The Masks

Ontario

In partnership with

Name: Ted C.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Car Accident – 1962. I was pronounced dead.

Explanation of Mask: I mask out my aches and pains. I don’t complain. I am a rebel at times.

Name: Shannon T.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I had epilepsy and had surgery for the seizures. It caused me to black out sometimes. My memory suffers from the epilepsy but mostly from the surgery. I have low energy levels & I forget a lot.

Explanation of Mask: The mask represents different stages of my life’s journey. The hair represents my alopecia that came from stress after my surgery. The lines on my forehead depict worry. The question marks depict my memory problems. The stitches represent the scarring from the surgery and after effects of the surgery & stress. The black behind the eyes is for depression & darkness, but I have a glimmer of hope things will get better with the pink eyes. The teardrop is for the sadness, my lips are for the smile I wear on the outside & frown on the inside. The green jewel on my lip represents all the medicines I take. The green shimmer represents the new me & the purple ribbon represents the epilepsy I had.

Name: Penny C.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: The cause of my brain injury is because of a car accident when I was 2 or 3 years old and I was in a coma for 3 months, so I don’t really know what happened after I went into the hospital.

Explanation of Mask: The different things I put on my mask were church music that I like including Tell Me the Old Old Story and Amazing Grace. I also like country music songs like Friends in Low Places by Garth Brooks. Bed of Roses. I also was thinking of Koala bears and Panda bears because they’re cute and kittens and puppies. I also like when the clouds in the sky are a bright red and blue mixed together because they look like cotton candy. My last fun thing to do is going to the concert of New Kids on the Block and 98 Degrees with Victor and Victoria, my husband and friend.

Name: Max M.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Automobile Collision

Explanation of Mask: Feeling lost, battered, and bruised. But I will take the pain and rebuild myself, in spite of the difficulty. When life knocks you down, get up, dust yourself off, and respond with: You hit like a B****, then continue with your day.

Name: Michelle H.

City: Spencerville, ON

Brain Injury: Aneurysm in cerebellum. 8 months pregnant (pressure I believe from baby). 4 1/2 months in hospital – Toronto @ St Michael’s and Ottawa @ the rehab centre. While in Toronto I had 7 surgeries. At Ottawa I had to learn everything again.

Explanation of Mask: It has been 14 years but I still have very strong feelings. The different colours represent everything I feel. The red is my anger – why me. The yellow is my confusion – remembering. The blue is my frustration – not be able to do things I did before. The green is my guilt – leaving my children. The pink is my pain – my fibromyalgia keeps me from doing things. The orange is my determination – to do things with my kids. The brown is my fright – to never be able to do things that I did again. The white is my hope – that if I keep trying, I will be able to do things, and finally the purple is lucky – I’m lucky to be here and alive to watch and do with my kids.

Name: Kayla W.

City: Mallorytown, ON

Brain Injury: Right in the middle an AVM (Arterial Venous Malformation), an abnormal cluster of blood cells. Because of pregnancy caused it to burst. Had it from birth till I was 6 months along with him.

Explanation of Mask: Tired eyes because always tired. Para Transit because it was my means of transportation. Dybo sign because I am diabetic since 13. Watch because obsessed with time because my old watch from the Robin Easey Centre used to have alarms go off. Tree because of family. Cat paw because when I first was experiencing the bleed I was talking to my cat Flash who had passed away. All white with baby blue eyes. 7 stars because I love stars & 7 is my fave #.

Name: Kyle M.

City: North Augusta, ON

Brain Injury: Workplace accident. While I was loading a wood chipper, an untouched tree fell on top of me.

Explanation of Mask: The handcuffs represent my loss of control of my emotions. The globe represents everyone working together to get through a brain injury. The chalkboard shows there is a lot to learn about brain injury. Fireworks show each brain injury is different. The finger over the mouth means there is no reason to hide a brain injury, and to keep talking.

Name: Kenneth G.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I was assaulted, fell and hit my head. This caused bleeding on my brain. I had emergency brain surgery. The post-operative swelling caused me to have 2 strokes which left me paralyzed on my left side and on life support.

Explanation of Mask: I have half of my mask painted blue, the other half white which represents a blank canvas or starting over. The green lightning bolts represent paralysis. I have a portion of my mask cut out to represent where they cut out part of my skull to allow my brain to swell. I also have a whiteboard to show my first way I was able to communicate. One of the first things I asked for in the hospital were the ingredients to make hollandaise sauce, so I have some eggs, whisks & butter. This shows that I never lost my knowledge and love for food and cooking after all I went through.

Name: Kathy C.

City: Lombardy, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident x 2

Explanation of Mask: Left side: crying and unhappy. Couldn’t figure out what was going on but didn’t give up. Complained and felt stupid. Couldn’t do anything right no matter how hard I tried. Right side: Concentrated on what I could do. Looked on things positively and the sun came out. Things got a lot better with help of family and friends.

Name: Jessica T.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: Auto accident at age 17. I was in CHEO 59 weeks. They said I would never walk, talk, do anything again. LOOK AT ME NOW!

Explanation of Mask: My mask has two colours. Orange represents the long journey I had to take to get where I am today. The heart means I had my mom and brothers; they’re in my corner. The star is for all the people that prayed for me. Green represents all the love and friendship that I have today. The ladybug is for all the luck that God gave me. I am so lucky for all the friends that stuck by me. My mask means NOTHING IS IMPOSSIBLE! BELIEVE IN YOURSELF.

Name: Jim B.

City: Lombardy, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident – hit by a transport truck and shoved into a cornfield.

Explanation of Mask: The explosion symbolizes the sudden and significant change that happened to my life when the accident happened (confusion, frustration, understanding, and patience). The mask is black because it was like being in another world with little understanding from others. It felt like being in the dark because there was not a lot known or support available. Over the last 35 years education and support has improved, but there is still a long way to go. The scrambled letters symbolize that communication was one of the after effects and trying to explain myself or interpret others is more difficult than before. This can cause me frustration. Until you go through it yourself, you don’t really understand it.

Name: Heather Q.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was 39 years old and the aneurysm happened on my birthday, May 31, 1981. I had two strokes and 2 surgeries. I was in a coma for 2 months. I was not supposed to survive.

Explanation of Mask: The patch and incision represent my aneurysm. The black bubble represents my dark thoughts at this time and my coma. The brain was my confusion. The fear symbol was fear of the unknown. Anger was what had happened and trying to do things and trying to figure things out. The symbols of shame and doubt represent no hair and life not getting better. The hope symbol represents that my life did get better. The symbols of the white lily and white butterflies show me that my faith in God and my family and friends continue to carry me through. The other butterflies symbolize new beginnings and a continuing work in progress.

Name: Emmett R.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was in a motorcycle accident.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is green because that is my favourite colour. The cross is my faith in the Lord who let me live. The confusion bubbles tells of my confusion at times. The cloud and rain tells of me never giving up. One of my stories is “Don’t worry be happy”. Diet Coke is my favourite drink. I am a 70’s man – Elton John, Cher, Dukes of Hazzard, and the Honey Mooners. I woke up later morning cheery and grateful that the Lord has let me live for a purpose he has not yet let me see. I love peanuts. The broom, shovel, and wrench tells the story of the handy man I have become around my home. So this ‘tis I.

Name: Dann P.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Fall

Explanation of Mask: My mask shows a dark side and a sunny side representing the good and the bad (good days and bad days). The red symbol on the mouth is for my broken filter.

Name: Dave M.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: A fall tore the aorta in my neck which caused a stroke.

Explanation of Mask: On the left of the mask are the things that I felt before the stroke. I was a very animated person and words slipped off my tongue naturally. The things that I took for granted, I am more aware of now. In my wildest dreams I never thought that this would happen to me, and even though it’s not the most severe kind of stroke (I was very lucky), it could have been very debilitating. As hard as I try to find my old self I still feel frustration with my new life. It has been three years since my stroke and even though I have come a long way, I am at an impasse. On the right of the mask are some of the feelings that I am very frustrated with. I feel embarrassed at times and fearful of what the future brings. I feel cheated yet, thankful when I compare my stroke to others. The colours on the left are bright and vibrant just as I felt my life was then. The colours on the right of the mask represent the stroke itself and the part of my brain that I am missing. Many of the feelings that I have are new to me. I have never felt challenged or confused, hopeless or horrified before. I am now very short-tempered, grouchy, and I lose control much easier now. I have constantly got to be in check for these things that I dread every day. My new life is very frustrating but now I am learning to deal with it. I am very determined to live out my life; I am hopeful as opposed to hopeless and I am focused as opposed to flowing. I’m finding peace in a daily routine that is focused on minor household chores, rest, exercise and not over-doing it. I’m more available for my immediate family but because I do not have the same energy level, I feel that I am missing out on a lot. I feel cheated and angry because of this but I do not feel sorry for myself. I am optimistic that things will get better in time. I’m only now thankful that I have a wonderful support system with my wife and I feel very lucky to have such a wonderful and loving core. In summary, I will keep on challenging myself to relearn many of the things that I took for granted.

Name: Deborah B.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Brain abscess (April 1982)

Explanation of Mask: Left side – After surgery: When I first became aware of my NEW life. My heart was broken. My spirit was sad. I was lonely and confused. The odds of me living were low. My eyes felt like they were moving around. Right side – where I am today, now! Happy. Thriving. Moving forwards and living again! One door closed and a BIG window opened for me! Sunny days are here again. Flowers are growing and I see, I know what I need to do to be who I am! The third eye represents my new heart, which is full.

Name: Connie R.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke (2015)

Explanation of Mask: Faith – makes me stronger. Scars – reminder of pains. Slow – get myself motivated. Home – where I’m most comfortable. Family – family means the best. Group – really like being with people like me. Friends – like me the way I am now. I am a different person now, but I like myself.

Name: Doug T.

City: Gananoque, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle accident on the highway. My helmet came off.

Explanation of Mask:  The 4 leaf clover is a sign of good luck that I am still alive and I can still see, although my sight is limited now. The eye patch represents the loss of sight in my left eye. That side of my mask is blue because of the sadness I feel about losing my sight. But the other side is green because I have two eyes so I still have sight on that side. That is my happy and lucky side. The DNA chromosome represents my family’s history of diabetes. I fear that I may face the same fate. The X’s are for my jaw that was broken during the accident. I put the word family on my mask because they were there for me and went through this hell with me.

Name: Christine E.

City: Smiths Falls, ON

Brain Injury: I was in an accident in ’78. A train hit the truck I was in.

Explanation of Mask:  The red, black, and purple paint represents all of my bruising and bleeds. I had a lot of broken blood vessels. The stitches are for the scar I have over my eye. I don’t remember why because I was in a coma. The lightning bolts represent what it felt like in my head. I had damage to my feet and back so I have a curvature in my spine and walk with a partial limp. The eyes represent some of the many different feelings I experienced. Dark blue – sadness, I cried a lot. Pink – thankful to be alive. Red – fear, anger, and anxiousness. Purple – confused, short memory. Yellow – laughing, positive attitude, and sense of humour. Clear – learning new things about myself. Light Blue – adjusting to change, my whole life changed.

Name: Cindy D.

City: Landsdowne, ON

Brain Injury: Initially undiagnosed aneurysm resulting six days later in a stroke that temporarily left me unable to walk.

Explanation of Mask:  There was/is a lot of pieces to the puzzle of my life since the aneurysm. Most of the symbols on my mask are self-explanatory. The paper clip is to represent the clip used to clamp off the aneurysm; the clover is to symbolize the fact that I feel lucky because things could have been far worse.

Name: Chris D.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Cyst on the third ventricle of my brain.

Explanation of Mask:  The brain and the LED light represent where my stroke was. The red lines represent the veins that supply blood to the brain. Aphasia is an impairment of language, affecting the production and comprehension of speech and the ability to read and write. I spent 9 months without a driver’s licence. I felt stuck at home and had to rely on others. Getting my licence back has allowed me to go to the gym and get things I need when I need them (independence). I quit drinking and smoking. I am eating healthy and exercising. But the question mark represents my fear of having a second stroke.

Name: Chantal C.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: Ischemic Stroke – It was a Sunday and I felt fine. I woke up at night and something seemed wrong but I was able to ignore it until Wednesday, when I drove myself to the hospital. My dad had a stroke too, 3 months earlier.

Explanation of Mask:  The waterfalls symbolize the feeling of water rushing from one side of my head to the other. The music notes represent a huge part of my recovery, as music has always been an important part of my life, ever since I was little and it helped me get through my 10 weeks in hospital. The stitches across my mouth represent my inability to speak or sing after my surgery. The “God Answers Prayers” is important as it represents the power of prayer in times of need. The tear drops coming from my eye represent the pain and frustration I felt as I was recovering from my surgery.

Name: Connie A.

City: Perth, ON

Brain Injury: Ruptured brain aneurysm on Sunday January 29, 2012.

Explanation of Mask:  It was a typical Sunday, church, shopping and dinner with family. I took the dog out and never came back in. I was found in the driveway. I was rushed to Brockville General Hospital and then Ottawa Civic where they confirmed I had a ruptured brain aneurysm. I was put in an induced coma and placed on life support. Monday January 30, 2012 I had brain surgery. The next few days I was in ICU critical care. On February 9th they had me on my feet, not too stable. Feb 12th attempt to walk to bathroom, did not make it, and crashed to the floor. Test showed several blood clots, one formed near my heart producing a blockage to the left side of heart shutting it down. Now my major issue is not my brain but my blood. They found I was allergic to Heparin which they gave me on arrival. The next few weeks I had a huge team trying to keep me alive. I was released from the hospital March 6, 2012. I am a miracle girl!

Name: Brenda A.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury :I suffered a brain aneurysm on October 8, 2003 while attending a breakfast meeting. They had to operate to stop the bleeding. During the operation they cut into my brain causing more brain injury.

Explanation of Mask:  Left Side (Old Me): The old me never left the house without her make-up perfect, her head held high and her clothes perfectly coordinated. The old me was a high heel wearing, professional mother of two with a thriving make-up business on the side. Right Side (New Me): The new me has to wear a hat because after the brain injury they put a metal plate in my head and now my head is sensitive to heat and cold. The cotton on my forehead represents the brain fog I now suffer since the brain injury. The tear on my cheek is because ever since my brain injury I cry easily out of frustration and out of the loss I feel for my former self / life. The right side of the mask that represents me now is wearing no make-up and has her eyelashes on crooked because I am no longer able to see very well, and can’t put my make-up on properly so I always feel unfinished. Ever since my brain injury I have lost a lot of the feeling sensation so now I wear earrings (I could never do that before because I hated the feeling of anything touching my neck). The old me died on October 8, 2003, the day I suffered my aneurysm, the day I suffered my brain injury. The new me is wheelchair bound most of the time. Gone are the days of high heels. I mourn the loss of the old me while working hard to make the new me the best I can be.

Name: Anne L.

City: Brockville, ON

Brain Injury: I had three hemorrhagic strokes from a brain stem arteriovenous malformation (AVM). In January 2016, I had a craniotomy to remove the AVM. 

Explanation of Mask:  The one side of the mask is how I feel inside; broken and sad for what I lost. I lost the ability to walk and I have limited use of my one hand. The cracks represent the part of me that feels broken. I put teardrops on my mask because I am often sad. I feel that no one truly understands me. I don’t even understand my own feelings sometimes. Since my injury I developed anxiety/panic attacks and I struggle to cope. Lips are half black because I have difficulty speaking. The other side of the mask is my hopeful and happy side. The butterflies represent hope and new beginnings. I continue to make progress and hope my progress will allow me a fresh start; my new beginning. The mask is half burgundy and half green to bring awareness to both: AVM and brain injury. Burgundy is for AVM and green for brain injury. “Remember as long as you are breathing it’s never too late to start a new beginning.” – Rumi

Name: Nita M.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  The right side of my mask shows the many things I have experienced with having Post Concussion Syndrome. Life became muddled, and there were so many changes to face. The left side of the mask represents my life now. It has taken me a long time to accept “the new me”. I know through time, courage, hope, and faith I am how I am now. I am a survivor!

Name: Keith B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  I acquired a brain injury. My short term memory is impacted. I joined the club ABI and am glad as it helps me to see the happy side. The question mark represents the confusion I live with now. The number signs and dollar signs represent how I used to be an accountant before the accident. I look forward to attending church and club ABI every week. I love animals.

Name: Cindy R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Suffered a stroke while riding my horse, and fell off on September 1st, 2009.

Explanation of Mask:  I spent time in the hospital wondering what would happen. I had to learn to walk and move my right side with a broken shoulder. My injury has affected my vision, and is deteriorating more and more everyday. As a result of my injury I could not find work, and nobody would let me volunteer. My horse is my saviour! We go for walks, and she has been great therapy for me. I love her!

Name: Melinda C.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I was diagnosed with a brain tumour in October, 1991 at 9 years of age.

Explanation of Mask:  I have daily headaches that shine out of my eyes, primarily out of my left eye. I have had many brain surgeries, with 31 days of radiation therapy on three sections of my brain. All of this has caused considerable nerve pain over the years.

Name: Sarah R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Result of multiple seizures/ falls

Explanation of Mask:  My mask shows my strengths and my mixed feelings due to my ABI. The puzzle pieces represent my frustration, confusion, stress, and my challenges. The question mark and exclamation mark represent my feelings of being overwhelmed. The clock represents how tired I am every day. The other symbols represent my positive outlook and how my life is. The sparkles represent my positive, upbeat personality.

Name: Melissa H.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Passenger involved in a motorcycle accident. He got dragged, I was shot off a few good feet. I suffered a stroke due to impact, and a grey matter leak. Minus the pain, I’m okay; although improved, still working greatly on mental strength and endurance.

Explanation of Mask:  No life is “perfect” but I wanted to be a Police Officer. I went to school and worked two jobs. I am a mom, I drove, I had friends, I had nights out, and I was able to do it all over again.
Then suddenly, nothing.
All the support I thought was there, all the things and routine I depended on drastically changed. Signed out of Sunnybrook two weeks after the accident, one week after waking up from a seven day induced coma…to neglected medically (harsh to say, but true) and emotionally by friends for three years.
I don’t know what’s going on. Google states I’m going to die. Just listen and help me.
That hardened the anger that was already felt from losing my entire life. I’m angry and I’m not going to lie I’m depressed and sad. As much as I know I can’t dwell on “what was”, I can’t help it. I can’t shut that off, no matter how much I place everything I am happy and thankful for upfront. I love my family, and I’m proud of the strides I’ve made. I love having the few true friends there. In all, I’m quite content and appreciative, and again thankful.
But the anger is always there. That causes anxiety, but that’s the topic for another day.

 

Name: James B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I had an injury at work which caused my ABI.

Explanation of Mask:  My ABI has changed my life in many ways. I aim to live my life with compassion. I am at peace with myself and the cards that I have been dealt. Life isn’t as easy as it once was, but I am thankful to be alive.

Name: David J. L.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Complications during surgery 1984.

Explanation of Mask:  When a person has healthy lips, the lips are a reddish colour. When they are purple or blue, it means a lack of oxygen or hypoxia. I am healthy now so the lips on the mask are bold red. There are seven red hearts and they represent the seven surgeries that I have had, and lived through. The nine black hearts represent the hypoxia, and the lack of oxygen. All the black dings to my head represent the life that I am now living. I am having to work through the dings to my head the best that I can. I try to be as bold with life as I can be.

Name: Willow T.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Struck by a falling piece of steel

Explanation of Mask:  The mask represents how a blanket has covered my life and caused a muted understanding. The colours on the face represent my true nature – happy, gypsy, fun, and hippy. The fuzzy edges present how difficult it is to know where I end and you begin. The key(s) represent my many changing perspectives. The phone represents my willingness to communicate. The sun, clouds, rain, and bird represent that I belong to this earth still. The empty message balloon says I am okay not knowing and understanding everything now. My flower glasses represent me holding onto beliefs I have made to bring peace to my life. The arrow reminds me to look to the other side to finding meaning when I’m confused.

 

Name: Leslie L.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: MVA, January 2003

Explanation of Mask:  Brain injury is an invisible illness. My mask symbolizes that I may “look okay” but I am “broken”. I am living life to the best of my ability (with Band-Aids). The symbol on the right cheek is called a “Dagaz”, which means an awakening, enlightenment, and the “concept of becoming realized”. Learning all that we can and sharing what works always helps.

Name: Kate W.

City: Napanee

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident at four years old

Explanation of Mask:  The orange half of my mask represents life after my brain injury. I’m content with how my life has turned out. The doctors said I would never talk, walk, or get past grade two after my injury. The footprints represent how I proved the doctors wrong and now can walk. It also represents the journey of my life with a brain injury. I hate the word survivor because it makes me think of the TV show. I believe you never survive a brain injury; you just learn how to work with it. The graduation cap represents how I recently graduated from Loyalist College. The mouth on the left side represents my public speaking. On the first day of high school at a brand new school, I did a speech for my entire school explaining who I am, my brain injury, and how to communicate with me. If they didn’t understand me, I wanted them to tell me and not just smile and nod. The book and “author at work” picture represent my love reading and writing. After graduation I have continued talking writing course working towards getting my writing certificate.
The white half represents life before my brain injury. I have so many questions about life before my brain injury which is represented by the question marks. I can’t help but wonder how my life would be different if my brain injury hadn’t shifted my whole life.

Name: Bryan B.

City: Brighton

Brain Injury: Childhood accident

Explanation of Mask:  My accident happened when I was very young. I added some of my favorite things that I like to do to my mask. I put the game controller on there because that is one of my most favorite things to do. The band-aid and the word “ouch” is there because I am in constant pain every day. The tears show that I am often sad. I have the Hogwarts symbol because I love Harry Potter and that makes me very happy. The picture of the dog is for my dog TuTu. Sometimes TuTu goes away and then we get another one. Right now I have TuTu the 3rd.

 

Name: Gary S.

City: Trenton

Brain Injury: MVA, July 28th, 2011

Explanation of Mask:  My brain injury took away my ability to speak, walk, and live the way I was used to. I had to work very hard to re-learn to walk and talk again. The white on my mask represents the portion of my life that I never got back! My eyes see the pain that my accident causes me.

Name: Bryan

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of Mask: The ying-yang represents how hard it has been for me to put my life back in order.  It has been a very slow process and I am trying to get it back to the way that it was.  As time passes by slowly over the last 18 years, I have relearned to cook, clean, go to the gym by myself.  I got my full G drivers license back, but still live with 24-hour attendant care.  I feel as though sometimes I have hit a brick wall, and I am trying hard to make it over to the other side.

 

Name: Jodi M.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: I was driving and I hit black ice on November 13, 1995.

Explanation of Mask:  I picked some colours from the feelings on the sheet of how I was feeling after the accident. They are the colours that match my feelings. The grey shows how I was feeling lonely. The red shows that I was feeling frustrated and embarrassed because I can’t drive anymore. The yellow demonstrates how I try to stay positive with the way things are now. The brown shows my strengths, worth, and honesty. The blue shows how I now feel calm and peaceful.

Name: Marty G.

City: Tamworth

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident on May 30th, 2015

Explanation of Mask:  Blue for frustration and helplessness. Yellow for happiness, cheerfulness, and gratefulness. Red for anger, annoyance, and cheated. Green for alive, glad, love, lucky, and appreciative.

Name: Doug B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask:  I acquired a brain injury from an aneurysm. I was retired from the military and was working as a truck driver for ITS and was forced to resign from my job. This mask represents how I feel after my injury. The ribbon represents that I am an ABI survivor and the heart represents the love and support system that I have – my wife, children, club ABI, CBIS (Christine). The tear drops represent the sadness, memory loss, and overwhelming feelings I have. The face on the left represents anger and frustration as I am unable to remember things because of my short term memory loss. The plus sign represents my positive attitude. I never give up, stay optimistic, and believe “together we can do anything”. I am lucky as I am surrounded by a good support system and am thankful for this. The question mark represents how I am confused. I have memory loss however I have strategies such as writing things down. I receive lots of support from my wife and club ABI. The happy face represents how I continue to keep smiling and have a great sense of humour.

 

Name: Megan D.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident 

Explanation of Mask:  July 29th, 2014 I was in a motor vehicle accident. I spend four months in the hospital. That day my loved ones had hard choices to make. I did not know what traumatic brain injury meant. It has impacted the last four years of my life and my caregivers severely.
My mask on one side is puzzle pieces. It means to me that my life is shattered and some pieces don’t fit. Lost friends, memory, and independence.
The butterfly represents how “you see beauty”. You do not see my disability because it is invisible. Therefore, you do not see the tears, frustration, and fatigue. Brain injury is invisible and no two are the same.

 

 

Name: Dudley B.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Strokes

Explanation of Mask:  I started out life wanting to be a mechanic and worked hard after school. I was basically in the gas station business from age 14 on where I met my lovely wife. Her dad owned the gas station that I worked at. The first stroke left my left side paralyzed. After more strokes came I lost my hearing in both ears. Then I had a cochlear implant on the right and the hearing is back. The brown in the mask represents my comfortability. The blue represents boldness and the red represents anger. The orange represents that I am capable.

 

Name: Olivia P.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident; diffuse axonal brain injury, subarachnoid hemorrhage, cerebral spinal fluid leaking from right ear for one month, skull fracture from under base of skull at neck up through side of head up through right temple, fractured mandible, severed right clavicle

Explanation of Mask:  The left side of my mask represents important aspects of my life pre-accident. I have used light colours to represent the gentleness, lightness, and ease of that part of my life. The colours used are true colours of the chakras, the energy centers of the mind, body, and spirit. The lotus flower represents the journey of life. The words represent the qualities of my being and important aspects and activities in my life. The pictorals illustrate a variety of activities I was deeply committed to and involved in. The heavy black line represents the accident when everything stopped and I experienced death. The red center panel represents how I experienced the first couple of years post accident. The red colours represent the struggle and energy required to survive.
The right side of the mask represents how life feels now and how I experience life now in the present – compartmentalized, divided up, and forceful. There is pattern – order – in the chaos I feel. There is defined order: true chaos just overwhelms the order there by shattering me and scattering me. The chakra colours are again represented – they are life – alive and loud. On the right side, post accident, the colours are bright and loud and scream. The red again represents the struggle to survive. The pink represents moments of grace and hope. The right side, at the edges of the mask, has no border or boundaries. This represents how my energy escapes my being, my body, and how easily energy enters my being, my body without my being able to stop the influx of outside energy or prevent the leaking out and away of my own energy.

 

Name: Maria R.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of Mask:  I painted half of my mask red to symbolize my daily struggles. I painted the other half blue to represent my happiness for life. The tear represents sadness, the question mark represents confusion, the “zzz” represents tiredness, and the lines sealing my lips represent my speech. The ribbon symbolizes that I am an ABI survivor. The road represents my road to recovery and relocating to Quinte West. The heart represents my love for my daughter and the butterfly represents happiness.

 

Name: Pauline R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Blackout

Explanation of Mask:  The left side of the mask indicates how I felt from December 2013 to March 15, 2014. In December 2013, I was finally free from debilitating back pain. I was free to live again. Things were looking great. I could now volunteer as I had planned to do in my retirement years.

The right side of the mask indicates how I felt after March 15, 2014. I blacked out and fell and hit my head on something very hard. I was partially in and out of consciousness until the paramedics arrived, and gave me oxygen. Then my life changed dramatically. Everything seemed overwhelming – overwhelming was a word that became a major part of my vocabulary. I was not able to carry on with my normal activities. I had to back down from responsibilities. I experienced extreme fatigue but tried to stay positive (bright purple mask and earrings). I had to learn to pace myself (indicated by the black lines). I remind myself that although my life is different, I still have family and friends. Such a blessing in my life.

Name: Philip B.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident at 3 and a half years old

Explanation of Mask:  I painted half of my mask black to represent the anger I feel. I painted the other side blue to represent the happiness in my life. I am a survivor. The black half shows the sadness that I have because of my brain injury, and the darkness that I feel. The blue shows that I am a survivor and that I also have some confusion. I do have some independence and really enjoy club ABI that I participate in.

 

Name: Kevin G.

City: Quinte West

Brain Injury: Brain tumour

Explanation of Mask:  I was young when I got my tumour. I don’t remember life before my ABI. I used the colour red because it is my favourite and it makes me happy. My brain injury makes me tired zzzz! I often forget stuff so that’s why I painted the question marks. Because of my brain injury I have met some really great people. We go to the races and this makes me happy.

 

Name: Kim E.

City: Coe Hill

Brain Injury: 

Explanation of Mask: 

 

Name: Barry D.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: On June 7th, 2009 I fell down a flight of stairs and cracked my skull open.

Explanation of Mask:  I get overwhelmed when I get frustrated, and I get tears coming from my eyes. I feel proud of myself, and am satisfied when I get creative, inspired, zestful, enthusiastic, terrific, and passionate. I am grateful when everything is going my way.

Name: Sylvin P.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: MVA

Explanation of Mask:  ???????? I feel that I never really know what is going on in the future. I feel lost at times. I received a severe injury on the left side of my head. I try hard to enjoy life! I like music, fishing, bowling, and playing pool.

Name: Judy C.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Concussion and whiplash

Explanation of Mask:  A few things were very prominent in coping with the concussion I had. First was my faith and the God who loves me and desires good for me. I learned a lot through this experience. Second, painting is a great way to deal with pain and to relax. The dark circles around the eyes are from lack of sleep and the hollow shell I felt like. The grey under my eyes with tears represent the sadness I felt but couldn’t cry out because it hurt my head to cry. The grey clouds above the eyes are for the foggy thinking I had for two years after I fell. The puzzle pieces represent the disconnect I had in planning. Two thoughts were separate and I could not overlap in planning tasks. The dagger is for the sharp pains out the top of my head, and the yellow lines are where I hurt. The green represents the scarves I now wear to lessen muscle spasms in my neck. The pink represents that I am peaceful and I like this colour. The stars represent how I saw stars.

 

Name: Shannon R.

City: Belleville

Brain Injury: Hit by a car that ran through a stop sign. I was nine years old and was crossing the street.

Explanation of Mask:  The pink side represents how on the outside I appear the same as everyone else. You have to really know me well to recognize that I have a brain injury. The red side represents my brain injury and the brain bleed that I had. The pink glitter on my right side represents my rosy cheeks that appear the same as everyone else. The white dots on the opposite side represent how the two sides are different and how sometimes it is apparent that I am different than others. The broken puzzles pieces represent my broken brain that has been fit back together. Because of this I have ended up with a lot of confusion and lack of coordination.

 

 

Name:  Julie

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of maskI decided to paint my mask using colours to represent my brain on fire. That fire is starting to seep into the rest of my face and it feels as though now it will be a part of my life forever. I tried to paint make-up as it is my own daily “mask” I use so that people say “Julie you look great!”. They assume I am okay but I am struggling. The ruby red lips represent the weeks of losing my speech and the years it has/will take me to learn patterns again. I used to take speaking for granted – now I know what a privilege it is. My mask is both beautiful and ugly, dark and light, hopeful and discouraged — which is how I feel regularly.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Massive hemorrhagic stroke at basal ganglia causing left sided paralysis.

Explanation of mask:   “Recovery Road”. When I awoke after my stroke in hospital, my first and most lasting impression of my situation was to imagine myself on a long, dusty road in the middle of an arid nowhere. I came to call this place STROKELAND. This mask represents the journey of recovery that has been my life for the past thee and one-half years. Long, hard, but hopeful and with the destination in sight.

Name:  Denis

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  Prior to my stroke, I enjoyed fishing, hunting and camping. My stroke has affected my speech and communication. I have aphasia. It is frustrating but I am able to get my message out with help from people that know me. The buttons represent my difficulty with speech and the letters are my thoughts.

Name:  Kristen

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Anoxia, Diabetic Coma, Seizures.

Explanation of mask:  After the coma, I lived in a cloud for months but at the same time, I felt very clear on my wants and needs. Relearning about my life was hard along with relearning to read, write, and use a coffee maker. I am so lucky to have my loving husband and daughter to help me through all the joys and frustrations.

Despite the coma, I feel I am a stronger person, regardless of having a “cloudy brain” once in awhile.

I love my family. I love my life. I am still learning to embrace the struggles, changes, challenges and disappointments but I have learned that after the clouds part – the SUN is always there.

Name:  Linda

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Pedestrian accident. When I was five years of age, I was struck by a transport truck while crossing the highway; first flying lesson, no gear, header, not so good. Hospitalized, blood clot, wouldn’t operate. They believed I wouldn’t survive past 18 years.

Explanation of maskThe colours grey/red represent ages 5-11: Constant pain, ISOLATION, SILENCE, no one wants to hear; all thoughts are locked in my head, told I wouldn’t live past 18; FEAR. The red/blue represents ages 12-29: challenged to fit in, to learn, to keep up; FRUSTRATED, LONELY, PAIN. Strive to overcome, persevere to find the one who listens with Love. FAITH in God and myself saved my sanity. The green represents FAITH, MEDITATION. Yoga helped me to see what was/is/and could be. I found a family of my own to love. Will continue to overcome, one step at a time – ONWARD. The gold represents 60 years. Music, laughter and love keeps my pain and thoughts under control. Battle forever onward. I am a survivor.

Name:  Sherry

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident. I was hit from behind while stopped at a stop sign. I was taken to hospital and told I had a mild concussion and to take a few days off. Four months later, I am still suffering with the same symptoms and more.

Explanation of maskI’m okay but I’m broken. I’m broken but I’m okay! Even though my accident was minor and my injury mild, it has changed my life. Since this is all fairly new, my future is still undetermined. I’m no longer able to work and it is difficult in my personal life to do the things I used to.

I am learning to live in the moment and take life day by day. Sometimes the best thing to do is not think, not wonder, not imagine, not obsess. Just breathe and have faith that everything will work out for the best.

Name:  Richard

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Three Transient Ischemic Attacks (mini strokes)

Explanation of mask:  Most of my brain “injuries” are self inflicted. So often I felt like a fake when I was attending the stroke recovery group. However, my attitude to life has very much improved since my TIAs. That is the reason I quit smoking. I was a smoker for over 40 years but have been smoke free since my last TIA 3-4 years ago. The FOG in my brain and thinking had already lifted and I became a new and better person when I stopped drinking. I am now in my 10th year of sobriety. I am grateful to be alive!

Name:  Eric

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident

Explanation of mask:  The mask is painted yellow and green to depict my favourite colours. The feathers and the word “birdman” are reflective of my nickname. The third eye is representative of my seeing life in a whole new way now.

Name:  Darlene

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Cerebral Hemorrhage at 47 years of age.  On November 19, 2011, I awoke not feeling well. It was a Saturday about 8 a.m.  I had a massive tearing, burning sensation rip through my head. I screamed and I couldn’t see anything. I went to the hospital, was tested for a migraine and sent home. About five hours later, it happened again; back to the hospital, put in a room in the Emergency and laid there all night being treated for a migraine. The next morning a new doctor came in, realized no tests had been done and ordered a number of them. The spinal tap showed blood in it. I was subsequently airlifted to a hospital in Toronto, experienced the same thing again and spent a month there. I realized I had host the left peripheral vision in both eyes, had brain damage, couldn’t remember people visiting me. I was terrified to sleep at night. I returned to North Bay and began therapy. Shortly after arriving at the hospital I developed blood clots in both my lungs and legs. They weren’t sure I would survive the massive amounts of Heparin they needed to give me, but I had no choice.

Explanation of mask The mask represents the four months I was in hospital, the terror I felt of not knowing what was going to happen; of not being able to remember things; of looking in the mirror and not recognizing myself. My face was bloated from the medication and steroids; of not knowing why. Toronto did several tests but never found out why this happened to me.

Not being able to see was like looking through a tunnel. I had to relearn to tell time, do math, read. It has gotten better but I still have trouble doing the simple things. ANXIETY is a continuing problem.

Name:  Heather

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Catastrophic Motor Vehicle Accident.  I didn’t want to lose marks in a college course (any more days missed would have meant 7% off my final grade) so despite ridiculously bad winter weather, I left anyway. Getting stuck in a friend’s driveway, she asked if I wanted a picture taken before I wrote my car off. I said no. —A few hours later, that’s what I did.—

Explanation of maskThe Spiderman represents the superhero each of us surviving a brain injury is, while also showing the mystery and cloak we hide behind. We find strength we never believed possible in ourselves and adapt and adjust however we have to.

The butterflies are to show the changes we experience and to show it is a BEAUTIFUL result more often than not. They also show the steps we need to take to find that beauty may not always be so beautiful but holds great rewards.

The spider shows how scary it can be… We start with fear before becoming fearless; with weakness that becomes IMpossible strength; we learn that change propels us forward to live a life of both discovery and miracles. Then we learn to live life the way it could never have been lived before.

Name:  Butterfly

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Falls, Blunt force trauma, motor vehicle accident, struck with a baseball bat, skull fracture, family and domestic violence, lightning strikes, stroke, vestibular migraine, loss of oxygen to the brain.

Explanation of maskThe purple represents brain injuries and/or broken bones. I am a life long survivor of acquired brain injuries (ABI) and traumatic brain injuries (TBI). My first memory of serious brain injury happened in 1957 before I started school. The most devastating brain injury was in 2009. The pale colour represents the loss of self and my struggle to find a way out.

Some life long symptoms you might notice are my balance, body movement, speech, thought processing and lack of speed. There is so much more damage from the ABI that you do not see. What you do see is Yes, I take longer than you have patience for to move and communicate. You do not know or understand how much effort and what a challenge it is for me to function.

I am not drunk, high, or mentally disturbed. Being crushed and dented has allowed my perception of life to see what is truly important.

Please remember I am still a valuable, intelligent and contributing member of society.

I am still all of me.

Name:  Paul

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident – a transport hit my car while I was driving across the highway.

Explanation of mask: The top half of the mask is black representing my injury. I put my name on the forehead and the numbers 1981 as that was the year of my accident. The blue represents emotions such as sadness and grief. The green represents that things are getting better as in nature when spring comes. The red is happiness, showing love, contentment and pride.

The frowning white face symbol on the mask represents being angry, grouchy, irritated and annoyed. The lightning bolts represent pain from migraine headaches. The black lines under the eyes are tiredness from not sleeping well and worry. The white tears from my eyes are for sadness, grief as my girlfriend died in the accident and loss of my former self. The rainbow after tears are for things getting better, with the sun coming out.

The happy face is pride and contentment for what my life is today. The shamrock is luck as I was given last rites in the hospital The three hearts represent love for my marriage and family.

Name:  Jeff

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Aneurysm, Hydrocephalus

Explanation of mask: The mask represents my life since my brain injury. The eyebrows, tears and frown represent the sadness I feel. The scar represents the several surgeries I have had. The heart and the star represent my hope that things will continue to improve.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: The mask represents my life since the stroke. I always try to learn something new and give it back to someone else. Life is all about change and how to make it work for me. The skill is for those moments when all goes wrong. Love is something that has helped me get through the tough times.

Name:  Michael

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Workplace Incident – chemical exposure.

Explanation of mask: “A picture speaks a thousand words.” I use my mask to show what happened to me so that it will not happen to others. My brain injury affects both my memory and my functioning. I now have seizures and am required to take medication on a daily basis to control them. I had a near death experience and I am lucky to be alive! I pray and give thanks every day.

Name:  Shar

City: Sundridge, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident in 2014 – vehicle rolled eight times before coming to a stop.

Explanation of mask: My mask explains how I feel now that I have a TBI. The paper maché represents my difficulty finding who I am. The cotton depicts the fogginess I deal with daily.

The sparkles represent my “zoning out”. It will happen and I won’t even know it. It is like the blink of an eye and it is gone – I have no recollection of what just happened. The stickers on my mouth signify that I have a hard time expressing myself both mentally and physically. My eyes are just sitting there with clothespins because I have difficulty picturing/imagining things.

The feathers are to show that I do have some good days too. They remind me it’s going to be okay and I’ll get through this – to stay strong and be brave.

Name:  Danny E

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: My brain injury was caused by a concussion when I was also having difficulty with my mental health.

Explanation of mask: My mask depicts from left to right the difficulties with audio and vision that have gotten better over time but not via the broken paths created by the brain injury but by realizing that I had to blaze a completely new trail to get me to a “new” home I could live in which is different than the one I had prior to the incident.

The frog is a symbol for all the losses I’ve had to accept along the way, which still on occasion reminds me in my throat, of the struggles of walking a new path to get from A to B.

There has been much confusion along the way and many unanswered questions for which I have developed faith to help me deal with all the changes.

I am grateful for all the people that have come along side of me to help me to the better place I am in today.

Name:  Rebecca

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle accident – I stopped behind a line of traffic waiting for someone to turn left. The driver behind me didn’t. He hit me at about 50 kph, the force of the impact throwing my van forwards into the vehicle in front of me. The concussion that resulted was severe and led to post concussion syndrome, which is still ongoing fourteen months after the injury

Explanation of mask: Although things have improved a lot since the first few months post injury, I struggle with numerous symptoms that significantly affect my daily living, my family, my social life and are preventing my return to work. I feel as if I am waging a battle against the darker side of myself and it would be so easy to slide into despair when I reflect on all that I cannot do, all that I have lost and the frustration that I experience on a daily basis is profound.

In more recent months, I have found a degree of acceptance and am learning to accept help and support. I am hopeful that in time, the struggles will be fewer and I will adjust to find peace with the new me.

Name:  Dan

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Traumatic brain injury from a fall.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents my journey through brain injury – my past, my family and “retirement”.

Name:  Veronica

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: To date, I have had 14 TBI’s – many of them from different types of events. My earliest TBI happened as a small child falling down a flight of stairs. The most significant event occurred in 1990 when I was hit by a drunk driver. In 1998, I suffered two TBI’s within months of each other and then in 2011, I fell approximately 12 feet off a cliff side when my horse was spooked by a bear.

Explanation of mask: For the majority of my life, I lived undiagnosed with the effects of a brain injury(s). I carried on living with headaches, brain fog, confusion and so much more, but I pushed through and became successful in many areas of my life.

When the second last TBI happened in 2011, it shattered my fragile world I worked so hard to hold together. Those symptoms that I hid or really didn’t even understand, became impossible to overcome or hide.

In 2014 after my last TBI, my world imploded. I couldn’t function on a day to day basis. I withdrew from life just to stay alive. I have never felt so alone, isolated, afraid or out of control in my life. I was trapped inside my head and all its brokenness unable to escape the pain, the symptoms, the guilt, the fear. I felt myself falling away like the leaves on a tree in the fall. The world was out there with everything I loved, but I was being held captive in my own brain and body, watching as the world passed me by. I was mad, sad, depressed! I missed who I was before, my life, my family, my sport, my abilities. No longer could I fake my way through this and pretend for others that I was okay. I hit rock bottom and like Dorothy on the golden brick road, I had to make a choice – get help, get stronger and take control back or end up dead.

I am strong so I chose to fight, find help and do whatever it takes to get better and accept that I will never be the same as I was before (but then have I ever been okay with all of the TBI’s I have had).

I still fight every day in one form or another but I am winning this battle inch by inch. Slowly but surely, my brain, that for so long has been much like dory – forgetful and disorganized, just keeps swimming towards a better, healthier, happier life, where I am accepting of myself, my brain injury and the gifts (the unseen gifts) it has brought along this journey.

Name:  Joe

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Machinery accident. Rented wood chipper I was using fell apart and a piece of steel from the machine struck me in the head and basically destroyed one half of my face.

Explanation of mask: My mask is a representation of the pain, confusion and disorientation I experienced following my accident. The scars represent the surgeries I required to repair my face and I now have three steel plates. The cotton in my eye signifies the loss of vision in my right eye.

Name:  Kim

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke, October 2008

Explanation of mask: The yellow side of the mask represents my life before my stroke. It was good. I was content more than ever! I was happy with the everyday things, working, and doing the average life things. There was no foggy vision or thinking and no extreme emotions.

The black half of the mask represents the left sided loss from my stroke. Full left sided neglect occurred right after the stroke. All I remember most is heart wrenching crying and not being able to stop for months. The words are the different emotions I felt when the stroke happened. The cotton represents blurred and foggy understanding and vision.

Name:  Claire

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke approximately 6 years ago.

Explanation of mask: The mask represents how I see myself. The letters CG stand for my name. The feathers represent my native heritage. The jewels are to show that I love to wear jewelry and the red lips are because I enjoy wearing red lipstick.

Name:  Gord

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Leg weakness that caused a fall.

Explanation of mask: The words on the mask represent my likes and previous work experiences. The hair and eyes represent how I think I look.

Name:  Doreen

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury:  Motor vehicle accident about 25 years ago – hit a rock cut.

Explanation of mask: The mask represents how I was shortly after the accident when things were at their worst. I was full of fear and anxiety. I experienced double vision, both my short term and long-term memory were affected and I could not distinguish any sensation on various parts of my body.

I had to relearn how to walk, talk, read, recognize who people were, and figure out who I was. Although things have improved significantly over the years, that was terrifying and very a stressful time in my life.

Name:  Janine

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Two falls – once from a couch to a cement floor. The second fall occurred when I slid and fell backwards onto ice.

Explanation of mask:  I have made my mask backward. I am displaying my life after my brain injury. My injury was from several falls where I fell and hit my head on cement. This caused my concussion which in turn damaged “my processor”. I cannot retain new information or understand all that is being said. I interpret messages incorrectly and I write down the wrong information when it is given to me verbally. I need someone to confirm what I have written is what was said. It is very hard to know whether what I have written is accurate.

I have lost my independence and self worth. Other areas have been affected as well such as my happiness, judgement and hope. I am unsure about my future.

Name:  Diana

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask: My mask shows the differences between my good and bad side. It shows that I’m not that different. It just takes me a little longer to figure things out.

Name:  Nina

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Multiple concussions from playing sports and falls.

Explanation of mask: My mask represents how I feel every day living with my brain injuries – sometimes scared, mostly healing but wondering when the next fall or knock on my head will occur. I painted my mask purple to represent healing. The seven pink flowers stand for my siblings and me.  The letter “N” is for my name. The googly eyes represent the fact that my eyes feel strange/funny at times. The peace sign shows that I am always looking/searching for peace. The phrase “you know who you are” is a reminder for me because of some memory loss. The pointed orange stars represent the knocks on my head and the question marks represent me wondering when the next knock will be.

Name:  Caroline

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Pedestrian Accident

Explanation of mask: My mask is skin-toned and though I have a brain injury, the core, the spirit is still the same. I need extra sleep and am often tired. The emotional filter has to be addressed. Mostly happy before the accident, the smile represents half anger and depression. I am fully bilingual and am now learning Spanish. A paraplegic – I have had to do three years of rehab and relearn how to speak, focus and deal with simple math equations. I am a proud Canadian with native roots enjoying 3 of our great seasons. Christian, I believe in the Spirit of Life, Love.

Name:  Phil

City: North Bay, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of mask:  Since my stroke I feel I have gotten 95% better and I am feeling more capable. I exercise regularly on my three-wheeler and I am still improving day by day. The support I receive has been extremely helpful and made a huge difference. Thank you to PHARA and the March of Dimes for being there for me.

Name:  Thomas

City: Callander, ON

Brain Injury: Arterial Venous Malformation (AVM)

Explanation of mask:  I am hoping my mask will portray my anger, my self loathing, the self pity I feel every day of my life as well as the regret and empathy I feel for my children who had to grow up with the backlash of their mother having a brain injury. It wasn’t easy for them at all. Every year I get worse. Now I have to live with the fact that my granddaughter won’t like me as she gets older when she realizes grandma is different.

The colours on my mask represent different things. The blue face and tears are for depression and sadness. The black face represents me living in isolation. The red tears are the anger and hurt I feel. The cotton on the forehead is for the fogginess I live with 24/7.

Name:  Thomas

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury:  I was injured quite severely in a car crash on September 11, 1994 that put me into a coma for four months. I went to give different hospitals while I was in the coma, and they all doubted I was going to come out of it. My family was so nervous of course. But I did actually come out of that coma and I did have problems but got better and better after time and motivation.

Explanation of mask:  On the left – negative situations after coming out of coma. On the right – positive thoughts and feelings to reach independence which was a most appreciative goal, especially since the doctors believed I would never walk or talk again…time and effort proved them wrong!

Name:  Tammy

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Postpartum hemorrhage, failed intubation, anoxia, cardiac arrest and coma

Explanation of mask:  Right side of my mask represents before my acquired brain injury. I was satisfied, positive, lucky and loving most of the time. The left side represents a lot more emotions; sometimes confident, occasional anger, challenged by optimistic, with confusion going on at times. There are times I feel wise and serene. I used to feel refreshed but not so much anymore. There is a cloud hanging over me.

Name:  Sid

City: Vineland, ON

Brain Injury:  I fell off my roof when I was 26 years old. I was in a coma for seven months.

Explanation of mask: Gene Simmons – Music helps me cope every day. It’s my escape when I’m feeling disturbed or confused. Music makes me feel happy and free!

Name:  Sandra

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Collision. Lost my two dogs who died in the crash. I was flown via helicopter to Hamilton Health Sciences Centre. Traumatic brain injury, along with physical injuries, and memory loss.

Explanation of mask: Represents state of confusion – always struggling with words, making sense of things, chaos with understanding and too much noise.

I have changed but at the core, I am still empathetic, strong and still have a sense of humour. These characteristics make me”fight through this struggle every second.”

I wanted others to be aware when speaking to me:

  1. Stop – please slow down so I understand.
  2. One direction only – please keep it direct and simple in your speech or I won’t understand.
  3. PTSD – Ongoing issue, frustration, grieving, doubt, loss and nightmares.
  4. Hope – to fight through.
  5. New beginnings – new me going forward, new loves, new friends.

Name:  Reid

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash

Explanation of mask: Thunderbolt happens in a split second! The car crash changed my life that fast. Clouds represent how I feel some days…just cloudy.

Name:  Paul

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: 1st brain injury – winter 1973: at seven years of age while attempting to cross a busy street in between parked cars, as I was walking home from school for lunch, I was struck head on by a vehicle travelling in my direction, causing me a very serious head/brain injury/fractured skull and various bodily injuries.

2nd brain injury – spring 1978: at 12 years of age while assisting at my school’s high jumping, track and field event, another student attempted to jump over the high jumping pole, but while jumping upward the same student slipped, traveled off course in the air in my direction standing  beside one of the big, metal high jumping pole support posts and with the full body weight of this student hitting the same big, metal high jumping pole beside me, came down right on top of me altogether with the metal post and student’s body striking my forehead/skull, heavily, and rapidly knocking me down and out onto the ground, causing me once again another serious brain injury.

Explanation of mask: This mask represents, in part, an array or spectrum of the number of different experiences, emotions and feelings I’ve encountered as I continue to progress/move forward in my life over the decades since the two head/brain/skull/bodily injuries have made themselves known to me, coming out of left field in my life’s past.

Name:  Mike

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm/Brain Explosion. I was in a coma for seven days in Buffalo.

Explanation of mask: The sun and the smile represents positivity. I feel good. I am kind, confident and since my injury, I have been amazing. Since the injury, I struggle to find the right words. It’s a challenge to explain myself. I am happy.

Name:  Max

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: One gorgeous day, on the 19th of July, I was hit by a car, and I almost had to say goodbye. Again, I had to learn to eat, write and walk. I also have to learn to t-t-t-talk. It ain’t no fun getting hit by a car. I went into a coma after falling in some tar. Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Speech Language Pathology, aren’t much fun. So wear your helmet, EVERYONE!

Explanation of mask: Belief that tomorrow will be better. But still a shadow of a doubt/pain.

Name:  Martha

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke, 14 years ago.

Explanation of mask:  Half of mask, dark, sad, why me??

Other half, bright, new beginning, chin up…go forward.

Christian sign of the “fish” highlighted across both eyes shows FAITH is strong in both dark times and bright times.

Name:  Margaret

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash (hit by a transport truck).  In a coma for 17 days, sustained traumatic brain injury. Additional injuries, ruptured spleen, collapsed lungs, broken pelvis, fractured ribs. Husband and 3 1/2 month old granddaughter died in the crash.

Explanation of mask:  Reflects how things were before the accident and conversely how things are since.

Name:  Gerald

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash, assault

Explanation of mask:  The broken shards of glass were as a result of the car crash. The broken jaw and black eyes were as a result of being assaulted. I called my mask, “Down for the Count,” because in both situations, I lost consciousness.

Name:  Frank

City: Fonthill, ON

Brain Injury: I fell of a four story building at a construction site.

Explanation of mask:  The cracks on the head of the mask signify major damage to my skull. The flue means close to death. Almost died twice on the operating table. Light blue and green signifies recuperation, a slow and study process.

Name:  Dennis

City: Wainfleet, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle Crash

Explanation of mask:  After my brain injury I am looking at life “through different windows.”

Name:  Christine

City: Niagara Falls, ON

Brain Injury: My brain injury is from 7 confirmed concussions. The last one did me in! in 2015, I was at work and a senior male student accidentally kicked an indoor soccer ball which hit my face and forced my neck to whip back and hit the cement gym wall. I tried to return to work 3 times but was unsuccessful each time.

Explanation of mask:  My mask was very liberating for me. It shows my life in the past 3 years.

WORDS:

  • On the right side of face, things I did before the injury
  • On the left side of face, things after the injury

4 PANELS:

  • Orange: Shows what happened to me and what I have now, seizures, Post Concussive Syndrome (PCS), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Depression
  • Pink: Also shows what happened to me – Concussion. Pink Concussion is a website for females with PCs and its a support group which has helped me a lot. The pins represent the 175 Botox shots I receive every 3 months for my constant headaches since my accident.
  • Green: The tears and Tombstone represent me grieving my past life still. It takes time to grieve and to understand that your life has changed. I really miss teaching Phys. Ed and coaching and being told “I can’t do it anymore” really hurts.
  • Yellow: Represents my current life – BIAN – Clubhouse in which I consider my other family, BICR – Activity based group which keeps me active, HEART – I found love at the BIAN!
  • Hand Bound: Throughout my brain injury I have felt like I have had no say in everything from treatment all the way to how I was to return to work (and it failed 3 times). I want a voice! I want to be heard! I want to be taken seriously that I have a brain injury and seizures!

Name:  Brad

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Crash – where the other driver of the oncoming car fell asleep at the wheel and hit my vehicle.

Explanation of mask: The car crash happened on my left side of my body. All of the injuries that happened to me were:

  • My left ear only hears a whisper
  • My left eye doesn’t move past the middle
  • My left leg is 1/2 inch shorter
  • My left arm does not extend perfectly straight.

The tire mark on my mask explains where and how the oncoming car hit/crashed into me.

Name:  Andrea

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: In 2003 I had a benign tumour in my brain that was wrapped around my pituitary gland. I had one minor and two major surgeries, along with radiation during the course of a year and a half in order to attempt to remove or stop the tumour. My hypothalamus was affected as well as many parts of my brain.

Explanation of mask: The left side of the mask represents how I felt when we first discovered the tumour. The right side represents how I feel now.

 

Name:  Mary Lou

City: Welland, ON

Brain Injury: Meningitis, Encephalitis and Pneumonia

Explanation of Mask:  Pain, frustration, confusion keeps us working to improve our life. We go through therapies to relearn how to walk, talk, think, feel and do. This “will” gives the “NEW ME.” You can never stop trying to grow and change. Helping others, accepting help from others includes a family, being part of a Brain Injury support group, being part of a church (or having faith), makes life complete. Reciprocity…helping others, being part of life and not just standing on the sidelines.

Reading, music, painting, gardening, writing…LOVE.

  • The Quick to Anger
  • The Anxiety
  • The Headaches
  • The Forgetting
  • The Fatigue

When Will It Go Away???

Name:  Kathy

City: Fenwick, ON

Brain Injury: Motor vehicle crash 1984

Explanation of Mask: One side of my mask represents how things have changed after my accident. The brain knows how to do things, but can’t do them! I cannot see properly as my visual field in one eye is foggy. But I am happy for what I can do! I am grateful for the things that I can still do post injury: stained glass work, and now I also create paintings in acrylic and oil, and I enjoy giving massages, and most important is enjoying time with my family.

Name:  Elliott

City: Niagara Falls, ON

Brain Injury:  I was in a motor vehicle crash in 2011. I learned to walk and talk again. I now have a support person that helps me during the week.

Explanation of Mask: My personality is similar to Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. When I am happy, I love to laugh and joke. When I am upset, I become very angry and it’s hard to control my emotions. I drew the crossroads to represent trying to mix my two sides together. My goal is to have a better balance between the two.

Name:  Carmond

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: I was an arborist. I was responsible and went to work. I fell 73 feet along with the tree I was cutting down.

Explanation of Mask: It has been my experience that people hear that I’m brain injured and right away think I am “retarded.” They don’t understand who I am, but look to my injury and limitations to set who I am. My mask is split in half, one side painted black, the other painted yellow. The black side represents the incorrect ideas that narrow-minded people have. The yellow side represents my true self and how I want people to see me.

Name:  Bill

City: St. Catharines, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle crash, hit by a truck in 1974. I was 19 years old when the crash occurred.

Explanation of Mask: One side of the mask shows:

  • the frustration because I can’t see
  • quick to anger
  • anxiety
  • the worst enemy is yourself

The other side of the mask shows

  • the new beginning as I started to change
  • sharing, forgiving, accepting, staying positive
  • now working which gives me a sense of purpose.

Name:  Dennis F.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Brain Tumour

Explanation of Mask: Change

Name:  David C.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Brain Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask: “Changes” This mask represents my experience of change and the abrupt displacement of my life. The disappointment and how life is boring now. I never get to see my wife and kids and I miss them!

Name:  Taylor R.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Meningitis

Explanation of Mask: I feel sad, I wish it didn’t happen to me and I was free from my injury. This mask represents my frustration and sadness, I wouldn’t be the same if I didn’t have my injury

Name:  Marg O.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Pushed from a moving vehicle.

Explanation of Mask: This mask represents my feelings of being pulled in so many directions since my injury. I miss my old life, on one side of my mask is when I was happy.

Name:  Jimmy B.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Meningitis

Explanation of Mask:The gold part of my mask is the part when I’m happy. The dark blue represents my frustration and the red part is my tears for what my live could have been.

Name:  Scott

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Skiing accident; 35 years old.

Explanation of Mask: I painted the black lines on my mask because it represents my brain being on the outside of my head; I have no skull on the right side.

Name:  John

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: What happened? I don’t remember what happened and I don’t know if that’s good or bad. My whole life changed; I had to relearn everything.

Name:  Christina C.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Overdose

Explanation of Mask: My mask is made with mixed emotions; happiness, sadness and confusion.

Name:  Julie M.

City: Huron, ON

Brain Injury: Brain Aneurysm and stroke

Explanation of Mask: One side of my mask is before my injury and is more intricate and the other is a bit foggy, however, I am getting better.

Name:  Theresa VD

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident 2009

Explanation of Mask: Thunder represents the unrest and pain of mind. The mask covers what people don’t always see and that it could happen to anyone. The makeup of pink cheeks is to show we can still be fairly healthy people with a rosy outlook on life, as to the bright pink lips.

Name:  Gary M.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  Concussion – banged head on sharp edge of car hatch/trunk when unloading things at night. I was a rapid downward motion of the head against a stationary object.

Explanation of Mask: The left side of the mask represents any life before the injury. Like anyone, I had my ups and downs, but overall it was a happy and positive place to be, hence, the upward arrows.

The centre of the mask represents the time since the injury to the present. It has been literally an explosion of noise, of uncertainty, of pain, of wonder if my headaches and dizziness and memory loss and sensitivity to light and noise and fatigue will ever go away. The arrows go down.

The right side of the mask represents hope, a turnaround, a time for being positive, the start of a new life. The arrows were going down, now they go up.

Colours:

  • Yellow = Happiness and general contentment in life.
  • Red = Chaos and pain and uncertainty
  • Green = Hope and belief things will be better.

Name:  Giles

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: An asthma attack at the age of 15. I had to relearn how to do everything again, i.e. speaking, eating, etc.

Explanation of Mask:  I painted the top different colours because I felt different after receiving my brain injury. I had a question mark and a face with an x on it, as I was confused about what was going on. The face with an x on it was also because I could not speak after waking up. I added the pictures on the sides as I wanted to be a photographer. I painted the middle and bottom yellow because it was my favourite colour. Yellow also represents being optimistic.

Name:  Negassi

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  I had a seizure and hit my head.

Explanation of Mask: I painted this mask purple because it is my favourite, it always reminds me of my doctor who works at Western University. I chose pictures of the Sudan flag because that is where my injury happened and I have family there. I picked a picture of the weather man because I like the weather. P picked the picture of a doctor as everyone calls me Dr. Negassi.

Name:  Dimi

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask:  In my mask I listed several emotions any person has. The black outline around a word represents how much I believe that emotion had impacted my like prior to my brain injury. The colours on each emotion illustrates how much that emotion impacts my daily life now. Some emotions impact me more, some less – this could be seen as good or bad.

For example, I used to be athletic and played soccer (competitive), and ice and ball hockey (recreational), as well as other sports with friends. Since the accident, I can’t even play soccer because any type of head contact, even heading a soccer ball, could result in a concussion.

On the other hand, even though I was always appreciative and grateful before my brain injury, ever since I have been even more thankful I survived the accident, along with a number of other things.

Name:  Geoff G.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask:  The picture of the wii helps me with my brain injury. I picked the picture of a microphone because I like to sing. I played basketball before I got hurt. After my injury I have a hard time communicating and I work on it every day here. I picked the earth picture because it’s blue and I like to travel.

Name:  Adam O.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: On July 30th at about 7:50 a.m. on a beautiful clear morning, I was riding my six week old Harley Davidson on Wharncliffe Road to my work. A U-Need-A-Cab decided to make an illegal U-turn and ran me over damaging my skull and giving me grain damage on all four sides. As we as the brain injury, I broke 35 major bones, broken neck in 3 places, perforated lung, damaged liver and spleen and much more.

Explanation of Mask:  My mask consists of pictures of anxiety causing issues. I never had anxiety before I had my accident, it was all new to me. I worked at a highly technical job where there were time constraints and I rarely broke a sweat. I was in charge of my life. Looking at my mask you will see Taxi signs, ten years later I cannot get in to a cab. Walmart has always been the bane of my modern existence, confusion of medications, direct spinal injections and taps, the weather, airports, loud confusing noise, getting groceries, money of course, at this time Trump as I am anxious about WW3, the lunar cycle, pubs and restaurants, talking on the phone (yuck) and many, many more.

Name:  Colleen M.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Tumour

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents the journey I have taken with a brain tumour. Easy journey?…not at all, that’s just a rumour. The left side depicts the struggle in my pre-surgery days. The right side depicts my recovery in many ways.

A Cranio Pharyngima my doc tells me this could really affect your ability to see. Close to the brain stem and below the optic nerve cross. I receive this information and now…I am at a total loss.

Left side of this mask is full of doom and gloom. Right side has flowers in full bloom! Right side has sunshine and a bunny, left side has dead worms – (Not too funny). So the right is like a candle in the dark my road to recovery, my personal Noah’s arc.

This has given me the chance I so desperately needed and it gave me the soil that I have seeded. To grow the flowers that have removed all the sorrow and strife. To be happy, to love, and to celebrate life!

Name:  Don O.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Motorcycle accident in 2015.

Explanation of Mask:   Since the cause of my injury was due to a motorcycle accident, I painted a helmet around my mask.

Name:  Leighanne H.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask:   On the top of my mask I have “Why Me?”  I ask myself this question often, I have a hard time understanding why this happened to me; I’m angry sometimes. The bottom of my mask is my happy place…somewhere I wish I had been on the day of my accident.

Name:  Martyn

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: Subarachnoid (Brain) Hemorrhage, three aneurysms and four strokes in October 2010.

Explanation of Mask:   I divided my mask into both positive and negative aspects of my brain injury. The following colours indicate:

Negative:

  • Anger, confusion, overwhelm = Brown
  • Grief, irritation, worried, dizzy = Black

Positive:

  • Miraculous = Purple
  • Love = Blue
  • Resilient = Green
  • Hopeful = Yellow
  • Passionate = Orange
  • Content = Red

There are benefits to having my brain injury. I’m more content in my life now. I had (BS) Before Stroke up until 2010. How I have (AS) After Stroke and life is a lot sweeter!

Name:  Crystal F.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury: I had brain surgery 10 years ago this up coming December for a benign meningioma tumour the size of a naval orange in the left frontal lobe of my brain. After 9 hours of surgery they were unable to remove the entire tumour as it is attached to the main vessel in my brain. Removing it would have caused me to hemorrhage. Still to this day I live with a tumour that is watched for any regrowth.

Explanation of Mask:  The top of my mask represents the headaches that occur for me frequently. Some days are worse than others and can turn into migraines. Other days it is just a nagging feeling of pressure. The feeling of being lonely is how I have sometimes felt with the anxiety and panic that I now deal with due to there being a change in my brain. Feeling empty is feeling like I can’t give back to my community anymore like I used to do, due to the headaches, etc. And of course the tears represent the sadness that overwhelms me for the whole situation.

Name:   Fernanda D.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Pedestrian Hit by a Drunk Driver

Explanation of Mask:  Life was wonderful before my injury; I had a great husband, three wonderful boys, a great home and an overall great life. I was seven minutes from my front door with my sons when the car hit me. After my accident my life completely changed, I had to grow up for a second time and relearn how to do things for myself again. I’m sad at times but the sun always seems to come out.

Name:  Anonymous

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Viral encephalitis

Explanation of Mask: Brown represents face colouring, culture. Black around eyes means lack of vision caused by brain problem.

Name:  Eve O. (caregiver)

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  I am a caregiver. My husband, Adam, had sustained a horrific motorcycle accident in July of 2007, when he was hit by a taxi on his way to work. He was not expected to survive and was placed in a coma for many weeks after.

Explanation of Mask: I met my husband at the beginning of his third year dealing with his brain injury. He is a proud man, who was doing his best to make sense of this new life path with all its confusion and fearsome stages. The band-aids represent the pain that will always be there and the kiss represents my love, support and admiration for this man who gets up most mornings wanting to live the best life he can. His humour and will to make the most of our life together has made me a better person. We are Adam and Eve making our own little piece of Eden.

Name:  Pat J.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Suicide attempt; carbon Monoxide poisoning.

Explanation of Mask: Glitter on the forehead represents me moving upward and onward; my inner journey post injury, light, peace and oneness with God.

Name:  Jamie F.

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  2 brain tumours, requiring 8 brain surgeries (3 craniotomies, 2 ventriculostomies, a series of shunt revisions), 2 cases of meningitis (bacterial & viral), and an assault causing a subarachnoid hemorrhage resulting in stroke-like symptoms.

Explanation of Mask: My mask is divided in two. The left side is representative of the period after my injuries. Since my first craniotomy I have left homonymous hemianopsia (no left field of vision in either eye) and very poor dexterity in my left hand. Since the assault I have visual mid line syndrome and a loss of propioception in my left limbs (unable to sense where the left side of my body is in space) causing my left side to be incredibly clumsy and sluggish. In other words, there is no left in my world. I felt sad, anger and cheated because my first tumour was discovered when I was 18, a time when my life and independence should have been flourishing, but my life was irrevocably changed and I felt my future was ruined. These words are spelled out with different letter cutouts like a ransom note because these feelings had taken my life hostage.

The right side of my mask is representative of my life after all my injuries, especially after the assault. The “Peer Support Program” has allowed me to turn my injuries into something positive and helpful, giving me purpose. I was one of the first 10 mentors trained in the entire province and I was “promoted” to the position of Peer Support Coordinator who is in charge of the program for London. The words “husband” and “father” are two roles that I have achieved despite my injuries, which make me “lucky” and gives me great “hope” so I can “love” and “laugh” again.

Name:  Stefanie DK (caregiver)

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  Husband’s injury – brain fracture due to a fall.

Explanation of Mask: One side is me, trying to deal (bit sad). One side is him (Dan), as the Joker, as his moods change all the time.

Name:  Gary R.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The curling rock at the top of my mask represents my passion and love for curling, something I did before my injury. The baseball lat and baseball and on my mask because I also enjoy baseball. There is a small part of my mask that is black and that represents my injury; despite of my injury I’m still a happy person.

Name:  Kayley G. (caregiver)

City:  London, ON

Brain Injury:  Car accident

Explanation of Mask: My mask helps define the feelings that I felt when my fiance’s car accident happened. As a caregiver, I had to learn how to quickly adapt to the new changes that were happening in our life. I was very anxious becoming a caregiver at first, but I quickly overcame that. Being a caregiver, it was and is certainly hard and exhausting at times, but I always remember that I am doing it for the one I love!

Name:  Bob R.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  not listed

Explanation of Mask: Before my brain injury there was green grass and blue, blue sky; I had a game plan for my life clearly laid out. After my accident I lost all direction; the green grass turned brown and left me with a big question mark in my life. My goals became very foggy, if not impossible. I’ve had to come up with a whole new game plan and new goals for myself.

Name:  Gary F. (aka Gar-Bear)

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Car hit me into 2 parked cars due to cellphone use.

Explanation of Mask: Still running it over in my mind. My mask represents the nightmares I have of being in the dark, finding a door opening and it is dark, also but now I have the darkest behind me and entering the light more and more. The words describe what I feel and the statement of being a distorted thinker working towards finding more and more clarity.

Name:  Petrina

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  I was hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: I was hit by a car when I was young. The white part of my mask represents me being calm and happy, the black part of my mask represents my frustration and bad days.

Name:  Bill O.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Hit by a car

Explanation of Mask: Along with my brain injury came mental health issues.

Name:  Joey L.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Temporal Lobectomy; right hippocampus was resected

Explanation of Mask:  I made my mask this way because this is how I was born. I put a band aid on my head because I have seizures and need help.

Name:  Natalie M.

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents my journey since my injury. My life was shattered into a million pieces and I had to find a way to put it all back together; it’s like putting a really difficult puzzle together.

Name:  Wes R.

City:  Stratford / Wingham, ON

Brain Injury:  Illness

Explanation of Mask:  This mask is representative of my war wounds from brain surgery. The cheeks are all rosy because I’m happy to still be alive.

Name:  Tara

City:  Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Meningitis

Explanation of Mask:  My mask is split in two, the illness on one side and my feelings on the other. I got meningitis when I was a baby, I don’t know life without my injury but it still makes me sad having to live my life the way I do.

Name:  Janko S.

City: London, ON

Brain Injury:  Car accident (passenger)

Explanation of Mask:  The bottom left, the darker side, represents my life before the accident (brain injury). Soccer ball and stars are for the full soccer scholarship I was on at the time.

The “BOOM” in the middle represents the accident and sudden/complete change in my life!!

The top right is filled with lighter colours and a couple of butterflies to show how I have to have an understanding in my life, and maybe, just maybe things are actually much better than I first envisioned. The “change” (butterflies) of my own outlook and attitude.

The cross in the upper-middle is there because I never lost my faith, not did it ever come into question at any point in my life since the accident (brain injury).

Name:  Janelle C.

City: Wingham, ON

Brain Injury:  Not listed

Explanation of Mask: Emotions: Black = bad mood and White = Good mood. Green mouth = Envy of people who can talk normally and not slow.

Name:  Lori H.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm

Explanation of Mask:  The red on my mask represents my aneurysm and the gold is my personality shining through.

Name: Paul A.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Tumour

Explanation of Mask:  Life before my brain injury was happy. I was wise and I could think of things clearly and I was in control of my life. I was able to steer my life in the direction I chose. Life was just beginning for me on the path I had chosen.

I remember the doctor saying things like “things aren’t good and you have tumours.” I felt like I was kicked in the stomach. He wanted to schedule the surgery that night and I knew that was not good. That was the first of three surgeries.

Now? My life is so restricted. I can’t do the things I love that most people get to do, I can’t work, I can’t live with my girlfriend like I did before. My life is hectic and I have no control. I feel like the little bit of life that I have left could be taken from me at any time. I think of this daily which makes me feel ill and I often think of the ominous one eyed man from the deck of playing cards.

“Deuces and jacks and the man with the axe, the one eyed man takes it all!”

Name: John M.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  A number of hits to the head

Explanation of Mask: Black eyes from the first time I was in hospital by someone else. The target on my head was the one kids but on me, by other students and people I worked with over the years for bullies to know how to push my buttons and upset me. My face where they decided to target the areas I’ll bleed the most. The rest of my head represents the scattered thoughts and confusion all this caused.

Name: Debi W.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury:  Aneurysm and stroke

Explanation of Mask: My mask represents my outer body experience post-injury. I saw six guardian angels over my head and fire; I knew I had to keep fighting. I still have some difficulties with everyday life but I’ve come a long way.

Name: Cecile J.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident; other party ran a red light.

Explanation of Mask: I tried to present some of my trying initial problems, some of which have not left. The chin as well as some of my other areas painted black were numb and then painful. The left side of my face was paralyzed, I couldn’t smell anything and my left eye was always weeping. The red on the right represents bruising and abrasions, when I opened my eyes I had double vision.

Name: Anonymous

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Thalamic Intra-Cranial Hemorrhage

Explanation of Mask: I feel as though my life is lost, I have no memory and feel like all my talent is gone. I am still an artist but I now need to be grounded in a different way than I was before. I’ve had to adapt to this new life…it isn’t easy.

Name: Bob F.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask: The left side which is black is evil as I have left side neglect. The right side is white which is joy and happiness because the stroke didn’t effect this side. The stroke hit me like a bullet.

Name: Michele L.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Suicide attempt

Explanation of Mask: “Highs and Lows”

Name: Sonia G.

City: Dale Brain Injury Services (London, ON)

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask: I had a car accident when I was a child so I don’t know life before my injury. The flowers on my mask represent how I’ve bloomed and how I continue growing into the person that I am. I am happy with the way my life is; I will always keep smiling.

Name: John

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Slip and fall on ice

Explanation of Mask: 3 skull fractures, sub-cranial bleeding, hemispheric disassociation, etc.

Here on my mask I have chosen to display how I feel living with my brain injury. The dark blue side represents my hemispheric disassociation. This means the tactile and normal nerves are disconnected on my left side resulting in a dead and often cold feeling splitting my left and right sides right down the middle of my body. The traffic lights (red, yellow & green) with emphasis on the yellow shows my continuous and conscious decision-making that I have always used to regulate my mine-by-minute decision-making in order to keep myself safe from bad decision-making and physical overexertion that results in a painful hangover-like state that could last for days. The faint rings around the eyes shows my light sensitivity that keeps me wearing dark sunglasses indoors even on cloudy days. The three jagged lines show the fractures in my skull that burn and ache when the weather changes.

Name: Art B. & April K.

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Fall from ladder while trimming trees at home.

Explanation of Mask: Art suffered a catastrophic brain injury 9 years ago and was diagnosed 3 years ago with Parkinson’s (which I have learned can be more likely to occur to a person who has suffered an ABI). Since Art is unable to participate in this activity, I have envisioned this mask as being from the perspective of BOTH survivor and spouse/caregiver with the overlap that often occurs with these injuries.

Name: Jeff D.

City: Wingham, ON

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  All aspects of my life changed when I had my injury. The pieces that stayed the same are my love for Boston Bruins, which is represented but the green and black. My love for my community also remained, which is represented by the blue; this is the community that supported me after my injury.

Name: Laurie F.

City: Woodstock, ON

Brain Injury: Stroke

Explanation of Mask:  My mask shows a kaleidoscope of colour and the chaos I feel each day. My brain is overwhelmed at times, dizzy with my thoughts and memories. In spite of my stroke and disability, I am still a happy and cheerful person. I have worked hard to maintain my independence.

Name: Tanya

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Motor Vehicle Accident

Explanation of Mask:  none given

Name: Ashley

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Cephalitis at 7 years old

Explanation of Mask:  Green feels like I am sad, sensitive, migraines, earthy outdoors, open to change, adored, dark green sports represents I love animals, especially cats.

Name: James

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: I was hit by a car when I was nine years of age. I wasn’t checked for a brain injury. Only 3 years ago the doctor diagnosed me with a post traumatic brain injury which gives me a different way of thinking and understanding people. So I don’t think the way they think. Makes it hard to focus on the things I need to to survive. I come to BIAD because I feel they help me a great deal.

Explanation of Mask:  My mask represents that I read and see people different. My background is that I have Mic Mac non status Indian, Irish, English British, Norwegian and Newfie. So I feel like I am part of everybody. For I see people all over the world have an injury. People see us differently and think that we’re no good and look down on us. But places like BIAD look after us and if it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be recognized. We wouldn’t be able to function and think, but BIAD prepares us to think as the outside world thinks, with the activities they do here. They prepare us to do what we need to do on the outside. BIAD gives back our rights. Thank God for them. They are a true blessing to us.

Name: HuiYu

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Car accident

Explanation of Mask:  My daughter has suffered from car accident. Lots of scars on her face. She is a girl. She has a long way to go. She loves to have a beautiful face. She is sad and crying. She often shields most parts of her face by covering it with her hair.

Name: Dawn

City: Brain Injury Association of Durham

Brain Injury: Slip and fall as well as multiple concussions

Explanation of Mask:  Life is simple and it’s sweet. Your life looks complete. You are normal and content, cheerful and a delight. However, I didn’t understand: they say “You don’t work?” “You are normal”, “Don’t be lazy”. If they only knew. If they only saw the inside. If they only knew that the mask I wear is to keep them from being affected to what my brain injury has done to me. I am un-reparable, un-fixable, but aware of who I once was. I am anxious, lonely. I’ve lost all of my friends. I have been forever changed and long for the past. I’ve been cheated but still hide behind my pretty mask as strangers judge. Truly, I long for the past.