Hello, I'm Joe Brown. I'm 22 years old. I've been in the hospital/rehab for over 305 days. I was born with Congenital Heart Disease, which means I was born with a whole in my heart, which was synthetically patched soon after I was born, and my left and right ventricles are switched. That means the smaller ventricle pumps blood to my whole body instead of the larger one, making it difficult to breathe. The doctors thought I'd need a pace maker so pace maker wires were coiled in my chest and have yet to needed to be used. Since I was born I've had to have four open heart surgeries (last one being when I was about 12). I've overcome many struggles in my life and have always come out a stronger and better person because of my experiences and my almost always positive attitude. If you can't donate please share my story and share this link with as many people, social media, news stations, TV Shows like Ellen and Steve Harvey, and Friends as possible. My story is worth being read, shared, heard, possibly learned from, and most importantly used to inspire anyone in any situation. I've been through a lot, but in January I came up against my hardest obstacle, I was diagnosed with strep throat on Dec 27, 2013. The constant coughing caused me to develop a sharp pain in my stomach/right upper abdomen by New Years Eve. It wouldn't go away and it hurt too much, so I went to the hospital on Jan 1, 2014. I had a CT Scan of my stomach with IV Contrast Dye. The Scan showed a bleed into muscles in my stomach probably caused from coughing so hard and so much (and also because of the blood thinning medications I have been on since I was born). Unfortunately, the IV Contrast Dye compromised my kidneys and I became very very ill. I had trouble breathing and had trouble keeping my blood pressure up. I had to be in the Cardiac ICU for almost a full month. I had to be on a ventilator for two weeks to breathe and I had dialysis for my failing kidneys, along with all of my other organs failing. I also had high fevers, the highest being 106.6 degrees. I needed several other medical interventions like a cooling system called Arctic Sun to get my fevers under control and several units of blood and blood products. I have recently found out that my condition was so bad at one point, I was a basically a deadman and my family was told to say their goodbyes and that nothing else could be done for me... but somehow I healed myself, I got better. After that happened I was moved to a Stepdown Unit of the Cardiac ICU for a couple of weeks and then was able to be sent to a different hospital for physical rehabilitation because when I finally woke up and started remembering days again on January 23, 2014. I found out the hard way that I couldn't move my arms and legs, I couldn't even talk because of all the tubes down my throat. I was told this had happened because I was critically ill for several weeks, it's called Severe Muscle Atrophy. It's when basically all your organs shut down and because of that you loose all ability to do anything at all, except for moving my neck slightly. I was scared, very scared. The worst part was waking up several times a day over and over again trying to communicate to my doctors, parents, and family to "Take the restraints off, please get them off, why am I being held down!?!?" Unfortunately, there was nothing holding me down. When I found this out I was devastated and terrified. In the Stepdown Unit I had to relearn how to literally do everything, and I mean everything. That included breathing on my own, swallowing food/air, drinking fluids, being able to digest every different texture of food including water and taking pills (first with applesauce, then with water), talking in my regular strong voice, keeping my artificial valve in a normal rhythm (I had to be Cardio-verted Twice), using/moving my hands and fingers to complete tasks, sitting up in bed at certain angles to eat, Gaming, playing billiards, swallowing solid foods, and much much more skills that I used to take for granted. Then only just starting, in around March (three months after I first arrived in the hospital) was I actually able to start rehab for my Severe Atrophy. However there is a bright side... thankfully and miraculously all my memory and brain function is the same as before January 1, 2014. I went through rigorous, long, and painful electrical testing on all of my muscles and body parts to check for nerve responses. Each and every muscle "fired" which means I can regain strength in them... in time, longer than anyone could have guest despite my positive push rehab to the limit mindset. It is now November and I am still working toward regaining the full use and strength in my body including my arms, hands, legs, and feet. I am proud to say that at this point I have regained most of my independence as far as my upper body... I can talk, breathe, digest, eat any solid food or liquid I want, my blood draws are now down to once a week (instead of every six hours), I can feed myself now (for the most part), play billiards (to some extent as I did before), I can use my iPhone, Nintendo 3DS, and PC for Gaming again (once again for the most part, even though the controls sometimes take several different and complex fine motor skills), sitting, standing, getting dressed, bathing, walking under my own power a few feet at a time, and just recently being able to do a stand/pivot and pop-over transfers which would mean soon I would not need to use the "Hoyer Lift" transfer system to move from my bed to wheelchair to exercise mat. It may take some time, but I am looking forward to getting back to University of Hartford to finish my Mechanical Engineering Degree (I thought I would return last Fall or this Spring), which means this life-changing event has "taken me out of action" until next Fall in 2015 (hopefully at the latest). To make sure that happens I need intense rehab that I can only get where I was before I was moved in August to the place I am now. I have been here at this new facility since the insurance changed and sent me to my current facility I'm in. I enjoy the people and rehab here, but I have less intense therapy than I had at the facility I was at before, after the insurance issues fell through. However, my insurance is covering the therapy I have been getting is great and I am very grateful for it, it will only pay for so much therapy a week and it is taking way way longer to recover than it should be taking. I am improving and progressing everyday as I would no matter where I am, this money would just take some of the burden off my parents who have STILL (after ten long months) have not left my side and are helping and watching me progress everyday even though they both work and literally have not been at our home since we drove away from it on January 1, 2014 at 5am. My ultimate goal is to get back to being the regular college student and help my parents out by getting a good job with my degree so I can finally financially repay my parents back fully or as much as possible for everything they've done for me my entire life, they (my parents) deserve at least some peace of mind as far as financial needs go in the future. Whenever I say "I'm a burden, and I owe them, my parents always say the same thing in response "You didn't sign up for this situation, but we signed up to be your parents and we will be here to support you and make sure you get back to your old self." I still want to repay my parents, even if it's only a fraction of what I feel I owe them. As before they say I owe them nothing. My parents (even though they have denied it) must be paying for some of my therapy. They always say "recovering and focusing on rehab is your "job" and how it gets paid for and making sure you receive it is our "job"." That is the main reason I am motivated to raise money to give to them. I will give my parents all of the money that is donated as before, but something I've heard a countless amount of times since this has happened is seeing me progress has inspired them (my parents) and so many people/patients/nurses have come up to me in the rehab rooms/facilities who say I've inspired them in some way. So, in addition to raising money to repay my parents I want people to know that there is hope when it seems hopeless and things will get better if you have the strength and will to change a bad hand dealt into a winning hand. Please donate and/or share this link and story with as many people as you can. Thank you.