June marks Brain Injury Awareness Month

Brain injuries are a traumatic and disabling head injury that can change somebody’s life in mere seconds.

Annette Lazette awoke from a surgery geared toward treating recurring epilepsy attacks with a series of new symptoms.

The 36-year-old woman could no longer speak, read or write when, roughly 17 years ago, doctors informed her that a stroke, which occurred during the surgery, triggered a brain injury to take shape — and her life was changed forever.

“I have to write things down,” she said, adding that buying groceries was a task that usually required a written note to herself. “If you want to get bread, by the time you get to the store, you’ll forget about it.”

After the devastating reality of living with a brain injury sunk in, Ms. Lazette spent three months in the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary learning the alphabet.

Ms. Lazette had to overcome the anger about what had happened during the surgery and accept the fact that the ideas she wanted to express were clear until it came time to put them into words.

To make matters worse, Ms. Lazette could no longer work or take care of herself.

Brain injuries are a traumatic and disabling head injury that can change somebody’s life in mere seconds. Most people with brain injuries have survived a severe head injury and continue to live while paying for the damage emotionally, socially and financially.

On June 15th, the East Kootenay Brain Injury support group met with six brain injury survivors at the A&W for their monthly meeting to support, cope and honour brain injuries.

East Kootenay Brain Injury outreach worker Debbie Gudjonson is eager to encourage people in Invermere and Golden to prevent brain injuries by wearing seat belts in the car and helmets while playing sports. She was pleased to announce the Panorama Foundation has helped the East Kootenay Brain Injury troupe purchase their last set of helmets to give away as prizes at prevention discussions at local schools and in poster contests before the support group’s contract closes on July 31st.

“Our local group does set up information stations throughout the community hoping to remind everyone some brain injuries can be prevented,” said Ms. Gudjonson, East Kootenay Brain Injury outreach worker. “Wear a helmet, wear your seatbelt, be safe on the job, rest after a concussion, protect your head and much more.”

The Brain Injury Association of Canada has dubbed June as Brain Injury Awareness Month to help raise awareness of the devastating impacts to patients and families who are living with the debilitating

head injuries.

Annette Edwards, 63, acknowledged the challenges of living with a brain injury, and remains optimistic — along with her family — that others do not need to face the same outcome.

“I wouldn’t wish this on anybody,” said Ms. Edwards. “ Nobody — and there’s no point in taking chances by not wearing a helmet because this is not fun. It just is not fun.”

Ms. Edwards suffered from two strokes while working as a paramedic on the oil rigs in 1999, which she suspected were symptoms of a slight flu. However, a co-worker suspected more and called an ambulance to fetch her.

“I was a 48-year-old baby,” said Ms. Edwards. “I couldn’t walk, I couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t clean myself up.”

In spite of living with the challenges of a brain injury and learning new lesson daily, both Ms. Edwards and Ms. Lazette agreed on one important aspect — the best medicine to recover from a brain injury.

“You have to remain positive, and that’s one thing I learned quickly with this brain injury,” said Ms. Edwards with a smile, noting that there are times when she refuses to go outside and “hides” because of hurt feelings.

“That’s right,” agreed Ms. Lazette with a tear in her eye. “We have to stay positive to make it through the day.”

For more information about brain injuries and the services offered local, contact the East Kootenay Brain Injury at 250-344-5674 or 778-517-1193.