The Masks


Name: Andy B. 

City: Spanish Lake

Brain Injury: Military accident. Helicopter rotor blade fell on my head while serving in Iraq.

Explanation of Mask: “The Calm before the shake”
The mask shows things I liked to do before the accident on the left side and what my life is like now after war on the right. My time in the Army is shown by the colors and stickers near top. The right side of my mask is what life is like now for me and mom, my caregiver, our “new normal”. Sometimes I get very overwhelmed and can’t express my feelings to my mom or I get angry and yell and have an outburst. It makes her cry and she leaves me alone to calm down. I can’t work a real job but I’ve learned different hobbies and spend time with my dogs and my mom. I stay home a lot more too and don’t want anyone knowing about my brain injury. This is my reality now.

Name: Rose S.

City: St. Louis

Brain Injury: Fell from a roof.  

Explanation of Mask:  I felt dark and depressed, had no friends, wasn’t able to keep a job. I’m not able to teach a full day. My injury impacted my son, he got in a lot of trouble after.I was in denial about being able to teach. I didn’t believe I had an accident for many years. I had my injury about 20 years ago. I feel over time I’ve improved too and I am grateful.

Name: Daryl L.

City: St. Louis

Brain Injury: Struck by a car.

Explanation of Mask:  I am blue about my memory. It is slow, but I am hopeful that it will get better. I wish people would yield to people walking or look twice and turn back.

Name: Karen O.

City: Chesterfield

Brain Injury: Car accident when I wasn’t wearing a seat belt. 

Explanation of Mask:  My brain injury happened in an automobile crash. My fiancé died in that crash and I was very sad for a long time.
For my mask I used stickers to show the ambulance and medical care needed after my accident. The One-Way and Do Not Enter signs show that there are better ways for me to learn, but sometimes the new information doesn’t enter my brain due to short-term memory loss. All of the hearts show the dreams I have for my new life with my new fiancé Geoff. I do have a new future, a great life!

Name: Shawn

City: Dorsey, IL 

Brain Injury: 30′ fall from a bridge into a creek

Explanation of Mask:  I fell into a creek. Rocks “broke” my fall and prevented me from drowning, but they perpetrated the most serve damage. Currently, I’m high functioning but I went through many cognitive stages early in my recovery. A brain injury does not affect intelligence but often increases impulsivity and can impair judgement. I’m working on a nursing degree post injury and have a GPA of 3.7, but the emotional roller coaster I’m on is impeding my progress after 3 years of success in over 70 credit hours.I’m a determined person but anesthesia from subsequent surgeries has negatively affected me, emotionally. New medication keeps suicidal ideology at bay but most of society does not understand TBI so I severely lack friends. If I could change society to have patience and be understanding, I would. Lots of people group people who sustained a TBI with developmentally disabled. Our injuries (and often symptoms) are unique as a fingerprint.Another thing many do not (or will not) understand is my deficits are not always the same. Some days I can’t remember simple directions to a gas station but other days I can remember everything on a to-do list and shopping list with no problem.

Name: Joe D. 

City: O’ Fallon

Brain Injury: Stroke 

Explanation of Mask: Joe’s mask is about being lucky to be alive. Joe cannot write this so I, his wife is writing it for him. It has not even been one year since his stroke/AVM and Joe has the attitude to do what you have to do. Never being stressed or sad for himself, he just keeps moving along to improve his life.

Name: Mark S.

City: Clayton

Brain Injury: I was born with a brain injury.

Explanation of Mask: I’m a big Cardinals fan. I enjoy going to Cardinals’ games, it is a lot of fun! I designed my mask to look like a Cardinal, it even has a beak. The stop sign tells the other team to not score. The reason I choose to make a cardinal for my mask is because it represents something that makes me joyful.

Name: Tom B.

City: Festus

Brain Injury: I was hit by a drunk driver while driving

Explanation of Mask: Even though I have had some confusion and sadness with my brain injury, I have still been able to find love and always think about my true love.

Name: Laura B.

City: Festus

Brain Injury: I was hit by a garbage truck, while riding my ten speed bike, I was 14 years old in 1984.

Explanation of Mask: I was riding my bike down a little hill, didn’t stop at the sign. Collided with a garbage truck. I was in a coma for 3 ½ months, I injured my brain stem.In 1993, married the love of my life and had a baby in 2001!

Name: Kristin H. 

City: St. Louis

Brain Injury: Brain hemorrhage at 9 years old.

Explanation of Mask: It’s cute and pretty. Delicious and fabulous! I feel excited because I’m alive. I have a best friend and we’re going out to dinner, two best friends. Camp, too, I love Camp!

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