Confusion. Fear of the unknown. Worry about the future. Somehow, Niki Foulon manages not to be overwhelmed by these emotions as she shares the story of how her brain injury has affected her life. Instead, she lets them flow through paint strokes onto the stark white canvas of a mask.
Niki and other patients of Parkwood Institute’s Acquired Brain Injury Program painted masks depicting their journey with brain injury to raise awareness of the reality they face each day. Here is Niki’s story, in her own words.
Hi !! I’m Niki and I have an acquired brain injury. Now what that means I have learned that it is completely 100% different for everyone even if two people have the same diagnosed type of brain injury. As odd as it is I always like to use the no two snowflakes are the same ever theory to explain to others or try to make sense in my own head. So saying that I really wanted to have people understand that my story and struggles with my ABI are mine and mine only! Also I wanted to open up by me saying that I do not remember at all about a week before my accident to about a month and a half post coma, which I was in a coma for around a month. So my recap on my accident is all medical records or me knowing me as a person and piecing it together. So accuracy I will not take credit for. The night of my accident was late in the middle of the night on a country road which I was the only one on as well the only one in the vehicle (I thank the lord every day for that alone).
Why I swerved off the road and hit gravel is still unknown and always will be. It has taken me a long time to come to peace with that. (Not sure I am there yet). I hit gravel and was just about to make my way over a bridge when I hit the gravel and fell off the side of the bridge, down I went rolling my car. And I am still not sure who was watching over me that night however a hydro pole stopped me from continuing to roll possibly onto the 402. And definitely would have been dead at that point. As well back to the hydro pole and someone watching over me because the hydro guys being up in their bucket fixing the mysterious power outage, looked down and saw my car. Or who knows who would ever saw me and when. Because I have checked out the sight of the accident and No-one ever would have saw me. Those two hydro guys are still actively in my life, checking in on my progress. My amazing family has reached out to them and thanked them from the bottoms of their hearts because those two gentlemen saved my life. I have met so many incredible people along the way but those two will forever hold a special place in my heart! It took 13 hours of surgery to rebuild me and what incredible medical professionals I have had on my side along the way. After I woke from the coma and became somewhat stable I went over to stay at Parkwood Institute where I after a month or so got accepted into the rehabilitation program they had available. Which I am so incredibly lucky to have this experience on my side. They got me out of my wheelchair and off a feeding tube (the best day when I was allowed cheeseburgers and ice caps again) they got me back out into the community again which with my ABI was huge because it caused a lot of anxiety for me. They educated me as much as they possibly could about the brain injury world and what that means. Looking back now they were such a huge part in prepping me and dealing with this very unknown world. I thank heaven for them too! Life nowadays is different every single day. I am not even 2 years post-accident, so every day consists of trying to be happy in my new life. As well as therapy. I haven’t learned yet to walk unassisted and just had another surgery! I am a mother of two little boys! Which I am convinced that is why I am still here. So with all of this chaos I am in the process of getting them/proving that I’m a capable mother again. Which I say that with no negativity possible! I’m beyond grateful they are looking out for what is best for my gentlemen. This is all a step in the right direction, I can say that today however the mental fatigue and physical fatigue of trying to be “normal “ Niki becomes a lot sometimes. I am still everyday as clueless as I was in the beginning, day 1 and day out. However one thing I do know from all of this is I am not only a survivor but mainly a warrior.
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See all the masks created in our Flickr photogallery:
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