Brain Injury Awareness Month

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Life is a Painting

“There is a great feeling of accomplishment when I complete a painting and I enjoy pushing my brain to succeed at something that I would not normally be good at.”

I was a successful financial advisor with a big life.  I worked endless hours each week, but loved every minute of it.  I travelled the world going to conferences for work and for leisure.  My life was extravagant and I enjoyed and cherished every aspect.   

On September 12, 2013, I had a stroke and my life changed.  The blood clot was on the right side of my brain, affecting the left side of my body.  I have difficulties moving my left arm and leg, and am unable to walk for long distances.  I’m basically bound to my wheelchair. 

I started my rehabilitation process in June 2014, which consisted of physiotherapy, massage therapy, and home-based exercises with my caregivers.  It has been a long and arduous process.  There have been many ups and downs, but when it comes down, it comes really down. 

About a month before the pandemic started, I had a fall when I was walking to the bathroom from my bed in the middle of the night.  I had a dizzy spell and lost my balance.  Before I knew it, I was on the ground, but fell onto my cane in the process.  I ended up with a large bruise on my left hip (my stroke side) and severe back pain.  Anytime I feel like I’ve made progress, something like this happens.  I feel like I can never catch a break.  As I was starting to feel like I was getting better again, that was when the pandemic started.  Again, when it comes down, it comes really down.

Before my stroke, I had a keen interest in art and painting.  I had done some large abstracts that I hung in my offices.  After my stroke, I decided to start painting again, mostly out of boredom.  I hired a teacher to come to my home once a week and he guides me with my paintings.  For some reason, I wanted to take on a new challenge, so I started doing animal abstracts and landscapes in water colours.  I love bright colours and I think I’ve become known for that amongst my family and friends who have seen all of my artwork. 

I love painting.  It gives me a real sense of purpose and I feel accomplished when I hear people’s feedback about my work.  I have given some of my paintings as gifts, and I have even sold a few – one that was even shipped half way across the world!  Although I get frustrated with certain aspects of every painting I work on, I know that that is just a part of my personality.  I was always a tough boss and I knew it.  I was strict with others, just as I am strict with myself.  If I don’t like an aspect of my painting, I’ll do it all over again.  That’s just who I am.

There is a great feeling of accomplishment when I complete a painting and I enjoy pushing my brain to succeed at something that I would not normally be good at.  With this painting, I was inspired by my cottage, which was my very favourite place to be.  Although I had to finally sell it this year, I have many fond memories of all of the times I spent there, with Christmas being my most favourite time of the year.  The fir trees remind me of those winters at my cottage and the bluish-purple skies were exactly like the skies we had there.

Although my recovery process has not been a smooth one, I know it’s not supposed to be that way.  Even my life before my stroke was never smooth, so how can I expect it to be different now.  One thing’s for sure is that painting keeps me going, even in the roughest of times.  Through my frustrations, I always feel a sense of peace and serenity when I work away at my paintings and see how they finally develop into my desired finish product.  I guess you could say that my recovery and painting processes are pretty similar.  There are moments of defeat when I want to give up on myself or my painting, but there are more often than not, moments of triumph when I am proud of myself for taking that extra step in physio or perfecting that stroke of my paintbrush.  I’ve come to the realization that life is not smooth and it’s meant to be that way.

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