Living Life with a Smile
Dylan (on the far left) greets his friends with a huge smile and a warm handshake. He laughs easily as he exchanges friendly banter with others. One would never guess by observing Dylan that he is living anything other than a normal, healthy life. It’s part of what makes his life challenging but it’s a challenge he’s up for.
Dylan has lived with an acquired brain injury (ABI) since 2014 and says that, in his case, the challenge of living with an ABI is that it is an invisible illness.
“People take a look at me and think I’m totally fine,” he explains. “I am not the same as I was before my accident. I am way better than I was right after the accident, but I still have things I have to work on.”
Dylan was struck by a car while walking to work. He suffered injuries to his leg and to his head. He was airlifted to Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, where he was put into an induced coma. When he awoke from that, he discovered that he couldn’t speak.
“The only word I could say was ‘blanket’,” he says. “I spent months in rehab having to relearn how to walk and talk.”
Dylan continues to work with a team of therapists who help him work the different parts of his brain, refining his motor skills and his speech. He is thankful for the difference these therapists have made in his life. He is also deeply grateful for his supportive family.
“My parents, my four siblings, my grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins – they are all super supportive. I would not be where I am today without such a supportive family.” – Dylan
Another significant source of support is the Brain Injury Drop-In group offered through Communitas Supportive Care Society. Drop-Ins are offered in Abbotsford and Chilliwack and provide social, community and recreation opportunities in a safe, supportive environment for those living with ABI. Dylan truly appreciates the people he interacts with at Drop-In.
“This is a place where people understand me,” he says. “This is where I can relax, be myself, and know that there is no judgement. They make me feel like family.”
Dylan continues to make significant strides in his health. He has participated in seasonal work at Berry Hill Foods and is thankful for an understanding and supportive employer. His next big step is to move out on his own.
“I’ve been looking at places and hope to take that step soon,” he says.
As Dylan continues on this journey, he has learned a lot about himself and others who live with ABI. When asked what he hopes the community at large would know about him and his friends, his face lights up with that enormous smile.
“I hope that people will see that even though we live with brain injury, we are still active, having fun, living our lives,” he says. “We are all still human beings.”