SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Nicole Wall
(family member of brain-injury survivors)
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!
My name is Nicole Wall. I am a 25-year-old resident of Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. Brain injury has significantly affected my life four times. My journey with brain injury began in 1999. My grandma had a stroke and spent the next six years in a rehabilitation facility. She then passed away from a brain-bleed in the summer of 2006. My grandma was the first family member I had lost, and it impacted me quite a bit. In December 2002, I was singing Christmas carols in my school’s gym and got pulled into the office by the principal, who said my dad was on the phone. I thought that was odd. My dad had never called me at school before. He told me that my mom had been taken to the hospital and that my cousin was coming to pick us up. He said he loved us, and then he hung up. My brother and I found out late that night that my mom had had a brain aneurysm rupture and required emergency brain surgery. My mom spent the next year in the ICU (intensive care unit), the hospital, and then Wascana Rehab Centre before she came home. It is eleven years later, and my mom still attends weekly support-group meetings and has never driven again or gone back to work.
My entire family changed that day. We still continue to deal with my mom’s injury every day. Brain injuries are life-long. In 2007, I had just graduated grade 12 and had a scholarship, and the most-unfair thing that has ever happened to me – happened. My high-school sweetheart was severely injured in highway auto collision. He ended up unconscious in the ICU with a brain injury. He died eight days later as a result of the injuries he incurred in the accident. My family and I were finally starting to settle and move forward, and then in 2010, like déjà vu, we got a call about my dad. He had been found dazed and barely conscious outside Regina and was being driven to the hospital. My family rushed to be with him. My dad needed a special type of brain surgery – coiling. He had to be transported by air-ambulance to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, for surgery. My dad spent several weeks in Saskatoon and more weeks in a Regina Hospital recovering before he went home. Long-term my dad has been able to return to work almost full-time, and he has gone on to compete in mountain-bike races and championships.
Throughout the last sixteen years, brain injury has taken many things from me – my mom’s ability to be the same mom she was before (she stopped driving and she was not as involved with my activities as she had been), my high-school sweetheart, and my naiveté. I realize my dad’s daily struggles are much more than mine. I have become somewhat of a realist. However, brain injury has also given me many things, especially a unique perspective on life. I realize nothing is permanent – no matter how many plans we may make. Through my encounters with brain injury, I have learnt to be independent, considerate, and selfless. I’ve always put my family and others first. I now work at a child-development center and sit on the Board of Directors for the Saskatchewan Brain Injury Association. I encourage everyone to get involved in supporting brain-injury awareness and prevention (www.sbia.ca – check out events like the “Brain Boogie” in Saskatchewan).
Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.
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