I was born in July of 1957, the fourth child of Mr. and Mrs. Percy Burton Brown. I have two sisters and an identical twin brother who was born 5 minutes before me. In 1959 I was involved in an accident that caused me to fall twenty –four feet head first onto a concrete sidewalk from my family home. I suffered a traumatic brain injury and severe injury to my internal organs. I was on the operating table for seven and one-half hours repairing the damage to my internal organs and having a portion of my brain removed.
My parents and family members were informed that I may not survive. Once I “survived,” the prognosis was I would more than likely be a vegetable [a living organism without any hope]. My final determination is I am a [left side hemi-pelagic] partially paralyzed on my entire left side. I am a miracle of medicine and the human spirit.
I know without my family, friends, and community I would not be where I am today.
During my life I have been challenged over and over again. These challenges I believe are given to me to test my inner spirit, strength, and commitment to be the best I can be. As a child my family, especially my twin brother always kept me involved and protected. I was bullied and abused throughout my growing years. My brother tried his best to protect me. Through sports I eventually broke out of my negative impressions of myself.
At the age of ten my brother and a friend of ours had a camp out at the friend’s home on a Friday night. When we awoke in the morning it was a bit cold. My brother and friend decided to build a camp-fire. During the starting of the fire, my brother made a mistake with the accelerant being used. He poured too much directly on the flame which caused the fumes to ignite the accelerant left in the cup he was using. I was standing behind him and he threw the flaming cup on me which caused me to go up in flames like a human torch. I began to run, but heard my brother and friend yelling for me to fall down. I fell into a pile of dirt, and they threw dirt on me to put the fire out. I singed the peach fuzz hair on my arms and legs, but had no burns or other injuries.
During my youth, I took swimming classes several times believing I could swim. I never heard the term adaptive swimming, so the classes I took were for “temporarily abled body” persons. I have nearly drowned on three separate occasions. Once in swimming pool in junior high-school, once on a family outing at a lake, and once at summer camp when I fell off the bridge into the Meramec River. I was saved by my sister, vice principle, and camp counselors. I have been involved in two severe auto accidents: As a youth my family was traveling to visit my god-mother on the highway when the left rear tire blew out and the vehicle left the road and flipped over four times. I had a mouth full of dirt.
In High School I hung out with most of the athletes as my brother played 3 sports. These guys were my protectors and friends. In my junior year as every year I was the team student manager for the basketball team. One of my responsibilities was to lead the team through exercises and drills before practice. My coach noticed how hard I worked and offered me the opportunity to play on the varsity team. I was stunned. I took to heart and heeded the words he said to me. “You have more guts and determination than anyone on the floor.” This has stayed with me and was the initial propellant to the successful rest of my life along with the dream I had of owning my own business and employing persons with disabilities.
As a college student my auto was hit head-on and destroyed. I suffered a headache. Don’t get the wrong impression. I would not trade my life and experiences for anything or anyone. I am truly blessed and have had the assistance and care needed from others throughout my life to reach the successes I have achieved.
As an adult the adventure continues. In 1987 I returned my youngest child to her mother’s home after a week-end visit her step-father brutally attacked me with a pocket knife stabbing me in the left side causing two holes to be punctured in my intestines. The family home did not have a telephone. I drove one mile to a service station and called the police. I told the dispatcher I had been assaulted. She stated they were busy and could I drive the additional 12 miles to the police station. I returned to my car and drove to the police station. I nearly passed out from the pain as I exited the highway. I made it to the police station. I entered and sat down in the waiting area. I pulled my shirt up and saw the entry wound. I yelled that I had been stabbed. Police and emergency personnel were coming from all directions. I was placed in an ambulance and taken to an emergency room at a local hospital. I was stabilized and transferred 80 miles to a Minneapolis hospital for emergency surgery to close the holes in my intestines.
Throughout my adult life, I have been recognized as a “leader in my community.” I have worked in all levels of industry and advanced into management positions. Some organizations recognized my talents in management, but not my leadership skills. Combining the two for success to me and others was not valued.
In 1998 I was in the third year of self-employment. I was cleaning the gutters on a client’s home. I returned to the ladder to come down from the roof after finishing the cleaning. As I started down the ladder, the ladder slid backwards on the concrete driveway and turned sideways leaving me hanging from the roof on my left arm and left foot on the ladder. I was able to reach my cell phone and call 911 for help. I was totally shocked when I informed the dispatcher of my need for assistance. Her response was “do not go anywhere,” I responded “mam I have been that route once before, believe me I am not going anywhere.”
In 2009 I had recovered from a recent surgery to repair a hernia. The last two days of recovery my left leg started to hurt. I had a doctor’s appointment prescheduled in 6 days. I worked 4 of the 6 days, but had to take pain medication every four hours. I kept my appointment with the doctor at 10 AM on Thursday. I informed the doctor of the pain in my leg. I was fine from the check-up for the hernia, but my doctor told me I would need to have an ultra-sound to rule out a blood clot. I laughed but agreed. At 12:30 PM the same day I arrived at the ultra-sound facility that is attached to a major hospital. The technician told me that I could not even walk out of the x-ray room. I had a blood clot from my hip to below my knee in my left leg. I was immediately admitted to the hospital to start treatment. I was in the hospital for eight days, six of them in severe pain. I could not stand up or sit up. Any attempt at being in a vertical position caused severe excruciating pain. On the 6th day after another ultra-sound test the doctor found that the large vein in my left leg had stopped working. I was given additional blood thinning injections. After one and half days my blood was thin enough to travel through the smaller veins in my leg which alleviated the pain. I will have to take blood thinning medicine the rest of my life. In December of 2011 I was playing basketball at my health club. I was accidently kneed in my left thy. I thought the pain would go away overnight. I awoke the next day and could barely move my leg. I could not lift my foot high enough off the ground to slip on a house shoe. I had a sock on my foot. I was able to drag my leg to my car. I lifted my leg into the car and drove to the doctor’s office. The pain in my leg was severe. I could not walk from my car in the parking ramp of the doctor’s office to the door. I had to ask a passer- by to send someone with a wheelchair. I was diagnosed with a blood hematoma to the left thy. I was admitted to the hospital 3 hours later for emergency surgery to drain the fluid build-up in my leg. I spent 3 days in the hospital.
I am sure as my life continues there will be additional challenges that I will have to face. For me life is a joy. Every day is a new day filled with the unknown. After the things I have experienced I wake up each day with a smile on my face prepared for whatever happens.
Today my life is successful in several ways:
I own two businesses with the purpose of serving others.
I was not afraid to dream and those dreams have come true.
Success is determined by how many people I can help, not by dollars and cents.