The Masks


Name: Mike M.

City: Palm Coast

Brain Injury: Hit by a car at age 7

Explanation of Mask: Happy for my life; sorrow for the life that was taken from me.

Name: Beatriz R.

City: Miami

Brain Injury: On May 22nd of 2015 I went to the movies with my former boyfriend, when I was driving back home … I was told, that two cars were in the middle of a race.  The first one past me, but the second one hit me at what witnesses said to be around 120 miles an hour.

Explanation of Mask: My mask has the sun beams coming out from, I am always looking for possibilities of the greater good and brightens everyone’s day. Before my accident, God blessed me with the opportunity to work with Dade County Federal Credit Union straight out of high school. In high school I took part National Academy of Banking and Finance. On top of that, I tried to manage a full-time school schedule working towards my AA in Mass Communications. Nature has always been a big part of my life. In the Credit Union, I used to recycle A LOT!!! and I have always enjoyed to sketch a lot… it was my release from work when I got frustrated with members, although some of them were as cute as a button. I have always had a difficult time setting realistic, achievable goals. Unless, I get a Nobel Peace Prize in the next 5 years. Or, a doctorate in the next 10 years. I am still working on that skill; but I am an ongoing piece of work.

… My story is far from over …

Name: Michael B.

City: Palm Beach Gardens, FL.  Accident happened in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Accident- was hit by a Navy wife that was late for a nail appointment in a large suburban.  3 years in a coma.  I was a nuclear reactor operator on a fast attack submarine.

Explanation of Mask: The red stripe represents my injury/mortality.  The sun and the moon represent how easily I can be happy or sad and how I have good and bad days.  The black eye represents how I can see things in a negative light and the gray eye represents how I can see things positively even on a cloudy day.  The nose bleed represents how money can destroy you if you let it.  I chose silver because there can be a silver lining even on the bluest of days.  I incorporated silver glitter on the blue side to symbolize the silver lining on the darkest days and blue glitter on the silver side to represent there is still bad times even on the best days.

Name: Basil

City: Sunrise

Brain Injury: Car accident that caused my brain injury small subarachnoid hemorrhage on the left temporal lobe 

Explanation of Mask: This mask represents the struggle that I have to balance all of the things in my life.  Like my family and to work at my marriage and to have a job to provide for my family.  The Ying & Yang represents how I try to balance everything and how these things coincide with each other to work.  The Black side with the closed eye is all the Evil feelings that I have from after the accident.  Helpless because only God himself knows where I’m going to end up.  Sad & Tired because I try to please family & friends and what I try doesn’t work so I get tired of trying.  My Marriage is what’s Good and it’s Work to better myself and to be Truthful so I can hold my family together.  I Love my life with my kids and my wife so Balance is key.

Name: Johnathan

City: Miami

Brain Injury: I was hit by a drunken driver in 2018, motor vehicle accident in 2018

Explanation of Mask: The blue and green represents the world we live in.  The road sign shows how the world has many directions.  It is so big and you are lost.  I don’t know where to start with life again.  I feel different from everyone else.  My family is always there for me.  My goal is to work again drives me – I want to be able to have a nice life.  Food is a positive thing in my life.  We all need food morning, day and night.  And it makes me happy. 

Name: Marcelo

City: Miami

Brain Injury: On 10/17/15 a high speeding driver did not stop on his red light and crushed me in my car until firefighters arrived with “the jaws of life” to rescue me our of the car.  They moved me to the Blackhawk helicopter which airlifted me to Jackson Memorial Ryder Traumatic Center where I laid in a coma for 29 days.

Explanation of Mask: The color black represents feeling losts and confused like in a black hole.  The color red represents feeling grateful to be alive, having courage and strength to continue my therapies.  The word determination represents moving forward in one direction like the arrow.  Meditation is to feel relief and peace of mind. 

Name: Gabriella

City: Miami

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident in 2018

Explanation of Mask: I painted my mask white and black.  The white part of the mask represents happiness and feeling calm from surviving the accident and overcoming the struggles.  The black part of the mask represents sadness from the pain my mom felt from me being hurt.  The circles on the mask represent anger and steam blowing from my face because I wanted everyone to leave me alone.  The lines on the circles represent me wanting to be in a dream so that nobody could bother me.  The red lips on the mask represent the beauty in both the good and the bad of this situation.  The gold line of the mask represents my scar, which has given me strength and pride in who I have become.

Name: Ilana

City: Miami

Brain Injury: I have cerebral palsy.  My birthday is August 19, 1988.  How I got cerebral palsy was I had open heart surgery at 4 months old.  The doctor skipped a step and oxygen when to my brain.  The doctor told my parents I’d never walk, talk, see or know my own name.  They told them to put me away.

Explanation of Mask: My mask has green for cerebral palsy awareness month which is the same as TBI awareness month.  Te heart with the sun means love and I am a loving person.  The guy with the crutches means faith.  The lady helping the other girl shows compassion.  The lady biting the computer shows my frustration.  The arm means strength.  The body shows my pain.  The angel means I feel blessed.  The emojis are the same as my pictures by modern day symbols.

Name: Stephen

City: Miami

Brain Injury: On May 24, 2006 I was involved in an automobile accident where a construction truck driver drove his truck in reverse and ran over my car.  Once my car was under the back two wheels of the construction truck a metal pipe got lodged in the side of my head, which is where the BRAIN INJURY took place. 

Explanation of Mask: The colors on my mask are Green = Prosperity, Yellow = Light for Guidance and Hope, Black = Shame and Hate  I put family on my forehead to be my main focus in life.  I try to keep up with my FAITH with love, peace, and happiness to be spread throughout the family.  Darkness and shame used to be written all over my face because of confusion and unanswered questions on (WHY ME?).  I decided not to let hate and shame lead me in the wrong direction; I chose a life filled with hope and peace (PROSPERITY).  I chose a dove to cover my lips and a light to shine through the darkness of my confusion to lead me to only speak kind words to others and to lead and direct me in a path filled with PEACE and UNDERSTANDING.  DON’T LET YOUR DISABILITY BE YOUR IDENTITY (EXCUSES).

Name: Mayra

City: Miami

Brain Injury: July 2nd, 2006.  1 month after my high school graduation I was a passenger on a motorcycle and we had an accident.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is covered by a collage of colorful paper symbolizing my daily life like a maze.  The rules are unclear and people may not always be who you think they are.  And I often feel misunderstood, “Lost in a maze.”  The clock symbolizes my struggle with organizing my time.  Flowers bring peace in the chaos.  The colors represent confusion, sensory overload.  But the colors also make me feel creative. 

Name: Bradley

City: Miami

Brain Injury: Subdural hematoma

Explanation of Mask: Hello, I am a survivor of a TBI, bad things happen to good people.  I woke up in a hospital with the back of my head stapled.  I felt like I was in another country- confused, disoriented which represents the question marks.  The green is the life flowing through my vision.  The lightning bolt represents scattered thought process, emotions in shock and suspense.  I recently joined a spiritual regeneration program to fill the void, I am learning to be positive, loving and compassionate.  The red is Jesus’ blood for our salvation, the cross over the mouth which is the most powerful weapon that can be used to bless or curse.  The tears are because I couldn’t control my emotions, the bags under my eyes are for the lack of sleep due to the overwhelming stress to function in society.  Finally, I decided to leave the mask pale representing the fact the sun makes me dizzy and unbalanced.

Name: Lisbeth

City: Miami

Brain Injury:

Explanation of Mask: I painted the mask red and blue.  The blue part of the mask means frustration and anger.  The tear drop on my mask represents the sadness I had since because of the crash I couldn’t do what I wanted like walking to get my diploma.  The red part of the mask means love.  Every since I woke from my coma, I’ve received love and sympathy from people I never thought would even visit me in the hospital.  The eyes represent not looking back but looking forward to the future.  The ring I have on the mask represents loe for my fiance and the wedding date we both already picked which will be on April 8,, 2027 and as well the love I have for my family. 

Name: Brandon

City: Miami

Brain Injury: Acquired Brain Injury, as a result of Herpes Encephalitis (July 2012).  My biggest challenge cause by my brain injury is Central Pain Syndrome.

Explanation of Mask: The two different colors represent my positive and negative emotions.  The black side is negative and the purple is positive, including my coping strategies.  The twho photos on the black side represent my grief and the mourning of my pre-brain injury life.  Some things have improved over time, while others have not.  Some have even gotten worse.  The bottom two photos on the purple side (umbrella and sunrise) represent gratitude.  Despite my challenges, I have so much to be grateful for.  Upon seeing my brain MRI, every neurologist I’ve ever seen is astounded that my impairment is not much worse that it is.  I have had many other blessings in my life.  No matter how frustrated, sad, or angry I get I can change my focus to what I’m grateful for.  This always makes my load easier to bear.  The photo above the eye on the purple side represents my love of music.  Music helps me to celebrate the good times, and helps me get through the bad times.  I use it to distract myself from what’s going on, and I also use it as a motivator to take the actions I need to take.  The last photo is the one at the top: Hope.  It gets me through my darkest times.  I always have hope that many things will continue to improve over time.  For the things that may never improve over time, I have hope that at least my ability to live with, and accept these challenges will improve. 

Name: Rocio

City: Miami

Brain Injury: I am a TBI survivor.  10 years ago I suffered a car accident and was brought to Jackson Memorial Hospital where they have made me who I am now.  Thankful, grateful and blessed to be a patient and an outpatient of Jackson.

Explanation of Mask: We all have a mask we wear.  Before TBI, I wore a different mask, one that I would not share.  I didn’t want to share who I was then.  Time has changed me after my TBI survival.  I’m proud to share my new mask. 

JMH: Has given me back knowledge about my health.  I am grateful for the doctors and therapy I received at Jackson Memorial Hospital.  With all of them I have learned how to wear my mask with dignity.  My mask is blue.  Blue is my favorite color.  It is soothing, calm and beautiful.  God is my guide.  I know he has always been there but now I feel him.  He will always be first in my life.  God is very important to me.  My family is my strength.  Loving and caring for me.  I have family in Miami, in Ecuador, California and North Carolina.  We are spread out geographically but together as one in my heart.  Praying hands: Prayers are powerful so please pray for all of us TBI survivors and pray for yourselves.  There is light at the end of the tunnel. 

This is my mask, and this is me.

Name: Jean Carlos

City: Miami

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of Mask: The black represents negative feelings about my injury.  And the white is peace and positivity.  The maze is the feeling that there is no way out and I always reach a dead end.  In the positivity there is light, God.  And I’m just waiting to have another beautiful perfect day again.

Name: Octavio

City: Miami

Brain Injury: My TBI occured on October 11, 1994; while I was driving and got hit on both sides by two cars; first by a person speeding who ran a stop sign, then my car was also hit by another car.  This caused my whole brain to shake and was in a coma for a long period of time.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is WHITE just like “white out” because my brain injury cause many memories to be erased and whited out.  I am a Mechanical Engineer who at the time held a high level management position but as a result of the accident things drastically changed.  My accident was a rainstorm, more like a thunderstorm followed by a RAINBOW as the sunshine came through overlapped by Medicine and Prayers from my family and friends.  Life is not all it’s expected to be.   My head cracked and my GOD is the living proof as He has a plan and since my part in that plan was not over yet, God performed a Miracle on me to keep me working on His plan, and He answered the prayers and medicine, the winning combination in my CAR accident.  Our journey is a WINDING ROAD with many curves or changes in our lives.  The big curve was a huge change that caused my brain injury and me to hold on tight, seat belt on and other devices to stay on track throughout all these years of daily therapy.  All these curves and changes led me to have pain and pain free reminders that bring out most of the emotions in the WORDSCRAMBLE.  Some of these emotions/feelings are new plus normal ones to boot.  Among these are frustration, overwhelmed, worry, awareness, which then causes withdrawal, anger, and fear to name a few as I recall things I was able to do but can’t do them anymore or need help.  Most people live there lives daily as planned or automatically.  Mine is not so automatic as I have to plan each step I take, following the day’s plan.  To keep life in balance we always have to be well centered, we have to have a GOAL that we are working on.  For me this is not an easy task, some are easy while others are harder and longer to achieve.  Since I have problems with memory, the best way to keep my goals is to check daily, write them down and most of the time rely on faith because I still forget, this is when I try to live one day at a time, better yet, one step at a time.  Sometimes the results are FACES of sad/disappointment since I simply forget what my goal was or it was just difficult to achieve.  Here is when my wife, family, support group come to help me achieve my goal and bring a smiley face, take a deep breath & most important always trust God.  Goal was accomplished.