Be Inspired: Y Stories
My Y Story by Brian Jones
Who made a difference for me at my YMCA?
My name is Brian Jones. I am a 45 year old father of six here in Lexington, KY. Two years ago – April 2011 – in the course of my duties as an insurance adjuster I fell from a two story roof changing my life forever.
I incurred pilon fractures. The ends of both tibias in my leg were “powdered” – pieces and shards. My orthopedic surgeon advised they were two of the worst injuries he had ever seen and that most likely I would never walk unassisted again. Worst case scenario a wheelchair – we could hope for a walker or crutches.
After nine surgeries and a staph infection that nearly resulted in an amputation – I found myself morbidly obese – nearly 360 lbs – with atrophied muscles after having been bed ridden for nearly five months. I had internal hardware in both legs that I was advised would be there forever. I had nearly given up hope. We had renovated our home to adapt to my disability – adding a handicap ramp and turning our sunroom into my hospital room. On more than one occasion, when the depression and futility of my situation would wrap around me like a wet, gray quilt - I seriously considered ending it all with a handful of painkillers. Fortunately, I never made it to that point.
I decided I was going to fight this thing. At the time, I had been self-employed & uninsured. My injuries racked up over $500,000 in medical bills. We had nothing other than the roof over our head and that was day-to-day. I contacted the Beaumont YMCA. Theresa worked closely with me and my family. We were able to get a scholarship. It was all we had.
Most mornings, I would take my walker and make the trip to the Y. Initially, I began working out on a small, sit-down cardio machine. I could barely go five minutes. It took me 15 minutes just to get in and out of the YMCA with my walker.
Every day that I would arrive, Beth would be there to greet me – always with a smile, a word of encouragement or a hug. As the weeks progressed I went from a walker, to two crutches to a walking stick to eventually walking on my own but with a horrible limp. I was fat, weak and nearly immobile but I was on two feet.
One day while doing my sit down cardio machine, I decided it was going to take drastic measures to make a drastic difference. I pulled myself onto a stand up elliptical and began to work. I did this for nearly four weeks. I felt strength returning but I wanted more.
Early one April morning—only 12 months after my accident—I decided I wanted to learn to barbell train. I asked Angelique and Nancy to help me out. They both were wonderfully supportive but I could see in their eyes that they didn’t think barbell squats were where I needed to be. I was so weak and had hardware in both legs . They directed me to the dumbbells – showed me some goblet squats and such. Their words of encouragement still ring in my ears…their smiles and nods of approval. And I kept going to the Y . . .doing my thing.
Flash forward: this morning I was at the YMCA. It was deadlift day for me. My top sets today were 505lbs by three reps with multiple back off sets of 425 and 375 lbs. This past May, I competed in my first Powerlifting meet and placed first in all the divisions I entered. I no longer have hardware in my legs because the barbell training: all of those squats, deadlifts, bench, & overhead presses helped the bones in my legs to heal back. I had surgeries to remove all hardware. I still hear words of encouragement every day. My newest friend, Heather, holds me accountable and always has a smile and a warm hello for me in the morning. As does Beth, as does Nancy . . . as does Angelique. Even to this day, Nancy checks on me. Jeff is always there to offer advice, guidance and encouragement.
Just over a year ago I couldn’t lift an empty barbell. Now I am strong…very strong. The difference? Opportunity and motivation. My Beaumont YMCA gave me the opportunity. My friends Nancy, Angelique, Beth, Heather & Teresa provided the motivation.
Thank you all. I’ll never run again . . .and there will be times that I limp more than others. But I am up, I am strong and have a brand new life . . . and one of the biggest difference makers in my story .. is my Beaumont YMCA.