TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Fatigue and The Spoon Theory

Brain th-2Every brain injury is different. Yet, the survivor interviews on this blog have shown that fatigue is a common effect of a brain injury. Once the survivor was energetic – able to do many things. Now the survivor is often tired or worried about getting tired.

Have you ever tried to explain chronic fatigue to someone healthy? Usually he or she doesn’t get it. Christine Miserandino, who has Lupus – a chronic disease, invented The Spoon Theory to show her healthy friend why she is so concerned with the energy cost of doing anything. Christine’s Spoon Theory 309_1_is a simple way to show the difference between being healthy and energetic and being worried about fatigue by having a chronic condition – like Lupus or a brain injury. In The Spoon Theory, Christine writes, “I explained that some days were worse than others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away, and I can’t forget about it. I always have to think about it.”

Christine’s Spoon Theory can be found HERE.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)



Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Peter Corfield


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Peter Corfield - Brain Injury Survivor - 2010

Peter Corfield – Brain Injury Survivor – 2010

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Peter Corfield

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Marcilly En Bassigny, France      petercorfield3@gmail.com

3. When did you have your brain injury? At what age?

My brain injury happened on June 1, 2010. I was 55 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I had a stroke caused by bleeding of an AVM (arteriovenous malformation).

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

After returning from an art course, my wife found me on the floor.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was stabilized, and then I was helicoptered to Dijon Hospital. There they did a craniotomy and repaired the vein.

Peter Corfield - Brain Injury Survivor 2010

Peter Corfield – Brain Injury Survivor – 2010

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

Yes. I was put into a coma for about two and a half weeks.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I was sent to a rehab centre. There I had rehab for five and a half months.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I was hemiplegic (paralysis of one side of the body) with left-side paralysis, and I had an anxiety problem in the form of overactive bladder.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life has changed a great deal. In some ways, it is better; in others, much worse.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss being able to sleep in a normal bed with my wife. I also miss playing my guitar and driving.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I like being able to help others who have had the same experience.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike the lack of normality.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

My wife’s support has helped. Also my writing has been important.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

It has. My wife and I sleep apart. But, my stroke has made me more thoughtful towards others. I think I am a better person.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

Yes. My anxiety affects our going out in the dark. The anxiety also makes it awkward to sit on chairs with no arms.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

My wife is my caregiver. I fully understand how hard it is for her. It drives me on to recovery.

18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I am determined to be recovered enough to look after my wife and to be helping other stroke survivors

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of injury.

Keep a diary to realise just how much you have improved, as recovery is slow.

Corfield, Peter  Leg Push

Peter Corfield – Brain Injury Survivor – 2010

20. What advice would you offer to other survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

I have written Kindle stroke-experience books. I donate all royalties to The ARNI (Action for Rehabilitation from Neurological Injury) Institute (http://www.arni.uk.com) to try to help other stroke-affected people.


Thank you, Peter, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Photos compliments of Peter.)


Rookie Linebacker, Chris Borland,  Retires Over Fear of Brain Trauma


newsboy-thChris Borland, a promising rookie linebacker with the San Francisco 49ers, retired after one year of a four-year contact because the possibility of brain disease wasn’t “worth the risk.” (Full story 1; story and video 2)Borland, Chris

There is a growing body of evidence that repeated head trauma can lead to neurological problems and premature death. A NewsBit on this blog reported that a University of Tulsa study revealed changes to the brains of football players, even in the absence of a documented concussion. Last season, an Ohio State University football player apparently committed suicide. Concussions may have had a role in his death. The National Football League (NFL), the premier professional football organization in the United States, is in the middle of a multimillion-dollar lawsuit over concussions and neurological problems.

Chris Borland gave careful thought to his early and unexpected retirement. He talked with family, friends, teammates, and brain researchers before making his decision to retire from a game he was good at. He said the game is inherently dangerous, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but a player should make an informed decision. Borland also said, “There’s just too much unknown for me, and there have been too many tragedies for me to be comfortable playing…I just want to live a long, healthy life, and I don’t want to have any neurological diseases or die younger than I would otherwise.” He was asked about walking away from probable wealth. Borland answered that no amount of money could take the place of being there for his family. (Full story 3)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


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.


Catherine (Cat) Brubaker (survivor)

Catherine Cat Brubaker 031915Catherine Brubaker is a two-time traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. Using her walker, Catherine, who was determined to take back her life, walked into Sun Cyclery in Phoenix, Arizona, in September 2013 and purchased a recumbent trike.

On June 29, 2014, she joined a stroke survivor and began what was to become the journey of her lifetime. Catherine and her new riding partner rode 5390 miles across America on their recumbent trikes. The trip took 5 1/2 months. It started in Anacortes, Washington, and concluded in Key West, Florida. Catherine pedaled over several high-altitude mountain passes and persevered through snow, rain, mud, and every imaginable obstacle. Through this experience, Catherine has been able to regain her freedom and confidence, find purpose, and rebuild her body as part of her recovery from undignified tragic circumstances.Catherine-journey-SFS MAP

Catherine actively reaches out to inspire brain injury survivors to help them reclaim their lives through recumbent trikes and art. She is scheduled for several speaking engagements across the nation in 2015.

Catherine has partnered with “Spokes Fighting Strokes” (SFS) in her grassroots effort to encourage a national conversation about brain injury, regardless of its cause. Together, SFS and Catherine will teach as many brain injury survivors as possible to ride recumbent trikes to aid in their recovery. Success stories can be found on Catherine’s website (www.irideforhope.org).

As part of her recovery, Catherine was enrolled in a special program called “Artists for Trauma,” which has brought her great joy. Catherine has recently been named the Brain Injury Ambassador for this foundation. She is honored to be a part of this effort, and she looks forward to contributing her art and collaborating with artists and trauma survivors. Her works of art and photography can be found at http://www.irideforhope.org. All proceeds go toward her foundation.

Brubaker, Catherine CAT Hope for TraumaCatherine is also in the process of launching a foundation called, “Hope for Trauma.” Its mission is to encourage a national conversation about brain injury, regardless of its cause. Her foundation will also be concerned with brain injury’s impact on survivors and their families and with the invisible challenges they face.

Catherine’s road to her newfound freedom has been long and filled with obstacles. After being assaulted in 2010, which caused Catherine’s initial TBI, she had to relearn how to walk, talk, and eat on her own. This involved many months and multiple physicians (often several in a day). In 2012, Catherine’s heart began to fail, and she was on the brink of death. She received a pacemaker and a new chance at life. Luck was not on her side, though, and she was in a collision with another vehicle shortly thereafter. Catherine had to once again relearn how to walk, talk, and do basic daily tasks.

Catherine can no longer drive or live by herself. She lost her career and her ability to be independent.Catrike 700 Blue Cognitively Catherine was set back to early grade school. Her primary relationship became strained, as her partner became her caregiver. Eventually the strain became too much for her partner. Faced with these losses, Catherine hit rock bottom. She tried to take her own life in March 2014. Shortly afterward, Catherine met her current riding partner. It was in that meeting that she learned of the ride across the US. That spark ignited her competitive spirit and gave her a new outlook on life.

Prior to her TBIs, Catherine was an accomplished professional. She went to Pacific Union College in Napa, California, and graduated with a B.S. degree in Psychology. She worked with military veterans and offered them financial, investment, and insurance services. She led a team of 12-15 associCuracaoMarriott_oates. During her career, Catherine decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Leadership, which she obtained in 2007. She accomplished this with a 4.0 GPA and while working full time! She was also an avid skier on black diamond runs, and she enjoyed running two miles daily, rain or shine.

To learn more about Catherine, check out these sites.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Catherine (Cat) Brubaker

Catherine (Cat) Brubaker: Triking Across America

“Another Fork in the Road” Brain Injury Radio Network – “Triking Across America Diagonally” with Catherine (Cat) Brubaker

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio: Interview – Catherine Brubaker – Triking Across America

Catherine Brubaker’s Photo Journal (Part 1) Washington to Florida

“Another Fork in the Road” Brain Injury Radio Network – Catherine (Cat) Brubaker’s and Dan Zimmerman’s Reflections – Triking Across America

(Clip art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio

Another Fork in the Road

with Brain Injury Survivor, Joshua Puckett and his wife, Tatiana


Joshua Puckett was just minding his business in his own front yard when he was attacked by a “random
drunk person” causing his brain injury. Now he says he has a “memory of a fish.”Joshua Puckett - TBI Survivor 2013
Memory problems combined with balance issues, anger, and confusion have become the “new norm” in his new life.

But, Joshua is overcoming his deficits by directing his attentions to his art and his music. Both are opening new doors in this talented young man’s life.

If you missed his interview on “Another Fork in the Road” on March 15th, you are in luck. You can listen to the archived show here.Joshua Puckett & Tatiana Puckett

Click the link below to listen to Joshua Puckett, his wife, Tatiana, and me.

See you “On the Air!”

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio – Another Fork in the Road

with Brain Injury Survivor, Joshua Puckett and his wife, Tatiana




Joshua Puckett was minding his own business in his own front yard when an unknown assailant attacked him. This attack resulted in a life-change for Joshua. Joshua, with his wife, Tatiana, will join me on my show, “Another Fork in the Road,” to share his story about how he … about how they … are adapting to life after TBI.

Come One! Come ALL!

What:        Interview with Joshua Puckett, brain injury survivor. Joshua’s wife, Tatiana, will join Joshua.

Why:        Joshua will talk about his brain injury and how his life is affected by it.

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, March  15th, 2015

Time:         5:00p PT (6:00p MT, 7:00p CT, and 8:00p ET) 90 minute show

How:         Click: Brain Injury Radio Network

Joshua Puckett - Survivor 2013

Joshua Puckett – Survivor 2013

Call In:    424-243-9540

Call In:     855-473-3711 toll free in USA

Call In:    202-559-7907 free outside USA


If you miss the show, but would like to still hear the interview, you can access the archive on On Demand listening. The archived show will be available after the show both on the Brain Injury Radio Network site and on my blog in “On the Air.”

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photo compliments of Joshua Puckett.)

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps


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.

green-tea-cup-hiAdrienne York Campbell (survivor)…My darling husband went to the grocery store and brought home Lipton Green Tea! I am completely addicted, and he knows it. He’s always doing things to brighten up my life. I love that man!

Timothy Guetling (survivor)th

I am at one of the many Starbucks in my area. The WiFi is free. I’m communicating with you all. And that is wonderful.

Patrick Hannan (survivor)…Well, waking up is always good. foot_careWhat really led me to believe that it was going to be a positive day was that I put both feet on the ground and stood up. There have been many times in past when I was unable to do that.

Kerry Mischka (survivor)…I woke up again and I was breathing! waking-upDoes it get any more positive than that?

Snoopy Snowdog

Snoopy SnowDog

Susan Paynton Thompson (caregiver)…I showed my husband a cute Snoopy snowman someone had posted on Facebook. So, he took a tiny Snoopy figure outside on our deck and made me one! I am not sure that he would have done this pre TBI, but it was quite loving. It sure did make me smile!

 William Turner (survivor)hospital11-240x229

I got my workout for the day. The walk through the hospital took a lot out of me. (The nurses got me a wheelchair to sit in.) No pain, no gain.

laundry-clip-artDana Wiedenmann (survivor)…I have to go to a laundromat. It’s hard for me.


YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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