Michael Blois is a brain injury survivor. We first met him a number of years ago through our close association with the St. Michael’s Head Injury Clinic. With our help he went on to law school and articled with Howie Sacks & Henry in 2014/2015.
Here, Michael shares his story about how he was injured fighting in Afghanistan, how he responded to his injuries, how he learned to seek out help from others, and how he used that help to achieve new goals for his life, while living with the effects of a brain injury.
Following is the last, in the four-part series of articles, of Michael's ordeal.
Having come to terms with my new reality I got to work on figuring out what it was that I wanted to do with the rest of my life and ultimately, i chose law. Why did I decide to go into law? Why did I want to be a lawyer after being a soldier? These are the two questions that I am asked most often. To be honest, it is not something that came to me the moment I walked out of the clinic door having just had my world turned upside down by being told that my brain injury was going to force me out of the Army. I struggled with the idea that I would be something other than a soldier. I had gone, up to that point in my life, thinking of myself as a soldier first and anything else second.
I considered all the aspects of being a soldier that I loved, such as being part of a profession, fighting for those who can’t fight for themselves, and working in a field that is continually evolving, to name a few things. When I considered these aspects, the field of law seemed to make a lot of sense. By becoming a lawyer I would be able to achieve many of the same goals i had been achieving as a soldier. And by practising personal injury law, I would be able to help othes who have had their lives turned upside down because of their injuries. Having experience the same trauma myself, I wanted to help people who have suffered brain injuries; people who I could relate to, and help them get through the same things that I have gone through.
When I came to this realization, I had never stepped foot inside of a university, nor did I know how to become a lawyer. All I knew was that I was going to do whatever it took to get to where I wanted to be and I was not going to let my brain injury hold me back.
I applied to Laurentian University the next day. I completed two years of studies there and was accepted into the University of Western Ontario’s Law School, through their program for veterans. By this time, after having been medically released from the army, i discovered that the government refused to help with the cost of law school, because law school did not fit their overly stringent requirements for re-training. However, I was very lucky, in that, Dr. Ouchterlony at St. Michael’s Hospital Head Injury Clinic sought out financial assistance on my behalf, and one of the law firms that responded was Howie, Sacks & Henry. When I graduated from Osgoode Hall Law School, I applied to, and was accepted by Howie, Sacks & Henry to work as an articling student. I wanted to work here because of the firm’s sterling reputation and quality lawyers that I could learn from.
I am now in a position to be able to help people. People who have been injured, and who may feel like their world is upside down. I can fight to ensure their rights are protected and that they are given every opportunity to get back to their old selves, or as close as is possible. For some, like me, their old self might not be attainable. In those situations I am optimistic that I can offer a little glimmer of hope that a new reality – caused by the limitations of an injury -- does not mean that a fulfilling and happy future isn’t possible. And I will be by their side every step of the way.Part 1: How I Sustained my Brain Injury Part 2: Denial of My Brain Injury Part 3: Acceptance of My Brain Injury, and the Road to Recovery Part 4: One Door Closes and Another Opens…