Stories Of Impact

Our clients all have their own unique stories and journeys surrounding their experiences with a brain injury, but where their stories overlap is in their experiences with Brain Care Centre.

Your contributions allow for us to provide services and positively impact the lives of our clients, showcased in their personal stories and experiences they have shared.

Ashley’s Story

In April of 2018, I was on vacation in Mexico for a girls surfing trip. While surfing, a wave pushed me off my board and my board whipped back and struck me on the LHS of my head underwater. To this day, I can still feel the leash pull at full force around my ankle but I don’t remember my board hitting me in the head.

I struggled to get back onto my board, had zero energy, was disorientated and panicking as the waves just kept coming at me. I was extremely lucky another surfer in front of the waves saw me, swam over to help me get back onto my board and helped me paddle out of the waves. I didn’t feel right, I just knew something was off and I paddled to the boat and didn’t surf again that day or that trip.

When I got back to my rental an hour later, in the elevator mirror I noticed I had a black eye forming and the LHS of my head was starting to swell. That’s the moment I knew my board hit me.

The word “concussion” or “brain injury” never crossed my mind until days later even though looking back, all the signs were there. I thought you had to be knocked out to sustain a concussion, and maybe I was for a brief moment, that I will never know but please know a concussion can happen without being knocked out.

It wasn’t until I stepped onto the plane two days later to come back home that I would step off the plane a completely different person. My personality flipped upside down, I had a headache which I didn’t know would be the start of a 2 year 24/7 headache and head pressure so strong it felt like I was living in a balloon. I was told the plane ride activated my concussion symptoms, but I had no idea they would last for as long as they did and do.

My concussion turned into Post Concussion Syndrome (PCS) which led to persistent concussion symptoms, a symptom list that was at one point, an entire page long. I am now over 3 years into my uphill battle of a recovery journey and I share my story to create awareness to help others so they don’t have to navigate PCS in the dark like I did.

I was referred to the Brain Care Centre in Edmonton by my doctor. The monthly Support Group Therapy was such an essential and beneficial aspect to my recovery journey. I felt so alone and confused in the dark for so long and I never knew other people, especially in my own city, were going through what I was going through. It was so validating to have someone say “I experience that, too!”.

I am so thankful to have been part of the Brain Care Centre’s Concussion Program. They are so kind and understanding and I highly recommend anyone experiencing a brain injury to get referred and utilize their services. You do not have to navigate concussion recovery alone. You are not alone! You CAN recover! KEEP FIGHTING!

Sylvie’s Story

In 2016, Sylvie was travelling for work, when her car was hit head on by a distracted driver veering out of the opposite lane. Sylvie was rushed to the ER with injuries to her head and neck. The hospital staff remarked it was a miracle she survived and did not suffer further injuries. She was sent home the same day.

Sylvie tried to return to her regular activities but realized everything was much harder than before her accident. It wasn’t until she met with her family doctor, that she realized she was suffering symptoms of a severe concussion.

Before her injury, Sylvie led an active life with her family and worked in a medical administrative position. But afterwards, Sylvie experienced ongoing blurry vision, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, headache, anxiety and had difficulty following discussions in social settings. Any of these symptoms are bad on their own, but for a busy mom of three children, they made each day unbearable. It often took Sylvie hours or days to recover from simple tasks. Sylvie was struggling.

Fortunately, her family doctor told her about the Brain Care Centre’s Concussion Program. She no longer had to suffer with her injury alone and she started attending the Concussion support group.

“It was such a revelation – hearing the struggles of others” Sylvie shared. Through the program she came to understand her injury better which “relieved the guilt” that came along with her symptoms.

Through sessions with the Occupational Therapist, Sylvie now recognizes her symptoms and knows when to rest and has made great improvements at work. “Staff at Brain Care Centre have taught me to break down my goals into manageable challenges that you CAN win.”

Further counselling through the program helped to relieve her anxiety – especially with driving. “I would continue to drive, even though I was scared. To come to Brain Care Centre at the end of the drive, to share my challenges, was such a gift”.

Four years after her accident, Sylvie’s therapies through the Brain Care Centre came to an end. Feeling healthy and strong, Sylvie is able to work, be an active mom and enjoy many of the things in life we all take for granted. But none of this would be possible without you.

I can’t imagine what would happen to people experiencing brain injuries in our community if the Brain Care Centre wasn’t there for them. With so much going on, new priorities, and an uncertain economy, it’s hard for us to come to you right now, asking for your support. But I know, no matter what is happening in the world, that your concern for our neighbours and friends with brain injuries hasn’t changed.

Rawle’s Story

Before my stroke I was working as a multicultural educator for the Family Community Support Services of Alberta. I had my stroke while I was teaching a self-esteem workshop and writing at the board when all of a sudden I couldn’t write anymore and some of the students told me I was slurring my words. When the workshop finished, I took a train to the University of Alberta Hospital.

At the hospital, the doctor told me I had a stroke and that it was a life-changing event. I was in the hospital for five months and then referred to the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital, where I spent a year as an outpatient before being referred to the Brain Care Centre. Once a patient gets discharged from the hospital, they’re not fully recovered and when I arrived at the Brain Care Centre, I was still struggling and my writing was very limited. And I was so exhausted – I could concentrate for maybe 15 minutes and then I would start yawning. I could barely look at movies or television shows.

I started taking different courses through the Brain Care Centre and I joined the reading group – now I can read for half an hour before I get tired. After my stroke, I dealt with a lot of anxiety and they’ve helped with that too, teaching me about how to breathe and learn Tai Chi. What I really appreciate is the one-on-one support, especially for things like having to talk to the insurance company about my long-term disability. On my own I get so flustered, but my Service Coordinator will sit in on the call with me and help me answer the questions. The biggest thing for me is that my Occupational Therapist, Connie, has worked with me on my writing and it’s gotten so much better that now I volunteer with the Brain Care Centre writing thank you notes to donors. It’s amazing to me that I can do that.

I never imagined that a stroke would happen to me or that I would need these services. I never imagined a time that I wouldn’t be able to do things on my own. No one ever thinks it will be them, until it is. We are so lucky to have the Brain Care Centre here in our city and I’m so grateful for what they’ve done for me.

Dwayne’s Story

Terri and her husband Dwayne had just moved to Edmonton from the small town of Hay River, with their three children in tow. Terri was attending college classes, Dwayne was working as a forklift driver, and their children started at their new school. Everyone was getting settled in their exciting new life in the city.

Then, in an instant, everything changed. Terri got a call from an emergency room. Dwayne had been hit by a car while walking at a downtown crosswalk. In a daze, Terri began calling her family, while her thoughts raced. “He had just left home to run an errand. He was only blocks away”.

Suddenly another call came in, asking the family to come right away.

Thinking that they may not be able to see their father again, Terri and her kids rushed to the hospital, where they found Dwayne in a coma. He was suffering from a severe brain injury. With his family by his side, Dwayne stayed in a coma for four long weeks. When he finally awoke, Dwayne couldn’t recognize Terri, his wife of 24 years, leaving his family heartbroken.

Once at home, Terri had no choice but to become her husband’s full time caregiver. She left school, and with Dwayne no longer able to work, the family had no income. The children also struggled with the changes they saw in their father.

“Yes, he is alive, but he’s not the same. Not physically, or mentally” Terri was scared, overwhelmed, and didn’t know where to turn to for help.

Thankfully, because of supporters like you, Terri and Dwayne were able to access programs at Brain Care Centre in August of 2019.

Dwayne’s Service Coordinator connected the family to financial support, helped them find a family doctor and support worker for Dwayne, and assisted them with affordable bus passes.

When the holidays arrived, Terri worried about how they would afford the extra costs. Through the support of your donation, we helped Terri and Dwayne provide what we all want for our children at the holidays – a full Christmas dinner and gifts to open.

Dwayne continued receiving Brain Care Centre services, including Occupational therapy, to help him recover his independence at home, as well as connect with a leisure companion, who he can chat with each week. But none of this would be possible without your generous help.

Roxanne’s Story

On January 18, 2018 I was on my way to work when the bus was hit. I slid across the bench seat and hit my head and was out for probably 20 to 30 seconds. I realized pretty quickly that I just felt different, and things didn’t feel right. It happened on a Thursday, and I went to work on Friday, but didn’t feel like myself. On Saturday I went to see the doctor and when I explained what had happened and how I was feeling, he confirmed it was a concussion.

In the beginning, I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t watch TV, didn’t look at my phone, couldn’t look at my iPad. It was just too much information going into my brain and when I tried to do anything, I would get an immediate headache and my vertigo would kick in. So for the first three months, I really didn’t do a lot. I learned about the Brain Care Centre from an adjuster who was working with me who suggested the BCC might help with some of the anxiety and cognitive issues I was experiencing. I had to wait a bit to be seen but once I did, it was helpful in so many ways. The support group has been amazing and helped me realize I wasn’t alone in this and that there are other people like me. I’ve been able to help people too, little things that I’ve learned that I’ve been able to pass on to others, and that’s made me feel less powerless.

After my concussion, there were times where I just felt “stupid.” I’m not, but it’s how I felt. I couldn’t think of the right words and couldn’t talk the way I used to, and I was experiencing a lot of anxiety and fear. At the Brain Care Centre I’ve been able to work with counsellors and occupational therapists, and had assistance with learning to use technology – it helped a lot. I wish I’d known about the Brain Care Centre in the first three months, when all I could do was sit in the dark. I’ve been back at work as an executive assistant since February 2020 and my employer has been very supportive. Working at home during COVID, I’ve gotten to be very self-reliant and I’m almost back to where I was before it all happened. I’m very thankful to the Brain Care Centre for helping me get here – it’s a great organization.