The Ghost Inside’s Andrew Tkaczyk Plays Drum Kit For First Time Since Losing Right Leg in Bus Crash
We’ve got a celebratory and inspirational update from The Ghost Inside drummer Andrew Tkaczyk! Nearly six months after a catastrophic bus crash left Tkaczyk with an amputated leg and severe nerve damage in his right shoulder, Andrew is back behind the kit!
For Andrew and his Ghost Inside bandmates, it’s been a long road to recovery following the November 2015 wreck. The 28-year-old drummer just recently took his first steps with a prosthetic leg and the help of a cane, and he’s made another huge stride by taking his rightful place behind the drums.
Thanks in part to Stephen “Dr. Drums” Bloom at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, Tkaczyk was given a little space to drum in. Joined by his mother, Tkaczyk was able to record his first beats behind a kit in nearly six months. He hasn’t gotten hold of the specialty prosthetic for his right leg yet (which will be attached to Tkacyzk’s kick drum pedal) but with some creative thinking, a fire hose and a putter, Tkacyzk learned drumming will work for him going forward.
I’m feeling awesome. The pain has been steadily declining over the past few months. My shoulder is getting better, my back isn’t sore as often and my residual limb has been getting a lot stronger. I’m making gains and doing more than I did last week, more than I did the previous day. I try to do something every day that I didn’t do the day before, even if it’s something little. Honestly, the most tiring part is the 70-minute car ride here and back each day. But that’s OK.
We’ve been working on my shoulder and elbow. I still have sensitivity that goes all the way from the tips of my fingers to my shoulder and part of my back. Clipping my nails is AN EVENT. But there are little things happening that are good signs of healing, slowly but surely.
My attitude from the beginning has been “no looking back.” I’m focused. I’m starting to walk and play drums again. My head is in the game.
I admit, I have my days, just like anyone. It’s difficult. You notice these little things we all take for granted every day, like taking a shower or reaching the top shelf of the cupboard to grab a box of cereal – like walking. I’ve experienced the hardest way of realizing that. I just try to keep it positive.
It helps to talk to the guys. We talk every day. Everyone is doing exactly what I’m doing, just in their home states. We want to meet up when all of us can be there – maybe later this summer, when everyone has progressed in their therapy and our bodies have healed more. It’s been 5 months since we’ve seen each other.
We’re all focused on recovering, but we have a real goal now, which is cool – playing the Vans Warped Tour in 2017. A couple of the guys were at a show in San Bernardino, California and ran into Kevin Lyman, who’s the founder of the Warped Tour and a really respected guy in the music industry. He said he was heartbroken about the accident and told the guys when he announced the bands for 2016 the next day, the first band he was going to announce is The Ghost Inside will play Warped Tour 2017.
That is our goal now. If we’re able to do it, we’re going to, absolutely, 100 percent. We’ve all come this far in 5 months, so over a year from now we ought to be doing pretty well. So that’s definitely a goal.
The support from our fans has been phenomenal. I read every single message, every single one. That seriously is partly why my attitude is what it is. Having that support – I can’t explain it, it’s unbelievable.
And my family has been phenomenal. They all take care of me. I’m definitely lucky to have them. I have great friends around, too. Some of my best friends from childhood and I have a standing date every Friday. We watch movies and hang out. Two of them bring their toddler – it’s a blast seeing him just being a kid.
Sometimes we go out. They took me to see “Batman vs. Superman.” I’m a big comic book nerd, and I’ve been excited for this movie for a few years. We were going to wait to see it, but the day it came out, we decided we couldn’t take it. It was awesome being able to go out. It’s really good for the soul – doing those little things makes you feel normal. Everyone at home has been there for me.
This whole experience has been life-changing. I’ve been on the road since I was 17. My whole life, full-time, has been spent traveling all over the world, playing shows. That has come to a dead stop. But I’ve adjusted. I’m still adjusting, every day. I’ll admit I have my days – I just want to get out of here, go do something. I get a little irritable here and there, but I just take a deep breath. I know I’m lucky.
Thinking back to when I was an inpatient on the fourth floor to where I am now … it’s amazing. Having Dr. (Stephen) Bloom as my doctor couldn’t have been a more perfect situation. Number one, he’s just an awesome individual with a great personality. Number 2, he’s a drummer, too, so he really understands my case and wants me to get back to drumming. It’s a passion he shares. Everybody here has been a huge help, from the therapists to the people in scheduling. This place is remarkable.
The priority is to get walking. That’s number one. But I have no doubt I’ll get back to doing what I love, especially after my therapy session the other day. I sat down with a golf club taped to my leg, and I was able to play drums like I normally do. They’re actually developing a prosthetic different from my walking leg that will be custom-fabricated and mounted to the drum kit to help me get more power. I’m confident that I’ll get back to touring. That’s still a while away, but I’m very confident it will happen. Very confident.
Not long after the crash, a GoFundMe page was launched to help the band members with their medical expenses and other costs associated with the crash. A $150,000 goal was set and has already been surpassed. If you wish to donate you may do so here. Meanwhile, Epitaph Records immediately began giving all proceeds from the band's record sales directly to the group in order to help financially with their recovery.