David Hardie sits in his living room, strumming his guitar and sings a song he wrote himself, all about finding meaning and new opportunities within the struggle of life. When he was eight-years-old, he restrung his guitar and retaught himself how to play it left handed. This is just one, of many examples, of David’s determination, strength and ability to overcome and recover from the traumatic situations life threw at him when he was very young.
“In August 1971, a day after my eighth birthday a drunk driver hit our family car, killing my dad and leaving me and my mom with injuries. I had many broken bones and sustained a serious brain injury. I had to relearn everything at a really young age.”
After such a traumatic event, David says his whole family struggled. There was very little information or education on brain injury at the time. Unfortunately, his struggles continued.
“In 1983, a week before Christmas, I was crossing the street on a dark and stormy night and was hit by a pizza delivery car which sent me back to hospital and gave me my second brain injury.”
In 1994, David found Providence Care’s Community Brain Injury Services (CBIS) and became a client of the Assisted Living Program. Since then he says, he has only been looking forward.
“With the support of CBIS, I have learned how to set goals, make a plan and succeed. My biggest success and one of my proudest moments was quitting smoking. It’s been over seven years that I’ve been smoke free and I don’t ever plan on going back- it’s too darn expensive,” he jokes.
David receives support in his home that is available 24 hours a day. A big part of his support team is his Community Rehabilitation Counselor, Susan Thomas, who has worked primarily with David since 2011.
“I help David with things like banking, setting up transportation, meal planning, grocery lists, a lot of memory support and memory strategies to help with organization,” says Susan. “I also help him set goals and assist with implementing the plan needed to achieve them,” she adds.
CBIS provides David with an individualized program that uses a participate-to-learn approach.
“Our service plans work on the premise of roles as goals,” says the Assisted Living Program Coordinator Mackennsie Pritchard. “One of David’s roles, that we help him achieve and work toward, is to be a brain injury educator and entertainer.”
To help build awareness, David travels to different seminars and visits local schools and organizations, telling his story and playing his music as a way to teach others about the reality of living with brain injury. He also uses his voice to inspire and encourage others who may be in early stages of understanding their own brain injury.
“Teaching others is a role I feel I need to play,” says David.
“The independence piece, having choices and the ability to make decisions is very important in this program,” says Susan. “We work closely with our clients and outline their goals for the year together through a very specific service plan that helps us pinpoint their meaningful pursuits and the actions needed to achieve success,” she adds.
“We help our clients live a fulfilling life that is meaningful to them and gets them involved in their community,” says Mackennsie. “We provide support when they need it and want it, while still maintaining a level of independence for our clients that may not have otherwise been possible.”
David says independence is very important to him. He works part-time, takes guitar lessons, and is an avid member of a local exercise program. He is also something of a local celebrity at his neighbourhood Tim Horton’s and entertains anyone who is interested with his memorable Donald Duck impression.
“Once you’ve seen one brain injury, you’ve only seen one brain injury,” says David thoughtfully. “They’re all so different.”
David finishes singing his song. Through his music, he sums up his life with brain injury beautifully but concisely.
“I meet the most remarkable people…life with brain injury can be filled with new opportunities, instead of frustration and tears.”