Read stories of brain injury survivors and their families in Nova Scotia

You’re not alone. Learn about others going through their recovery journey – hear their stories, solutions, challenges, and successes to provide hope and support to others who are having similar experiences. Click the buttons below to read their full stories.

A mother of a brain injury survivor, Colleen has a daughter whose brain injury occurred after being hit by a reckless driver while crossing the street.  

“Living away from home, she previously would still lean on us for general support and affection in her life. She’d hang out with us, call us frequently, tell us she loved us,” Colleen said of her daughter’s life before suffering a brain injury. However, much about life changed following the injury. “It negatively affected her emotions and mental health; she spent a few months being tremendously angry with us due to confabulations and fixations that arose in her mind. She won’t tell us she loves us. The brain injuries also affected her short-term memory. She says that unless someone reminds her in great detail, she can’t remember events since her accident. She also cannot easily recall words. She suffers migraine headaches, and she doesn’t have a sense of time passing.”

While recovery is progressing for Colleen’s daughter eight months following the injury, no brain injury comes without overcoming struggles. 

“We’re only eight months in and currently in a downward spiral part of what seems to be a recurring loop of contact versus no contact. But we remain grateful that she lived through her horrific hit and that she was able to get top-notch trauma care right away – it saved her life. Due to the confabulations, she has acted pretty cruelly at times. She doesn’t seem to be bothered by the memory loss. In fact, she seems to be detached in relationships in a way she never was before. She did start working again a few months after the accident, which seems to have brought her purpose. She tells us she loves her new job and her co-workers, but she has to sleep twelve hours a night to function,” said Colleen. 

As Colleen and her family know, brain injury can impact everyone around a survivor, and coping mechanisms are essential not only for survivors but also for family/supporters.  

“Eat well and regularly, let people feed you, get enough sleep (with medical help if necessary for the initial shock period), get fresh air, talk to friends, do some handwork or physical activity,” Colleen said of her coping methods and recommendations to other families. “Document all that is going on with the person’s care and recovery. In the beginning, stages, tell yourself that ‘this is the brain injury’ when unusual behaviour occurs, don’t take it personally. Persist with medical personnel when you don’t understand something or are seeing something they aren’t seeing. Keep them informed about your loved one’s normal behaviour versus what the brain injury is causing them to do. Ask to speak to the neurologist. Ask hospital social workers to find brain injury information for you – they should know how to find support for families; it’s their job. Insist they look for information if they say they don’t know (ours didn’t have a clue, but we were too shocked to insist on anything). Find other people who understand what you are coping with and cry/rant with them. Please don’t be shy to ask for help when you need it, for anything. Say ‘yes’ and give specific tasks when people offer help. You won’t believe which random people come out of the woodwork to step in.”

While the recovery of a brain injury can be a long and tumultuous road, Colleen and her family remain hopeful. She offers one final piece of advice for families and supporters:

“Get therapy for yourself as a family member/caregiver if you are having difficulty. If you have to wait for the public system for too long and you don’t have insurance, look into finding a therapist who can give you a sliding scale fee- they are out there. Learn to breathe deeply and slowly- you’re going to use this technique a lot.”

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