My husband has a brain injury: conclusion

By admin
29 December 2013

Slowly but surely the Fouries settle down to life with a brain-injured dad and spouse, and the abnormal becomes normal, writes our blogger Michelle Fourie in her final weekly blog.

The Fouries today. From left are Jacques (15), Sophie Sibanyoni, Michelle, Jackie and Ruben (7). Photo: Rowyn Lombard

It seems we’ve reached a plato at home in terms of a healthy family life. The abnormal becomes part of our normal daily life.

Jackie’s inconsistent behaviour which ranges from being inactive (when he’s just sitting on the bed staring at nothing) to overreacting to little issues, causes conflict – especially with Jacques, who’s now a teenager with much more responsibility than he should be carrying at his age. I also realise that I’m turning to him for advice and guidance.

And then a miracle happens. Jacques get a bursary from the Atterbury Trust to stay in the school hostel. My child can be just a child again.

I feel like I’m having to process a loss again, and Ruben misses his older brother, but gradually I realise that this Trust has probably saved my child’s life. He’s laughing again!

Ruben, who didn’t want to go to school, suddenly has a best friend. Young Steve becomes the answer to my prayers, and going to school is fun again for Rubie.

My friends carry me and the Danville help project sees to it that we never go to bed hungry. But I’ll have to make a plan about therapy and stimulation for Jackie.

Jackie and the boys at a recent sport meeting. He never used to mis a matched where they played.

I hear about Headway, a non-governmental organisation that provides therapy and support to people with brain injuries.

Sophie, once our domestic worker, has become Jackie’s carer and will go to these classes with him while I’m at work. (My thatching business is hanging in there and surviving).

And so Headway Tshwane becomes part of Jackie’s new life. The therapy sessions, which vary from games, physio exercises, music and art to memory exercises, are both exhausting and beneficial to him. The therapists and volunteers who treat our brain-injured loved ones with so much compassion and respect are a revelation to me. Even more than the therapy, becoming acquainted with people walking the same road becomes part of our healing process.

New friends come into Jackie’s life. Pierre who picks him and Sophie up for class and also takes him to the Wilgers hospital congregation’s activities. Once a well-known physician, his life changed in the blink of an eye as result of a brain tumour. And in this way we meet many other superheroes at Headway, people who accept Jackie as he now is. People who’ve survived strokes, accidents and other illnesses that affect their brains. They’re happy to see one another and close friendships develop in due course. It becomes a twice-weekly highlight for Jackie. I realise that we don’t have to walk this road on our own. There’s help . . . also for those of us who have to walk this road with a loved one. And so we walk on. The road is still littered with twists and turns and many times, especially at night, anxiety sets in and ghosts show up.

Clockwise from above left: Jackie in intensive care after the accident which left him with permanent brain damage; the gifted computer programmer two weeks before the accident; Jackie and Michelle have dated since their schools days; Jacques and Ruben get a weekend break courtesy of Sun City; the family shortly after Jackie’s rehabilitation started; and the car wreck immediately after the accident.

But I’ve learnt a few lessons along this road.

* Trust in God.

* Believe in miracles.

* Appreciate your family.

* See the world through the eyes of your child.

* Be honest with yourself.

* Be grateful and cherish good friendships.

* Take note of others’ pain and be caring towards people.

* Don’t lose your sense of humour.

* Observe the wonder of nature every day.

* You don’t need money to create good memories.

* Laugh a lot and don’t hold back the tears.

* Appreciate your staff. They’re worth gold.

* Enjoy your children.

* Try to focus every day on the positive things that happen.

* Keep a diary, especially when times are hard. It’s therapeutic.

* Believe in the power of prayer.

Thank you for being part of the journey with Jackie.

Lots of love

- Michelle


Michelle Fourie has blogged for YOU for the past 11 weeks about how life changed for her and her two sons after her husband, Jackie, sustained a permanent brain injury in a car accident. This is the last blog about their life, but we’ve asked her to continue with an occasional blog next year to tell us how things are going. Through the blog she’s met many supportive people whose personal stories have in turn inspired her, and she’ll share them with us.

Find Love!