. “All I saw was flames and fire around me. The memory is so vivid in my head, how they pulled me out of the burning car. I go to sleep and sometimes I wake up screaming, thinking I’m in that car.”

The next time Thomas woke up, he found himself in the hospital.

“Being in the hospital was the most painful thing ever,” he recalls. “I was trembling, I was shaking, I was sweating. My mom had to change my sheets at least 10 times during the night because of how much I was sweating.”

Challenge Veteran Nelson Thomas is facing a potential ankle amputation after a serious car accident in March

Thomas remembers seeing “the pain in her eyes” as his mother nursed him in the hospital. “She would hear me crying at night and I know that made her cry,” he says.

As the days passed, the reality star didn’t know if she would ever walk again.

“When I woke up in the hospital after the car accident, I said, ‘Mom, if I can’t walk again, I don’t want to be here. If they have to cut off my foot, I don’t want to be here,’ reveals Thomas. “I wouldn’t even let people around me say the word ‘amputation.’ I didn’t even want to think about it.”

Nelson Thomas.

Nelson Thomas/Instagram

Thomas spent months in and out of hospital and ended up with three plates and 22 screws in his foot after six surgeries. He traveled from California to Mexico and New York, trying stem cell therapy, electrical stimulation and traditional physical therapy. He beat the odds, walking again at three months after being told it would take six.

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In October, the MTV vet returned to the gym and started swimming again, but Thomas was still experiencing pain in October. At that point, Thomas’ doctor informed him that he had a bone that had not fused, which meant that it was not healing.

The news broke him. Nelson was prescribed painkillers during his recovery and turned to them when he returned home after learning that his months of dedicated work had not paid off.

“I closed the door, locked myself in the room and just cried and screamed into the pillow and asked myself, ‘God, why me? What did I do to deserve this?'” says Nelson. “You simply start thinking about all the mistakes you’ve made in your life and think that God is punishing you. All those demons that you put behind your head and feel like you’re buried come back to life.”

That same month, it emerged that Thomas had been charged with drink-driving in a near-fatal crash in March.

“When that article came down in October, I broke down again,” Thomas recalls. “It was the worst period of my life. What was a bummer was that I had to face it, ‘Nelson, you brought this on yourself. He blessed you on this occasion, and you slammed the door in your own face.’ Do you know how many times I looked in the mirror and blamed myself for everything?”

Nelson Thomas foot amputation and challenge

Nelson Thomas.

Nelson Thomas/Instagram

The negative comments on social media only worsened Thomas’ mental state at the time.

“People were coming for my throat,” he says. “I made the biggest mistake in my life. I own it. But they didn’t even give me a chance to process it. All these articles came to my mind while I was in the hospital. Nobody cared.”

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Thomas — who says he’s only had one drink since the accident, on his birthday — realized he needed therapy after dealing with the situation. He admits he used to be “afraid” of therapy, but says, “I realized, the more you try to bury it, it’s going to come out one day and it’s going to destroy you.”

Two weeks ago, Thomas made another big decision about his health. He resigned himself to the word “amputation” and told his doctors that he wanted to remove his right foot.

“I’m cool with it,” says Thomas, who uses an iWALK crutch to get around. “I prayed about it. I wrote in my diary, I read books. I did all the research I could. I did everything I could to try and save my foot. There are a lot of people out there, even friends, they call me, ‘Nelson, you have a chance to keep your leg, look normal and walk around.’ But then you have to ask yourself, ‘What quality of life do I want to live?’ ”

Nelson Thomas foot amputation and challenge

Nelson Thomas.

Nelson Thomas/Instagram

Thomas thought I had an ankle or tibio-talo-calcaneal (TTC) fusion that “would leave me with no ankle mobility,” he says. “I could be in and out of the hospital for the next year, and I could be in pain for the rest of my life.”

He talked to people who had previously had ankle fusions and didn’t like what he heard. “Everybody I talked to had nothing but negative things to say about it,” says Thomas. “They said to me, ‘Nelson, if I had been brave enough to amputate and cut him off then, I would have done it a long time ago.’ ”

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After conducting additional research, Thomas decided to amputate.

“I said, ‘Mom, I’m ready to move on with my life. I’m ready for a new chapter’,” the Are you the one? alum says. “I think he gave me all the signs to get an amputation and join the world of amputees.”

Stars who have spoken out about their mental health issues

Thomas will undergo surgery on March 5, one year since the accident. “I want to own that day,” he says. “I want to make my day.”

But that doesn’t mean he’s always 100 percent sure of his decision. “Every morning I wake up looking at my foot and think, ‘Can you really go through this?’ Thomas admits. “Sometimes I say ‘Yes.’ Sometimes I say, ‘No.’ I have my ups and downs.”

Finally, Thomas sees the light at the end of the tunnel.

“Everyone always tells people ‘the light at the end of the tunnel’, but no one tells you how long the tunnel is. They don’t tell you how dark it is or how hard it is,” he says. “But I want to bring people and show you, don’t be ashamed because you shed tears. Crying is good. It helped me a lot. I don’t have all the answers for you right now, but I’m not hiding anything from anyone. This is me.”

Categories: Trends
Source: HIS Education

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