Brandon Buxton wasn’t sure what his future held. Complications related to a long-term health condition caused significant pain that warranted hospitalization and threatened his independence. But rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed helped to restore his freedom and the opportunity to continue his college education, something he thought “was inconceivable” just a few months ago.
Brandon was diagnosed in August 2014 with Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, a rare autoimmune disorder. He was hospitalized in the spring of 2017 with severe steroid myopathy and multiple vertebral compression fractures caused by long-term corticosteroid use related to MCAS. He was unable to sit up by himself, had numerous neurological sensory deficits and extreme muscle weakness.
The 20-year-old from Mattawan spent three weeks at Bronson Methodist Hospital, then came to Mary Free Bed for rehabilitation.
“I made incredible progress in just the three short weeks I was an inpatient,” Brandon said. “It was certainly a lot of work and I was very tired much of the time, but I went from being unable to sit up to being able to walk with a cane.
“Most of all, my family and I learned how to modify my routine and to be able to move and transfer safely with as little pain as possible.”
Four months after graduating from Mary Free Bed, Brandon returned to Western Michigan University full-time. Brandon (pictured above in the front row, second from right) recently received a scholarship from the Mary Free Bed Guild to help continue his education.
Brandon, who will be a senior in the fall, plans to use the scholarship funds toward completing his studies in Health Informatics and Information Management and to live alone for the first time.
“Receiving the Mary Free Bed Disability Scholarship gives me the opportunity to be independent,” Brandon said. “Mary Free Bed was the one place that I believed I could do everything I was willing to work at, even when it required doing things a little differently than the average person.”
In the future, Brandon hopes to work for a health care organization in clinical informatics that contribute to patient care and outcomes.
“I have extensive personal experience in the health care setting, and I hope to use some of that experience to help better the lives of others,” he said.
Brandon is among 14 students who received scholarships from the Mary Free Bed Guild, which established the Minority Scholarship Program in 2006 and the Disability Scholarship Program in 2013. The Guild has given more than half a million dollars to promote academic achievement for outstanding students seeking careers in health care.
Applications for the 2019-2020 scholarships will be available beginning in January. The deadline to submit them is April 1.
2018 Mary Free Bed Scholarship Recipients
- Irina Bird
- Brandon Buxton
- Brooke Doherty
- Karissa Hamm
- Alexandra Hanlon
- Trenton Timmer
- Maju Wilhem
- Christian Aguilar-Quiroz
- Oloruntobi Agunloye
- Jasmine Cross
- Rachel Devadatta
- Josue Vasquez
- Azalia Wilhelm
- Ashley Yuan