Tapestry

A drug overdose put him in a six-week coma. He found a new purpose, farming goats

A drug overdose left Brendon Meister with a serious brain injury. Following the incident, Meister left Toronto to live with his family in Kentville, N.S. Just as difficult as recovery, however, was finding a new purpose in life. That came when he discovered goat farming.

Having sustained a serious brain injury, Brendon Meister struggled to find motivation.

(Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)
Listen12:51

Brendon Meister has tread a long, difficult road after overdosing on drugs three years ago.

The overdose struck at a time when Brendon was using crystal meth heavily, partying hard and sleeping little.

"I'd stay awake for a week at a time," Brendon said. "Seriously."

Then, after taking what's suspected to have been opioid-laced crystal meth, Brendon's life nearly ended.

The overdose led to a six-week coma. It caused a brain injury that knocked out his motor skills, leaving him unable to walk and impacted his memory, causing him to forget major events of his life.

Kevin Meister, right, dealt with addiction issues himself. He said he's trying to teach his son Brendon, left, everything he learned when it comes to leaving addiction behind. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

But today, things are improving. Brendon has learned to walk again. He moved into a big household just outside Kentville, N.S., with his dad, his dad's partner, his stepsister and her fiance.

And critically, he found purpose in life again — purpose that comes from a group of goats.

"When I was feeling Coco's belly, petting her, you could clearly feel the bump in it. And it wasn't squishy like it was food. Like … there was a kid in there," said Brendon, looking down at a pregnant black and white doe named Coco, one of four goats under his care.

Brendon Meister says farming goats helped him feel a sense of purpose again. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

The goats are part of an idea he hatched with Jasmine Lomond, his stepsister and caregiver, when they were looking for projects for Brendon — anything that might help him find purpose in life again.

"When he first got here, unless someone went in and woke him, he would stay in bed until suppertime," said Jasmine.

While Brendon struggled to find motivation, cognitive issues made things worse. He had trouble remembering the identities of his family members and Lomond would have to remind him who she was, multiple times an hour.

"Meeting someone and not knowing if you already met them before. It can really be frustrating, you know. Like, it troubles your mind," said Brendon.

With time, Brendon's motor skills improved, but he still lacked motivation. Eventually, he and Lomond struck on the idea they figured would get him up in the mornings.

They brought the plan to Brendon's dad and Lomond's mom.  

"They came to me and Jasmine's mother and said, 'we have an idea. Can we get some goats?'" said Brendon's dad, Kevin Meister.

Brendon Meister making bath bombs that he and his stepsister and caregiver, Jasmine Lomond, sell in local stores and online, on eBay. (Mary-Catherine McIntosh/CBC)

Kevin was keenly aware how critical it was for his son to find motivation. A recovering addict himself, Kevin knows what it's like to lack goals.

"You start wondering, 'what's my purpose, what's going on?,'" he said.

Now, not even two years into the goat project, Kevin said he's seen an "amazing change" in his son.

Brendon agreed.

"They help me a lot. They do give me something to talk about with people. Because before, I wasn't working, so I just slept for the most part. But now I'm actually doing stuff with them."

On top of daily care for the goats, Brendon is in charge of milking them. He is also helping make the soap, bath bombs and scrubs that he and Jasmine sell at several local stores and online.

The business gives Brendon income and a sense of purpose.

The goats give him companionship and lots of laughs.

"They love me," he said.


Hear more of Brendon's story by clicking the Listen button above. 

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