TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

SPEAK OUT! – Charline

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Charline

Charline & Rick April 2012

 

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

Charline

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

Abilene, Texas, USA

3. What is the TBI survivor’s relationship to you?

He (Rick) is my husband.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the TBI?

52

What caused your survivor’s TBI?

The TBI was caused by an aneurysm that started to hemorrhage. Two days after the surgery to repair the aneurysm, he had a major stroke.

4. On what date did you begin care for your TBI survivor?

September 2013

Were you the main caregiver?

No

Are you now?

Yes

How old were you when you began care?

49

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s TBI?

Yes

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. My husband and I were snowbirds at the time of the TBI. We worked on the Gunflint Trail in Minnesota during the summer and at an antique store in Texas during the winter. Rick is a Minnesota native, and I am a Texan. He was flown to Minneapolis, so I was not able to continue my summer job. We came back to Texas in June 2014.

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

My two daughters and their families live here and are able to come and relieve me for a few hours a week.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in hospital, when the survivor returned home, etc.)?

Immediately

9. Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Rick was in a medically induced coma.

If so, what did you do at that time?

I spent every day in the Intensive Care Unit talking and reading to Rick. He had family that came daily to visit as well.

10. Did your survivor have rehab?

Yes

If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)?

Rick was in a nursing home between the hospital and rehab. He had to relearn everything. He had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy when he was moved to the rehab facility.

How long was the rehab?

3 months

Where were you when this was happening?

I attended most of every therapy session and doctor visits. Rick responded better to me than to anyone else.

11. What problems or disabilities of your TBI survivor required your care, if any?

His memory was severely damaged. He can never be left alone. He is also incontinent. (I have him on a bathroom schedule. If I ask him if he needs to go, he always says no; but if I tell him it’s time to go, he does.) His appetite is great.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

I can’t say that my life is better or worse. I can say that it’s different.

13. What do you miss the most from pre-TBI life?

I miss the freedom to be able to just “go.” My husband and I were very active. We hiked, canoed, fished, shopped, and worked. I miss my jobs and the people I worked with.

14. What do you enjoy most in post-TBI life?

I enjoy the brief moments of lucidity.

15. What do you like least about TBI?

The lack of “me time.” I hit the floor running every day – taking care of his needs and taking care of all the household duties.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s TBI?

I am still learning how to accept my new life.

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. I sometimes feel like a prisoner. I can’t just go shopping for groceries anymore. If I take him with me, he gets distracted and puts everything in the basket or tries to eat it before buying. I usually have to get one of my kids to come and sit with him so I can do any errands.

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

Yes. I don’t have a social life anymore.

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

I hope and pray that in ten years we will be a little more active.

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

Charline image

Charline & Rick July 2014

My advice is to stay strong. Take time to care for yourself.

 

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

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

(Photo compliments of Charline.)

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

SPEAK OUT! – Joey Buchanan

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Buchanan, Joey Injuries1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Joey Buchanan

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

Flovilla, Georgia, USA     Dekalbfd19@yahoo.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

Date of accident – July 18, 2012     Age at the time – 46

4. How did your TBI occur?

We were overhauling at a house fire (which means searching for hidden fire). I was standing against a wall, when a full sheet of sheetrock (4 ft. x 8 ft.) fell from a vaulted ceiling, striking me on top of the head.

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

Immediately. I was told that I fell into the wall, then onto the floor. I was asked twice if I was okay.  I don’t remember any of that.  It broke and cut my nose, and I could feel the blood running down my face.

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

Nothing major – just a routine X-ray and a cat (CT) scan

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

No

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?

Yes – cognitive therapy, emotional therapy, physical therapy, and vestibular therapy.  I am waiting on a driving exam and endocrinology testing.  I am currently in therapy.

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

I have difficulties with balance, decision-making, and reading and comprehension. I’m more emotional (crying and anxiety). I have headaches, dizziness, and tinnitus. My sorting skills and my ability to multitask (very important for a firefighter) have been affected. I experience depression, fatigue, and pains in my neck, hands, and feet. My motivation is a problem.

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

The mental and physical issues have been difficult. I went from working two fire-department jobs, homeschooling our daughter, and building a pool house to spending most of my time in bed, due to fatigue, depression, pain, and lack of motivation. My wife and daughter both say that I am much more easy-going. I tell them, “Well, yes. I am not working 120-plus hours per week.” (LOL)

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?Buchana, Joey & Fire Truck

My other family at the fire department

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

To be able (when I am able) to be home with my daughter, and the chance of starting a new chapter of my life

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

The fatigue, the lack of motivation, and the pain

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

My faith in God and the support of family and friends

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

It has been a mixed bag in my home life. Although I am home, the majority of my time is spent in bed.

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

Yes. We don’t go to concerts, and we don’t go out to eat. I try to avoid crowds. This is all due to overstimulation and anxiety.

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

My wife is my main caregiver. In some respects, I became her caregiver when she became ill in 2005.

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

I hope to recover as much as possible and to start a group that goes out and assists other first responders when they are injured and have to be home. In 10 years, I would like to be able to travel.

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

I want people to know that this injury will take much longer to recover from than they could ever imagine.

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

Try to keep emotions and stimulation to a minimum in the beginning – it will help in the long run. Find a support group – they have valuable knowledge.  Doctors are not always as educated on TBI as they need to be. The sooner you can accept the “new normal,” the easier it will be. Don’t ever give up or stop trying. Find an advocate who will help you in your journey.Buchanan, Joey

 

Thank you, Joey, 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.)

(Photos compliments of Joey.)

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.

 

 

 

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

SPEAK 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 donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.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.

Jodi Jizmejian…I did this today, August 30, 2014,  for the first time since my accident and TBI on September 8, 2011.

Jizmejian, Jodi ibGs Holding 3 glasses of water

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Spencer (caregiver)…My boyfriend, Ed, rode his bike tonight for the first time since his car accident. He tried right after relearning to walk, but he just couldn’t master it and gave up. (He used to do BMX competitions.)

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio

“Prisoner Without Bars” (segment 2)

images-1This show takes David bouncing across the George Washington Bridge in an ambulance blaring rap music to his rehabilitation hospital where he would spend the next two months of recovery.

Listen to stories about life in the lockdown unit, of strange roommates, staff being fired, and Hasidic chanting in this second segment of “Prisoner Without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury.” There’s never a dull moment when living with TBI.

“Your show will start in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 second. ‘You’re On the Air.’” There was a second of dead air time before the Brain Injury Radio logo music began. Then there was no turning back…

“We lived a normal life…until we didn’t….”

I hope you’ll tune into my show the 1st and 3rd Sunday evenings of every month. The show airs at 5:00p Pacific time and runs for 90 minutes.

“See you “On the Air!”

SPEAK OUT! – DuWayne Hall

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Hall, DuWayne 1

DuWayne Hall

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

DuWayne Hall

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

Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA    Braindamagedguy@gmail.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

August 16, 1992 – I was 32 years old.

4. How did your TBI occur?

It was a single vehicle motorcycle accident. (For complete story see Guest Blog.)

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

As soon as I became aware in the hospital!

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

I was on total life support, so they did whatever was necessary for that. My arm was tied around my neck because they expected me to die.

I was not wearing my helmet at the time of the accident. I had my right ear torn off; they sewed it back on. My right cheek was crushed from my shoulder’s smacking my face as I face-planted the road. They put a titanium cheekbone in to fix my face. My right eye was hanging out of its socket; it had to be placed back into my skull. I sustained a closed-head injury. My right frontal lobe and the pons portion of my brain sustained what they refer to as a “contracoup” injury (that is, the brain is damaged exactly opposite to the impact point). They implanted a shunt on the top of my head. I’ve got a metal plate in the top of my head.

I had road rash from being dragged 100 or so feet before the motorcycle stopped sliding. My arm was shattered at the elbow. My collarbone was broken in two places. I had knee surgery.

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

I was in a coma 24 days. On the 25th day, my living will was going to become effective, and they were going to unplug me from life support.

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

I was in rehab three years. I relearned everything from how to go to the bathroom to how to eat again, talk again, and interact again. I was just like a child relearning how to do everything – dress myself, cook, shower, stand upright, etc.

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

As a result of my TBI, I became increasingly more isolated, until Facebook came into the picture about ten years ago. I walk with an uneven gait. I have problems seeing just one of something. I’m partially deaf. My face is partially paralyzed. Over the years, I’ve developed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of multiple TBI’s. I get frustrated very easily, but it is perceived as anger by others.

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

It became more burdensome and unfulfilled.

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

I miss friends, family, social relationships, and camping. Any exercise is burdensome. Personal relationships ended. I can’t defend myself. I lost my hospital job of 8 years.

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

Nothing!

13. What do you like least about your TBI?
It gave me PTSD. Anybody diagnosed with it understands what I am talking about! It is hell!

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

It is hard to define “accept.” I know that it has happened and that I can’t do anything about it. I believe all things happen for a reason, but I cannot find any good being returned because I am disabled. So, if I can help keep one soul from going through the hell I’ve been through these last 24 years, then that would be worth it to me!

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

I have been married two times since my TBI. No lady wants me because I’m broken, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.

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

I have no social life! At first, people seemed happy that I did not die. However, after time, I no longer had the number of friends that I had before my accident. The example would be that I receive a get-well card at the hospital with approximately 825 signatures of people wishing me well during recovery. If only 25 percent were sincere, I would have 207 friends. I have two – one who lives out-of-state and one who lives out-of-town. I am constantly lonely and feeling rejected!

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

I don’t have one. I am my own caregiver!

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

I don’t have any plans. I believe that life has ended for me! I am just waiting to die.

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

I’m too gullible. Most TBIers are.

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

Hall, DuWayne 2

DuWayne Hall

Be patient with yourself. Recovery takes a long time!

 

Thank you, DuWayne, 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.)

(Photos compliments of DuWayne.)

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.

 

                  Come one! Come ALL!putthis_on_calendar_clip_art

(NOTE: New Day, Sunday – Same Time)

What:        “Another Fork in the Road” on Brain Injury Radio Network:                               “Prisoner Without Bars” (part 2)

(This show was originally scheduled for August 18th, but was aborted due to technical difficulties in the studio.)

Why:         Donna continues her story of David’s Traumatic Brain Injury and their life together after TBI.

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, September 7th, 2014

Time:         5:00p PDT (6:00p MDT, 7:00p CDT, and 8:00p EDT) 90 minute show

How:         Click: Brain Injury Radio Network.

Call In:    424-243-9540

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

Call In:    202-559-7907 free outside US

or SKYPE

If you miss the show, but would like to still hear the interview, you can access the archive on On Demand listening (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.)

So . . . what do you think? Is there something you are passionate about in this TBI world? Do you want to be heard? Your opinion matters! You can SPEAK OUT! on “So Whaddya Think?”

Simply send me your opinion, and I will format it for publication. Posts may be short, but please send no more than 1,000 words. Send to donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com

I hope to HEAR from you soon.

Football, Brain Injury, and Steve Almond

 by

 David Figurski

So Whaddya Think Brain th-4

The National Football League (NFL) starts its season today. I’ve written before about American football and the likelihood of a player getting a life-altering brain injury. Incontrovertible evidence is building that playing football is dangerous for the brain. The evidence is particularly dismaying when it comes to our youth.

I admit to liking the game. But as author Steve Almond points out, I am one of the many fans who are feeling “queasy” about enjoying a game that has so much baggage. I am certainly happy that none of my nephews who played football in high school thought about playing in college, even though each one excelled in the game. I also have a traumatic brain injury. I know what my brain injury has done to Donna’s and my life. I have also read the interviews and guest blogs. The amount of chaos and stress that visits not only the afflicted person, but also his or her family, is unimaginable.

Steve Almond, a former rabid fan, has been questioning the U.S. society’s love of football. He has written a bestselling book, Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto. I think his essay, an article written about his ideas, and an audio are food for thought for us and completely appropriate for this category.

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

As I say after each post:

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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