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Despite All Odds: One Man's Story of Courage

Even after experiencing a debilitating stroke last year, Brian Morgan is not a man that knows the meaning of giving up. With the help of the local YMCA, he's slowly recovering. Here is his story.

By Brian Morgan  

Every life has a story and this is mine.  I grew up on the rough side of Detroit but was fortunate to have great parents and a YMCA nearby where I played basketball.  I went to Ashland University in Ohio on a basketball scholarship, played in a National Championship, and then after college played semi-pro for Global Basketball Association, needless to say I was an athlete.

But on May 17, 2011, I experienced a severe stroke in the right hemisphere of my brain, I was 41 years old. 

I'd just gotten home from work and was talking with my wife about our two sons.  When all of a sudden my head felt like it was exploding; as if it was on fire. I tried to move but my body was very weak and starting to droop, the pain was unbearable.  

I was transported to Gwinnett Medical Center and within hours I was on life support and not expected to survive.  I felt my spirit surrender to my death, but I could not let go - I had to fight for my life, for my wife and children.  Three surgeries and many months later, I left the hospital and rehab in a wheelchair and breathing on my own.  My wife never left my side.

It's been a long year and a half; my recovery is slow, but progressing. The financial strain that my health situation has on my family is almost unbearable, my wife works very long hours and we are still unable to make ends meet. We recently lost our home, it’s difficult to purchase groceries and it breaks my heart that my sons, who are 6 and 10, have to see me so helpless. I keep thinking - what am I going to do, I can't even dress myself, how can I work like this. Sometimes I feel like giving up, but God didn't give up on me, I can't give up on him.

I currently take aqua therapy at the Fowler YMCA, this is an expense that we are also unable to maintain, but it is the very thing that I believe is helping me. Outside of the pool, when you are paralyzed you feel a separation in your body, you don't feel whole.  While I’m in the water my body comes together like a puzzle, it doesn't feel like I had a stroke, and I don’t ever want to get out.  The Y has a wheelchair that goes into the pool, they roll me in and stand me up in the water and we walk like ballroom dancing, I walk with Jan Nance, my aqua coach supporting me with the gait belt.  Recently something special happened - I took my first unassisted step in the water, I was so happy, you just can't imagine a thing like that, it was like being reborn!

Aqua therapy at the Y has been very beneficial to my physical and mental health.  Mark Thornell [YMCA's executive director] told me not to worry, that the Y was going to be there for me and my family. He said they would seek donations to cover my aqua therapy, give my family a Y membership, let my boys play basketball and I can co-coach their teams.  

God is so good. 

Editor's note: Brian Morgan and his family live in a Peachtree Corners apartment, his two sons attend Peachtree Elementary. If you would like to help the Y in its efforts to help this family during the upcoming holidays, please contact Deb Harris at deborahh@ymcaatlanta.org 770-246-9622.

David B. Manley November 03, 2012 at 02:16 AM
Great contribution, Deb. Best and prayers for Brian Morgan and his family. Would like to see more of these kinds of stories in Patch.
Brian Morgan December 19, 2012 at 05:18 AM
Thank you for yours prayers every bit counts at this time. Brian Morgan and Family
Janice Staples February 22, 2013 at 04:27 AM
Please could you correct were Brian Morgan grew up. He grew up in Saginaw Michigan not Detroit Michigan.
Tamika Coleman March 19, 2013 at 07:27 PM
I am very proud of you Brian. We love you very much. Keep moving forward. Tamika Coleman

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