Brain Injury can happen to anyone, anywhere. It does not discriminate. It happened for John as he was crossing a road and was struck by a distracted driver; It happened as he was warning his friend of the impending impact, therefore bearing the brunt of the hit; It happened - the car striking with such force, that he was brutally thrown into the air, landing on his head with a sickening crack.
Life had already begun to be stressful at that point because he and his partner, now wife, Joanne were expecting their first child. John by all accounts was a just regular man, going about his day and even though he doesn't quite remember the accident, this catastrophic event would forever change the life and the world he knew.
During the initial years of his recovery, John has had to overcome so much adversity:
- He was in a coma for just over a month
- He underwent multiple surgeries, and the initial prognosis was not favourable
- Due to the surgeries, parts of his skull were removed
- He suffered paralysis and loss of smell
- He had to relearn how to walk, underwent speech therapy to help with speech
- He has issues with memory
- Finite motor skills have been impaired
- Issues with noise and sound
But through all of the trials John has had the support of family and friends, but most of all his wife Joanne. Joanne speaks of John's strength in recovery and his ability to overcome the insurmountable adversity that he has, and with two young children in tow this has not always been an easy feat. It was not an easy time as there was a lot of anger and resentment. Unfortunately there was no outlet for John's frustrations which made for a difficult time. At the suggestion of a speech pathologist, John joined BrainLink through the LifeMoves Peer Support program. And in John's own words:
"When I began the LifeMoves program I was initially uncertain to what I was even a part of. As the program evolved and as I was directed by one of the program peers, I began to open up. I'll never forget his advice either, 'The rewards you receive from this program are based on what you, yourself, are prepared to put into it.' The program was beneficial for me, and that peer leaders' advice is still rewarding me."
John has gone on to be a volunteer and peer in the program, another step into his recovery, helping others to navigate the world living with an ABI. He equates his time as a participant and as a peer, as the catalyst for letting go of some of his anger. This has not been an easy feat, nor was it easy to share the dark parts, but it is truthful and it has helped John and his family know that they are not the only ones.
"To be able to share and talk and find out that there were others like us. A whole community of support out there. You have no idea how helpful that was. Just having someone to talk to, who knew what we were going through, made all the difference!"
Sharing his personal inadequacies and assisting others has given John a sense of community and shared grief/goals, allowing him to reintegrate into the work force as a volunteer at a recycle centre. All things, according to John and Joanne, that wouldn't be possible without BrainLink, the peer support program and the continued support given to their family.
"Without my BrainLink involvement, I was unaware of Carer support options or discounted/free transport options that are available...We didn't know what was out there - we have been able to access so much help! As a volunteer peer this is something I enjoy, to an even greater level that is only possible due to compensation covered by BrainLink"
BrainLink are privileged to have has such a positive impact on the lives of the Baker family, but the truth is - without the continued support of the community we will not be able to reach the thousands of families in Victoria caring for someone living with an Acquired Brain Injury. Please donate to help us to reach more people in need. Your contribution helps us to continue to meet the needs of families and individuals. BrainLink needs your support now.