Jonathan's story - never judge a book by its cover

August 19, 2021

BIA Week

Due to brain injury, Jonathan McCall was at a loss for words when he visited a Devonport pharmacy recently. What began as a triggering experience soon led to understanding – all thanks to the National Assistance Card.

Due to brain injury, Jonathan McCall was at a loss for words when he visited a Devonport pharmacy recently.  

What began as a triggering experience soon led to understanding – all thanks to the National Assistance Card.

Scene of Jonathan's accident

“With my specific brain injury, I can have good days and bad days,” he said.

“On this specific day, I was having trouble focusing on what I had to do.

“I felt extremely tired, and to anyone who didn’t know me, I would have seemed to be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”

For many people living with brain injury, assumptions are sometimes made by members of the public.

“I was worried and angry that I might not get the medications I needed,” Jonathan said.
“I took a deep breath and presented my National Assistance Card, and with a slow and slurred remark I said, ‘I think this may help.’”

It did. Immediately the mood changed, and the pharmacist then apologised to Jonathan.

“He said in future when I needed to come in for scripts, my file would show the information from my card to help future attendants understand,” he said.

Jonathan said the National Assistance Card “changed the entire feeling of the interaction.”

Jonathan in hospital

“It went from feeling like ‘We don’t want to serve you these medications while you’re intoxicated’ to ‘We are sorry this has happened to you; we now understand why your speech is slurred and why you can’t remember the names of all your medications. They asked me what they could do to assist me.”

Jonathan said the best thing members of the public could do for people with brain injury was to be patient.

“Help me help myself,” he said.

“I’ve had to present the National Assistance Card when I have been trying to do things for myself, and I almost feel defeated when I have to get it out, but if someone helps me to do things for myself, I don’t feel so bad.”

“It’s nice to have the card there if it’s needed, as a back-up.”

Jonathan was involved in a motorcycle accident near Sheffield on December 2, 2018. He sustained a shearing brain injury due to alack of blood flow to the rear of his frontal cortex. Jonathan’s memory, speech, and concentration have been impacted.

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