by Martii Peeples
Luther Vandross has a song called, Miracles Happen. And when you come to know Maurice Brown, this title perfectly fits his journey.
Maurice was born 23 years ago and his mother’s pregnancy was plagued with health issues. After Maurice turned a year old, he started showing signs there may be something wrong, but his father was against going to the hospital. His parents thought it was a minor issue which would correct itself, but Maurice suffered a stroke at a young age.
photo by Martii Peeples/Family
This stroke left him with severe brain damage. He was on oxygen twenty-four hours a day. The doctors tried to persuade his mother to put Maurice in a home. Katrina, couldn’t do that to her son, she brought him home and dedicated her life to making sure Maurice was surrounded with love. Maurice’s father died of a heart attack when the boy was only eight-years-old, leaving Katrina a widow raising three children.
As Maurice grew up he continued to face health issues, going in and out of hospitals. He suffered from seizures and the medication he was placed on caused Maurice to gain an incredible amount of weight. Despite his struggles and his diagnosis, he was still fighting to live. His mother started to call him, “Miracle.”
Maurice attended school but was constantly bullied because of his weight. Thoughts of suicide plagued him and made an attempt using his medication. It wasn’t his time to go. Thankfully, he was unsuccessful. Despite all of Maurice’s emotional suffering, he still found a way to help other. He is always bring joy to the people that he came in contact with through his love of singing. He was able to get involved in some of the local performing groups.
A year and a half ago, the doctor told Katrina, if Maurice doesn’t make some immediate changes he would not live much longer. Maurice weighed 560 lbs and taking four blood pressure medications along with having to carry a CPAP machine, an oxygen machine used for breathing, around daily.
Maurice was referred to Henry Ford Bariatric surgery center. After consulting with the team, Maurice refused. He knew was stronger than that and he was determine to fight for his life on his terms. He wanted to loose the weight naturally. Armed with the love of his mother and a nutritionist, and work out plan, his journey began.
Maurice attacked his poor food habits first. He completely gave up sweets and pop. Maurice had physical therapy three times a week working on cardio and resistance training. Every day he went on a three mile walk daily, and incorporated dance into his workout routine. He was determined to extend his life. Maurice got more strict with his diet, eliminating pork, beef and the fried foods that he used to love.
As the weight started to drop, Maurice’s confidence grew. He was able to keep his thoughts of suicide at bay. Instead he turned his focus to helping others. He wanted to be an inspiration to others like him, but more importantly he wanted to make his mother proud.
Maurice has come a long way. He has dropped from a 72 pant size down to a 44. He has more energy and now feels amazing. His mother has been his source of strength through this entire experience. Katrina has endured so much: an abusive husband and not one but two of her children have had severe health issues. She suffered a nervous breakdown. After she had done so much for him, it was his turn to take care of her. She was his motivation to continue to work toward his goal to take control of his health.
A year and a half has passed and Maurice is down to 300 lbs, nearly cutting his weight in half. He is now having to deal with the excessive hanging skin he has incurred due to his weight loss and gynecomastia; the growth of breast for men. Insurance will cover the breast reduction but the removal of skin from his entire body may be considered cosmetic surgery, and may not be covered.
This is just a small step to overcome considering all that Maurice has been through. Maurice is continuing to thrive more and more each day. This is his first year attending Oakland Community College. He has full intentions of continuing down his health journey and creating a better life for himself. He is refusing to give up on his life.