Wife of Pocomoke mayor grateful to local community
By Josh Davis, Associate Editor
(March 8, 2018) “It was not a good situation – it was touch and go for a very long time,” Laura Morrison said of her experience on Nov. 29, when her husband of 35 years, Pocomoke Mayor Bruce Morrison, was rushed to the hospital in Salisbury with a hematoma that caused a brain bleed.
Morrison said it quickly became apparent her husband would need to be transported elsewhere, as Peninsula Regional Medical Center in Salisbury is in the process of rebuilding its neurology department.
Initial efforts to fly to Shock Trauma or Johns Hopkins in Baltimore were called off because of heavy fog. Arrangements were then made to fly to Christiana Hospital in Newark, Delaware, but flights to the north were also grounded.
Morrison said hospital workers were at first hesitant to travel by ambulance.
“I said, ‘no, we’re getting nowhere sitting here, so we need to get him on the road and go. At least then we’ll know that we’ve done all that we can do,’” she said.
Morrison continued to advocate for her husband while at Christiana Hospital.
“When they went into surgery to remove the hematoma, it was a surgery that I don’t really know the surgeon wanted to do,” she said. “But he did a fantastic job of and he is certainly one of my heroes.
“I really think that there was a reason we were at Christiana, because they have a specific neurotrauma department,” she continued. “The doctors there were just amazing. I would’ve liked if they had been a little more optimistic, but I had enough optimism for all of us, so that was OK. They definitely thought I had been hit on the head, because I kept telling them, ‘he’s gonna be fine, he’s gonna be fine.’
She said nurses in the intensive care unit were “second to none … just amazing.” The mayor was at the hospital for five weeks and then spent seven weeks at Bryn Mawr Rehab Hospital in Pennsylvania.
“He’s just made amazing progress,” Morrison said. “I think some days he tends to focus on how far he has to go and I keep reminding him, ‘don’t focus on how far you have to go, think about how far you’ve come.’ It’s really nothing short of a miracle.”
The couple finally returned home, last Sunday, to a townwide parade with a police and fire escort through the downtown and throngs of well wishers lining the sidewalk and carrying signs of support.
“He was completely overwhelmed,” Morrison said. “When we were coming down [Route] 13, he looked to the right and he saw all those fire trucks lined up and he looked to the left at me, and I just welled up and he welled up. He was overcome. He really had no idea at all that any of that was going to happen and he was incredibly emotional about all of it.
“From day one this community has just been phenomenal, as well as the surrounding community,” she continued. “The support and the prayers and the outpouring that we have received from everybody in Pocomoke and all of the towns around – it’s just been overwhelming and a phenomenal blessing. Being on the receiving end of this is something we’re not accustomed to and it’s been very humbling.”
The mayor remains in outpatient care three days a week, focusing on speech, occupational and physical therapy.
“We are continuing the process and the good track that he was on when we left Bryn Mawr. Hopefully, we’re going to continue to make some good progress,” Morrison said. “The prognosis at the beginning of this was pretty bleak, but he has done an amazing job and is regaining [movement] in his right side. He’s walking – he’s using a cane, but he is walking – and [use of] the right arm is coming back.
“Cognitively, comprehensively, he’s comprehending and reading and looking at Facebook and keeping up with everything that’s going on,” she said. “His biggest challenge right now is the verbal. The brain bleed that he experienced was directly over the speech and language [section], so we knew that was going to be the biggest challenge.
“It’s frustrating, because he has so much to say and he can’t get it out. Some days I’m probably blessed that he can’t,” she added with a laugh.
Morrison said the ordeal has not dulled the sense of humor of a man who, in 2015, raced Berlin Mayor Gee Williams down Main Street wearing high heels and a tutu in an effort to raise money for a local charity.
“He is a funny guy and he has a great sense of humor, and it is still very much intact,” she said. “He’s Bruce. The funny part about it is if you have been married to someone as long as we have been married, the facial expressions have accompanied so many of the things that he’s said over the years that, in some respects, he hasn’t even had to talk and I’ve known what he is saying.
“One Friday night in particular I recall at Bryn Mawr we had this three-hour conversation and I’m the only one talking,” Morrison continued. “I would say something to him and he would have this facial expression and I’m like, ‘I know, right?’”
Despite, or perhaps because of everything they have been through, Morrison said the entire family has bonded and become closer than ever.
“Even when things were not good, we found reasons to smile and there have been so many silver linings, even in the dark times,” she said. “That is in no small part thanks to the friends and the family and the support that we’ve received from everybody. It really has been amazing.”
The support includes a GoFundMe page, created by Hardwire LLC, which has raised more than $37,000 to help pay for the family’s medical bills.
The mayor worked at Hardwire for about a decade. The company itself has given $20,000 and several of his coworkers personally donated thousands more.
“That was something that his Hardwire family started and they have just been phenomenal. So many of them made the trip to Christiana and the CEO of Hardwire and his whole family came up on Christmas Eve,” Morrison said. “Hardwire has been really amazing.”
The fundraising campaign remains active. To donate, visit www.gofundme.com/healmayormorrison.
“To put the most positive spin on all of this – what a wakeup call this has been,” Morrison said. “Your life can change in the blink of an eye – you go to bed and three hours later this has happened. It’s just completely unexpected and I think it’s a good wakeup call for all of us to realize that we need to get our house in order.”