TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

A Different Path

by

Sue Hannah

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingMy traumatic-brain-injury story is different from some. I didn’t have a wonderful life that suddenly was transformed by tragedy. I had violence in my early life that forever changed me. Because no one spoke of my damage or the violence that caused it, decades passed until I was finally able to understand what had happened. In the meantime, I spent years painfully searching for an answer. I wanted to know why my handwriting was not only not neat, but how it seemed regressed to an age much earlier than my actual age. I sought to understand why spatial concepts were so difficult for me to comprehend. I yearned to know why colors and patterns made me sick to my stomach and why motion sickness affected me in vehicles, rides, and even something as gentle as a swing. After years of doctor visits, neuropsychological testing, therapists, alternative practitioners, and even nutritionists, I finally found an answer.

My first experience with vision therapy was helpful and did improve my handwriting, but it did not eliminate my issues. Syntonics (phototherapy) and prism glasses made huge differences in my life! My spatial orientation changed dramatically, my coordination improved, and even my tolerance for colors and patterns improved. I had no idea how powerful the visual system was or how Sue Hannahmuch of the brain was involved in causing my visual system to fully function. My traumatic brain injury (TBI) had done damage to areas of my visual system, which cascaded into my motor functioning as well as into my proprioception and tactile senses. Syntonics, or light therapy, gently and consistently shifted, and continues to shift, major obstacles for me. There are many optometrists in the US who do vision therapy, but I’d like to think mine is someone quite special. Her down-to-earth manner and genuine kindness radiate to her patients, as well as to her team of professionals in her office. Dr. Amy Thomas, located in Tucson, Arizona, has shown me amazing paths to my healing. She would never choose to take credit for healing anyone. She would, I believe, be willing to accept responsibility for helping patients heal themselves.

For the neuro-typical people of the world, let me say that few things are more annoying to lots of us with TBI than the following: “You don’t look like you’re brain damaged. You seem so normal. I know exactly how you feel.” Um, no you don’t! Everyone’s walk with TBI is a unique one, in my opinion. I had doctor after doctor tell me that my sensitivity was something I just needed to get over and deal with if I were to get along in life. My teeth still grate over that one! The reluctance of so much of our society to acknowledge sensitivity, neurological challenges, intensity, and deep emotions pains me. There are times for me when even sunlight can cause a round of irritability or other intense emotions. Medical professionals who discount the feelings and experiences of their patients are missing a huge amount of information that, if they allowed, could change their practices.

Hannah, Sue 2My life-path has not been easy, but it has caused me to not take little things for granted. I lost the ability to drive for a brief time, and, because of my new therapies, I am slowly getting my independence back. It’s interesting to note that as we get more reflective, we often begin to see what is most important to us. One of my strongest passions is to never give up. I was determined to find an answer to what happened to me and, even more so, to improve the quality of my day-to-day life. The second is one I continue to pursue. On days that seem filled with grief and loneliness, I remember that there are still wonderful people in the world. For me, these people have helped me to get up when I fall and to remember that tomorrow is another day.

To learn more about Sue, please visit her website/blog at Platypus Expressions.

Thank you, Sue Hannah.

Disclaimer:
Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Sue Hannah)

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Step

Debbie M. Wilson (survivor)…I want you to know that there really is a pay-off for living, and I really did get there. I was able to go by myself and navigate public transportation alone for the first time in 24 years. I did not have a seizure-alert dog or a thcaregiver. I am more thrilled than anyone can possibly imagine! I had hoped, I had prayed, and I did dare to dream. My dream became a reality. I am not just seizure-free, but I now have the cognition to be safe, alone, for the first time. Miracles really do happen in this lifetime and in this world!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributor!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Linda Wells

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718

It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Linda Wells (survivor)

2 565047_3919814115943_1697366413_nI am a brain-injury survivor of twenty-three years. I went through five years of intense speech and physical therapies. I could not walk or talk. Now I am a speaker for the Brain Injury Center of Ventura County, California. Our group started in a living room with me, my dear late husband, Rex, and six other people. I am very proud that last year there was an attendance of 300+ people. I work very hard to educate the community about traumatic brain injury. This year at our event, I will be receiving the Honoree Award for a Survivor. I often say, “One foot in front of the other.” I try very hard to do just that – to say, “I can, I will, I did.” I enjoy family, my friends, and my dog; and I have three great caregivers.

Also, I am now a watercolor artist.

4 Linda Wells 10960117_10203992863724065_7194897410358730162_o

10301184_10202793038249178_5470330639061493067_n5 Linda Wells6 Linda Wells 1604838_10201545679825997_791510895_n

(Artwork compliments of contributor. They are copyrighted and may only be used with express permission of Linda Wells. )

Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Chelsea Rolph

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718

It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Chelsea Rolph (survivor)

Chelsea Rolph 3 Survivor 061415Four summers ago, I did not know what I was going to do after leaving high school. I had suffered multiple concussions, and I spent my summer in concussion rehab. I was sent for a test or results at least once a week. I had a neuropsychological exam. It was a full, exhausting day of random tests. The results of this exam really gave me some answers. Essentially the doctors were telling me that I have a lot of problem areas. If I decided to go to school, I would need:
– a note-taker
– a private room for exams
– extra time for exams
– take-home, open-book exams, if possible
– formulas for any possible math classes
– extended time for assignments
– to be given assignments right away
– exam reviews from the profs
– the use of a computer

I had a lot of problems, and I needed a lot of help. The doctor told me that, because I was trying to choose between college and university, I should choose college. I was told that college is more hands-on, but it was suggested that I take time off and not even consider going to school. I decided that I would go to McMaster University and see if I can get the accommodations. When I sat down with one of the guidance counselors, I was told that they have had people with my problems before. The counselor suggested that I take one, maybe two, classes a semester. Basically I left that meeting feeling discouraged. I didn’t think I would be going to school at all.Chelsea Rolph 1 Survivor 061415

As the school year approached and I had to make a final decision on school, I decided that I was going to go to school. I decided that I wanted to prove everybody wrong.

Four years later, I GRADUATED! I did it without the help of any doctors and without any accommodations from Mac. It wasn’t easy, but I walked across that stage and became an official “Graduate of 2015.”

Chelsea Rolph 2 Survivor 061415I would like to thank everybody that made it possible, and I want to thank everybody I have met along the way to make these past four years some of the most memorable. Among the Vanier Cup win in first year, Homecoming, meeting the love of my life, beer pong Tuesday, and even a flash mob, I have made some unforgettable memories.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Erin Lea Beville & Evelyn Pumarejo-Justiniano

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718

It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

A special shout out to two special nurses.nurse_0515-0911-1420-0746_SMU

Breville, Erin LeaErin Lea Beville (survivor)

I’m a sixteen-year survivor. I got my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Florida State University in May (2014) and my RN license last October. Having a traumatic brain injury (TBI), I needed a bit of rest following the hell that is nursing school. I was fried!

I recently started a job as an Integrated Health Wellness Coach and Peer Support Specialist at Community Mental Health. It’s perfect because they want me to share my story and pay me for it. My brain injury is finally an asset rather than a liability. So, hooray for patience, Breville, Erin Lea & nieceperseverance, and determination! I’ve done it – not in spite of my TBI, but because of it. Together, we can be the difference, for each other and for others. Go out there and inspire people. Be the person only you can be – yourself. Then own it. You rock!

Evelyn Pumarejo-Justiniano 2 Survivor 082315Evelyn Pumarejo-Justiniano (survivor)

I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) almost twenty years ago. I had to learn how to walk and talk and to relearn the basic things we take for granted in life. Yet, I feel I am blessed. I overcame all the obstacles and unforeseen Evelyn Pumarejo-Justiniano Survivor2 082431jpgcircumstances put in my life. I returned to school after my injury and had a GPA of 3.79 in nursing school. Today I am a nurse – going on a year now. I am planning to go for the degree of Bachelor of Science in Nursing. And, I thank God for my good husband, who has been by my side the past 29 years.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

with

Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger

and 

Caregiver, Kendra Hammond Brittain

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Visger-275x300Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger talked about the dangers of football and brain injury. He also discussed hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT) and Cranial-Sacral therapy, which he believes have helped him.

Kendra Brittain 2 Survivor 042315Kendra Hammond Brittain joined for the last half of the show to tell of her son’s football injury, which caused his TBI.

If you missed this show on “Another Fork in the Road” on August 16th, 2015, don’t fret. You can listen to the archived show here. Click the link below.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Former NFL San Fran 49er, George Visger and Caregiver, Kendra Hammond Brittain

Click here for a list of all “Another Fork in the Road” shows on the Brain Injury Radio Network.

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Here are this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

drivers-license-621806Cory Edmondson (survivor)…Two years ago, I was told that I would never drive again. That didn’t sit too well with me. My mom told me I could accept it or I could continue to work hard and, one more time, prove somebody wrong. I am now one excited dude – I got my license back! Never give up. Always believe in yourself.

washdishesclipsahoyCory Edmondson (survivor)…I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I stood at the sink, washed and wiped the supper dishes, and put away 98% of them. I walked around the kitchen with just one hand on the cupboard. This was a BIG accomplishment for this fella. Never give up! :)

Jo Emery & DaughterJo Emery (caregiver)…This week in Australia, it is Brain Injury Awareness Week. For donations, we have BangOnABeanie and BangOnABarbie (“Barbie”=BBQ). I am so very proud of my beautiful twelve-year-old, who organised the BangOns with her local girl-guide unit. She talked about why they were doing them and a little bit about her dad. She also played a memory game with them. She raised about $30, which was really great. I’m a very proud mummy!

Minion Puzzle for Kyle F.Kyle F. (survivor)…This puzzle took me ALL day. It may seem rather easy, with its being only forty-eight pieces and all, but I get distracted extremely easily – a heck of a lot more easily than before my TBI. So…score one for me. Also, this puzzle is as cute as heck with all the minions.

blood_donors_1Kristina Hopkins (caregiver)…I’m about ready to donate blood again. I feel so honored to be able to do this every eight weeks. I’m a universal donor with my O-negative blood type, and it’s a blessing to be able to help so many. I challenge you all to donate if you can and are able.

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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