Yesterday, Dave and I spent the afternoon at the Brain Injury Resource Fair in Augusta, Maine. This annual event, sponsored by the Brain Injury Association of America – Maine chapter, was the first held since the pandemic. Our brain aneurysm group had a table along with many, many vendors from different areas of Maine and New England.
The program director of the Maine chapter of the BIAA is headed by Sarah Gaffney who is a spark plug of encouragement and energy. As usual, she and her team did an amazing job with this event. Sarah’s advocacy is motivating and impressive. I was honored when she asked me to tell my story in their November 2020 newsletter.
Dave and I had to shake off some of the cobwebs while setting up our many banners and table-top displays as it has been so long since we have attended any indoor events like this. It felt good!
It was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in person and reconnect with some of the many, many people whose daily focus is to assist the brain injury community here in Maine.
These events are always a challenge for me, mainly because I’m better with faces, but horrible with names. Dave, on the other hand, has a great memory and all of his faculties when it comes to matching names to faces. I didn’t see much of him during the 3-hour event because he was busy catching up and networking with other vendors around the large arena at the armory. This is one of THE best events in the state for doing that.
As the general public started to arrive, you’re quickly reminded why we were all there: to offer much needed education, outreach, information, and resources to those who desperately need it.
I do relatively well when people ask questions regarding brain aneurysms, but when a question is thrown my way that I wasn’t expecting and haven’t had to answer before, I can often struggle. I feel bad I may not give the answer the person was looking for, but I try my best. Dave is much better at that than I am. When I get tired, I can also start to fumble with my words. But I think I’m among friends here who are more forgiving.
Every type of brain injury is represented at this event and every type of service can be found, but knowing where to look is one of the biggest problems, especially in such a rural state like Maine.
Since the pandemic, our brain aneurysm support group has only been held virtually, via ZOOM. So it was wonderful to meet two newer members of our support group in person today for the first time as well as meeting one of our previous speakers in person. I’m very proud of our small group. I KNOW we’re doing good work and today only validated that. If we can help one person feel better, find resources, or navigate a challenge, it’s all worth it.
The term “brain injury” encompasses a wide range of issues from mild concussions to debilitating damage from severe trauma, stroke or tumors. The struggles survivors endure can be very similar, but every story, every injury is different and requires different needs. Witnessing the strength and daily commitment of survivors and their caregivings is an inspiration. It’s not easy. It’s frustrating, scary, and complex. Knowing where to go for support and care can improve the daily lives of not only the person who is struggling, but for their families. Events like todays are so important and we were thrilled to be a part of it.
I created this short reel some time ago to highlight some of those struggles survivors deal with.