Local freelance writer Jesse Ferguson shares his story in a four-part series
The following story is the fourth and final installment in a four-part series chronicling writer Jesse Ferguson’s experience living with an acquired brain injury, originally printed in Brant News. Read Part 1, 2, 3 of the series at bscene.ca
This story is in part dedicated to the memory of Josh Demeulenaere who lived with an acquired brain injury. He passed away in his thirtieth year from complications of the injury.
By: Jesse Ferguson
In Part 1 of this story, we introduced the topic of brain injury. In Part 2, we introduced a few more victims and some of the problems we have to deal with. And in Part 3 we heard from the victims themselves and what they go through, everyday. Tying a bow in the series:
One notable struggle most ABI (acquired brain injury) survivors experience following their injuries is in the pursuit of love and relationships. Chris, Josh, and I, survivors of ABI, all had or have a substantial problem finding a girl good enough to take us on following our accidents. We’re too intimidating for most, I guess.
I shudder… On this subject, Metallica’s song The Day That Never Comes” rings through: “Love is a four letter word, that never focuses. Love is (just) a four letter word, here in this prison.”
In our cases, the prison referred to is brain injury.
I try rather hard at this word, but fail rather miserably. To make up for the lack of love, I went to the bar more often than I’d like to admit.
And If I was seen in still frame, you’d think I pick up all the time. I have, but marginally so since my accident.
Another song sings through my head as I consider this: “How come I never get laid? | Us guys always lose. | So much at stake, | can’t catch a break. | I hate my life (Theory of a Deadman– “Hate My Life”).”
I feel that speech deficit must be central in our limited offers. We don’t even register on most women’s radar, likely due to such deficits experienced because of our injuries.
In this sense, I do hate my life. We need someone divine to see past the injury that envelopes us.
To open up the subject area, all three of our lives took unreasonable turns thanks to our accidents, which have shifted our lives in ways we never thought imaginable. We started as naïve adolescents only to be swept up, devastated and devoured in the riptide of brain injury.
With that being said, where did we go? Josh went on to live at the family farm, where he says he would’ve been anyway. Chris said he would be in the area if not for his accident as well. I don’t know where I would be if my injury hadn’t occurred, but since my family lives in Brantford and area, I could also still be here.
While our locations may not have been displaced, our everyday lives are. However, with all the loads of bad that our accidents have brought, there are also positives.
“I actually wouldn’t change a thing (about my life),” Chris says, which piques my attention. “I mean, I wish I didn’t have the accident, but I have a lot here that I didn’t before.”
Such as, his own house. His mom is nearby, but not with him. In ways, the accident seems to have regulated his life when he claims it was out of control before.
Josh also had personal gains. Before the accident, his sister, Megan, reports he was reckless. “Josh always did what he wanted and if he wasn’t allowed, he found a way around it. Even if it meant getting in trouble,” she says, with no debate from anyone who knew him. But after, she says, he just wouldn’t do those things.
As for me, despite a profound loss of physical ability, my life after brain injury is not without silver lining. Before the accident, I always worried about what everyone thought about me, even though I was perfectly fine. A song that speaks to my life on this subject is “Frantic” by Metallica: “I’ve worn out always being afraid. An endless stream of fear that I’ve made. Treading water full of worry; this frantic-tick-tick-tock.”
And now, even when I am not “fine” and perhaps should be insecure, I am not. Why? Because I have come to grips with my life.
That’s what makes me think I’ve won this battle, if there is any way to differentiate the winners from losers (though I’m pretty sure we’re all losers in that sense). I’m not saying this cancels out my challenges, because it doesn’t, but I can see how this was for my benefit. I have no more frantic angst. It’s just gone…
Like a metal that can only achieve its peak hardness when subjected to a maximum temperature, I think I’ve only become this way because I’ve been put to the ultimate test. The song “The Light” by the band Disturbed says: “Sometimes darkness, can show you the light.”
I may have lost my physical abilities as result of the accident, but now I walk with a new metaphorical swagger to mesh with the literal one the accident left.
I come from a time and place where my friends might label someone. I’m very aware that I am now on the receiving end of such labels. Therefore, I should increase awareness of this “hidden disability” (and the not-so-hidden aspects).
The swagger I now have comes from knowing with enough hard work, belief in oneself, as well as the support of family, friends and professionals, even with something as devastating as an acquired brain injury can be overcome.
I have defied the doctors. Through hard work, putting myself out there, and relentless resilience, I have an exploding social life with a multitude of friends. I also graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University with my journalism degree.
Ultimately, I have what doctors said I couldn’t: a great life.
Brain injury, you’re not the end of me.
– Read the entire series of Jesse Ferguson’s story at bscene.ca. Reach Jesse at firstname.lastname@example.org.