A young woman ended up nearly dying and sustaining a traumatic brain injury after an accident on a night out. When she finally came round in hospital, she had a heartbreaking message to read
At the age of 25, Brie Duval was living her absolute best life – she’d moved from Australia to Canada, was working in her dream job and had been in a great relationship for four years.
But one evening last August caused everything to come crashing down around her.
During a night out with some friends on August 29, she ended up having a horrific fall from a car park. Ongoing construction meant one of the walls wasn’t finished, meaning at one end there was a drop straight down to the pavement.
In the darkness, it was difficult to see and with no signs or tape covering the drop, Brie ended up falling headfirst over the edge.
She was airlifted to the University of Alberta Hospital and placed on life support in the ICU, with a brain injury and numerous broken bones.
Brie says she was in a coma for four weeks, with doctors telling her mum there was only a 10 per cent chance of her pulling through.
Thankfully, her parents refused to let the life support be turned off and within three weeks she had started showing signs of improvement.
When she finally woke up, she experienced some amnesia, but once she began putting pieces back into place and was able to remember day to day things, she was given back her phone.
But what greeted her was heartbreaking – her partner of four years, who she’d been living with before the accident, had ghosted her, blocking her on social media and moving on with someone else.
“I was finally given my phone and my first thought was to call him and just see if he knew what happened. He hadn’t been to see me,” Brie told The Mirror.
“So I opened my phone going to message him when a message pops up from this woman that says I am now with [partner’s name]. I have moved him out. He’s now living with me and my son, please do not contact him.
“I have not heard from him since I have been in hospital, he’s completely and utterly left me in the dust. So I don’t even have closure as to why this happened.”
As if this weren’t bad enough, as well as waking up with a traumatic brain injury (TBI) and being ghosted, Brie was also unable to see her parents, who were in Australia and prevented from travelling due to coronavirus restrictions.
“They told my mum that I had a 10 per cent chance of living and that she should get over to Canada as soon as she could because things weren’t looking good,” she recalls.
“This was in the peak of Covid, so in Australia, you weren’t allowed to leave or enter the country.
“My mum and dad went to the government and asked for special permission to say goodbye to me as things were bad at that point. They refused them, they would not give them a chance and they would not give them a reason, they just flat out said no.
“So my mum told doctors in Canada to keep my life support on and do not under any circumstances turn that off, which they had to medically abide by.”
The incident has made her realise she never wants to be apart from her family again and she has since moved back to Australia to be near them.
“Seeing them would have helped. I struggled heavily, I had a near-death experience. I was confused, I was scared, and I would quite literally cry every single day. It was definitely something I never want to live through again and I don’t want to be apart from my family again.”
Brie was in the hospital for a total of five months as she recovered from the accident, and while she didn’t have her parents by her bedside thankfully her best friend Sam drove an eight-hour round trip each weekend to visit her and Sam’s mum, Sandy, would also come and keep her company.
“Sandy used to come and visit me every day as she lived in the city, she’d make sure I had everything I need as I didn’t have my actual mum with me. She’d stay for hours, play board games and keep in contact with my mum. She was right in the thick of it.”
The recovery process is ongoing for Brie, who is learning to live with a TBI and now wants to raise awareness of what it’s really like.
“It’s been very hard mentally, there’s definitely a bit of PTSD from everything that has happened, I’m just trying to sort through my emotions, going through the accident and then having that letdown of a relationship,” she said.
“Getting back to normal life, just trying to establish what my new normal is – I couldn’t swallow when I first woke up, I’ve had to try and learn how to walk again, from my waist down to my toes, it feels like it’s gone dead. All my muscle was just completely lost as I was laying in bed.
“It’s frustrating not being able to do the things I want to do, my mental clarity is nowhere near where it used to be, I’ve got brain fogginess.
“Having a TBI is kind of like having concussion symptoms that are continuing. They don’t go away.
“It’s a struggle because the thing is, you’re not visibly disabled. Like visibly you would look at me and think I was in perfect physical, and mental health. I don’t look like I have a brain injury but it’s a huge part of my life. I’m struggling every single day to function and do simple things that I used to do.”
Her TikTok videos have started going viral, but she’s also received some backlash from trolls. However, she refuses to let this stop her.
“I never thought in a million years that my TikTok would go viral, I’ve had some really nice comments from people and at the end of the day, this is all about spreading awareness of TBI and brain injuries and just telling my story and my side of things.
“If people don’t understand, that’s fine. I try not to take too much notice of them because they must be so sad to comment something horrible.”
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