Gerry had a career as a maintenance and repair technician before his brain injury. He was a natural leader who was able to interpret blueprints, perform all aspects of maintenance and yard care, and had a successful business of his own.
After his brain injury in 2015, he found that self-employment was very diﬃcult. Symptoms like fatigue and memory issues were taking over his abilities. Today, with the support of the South Okanagan Similkameen Brain injury Society (SOSBIS), Gerry is learning how to cope with the fatigue which once reduced processing time, and caused troubles with problem solving, storing, and retrieving information.
He is learning how important it is to listen to his body if he’s really tired in the afternoon. Allowing himself more time to rest and recover each time the fatigue becomes overwhelming has helped him so much. He now knows that planning and pacing himself are key components in preventing fatigue from happening.
We asked Gerry to talk a bit about himself, and the Vocation Employment Program that the Brain Injury Alliance funds. How does your brain injury aﬀect your health?
In the last year and a half I have had several epileptic seizures that resulted in a brain injury with symptoms including memory loss and fatigue.
How did the brain injury change your life?
It changed every aspect of my life. I had my own business as a maintenance worker, ﬁxing all kind of things in and around people’s houses. Since my brain injury, I have memory problems; remembering things and executing tasks takes me much longer. Before I was able to do most things automatically, but now I have to think about each step that needs done. It has really aﬀected my self-conﬁdence.
Can you tell us a little bit more about the brain injury employment program you’re involved in?
My case manager told me about the employment program as an opportunity to get back into the work process. I was very excited about it, and I recently started painting some suites. In one way it feels like starting all over again, but when I’m painting, I experience that I’m still able to do the work. And, because there is no pressure or stress, I have time to bring back my skills and qualities.
How does the program beneﬁt you?
Despite my brain injury, I still want to be the same person as I was before, and being able to work again helps me to draw back that old Gerry. With the help of SOSBIS my mood has improved, I’m building up my self-worth, and I’m gaining conﬁdence that one day I will have my own maintenance business again. I sincerely thank SOSBIS, the Alliance, and the government for making this program available.