Jesse Johnson of Victor Harbor overcomes the many hurdles

SIDE BY SIDE: Jesse Johnson and his partner David Harrison have taken each issue they have been confronted with, head on.
SIDE BY SIDE: Jesse Johnson and his partner David Harrison have taken each issue they have been confronted with, head on.

Life is filled with a diverse range of human differences and day to day challenges including physical disabilities, sexual orientation, racial prejudice, childhood abuse and drug addiction.

For most of us we may find it difficult to cope with just one of these issues, so if you're ever down in the dumps or having a "life's not fair" day, then take a peek into the life of an inspirational, determined and courageous 26-year-old man named Jesse Johnson.

Jesse has certainly had more than his fair share of setbacks and knocks during his short lifetime.

On March 6, 2018, at the age of 25, Jesse suffered a stroke which left him clinging to life and after months in hospital and now in a wheelchair, Jesse is optimistic about the future and believes things happen for a purpose. He sets goals each day, hoping that in time he'll be independent again and will be able to live a normal life.

Initially after the stroke, Jesse was in a coma for a week after suffering an AVM (arteriovenous malformation), which basically is an abnormal connection between arteries and veins usually in the brain or spine. This condition may have been present at birth and it can rupture at any time causing bleeding in the brain or spinal cord.

Jesse had two bouts of surgery after the stroke, including the removal of part of his skull and a tracheotomy to assist his breathing and this operation left Jesse unable to speak for sometime as he could only communicate with people through a communication board.

Today he still has partial hearing loss and is unable to walk unaided, but with all of these challenges he can still smile and share a joke. Jesse attends rehabilitation classes and this long slow progress has been difficult and at times very painful, but is fortunate to have the dedication, care and compassion of his long term partner and now full time carer David Harrison.

Jesse Johnson is one of 11 children, whose great grandmother was from the stolen generation and had to give up his grandfather at birth.

Jesse was born in Adelaide and when he was a young toddler his mother shifted to the United States. His life was disruptive and saddened by an abusive step-father and so after returning to Adelaide to live, Jesse turned to drugs as an escape.

By the time he was 22 he was addicted to ice and his life was spiralling downwards. For this young man who had faced so much adversity, sadness and abuse during his younger years, he always managed to face his problems head on. His relationship with David was a turning point for him finding happiness.

Jesse believes that having the stroke was a positive in his life as he says he may have ended up on the streets or in jail if he continued his addiction to the scourge 'ice'.

"Nowadays I set challenges and goals for myself and with the help and care from David I'm reaching most of my goals despite some being a little slower than I would like," he said.

For his uplifting and inspirational example of courage, persistence, motivation and determination, Jesse Johnson has beaten all odds in the past and will continue to fight for a better future as he heads down the healing path in an attempt to reach full recovery.

In the meantime, he will continue with the rehabilitation program and his work commitments as well as helping out as a volunteer in our community. The world needs more Jesse Johnsons!

You can follow Jesse Johnson's road to recovery and check out some of the visual sides of his story on Instagram: jesses_invisible_injury.

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