Dialog Box

Elissa's Story

Brain Injury Awareness Week is held annually to raise awareness of brain injury and its impact on individuals, families and community. 

During the week, BrainLink will share stories of the one in 45 Australians living with a brain injury to celebrate their achievements and the commitment given to them by their families and the communities they live in.

This is Elissa's story

'So here goes… I think I should start by introducing myself. My name is Elissa, but just call me Lissy.

I would like to prove to you that I am more than just a diagnosis. You may look at me and think, hey, she looks fine, what could possibly be wrong with her. But I am here today to tell you that just because you cannot see something it doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

I would like to say, that I am an expert on my condition through my experiences only.

I suppose I should start from the beginning, not the very beginning of course, because you will be reading all day!!

So … here goes …

In my previous life I was, or I should say, I am a very intelligent person. I believe it was in year 7, that I was calculating Year 10 Algebra. In those days I was very creative. I wrote beautifully both, Poetry, and stories alike and was a talented artist. I lament all this has left me now, the part of the brain affected was unfortunately where all this creativity came from.

I was living in South Yarra, in a flat overlooking the Yarra River in Darling Street. It was called Beverly Hills Manor, a very swanky spot even if I do say so myself!!

I worked in real estate as well as facilitating children’s parties with a friend. I was also a Puppeteer and featured for Myer in the city for their Christmas show.

The show was called Timba, the Littlest Christmas Tree. The irony of that only sunk in later TIMBER!!

It was October the 4th 1999, a date that will forever remain with me with infamy.

I was heading to visit my parents and I had a headache worse than usual but as I was prone to headaches nothing felt untoward.

I have the vaguest memory of walking downstairs but that’s it!! I’ve been told that someone who knew me saw that I was in trouble, so they cleared my airway and called an ambulance. I have never known who they are or ever been able to thank them.

I have no memory of the trip to the Alfred hospital. My parents were informed I’d been found unconscious and been transported to hospital and they raced to the Alfred.

In emergency I had a massive bleed, and a neurosurgeon was called and informed me that I had a Subarachnoid Haemorrhage- the big words to describe an Aneurysm.

I had an operation to repair the Aneurysm with a Titanium Clip. Recovery from this operation was not good and my condition deteriorated due to blood circulating in my brain causing small strokes, making me unresponsive. More damage occurred in my brain leaving parts of it dead.

Hospital was long and difficult and traumatic for me and my parents and never-ending to get things under control. It was an upsetting and confusing time for me and thus my behaviour spiralled as I freaked out due to suddenly being in hospital having to deal with it all.

From hospital the next stage was rehabilitation at Royal Talbot in Kew, which I will say right off the bat is a wonderful place looking back, I can see that now. But at the time I wanted out and really HATED it. They had a coded lock to get in and out of the ABI unit and I kept trying to see what it was but could never remember it.

Days turned into weeks, and I finally just resigned myself to the fact that ok……. This was where you are going to live now, and I just gave up!

Then…. the day arrived, I was told that I could go home, first for day visits and this made me a happy camper. I was able to stay overnight and eventually the day came and I finally went home for good. I was very happy.

These days I must stay busy, or I get bored. Helping me are my darling niece Ashlyn and nephews Taj and Spencer. They are my whole world. I literally DON’T remember life without them. It is only when I look back, that I can see how far I have come.

Now I am on the NDIS (National Disability Insurance Scheme), and I have joined the young stroke survivors’ group and the sing for recovery choir. I love singing and I have also rediscovered by artistic and creative side again. It’s not the same as it was before my brain injury but its learning different ways to be creative.

Thank you for taking the time to read my story.'

Brain Injury Awareness Week

21 – 27 August 2023

Brain injury is more than you see, think and feel.

This year’s theme explores how although brain injury isn’t always seen, it’s a complex disability that affects how people think and feel as they recover and reintegrate into everyday life. 

Find out more about Brain Injury Awareness Week. 

Read more

27 August 2023
Category: Brain Injury Awareness Week 2023