From impending world wars to intense political unrest to the novel and deadly coronavirus, 2020 has been a trying and uncertain year for us all. However, for 29-year-old Adam Troutman of Charleston, South Carolina, times have never been more challenging.
On December 27, 2019, the physical trainer was involved in a motor vehicle accident, putting him in critical condition. The severe injuries that Troutman sustained necessitated the amputation of his left leg below the knee the night of the accident, as well as his right leg a few days later. Additionally, he was left with a broken femur and a ruptured bladder.
Since then, Troutman has undergone a series of major surgeries that have addressed his significant health problems. While he did not have a choice regarding the amputation of his left leg, he was given the opportunity to save his right leg.
However, wanting to initiate his recovery as early as possible, Troutman expressed that the decision to go through with the second amputation was relatively easy.
“I didn’t want to have to have surgeries two, three, four, or thirty years down the road, which they told me was a pretty high probability,” Troutman explained, “It didn’t take very much convincing at all.”
After being in the ICU for two weeks, Troutman was admitted to the general hospital where he would undergo the rest of his surgical procedures.
“From the 27 of December to [the] 22 of January, I had anywhere from 16 to 17 surgeries, mainly on my left femur. I basically just had to get a bunch of stuff cleaned up. It was a mess, to be honest. I had never even broken a bone, or been in the hospital, really, before this.”
Troutman’s journey in the hospital lasted about three months, and it was filled with surgeries and included stays in four different types of facilities. “I was in the hospital, laying on my back, sleeping in the same position, not moving really, [except] a little physical therapy here and there.”
This stage of his recovery, he said, was the hardest he has encountered thus far. “Eating [hospital] food, taking a lot of medication I’d never taken before, It was not fun, to say the least.”
Troutman considers his transition from hospital to home to be his biggest milestone up to this point. “I think I’ve done the most healing here at the house, and that’s not just physically but also mentally and emotionally.”
Troutman expressed intense relief at being able to regain some independence through choosing his own meals and occasionally working out, saying, “I haven’t even gotten up on my feet, so my story isn’t even written yet.”
Troutman regards the challenging road ahead of him with excitement, as he is truly grateful to have survived the worst of it.
Of course, the world of 2020 has turned out to be new for everyone. All of us are re-learning how to interact with the outside world after months of isolation. Troutman said that this shared experience helped his recovery and mindset while he was stuck in the hospital.
“It’s been kind of a crazy time for everybody. [This] is probably a little selfish for me to say, but I’ve been in quarantine for 3 months in the hospital, and for other people, they couldn’t do anything either. It made me feel like people were in the sort of the same boat as me and helped with my mood.”
Charleston, a town on the southern coast, is known for its breathtaking natural beauty and potent historical heritage. Many of its inhabitants would have spent this past spring outside, whether by going to the beach, boating, or simply enjoying the sun if it weren’t for the social distancing restrictions put in place to stop the spread of COVID-19.
Troutman confessed that he felt as though he and everyone else in the world were “in this together, even though I don’t really feel like everyone else. It’s been a hell of a 2020 year, for me especially, but for everybody.”
Regardless of the substantial challenge put before him, Troutman has an incredibly optimistic outlook on life. “Family has been there from day one and they’ve helped me out tremendously,” he stated.
Through little things such as giving him a break from hospital food and keeping him in a positive mood, Troutman’s family and friends have been essential to the recovery efforts that he has been through thus far. “It’s hard to be down in the dumps when everybody’s got you. In a situation like this, you can’t be down for too long. It will just suck you in and eat you up.”
Troutman’s incredible support network makes this massive obstacle before him seem achievable. After apologizing for the clichés to come, Troutman gave some advice for those struggling with their own problems.
“Don’t give up,” he said. “Stay positive, and it will always get better.” He stressed that we as humans cannot let ourselves be defined by our problems, the same way he does not let his accident define him. “Use your problems to grow: struggle and then succeed.”
Troutman has high hopes for his future, but understands that his life will be reasonably different from the way it used to be. “I won’t be able to do everything that I did before. I’ll have to plan more than everyone else. When someone says they want to go to the beach or on a boat, it won’t be as easy for me.”
Troutman recognized that there may come days when his legs will not be up for an outing. Furthermore, even if he does have the ability to go out, there are many things he will have to account for.
For example, trips to the beach will have to be planned from here on out so that he can protect his legs from the salt, sand, and erosion. Troutman admitted that although many things in his life moving forward will be different, he has no intention to abandon his spontaneity altogether.
For his future, Troutman hopes to get his legs and conquer physical therapy. While he knows the rest of his recovery is going to take time and dedication, he looks forward to being able to go back to work, travel, and do whatever it takes to live his life to the fullest.
“I definitely can’t wait to get back on the golf course,” Troutman said. While Troutman has endured so much hardship in the past six months, he looks forward to the challenges to come. “This is just the intro,” he said, smiling.
“I’m not one to just sit here and dwell on what happened. Plans change and you’ve got to adapt and grow. I’m thankful to be here and I actually like the challenge. Obviously, I don’t want this for my life, but I’m looking forward to the physical therapy and getting back to, kind of, where I was; feeling confident and feeling good about myself.”
In a world that is being bombarded with change, death, and disease, perseverance and resilience can seem impossible at times. However, Troutman’s story, even if it has just begun, is a testament to what we, as humans, can achieve against all odds.
His advice that we cannot let ourselves be defined by our problems is incredibly meaningful in the world we find ourselves in today. We have become increasingly isolated from our senses of security being taken out from underneath us. However, even in times as difficult as these, Troutman has proven that we must be able to use hardship to grow and prevail.
Meet Scott Hughes: The Entrepreneur Who Built One of the Largest Online Book Communities
Are you a book junkie? Find out how Scott Hughes built OnlineBookClub, a free online community for book lovers with over 2 million members.
Are you a book lover?
If you are, then you need to check out OnlineBookClub.org, a free online site for book lovers around the world.
The online site features book reviews, book & reading forums, and useful tools that enable you to store, track and list books you have read or want to read.
Scott was only 19 when he launched OnlineBookClub.
The idea of creating OnlineBookClub originated after Scott, a book fanatic, realized that there were too many restrictions for in-person book clubs such as tight deadlines on book reading, a limited selection of books, and little freedom to pick books to read.
Scott wanted to leverage the power of online discussions and create a flexible space where people all over the world could easily find people to chat about any book at any time. That is how OnlineBookClub came to life.
Building the online platform was a rewarding experience for Scott, but it was far from easy.
For 7 years, Scott ran the business and paid himself nothing from it. During those years, he worked odd jobs to pay his living expenses and put food on the table for his two kids.
“I remember one month I had to go to the coinstar machine at the bank with my spare change on the 10th of month just so I could cover the rent, but I did it.”
The hardest part of creating the platform for Scott was finding time to run the business while juggling his day job and raising two kids. It was difficult for him to find a work-life balance but he made it work despite the hardships.
At the end of 2014, Scott finally took a leap of faith, gave up his side jobs, and went full-time at OnlineBookClub. He knew that to make it work, he had to devote himself completely to the online site.
And his efforts paid off.
The platform is thriving with over 2.7 million registered users as of November of 2021.
The revenue of the platform primarily comes from paid online advertising and professional services to authors and publishers, such as editorial reviews and manuscript editing.
Scott is proud of the work he has accomplished so far, especially of the community he has built.
“OnlineBookClub has always been filled with kind people who have a strong sense of togetherness and community. It’s like a second family for us.”
Scott’s journey has been full of ups and downs, but through it all, he is grateful for all the experiences-good ones and bad ones.
When asked to advise young entrepreneurs just starting, he has the following to say:
“The journey never really ends. If you make a million dollars, then you might chase a billion. Even if you reach all your financial goals and lose interest in that side of things, your mind will create new different goals. So it’s never about reaching some destination. When you look back on it, in many ways the most challenging times are also seen most fondly.”
He also believes that entrepreneurs need to be driven by something other than money.
“I’ve found in my anecdotal experience and just from watching the world around me that those who desperately chase money are the least likely to find it. In contrast, when you work hard on yourself and your real dreams, money chases you. Money–and even health and physical fitness–are only really ever a means, not an end in themselves. Without some kind of vision or passion to be the real end, the real goal, the real dream, it’s like driving a car with no gas.”
Scott’s story is a great reminder that anything can be achieved with perseverance, passion, and hard work.
So, if you are just starting, make sure to stay tuned for his upcoming book, “In It Together: The Beautiful Struggle Uniting Us All,” which will be released soon.
‘Halloween Kills’ Cast & Crew Explain the Slasher
Article by Riley Farrell
The cast and crew of Halloween Kills told Blendtw why the latest slasher’s gore is anything but gratuitous in a year like 2021.
Jamie Lee Curtis, Andi Matichak, Anthony Michael Hall, Kyle Richards, Malek Akkad, David Gordon Green and Jason Blum tell horror fans to expect carnage. After all, Halloween Kills must live up to its title.
Chainsaws buzzing and bats swinging, Halloween Kills is a current-day cathartic catastrophe – and no character is safe – according to producer Jason Blum of Blumhouse Productions.
Halloween Kills is the 12th movie in Michael Myers’ macrocosm, with the 13th, and allegedly final, movie coming out in 2022. When seriously injured Laurie Strode thought she killed Michael Myers after 42 years of trailing him, his annual bloodbath recommences. Sick of living at the mercy of “pure evil,” the town’s vigilantes revolt against the boogieman.
“Subtlety is not this film,” said director David Gordon Green, on fitting in as much bloodshed as possible in 105 minutes.
The cast filmed Halloween Kills two years ago and shelved it due to the pandemic, until now.
Picking up where Halloween (2018) left off, the film explores the aftermath of collective trauma, said Green. Given everything that’s ensued in the last two years, viewers do not have to live in Haddonfield to understand suffering, and inversely, resilience.
“We’ve taken a slasher movie and it’s landed in a time of cultural relevance because of our public consciousness,” said Green. “Though [the movie is] grotesque, there are moments when we feel the humanity underneath the surface of this movie monster.”
Halloween Kills brought back two characters from the 1978 Halloween in Tommy Doyle (Anthony Michael Hall) and Lindsey Wallace (Kyle Richards), the two children who Laurie babysat during Michael’s initial attack. Hall and Richards did not require much persuasion to hop on the franchise, said Green.
The callbacks of all-grown-up characters, of course, evokes nostalgia. But the twist on the trope is that, instead of running from Michael, the kids now face him head-on, said Richards. Hall, who described Halloween Kills as a “thrill ride” and “freight train,” said the slasher hinges on human resilience.
“We summoned something deep in themselves and decided to fight back, we’re not just survivors but fighters,” said Hall.
Resilience as a motif snugly fits within the cultural zeitgeist, even earning a title as Forbes’ 2021 word of the year. Though coincidental, the visceral and violent images in Halloween Kills harken to audiences’ nihilistic experiences of the past 18-months. Producer Malek Akkad said the slasher film can paradoxically be pertinent yet escapist for viewers who’ve experienced the horror genre by simply reading the news.
“It’s tough for everybody right now and this movie’s just a fun release,” said Akkad. “There’s nothing more cathartic for people watching than to see a final girl like Laurie.”
For reference, the final girl trope, pioneered by the character of Laurie Strode in John Carpenter’s 1978 Halloween, represents the heroine left standing at the end of a horror movie who is charged with defeating the antagonist. Film theorist Carol J. Clover coined the term in her 1992 book, ‘Men, Women, and Chainsaws: Gender in the Modern Horror Film.’ The final girl has been observed in many films, including The Texas Chain Saw Massacre, Alien, Friday the 13th, A Nightmare on Elm Street and Scream.
Scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis said she was unaware of the meaning and dialogue surrounding the final girl until recently. She argued, even though the trope has immense cultural significance, the original idea of the final girl is uncomplicated.
“The term is just about the tenacity of women to survive because, the truth is, women have survived through a lot,” said Curtis.
No characters know survival better than the Strode women. Andi Matichak, who plays Laurie’s granddaughter, and Curtis agreed that their favorite behind-the-scenes moment centered on feminine resilience in spite of harsh conditions.
It was a frigid 4 a.m. shoot, and the three generations of Strode ladies were alone in a truck, coated in fake blood, with only each other and a camera rig for warmth, Matichak described. This moment was the last time Laurie, Karen and Allyson were on screen together.
“It was a powerful moment to lean on each other and feel the weight of the project,” Matichak said.
Cutting through the sweet moments is the slasher at the heart of the story, said Curtis on the “high octave, frenzied” plot of Halloween Kills. For audiences who’ve lived through the chaos of the past two years, Halloween Kills should match their fast pace of existence.
“The past is irrelevant, you’re so in the present moment,” said Curtis.
THAT’S A WRAP! SHARE THE LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Waving Through A Big Screen: ‘Dear Evan Hansen’ Cast Talks Film Adaptation
With Ben Platt reprising his Tony-winning role as the show’s titular character, a whole new Hollywood cast takes on Broadway.
Content warning: mentions of anxiety, depression and suicide.
Article by Riley Farrell
All that it takes is a bit of reinvention for Dear Evan Hansen to move from the theatre to theaters, hitting eardrums on Sept. 24 this year.
With Ben Platt reprising his Tony-winning role as the show’s titular character, a whole new Hollywood cast takes on Broadway. Platt, Julianne Moore, Amandla Stenberg, Amy Adams, Danny Pino, Kaitlyn Dever, Stephen Chbosky and Steven Levenson explained the movie’s newfound reach and relevance in an interview with BLENDtw, among other publications.
The Plot Thickens
Begrudgingly in therapy for anxiety, high schooler Evan Hansen is tasked with writing daily letters to himself, hence the movie title. After Evan’s peer Connor Murphy kills himself with Evan’s letter in his backpack, Evan’s page is mistakenly thought to be a suicide note from Connor.
Evan tells a well-meaning white lie that soon darkens with self-interest to get closer to the Murphy family, which includes Connor’s sister Zoe (Kaitlyn Dever), and Connor’s mom and dad (Amy Adams and Danny Pino, respectively). Via fake emails and a fundraiser, what once began as a misunderstanding spirals into an operatic betrayal about teens and their screens.
Oh, How Times Have Changed (Or Not)
To address the obvious, it has been a long time since DEH initially premiered in 2015 – but the cast said the musical remains relevant. Things have changed: a pandemic rocked our worldviews and Ben Platt, shockingly, aged.
Platt, 27, played Evan in the original musical version. After the movie trailer dropped in 2021, Platt faced online backlash over playing a character a decade younger, even though he lost 15 pounds and changed his styling routine to appear youthful.
“As a parent, I saw a teenager in Ben’s demeanor,” Julianne Moore, who plays Evan’s mom, said in Platt’s defense.
Speaking of something that’s aged us all, COVID-19, the ideas explored about mental health in DEH six years ago seem timely today, said Dever.
“This film is about feeling isolated, after the pandemic, we’re looking to feel heard,” said the Booksmart actress.
A 2021 study from the National Institute of Health found that anxiety symptoms increased during the COVID shutdowns, making ordering delivery and asking peers to sign your cast daunting. This film was a refreshing counter-narrative on what anxiety looks like, demographically and behaviorally, said Stenberg, who shared an on-set story about the stakes of DEH.
Chbosky, the author of Perks of Being Wallflower, showed a letter to Stenberg that a teenager had written to him after reading the novel. The reader expressed how his suicidal ideation disappeared after reading Chbosky’s book. That book saved him, said Stenberg. After that experience, Stenberg said she felt the movie served as an opportunity for mental health representation, not tokenism.
“I was excited to be playing a Black girl who is on medication,” Stenberg said of her high-achieving teen character, Alana Beck.
There’s no one face or behavior associated with anxiety, Stenberg said. Stenberg said she’s been prescribed medication as a teenager but has only recently come to terms with the shame she felt about mental health.
The year isn’t the only context that’s changed. The medium by which this sensitive story is delivered has transformed from the live stage to the screen. Freedoms of editing and re-filming takes helped storytelling, said Chbosky, who felt ‘obsessed’ with the spotlighting of each character.
Via camerawork, Chbosky and Levenson said they more innovatively explored symbolism and imagery. The film’s juxtaposition between social media and nature – contrasting screens with sunlight as motifs – is about duplicity in the dark and authenticity in the light, said Chbosky.
“You can’t have truth without the lie,” said Chbosky.
The filmmaking medium aided in communicating the perils of presenting a fake self online, said Levenson.
“We wanted to play with the idea of how fast lies can spread online,” said Levenson. “How untrue things make you feel great and the complicated nature of that.”
Expanded audiences can enjoy the story now that it has transcended the Broadway medium. Though fans of the original musical will encounter changes to the original stage material, Platt said he thinks Evan’s move from the stage to the screen is a step towards accessibility. The message of DEH is magnified when more audience members are added to the conversation, said the Pitch Perfect actor.
“No matter what, it’s important for me to communicate that there’s nothing that makes you unlovable,” said Platt.
THAT’S A WRAP! SHARE THE LOVE ON SOCIAL MEDIA.