“My name is Norman … I’m 44 years old … and I’m a stroke survivor.”
It happened four years ago – Sept. 9, 2017. A stroke left Norman on the floor, where his wife would find him at 6 a.m.
He spent more than half a year in hospital, working to recover. But the journey to re-building his life was far from over.
That’s what Kamloops Brain Injury Association, funded by United Way donors, is there to do. Norman was connected to KBIA as he left hospital, providing him with knowledgeable support, peers and a community to help him discover what his life could become.
Tapping into community
“They have taught me about the brain,” says Norman of his KBIA support workers. “Also, [they’ve] taught me to learn how to be social again.”
“Oh man, I have met so many new people, and so many friendships here at KBIA. It’s great.”
A brain injury like a stroke can result in many different changes, physically and emotionally. Memory, bodily autonomy, and mental health can all be affected by the injury, while the experience of going through a traumatic brain injury and the rehabilitation that follows can be emotionally and mentally painful, too.
Re-entering the world with all these changes that you can’t control can be scary. But groups like KBIA are there to help you live your life in spite of your injury.
“It’s impacted my life in two ways,” says Norman of the help he’s received at KBIA. “One, to know that there is help out there for people like me … that have a brain injury. Two, self-confidence. If you have a bad day, you can reach out and they are willing to listen. Not necessarily give the answer, but listening is huge.”
Helping the rest of us to understand and care
Another key part of the work of groups like KBIA is advocacy and creating awareness.
There can be so much work for a brain injury survivor to do to access what they need, like the right healthcare support, help with work accommodations, financial support when needed and more. KBIA is there to help there, too.
But greater awareness amongst the general public makes re-connection to community easier. KBIA and other organizations funded by United Way British Columbia are also working to raise awareness, though more work needs to be done.
“In a lot of things, disability is kind of pushed aside,” says Norman. “Nobody really knows what it’s like, life after having a traumatic experience. For my example, like stroke, there is life after a stroke, but it’s really tough at some points. These programs help people like myself so we can carry on and know that … there is still lots of life to live.”
These programs need your support to continue and expand
These programs need your support to continue and expand Every day in B.C., there are 60 new cases of brain injuries. That’s more than 20,000 new brain injuries in B.C. every year.
Many of these people will be challenged to re-build their lives with a new reality. We can be there to lend a hand and welcome them back into our communities.
“We’re a tight-knit group, so I would hope that this program can continue on for a long time, because it is beneficial to people with brain injury,” says Norman of the organization that has made such a difference in his life.
We can keep keep programs like this going, and help them expand, with your help.
Please, if you can, donate to United Way British Columbia today. All funds raised in your community will be put to use in your community, helping your neighbours.