The following story was written and submitted by Carol Paetkau of the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association in recognition of June being Brain Injury Awareness Month in Canada.
The uplifting images captured by Dave Hildebrand’s camera don’t reflect the significant challenges he has undergone since suffering devastating brain and spinal cord injuries in 2009 that changed his life forever.
After falling from a second-storey deck onto his head at work, Hildebrand faced a long journey of physical, cognitive and emotional recovery.
With support from his loving family, Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association (FVBIA) and rehabilitation provided through WorkSafeBC, Hildebrand has done remarkably well.
When you meet him, it is hard to imagine that he still struggles with handling crowds, noise, lights, low energy and coping with stress because of the changes to his brain.
There are no obvious physical signs that he has any disability, yet the issues stemming from the brain injury affect him every day.
Hildebrand is a FVBIA board member and mentor to others.
“We are not victims, we are survivors. We will learn as much as we can about our injury, put the past behind us and discover our new life to live it to the fullest possible,” he said.
Hildebrand’s optimistic outlook is reflected in the beautiful pictures he takes. Photography was a new talent and passion that he discovered after attending FVBIA’s PhotoClub in Abbotsford.
“I would probably be very depressed and lonely if not for the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association. I have made many new friends … and found a place of acceptance and appreciation,” he said.
Although Hildebrand’s life after his injury has not gone back to the way it was, he is hopeful for the future and realizes that there are many exciting aspects of his new life.
Not everyone with an acquired brain injury has access to the kinds of supports Hildebrand had during his recovery so please protect your brain.
Contact Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association for more information at firstname.lastname@example.org, 604-557-3558 or www.fvbia.org.
(Below: Photo by Dave Hildebrand)