Within an Inch of Death

“I was riding a motorcycle when a car pulled out in front of me and cut me off,” says Jay Dukeshire of Hamilton, whose life changed forever during a serious accident. “I tried to swerve, but my bike went down. I went cartwheeling down the road and slammed into a curb.”

 Jay poses for a photo.

Jay Dukeshire

Broken body

Jay was transported to the Emergency Department at Hamilton General Hospital. His heart stopped three times upon arrival. He had broken 27 bones, including four vertebrae in his back and three in his neck. All of his ribs were broken and four of them had punctured his lung.

“I underwent a number of surgeries at The General to save my life and set me on the road to recovery,” explains Jay. “I was in physiotherapy at the Regional Rehabilitation Centre for more than two years. I spent a year using a walker, eight months using crutches and four months using a cane before I could walk on my own two feet again.”

Brain trauma

The most lasting of Jay’s injuries is not readily visible – a traumatic brain injury.

“I’m alive and moving forward in life.”

“I had difficulty controlling my emotions and all of my feelings were magnified,” he says. “I could go from a full-blown rage to laughing within five minutes because of the brain injury. I also had no filter when it came to expressing myself, I had difficulty keeping my thoughts organized and I had trouble remembering things.”

Learning to cope

As his body continued to heal, Jay worked closely with neuropsychologists and advanced rehabilitation therapists to learn coping mechanisms. Various strategies help him stay focused and grounded in a hectic world. For example, whenever he begins to feel an attack of extreme emotion coming on, he plays guitar music in his head to calm down.

“I also keep a photo of my niece on my phone. Whenever I start to experience anxiety, I look at the picture and it calms me right down. Simple strategies like that make a big difference.”

Moving forward

Jay is doing well in his ongoing recovery from the brain injury. Inspired to help others in similar situations, he recently completed a diploma in Recreation Therapy and a certificate in Brain Disorders Management.

“I’m alive and moving forward in life thanks to the amazing teams at Hamilton General Hospital and the Regional Rehabilitation Centre,” says Jay. “I want to conquer the world and experience everything it has to offer. Life is going great and I’m very grateful.”