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Family tragedy inspires the inception of H3Assist

My brother’s automobile accident gave me greater appreciation for the wonderful healthcare that’s available when we need it most.  Paramedics, Hospitals, ER Doctors, Nurses, Therapists, Care Managers, Hospital staff, Rehabilitation Centers, and Home Care, all contributed to a miracle recovery that exceeded our wildest expectations. I will always be grateful to everyone who helped Glenn.

H3Assist was created in part, as a result of the great Home Care my brother receives to this day. Without the personal care, companionship, meal preparation, 24-hour care and support, Glenn’s recovery would have been severely compromised.  His caregivers allow him to maintain the highest level of independence, and live at home.

Our Mission at H3Assist is delivering quality in-home care service, enabling our client to maintain the highest levels of independence.


Scott Morton
Founder, H3Assist


 

Love means everything

2006-11-01 03:00:00 



COSTA MESA - On one side of the tall stucco wall that separates his condo complex from a schoolyard, children play soccer. They run, fall and tumble, rising with swollen elbows, soiled knees and mud-caked cleats but appear to be otherwise unscathed.

On the other side of the wall, Glenn Morton sits still and sunken in the same red aluminum wheelchair he has had for a year. He watches TV, his sliding-glass door open to the sunshine and warm breeze.

Morton, 50, hears the shrill sounds of coaches' whistles and the thump-thump-thump of kids sprinting - sounds that surrounded courts at Orange Coast College and local country clubs where Morton spent four decades teaching tennis.

That was all before April 27, 2005 - a day he can't remember even today - when a car accident stole part of his keen memory and robbed him of athletic motion.

"I'm going to try to walk today, and soon I'll be back to playing," Morton says.

When Morton was making these pledges a year ago, his mind was tricking him, filling in what he failed to remember. The accident! What accident? He thought he had been thrown from a horse, that he had just broken his arms.

He can't recall the details of his April morning drive to teach lessons at the Pacific Sands Cabana Club in Huntington Beach. He doesn't remember the 1999 Nissan Altima jumping the median on Adams Avenue and plowing into his 1969 Volkswagen van.

Here's what he's been told: His head shattered the windshield. An ambulance raced him to Western Medical Center in Santa Ana. Paramedics pounded on his heart and delivered oxygen through a hole in his throat. A policeman found his cell phone at the crash site and called the last number Morton dialed, his son's.

For six weeks, Morton lay in a coma, his brain bruised and swelling, his doctors predicting he would never talk or walk.

Everyone knew Glenn Morton's life would be forever changed. Everyone except Morton, who awoke from his coma with jigsaw-piece gaps in his puzzled memory and paralyzed limbs where his muscles used to be.

He opened his eyes to find his family - he recognized his children but didn't know their ages - surrounding his bed, tears streaming down faces, hands clasped for their millionth prayer.

"Hi," was his first raspy word. Morton felt pain, not permanent injury. He thought he'd soon return to sprinting at the beach, running the stairs in a stadium or playing tennis.

Tennis. The memory of the sport he loved, from its players to its techniques, remained as taut and clean as new strings on his prized tennis racket. He knew that he used to charge atop the hard court, leap, lunge, swing hard. He knew he often played against his son, Brian, 23, and his daughters, Melissa, 20, and Heather, 18.

He thought he'd play tomorrow or the next day. Swinging a racket, walking, even hobbling with a cane - his family knew - would require miracles.

Slowly, his mind has healed. He began realizing things, both pleasant and painful: That his son was engaged, that his children were adults, that he was separated from his wife, that it was 2006, not 1999.

"He knows the truth now and understands it," says his younger brother, Scott Morton, 48, of Huntington Beach, who last month showed Glenn newspaper clippings and photographs of the accident.

Staring at the crushed image of his van pinned against a guard rail, Glenn grew quiet.

"I don't remember, but I was told that I was in a car accident," Morton says now. "Right now, I just want to keep getting better."

Steadily, feeling and strength have returned to his arms and legs, thanks to 15 months of rehabilitation.

Muscle grew on his frame, bringing his weight up to 165 pounds, from 140. His left hand is still stiff and often hooks inward, though now he can raise it and wiggle his fingers.

"I'm lucky. It could have been much, much worse. Look at all I have," says Morton, turning to his living room walls decorated with pictures of his family, a 2006 calendar, a map of the United States and a yellow poster of "Important Facts" written by his sister, Jill Beck, 47, of Dana Point.

The poster is a timeline that begins with "April 27, 2005 - Glenn was in a car accident on his way to the Cabana Club" and ends with "Your family loves and supports you!"

That part always makes Morton smile. So do the thoughts of how the close-knit tennis community has continued to support a recovery whose costs he couldn't afford.

Morton didn't have insurance to cover more than $1 million in medical bills, and his lawsuit against the driver who caused the accident is pending.

His savings have gone toward paying for the $150-a-day full-time care he has needed since returning home on Oct. 19, 2005.

Friends, strangers, former students, local restaurants, businesses, country clubs and World Team Tennis' Newport Beach Breakers donated to the Glenn Morton Fund. The 2006 Wimbledon doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan wrote a check for a week of home care.

A Fountain Valley doctor offered free hyperbaric chamber therapy. His former doctors have called for updates.

Tustin's High Hopes, which specializes in the treatment of brain injuries, gave Morton a one-month scholarship and a half-price rate - $1,000 a month - for a year of physical therapy. An anonymous donor paid for a year.

This month, Morton will receive a portion of the proceeds from Orange County's TopGun Tennis Tournament, raffle and auction, Friday through Sunday, and Nov. 10-12.

"So many people have come forward to help Glenn," Beck says. "We haven't had to ask, and that tells us how many people love Glenn."

Last week, Morton began a Coastline Community College program that assists brain-injured students with independent living skills. He types with his right hand, can hold a pen and sign his name.

He lifts weights three times a week at a gym. He played tennis last month with his brother, returning a few ground strokes.

"I still have it," Morton says, at home, confidently gripping a tennis racket with broken strings and angling its head to make a perfect return.

"Look at that touch!" says Scott Morton, his eyes glazed with tears as he watches the improvement his family believes is nothing short of a miracle.

Then Morton sets down his racket and moves his hand over the gait belt wrapping his chest.

"I'm going to get up now," Morton says, his freckled face turning ruddy.

He clutches the arms of his wheelchair and pushes himself up. He's standing on his own, 5 feet 7 inches high and staring down at the tile floor.

He looks as frightened as a toddler taking his first step. He fears falling. It's a shuffle step with the left foot and drag of the right. He teeters then finds his balance.

Fourteen steps forward, he walks. Then he pivots and takes another 14 steps toward the sliding glass door.

Morton peers over his backyard wall. He sees children walking. Just like he can.

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