June is brain injury awareness month.
I have been affected by brain injury many times over the years.
I had an immediate family member have a brain injury when I was a child, which devastated our family. I was eight years old when it happened, and my mom stayed at the hospital with my sibling. It was a long road to recovery after he woke up from his coma, and he had to learn everything all over again, including who his family members were. I was extremely close with my brother, and I didn’t understand why he didn’t know me anymore. I was just “Sister” to him, and my mom was “Nurse”. Forty years ago, there were no brain injury services provided in our local community, and my mom had to deal with all the things that come with brain injury, including behavioural outbursts that could be physically and emotionally draining. Over numerous years my brother continued to improve, and has gone on to have his own family.
Going through this personal experience made me want to help people affected by brain injury, and that’s why I chose to become a Rehabilitation Counsellor for my career. I worked in the brain injury field until I had a bad motor vehicle accident in 2004. Since I was unable to work anymore, I decided to volunteer in my field at Brain Injury Association Sarnia Lambton.
Then in 2007, I was once again devastated by the impact of brain injury when my spouse, Dan sustained a severe brain injury at his workplace. Sadly he died two weeks later. My sons’ lives and my life changed forever! I cannot put into words how broken I felt after Dan’s death. It made me want to promote brain injury awareness even more than ever.
It was 2009 when I found out about Threads of Life, when I attended the Sarnia Steps for Life – Walking for Families of Workplace Tragedy. I was able to meet other families that had experienced tragedy in the workplace, and really understood what I was going through. I am now a volunteer with Threads of Life and work towards getting the message out about the importance of workplace safety, and letting families know that they are not alone on their journey.
I remarried a wonderful man, Jimmy in 2013. Recently I was once again affected by brain injury when another family member was in a motor vehicle accident and sustained a brain injury. It is heart-wrenching to watch family members deal with this and struggle to cope.
Brain injury can be devastating but I see my role as an advocate for people affected by brain injury whether it be the survivor or the family members.
It is so important for people to know that there are resources and services available for people to connect with. Here are some links that people can access:
Brain Injury Canada – a link on their website connects to the provincial brain injury associations.
Ontario Brain Injury Association – many resources available about brain injury, including a Peer Mentoring Program done over the phone, and a Brain Basics course that family members or professionals can take, and receive a certificate upon completion.