TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

YOU ARE INVITED!

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Deb Angus, brain injury survivor and author of “Regaining Consciousness: My Encounter with Mild Brain Injury–the Silent Epidemic,” will share her story about how she and her husband were sitting at a stoplight and how a distracted driver changed her life forever.

Come One! Come ALL!

What:        Interview with Deb Angus, brain injury survivor and author

Why:        Deb will talk about her life with brain injury.

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, March 1st, 2015

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

How:         Click: Brain Injury Radio Network

Deb Angus BI Survivor  Author of Regaining Consciousness

Deb Angus
BI Survivor
Author of Regaining Consciousness

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. 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 Deb Angus.)

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 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.

Yourself-Hugged-John Bell (survivor)…I hugged three of my four kids – the oldest couldn’t make it to dinner. (There is no school tomorrow for the two still in grade school because of the weather conditions.) I got in a pre-lunch run, and I plan another run tomorrow night with a run group. (The temperature is predicted to be in the low single digit range; with wind chill, it should feel like -25.) Firewood use has been nonstop. I’m trying to replenish the stock, but I need help to try to keep up with the demand. I just got back from skiing in Colorado with an old friend, but now it’s time to get back to work.

April Snyder Bomysoad (caregiver)…My husband went from having pneumonia to being more aware – all in a week. I am amazed! I can talk to him about my day, and the next day, he would ask me about it. The aide told me about how aware my husband is and how well he is doing. I said you would know, since I see him only once a week. My car has died, so I’ve got to save money to fix it. My husband asked me about it and instructed me on what I should do. It’s so weird – I feel like my husband has returned!

Jonathan Curtis (survivor)…Got friends, got a job, got dates, got transportation, got a nice view of the city, got spending money. I am loving life! I also got a past that22072823-origpic-ba2d02 I find to be remarkable – reminds me that I’m capable of so much more.

Jonathan Curtis (survivor)…I was given a tremendous blessing this morning. I was reunited with a wonderful ex-girlfriend. I haven’t communicated with her for twenty years, yet we chatted like we just dated yesterday!

Joshua Edward Daniel (survivor)…I joined a gym today. I have a hard time running now. I get lightheaded, but it should get better. :)

Michael Montepara (survivor)…I’ve had a few nice Itty-Bitty Giant Steps this week.graphics-laundry-basket-181953 I scheduled a follow-up with the vision surgical team for Friday morning. I washed clothes, swept floors, did some shopping, tried several times to contact my Ex, and kept sane for another week! Yippee!

Cindy McFaden Samartino (caregiver)…Good news today! My husband and I won a Cindy McFaden Samartinosweetheart photo contest with this picture from our December wedding. And, I had a preliminary part-time job interview, with a follow-up on Sunday. AND, I was finally able to get the stubborn stain off the shower floor.

 

Jim Ward (survivor)…Friday I had the second interview for a job. The position is with an environmental consulting company in the Madison, Wisconsin area. The interviewGot a Job lasted a whole fifteen minutes! It took longer to drive there through the drifting snow! I was asked a few questions. The last question was, “When can you start?” I almost blurted out, “Where is my office?” :} (LOL) I didn’t though. I start next week! I feel so blessed, and I am very thankful. I want to thank everyone for the prayers, the good wishes, and the positive thoughts to help with the outcome. People told me after I left the hospital, “You won’t be able to work again.” Well, thankfully, they were wrong! Work hard at it, have faith, and believe in yourself!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

 

 

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Justin Phillips

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Justin Phillips - TBI Survivor

Justin Phillips – TBI Survivor

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

Justin Phillips

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

Annapolis, Maryland, USA

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

My TBI happened on November 11, 2010. I was 30 years old.

4. How did your TBI occur?

My TBI occurred because I was in a bad car accident on my way to work one morning.

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

Immediately

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

I was given a tracheotomy. I had a feeding tube. A DVT (deep vein thrombosis) filter was put into my vena cava.

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

Yes. I was in a coma ten days.

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. I was given five months of therapy as an inpatient and another five months as an outpatient. I had physical, occupational, and speech therapies.

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

My balance/equilibrium was thrown off for two to three years. My temper is worse. I lost my sense of smell. I also make poor decisions.

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

My life is better than it was immediately post accident. I appreciate family and life much more. Small, insignificant issues don’t bother me or my family as much. What my family went through was awful. When something stressful is bothering us, we like to say, “We’ve been through worse.” Life is different now. I wouldn’t say “worse” because I’m still alive, but it’s definitely been changed.

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

Before my TBI, I felt young. I feel a lot older now. I miss not questioning EVERY activity I do to see if I can handle it.

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

I like how much more I appreciate everything.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I dislike questioning almost every activity I do to see if I can handle it or if it’s dangerous.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time has helped me. It took almost two years before the injury wasn’t my first thought after waking up and wasn’t constantly in my thoughts until I went to bed. It’s nice not living in the past.

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

My son was only seven when the accident happened, so it was really tough on him. But, he handled it all like a champion. I’m married, and my wife had to be my caregiver after I moved home for five months, as I couldn’t drive and was still “off.” We pushed through it all and are still together.

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

I still have friends, but I don’t go out much to visit or anything. I had social anxiety for about a year. I would rather just spend my time with my family.

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

I am my caregiver now, but I still need my wife for lots of things. For example, I make poor decisions. My wife was my caregiver for about five months after I moved home. It was hard on her. Rehab was two hours from home. She and my son would come up to visit every weekend. My accident was in November, so my wife spent all winter driving through snow to come visit.

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

I plan on opening a kitchen-remodeling company within the next few months. I would like for that to be successful, and in ten years, to be well established.

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.

Time is your friend. A lot of my issues took a long time to heal. Brain injuries are terrible to overcome. You might choose to apply the adjective “blessed,” “lucky,” or “fortunate.” I’m actually all of them.

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

TBI is the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. Having my son to focus on was a HUGE motivator for my recovery. Time was essential for me, as many of the issues took a long time to heal. I’m blessed, lucky, and fortunate that everything turned out so well. Positive thoughts are also a great help. Being down emotionally makes everything seem more difficult. Take breaks; get plenty of sleep; and eat well.

Justin Phillips – 6 months pre-TBI

 

Thank you, Justin, 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 Justin.)

 

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  … John May

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

May, John E. 1

John May TBI Survivor since 2007

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

John May

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

Boston, Massachusetts, USA     johnmay@mindless.com

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

My brain injury occurred in 2007. I was 49.

4. How did your TBI occur?

This is a question that confuses me. My brain injury was not due to an accident, but to an infection.

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

I lived in Ft. Lauderdale at the time; I owned a house; I was a decorative painter; and I owned a tattoo shop. I, with the help of a partner (a world famous tattooist), did all the bookwork and the management of our employees. This was all possible due to my having ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) because I needed only three or so hours of sleep a night. I got lost driving to the supermarket less than a mile from my home. That night, I went to sleep and never woke up.

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

I was taken to the hospital in an ambulance. After a few days, my skull was opened. Most of my left temporal lobe and other areas on the left side of my brain had disintegrated. They cut out areas of my brain that were infected. My friends and family were told that probably I would never regain consciousness and that, if I did, I would never walk or talk again.

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

Yes. My coma was for a few months. I was kept alive only because my family and my friends were fighting a legal battle over who had the authority to make the decision to end life-support. One court had given my family the authority to disconnect me, but my friends appealed this ruling because my business stated that I had given them the authority to make that decision, until there was a second option. While they waited for a new court date, I woke up with no past memory and with the intelligence of a three-year-old.

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?

Once out of my coma, I drove the hospital crazy due to my constant curiosity and the fact that I laughed at everything. I was put into a rehab hospital for about nine months. There I was taught the basics of life. I’m proud that, although I didn’t even know how to shave or brush my teeth, I never dirtied my diaper.

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

My mostly always being happy was thought to be a symptom of brain damage, but it was eventually discovered that I’d been that way since birth. It was as though I was mentally challenged as a baby because I never cried.

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

The struggle over me and my property went on. At the same time, the value of my real estate crumbled with the recession. I’m lucky enough not to remember my life before my injury. I have no clue as to what I owned, but it was battled away. I no longer speak with my family. They sucked me dry of my money and then put me into a homeless shelter. I have learned much in only seven or eight years. It’s not clear whether I have relearned things or whether I have simply remembered what I know now. As long as I have a hat on to cover the huge dent in my head, people wouldn’t know I had brain injury.

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

I don’t know my pre-brain-injury life.

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

I enjoy knowing I have people in my life like Ali.

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

I wouldn’t know.

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

My true friends stuck by my side, but I kept a distance for a time while I relearned the basics of life. I now live in Boston and have a group of friends that never knew the old John May.

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

I don’t have many people to interact with. As such, I spend a lot of my time alone.

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

I am proud to state that I am my main caregiver.

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

One effect of my brain injury is that I have no conception of time. I might think that it is the 4th of July one minute and Christmas, the next.

18. 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 brain-injury survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

I read all the brain injury sites and communicate with some.

May, John E. 3

John May – TBI Survivor (since 2007)

19. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Don’t get angry with those who love you. They are having a hard time understanding brain injury. They need as much help as we do!

Thank you, John, 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 John.)

 

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 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.

Debra Cody (survivor)…I am so grateful to have my husband Phil by my side. I know that his life has been forever holding_hands_1changed by my injury and that he could walk away and have a much easier life, but he chooses to stay. I thank God for giving Phil the love in his heart and the strength of character to continue to hold my hand every day!

Karie Jacobson Collins (caregiver)…It has been a busy weekend here. On Friday night, we attended the service-awards banquet for my hubby’s work. He received an award for 25 years of service. Award 515wwJCwmXLWhile we were there, he repeatedly told me to be quiet – loudly. It was a bit embarrassing. Fortunately, we sat with people whom we are close to, and they helped to smooth things over. It still hurt, though. Then today, we went to a local event, called “The Crystal Classic,” with our daughters and grandsons. Then we washed his truck and vacuumed it out. (It has been unseasonably warm here, so he has been wanting to do that for a week now.) Then we went to dinner with our youngest daughter and her family before going to watch our oldest grandson ride mini-broncs in a rodeo. As we were leaving the restaurant after dinner, my husband apologized for being rude to me the night before. I almost passed out! This is the first acknowledgement of his bad behavior. Miracles never cease! It may never happen again, but I will take it for today. It was a great day.

Erica Renee Gilliam-Chiles (caregiver)…Today I saw my husband run. Fourteen months ago, he couldn’t move his left side. Being an active duty Marine, he had as one of his top goals to be able to run again, and he did!

15278739Kayla Bradberry Knight (caregiver)…Last year on February 13, my husband, Wyatt, took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. He and the kids gave me cards that morning. I was on cloud nine. Who would have thought that five days later my husband would be fighting for his life and our families would be turned upside down? God has taught me many lessons this year. Most of all, I’ve learned that earthly possessions mean nothing. Sure, they make one happy for a while. But no gift, flower bouquet, or box of chocolates could take the place of what I have today. My husband is still here! Oh, how happy it makes me to be able to say that! He may not realize that it’s even Valentine’s Day. Nor will he walk through the door with a gift, BUT I still get to hug him. The kids and I still get to tell him how much we love him. That, my friends, is irreplaceable. Don’t just sign that sweet card or have those beautiful flowers delivered. Show that person how much he or she means…not just today, but every day!

Sophia Hill Kusderci (caregiver)…My husband knows that I’m sad a lot living isolated in Germany. This past week, he said to me, “I try to talk to you. It’s why I ask you, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What are you reading?’ ” It was such a surreal moment that he “got it,” and I realized he’s trying very hard to make me happy. It’s nearly fourteen months, and I’m thankful for where we are right now. It’s not perfect, but it’s so far from where we were last year. It seems so small in real life, but for me, it is huge.cartoon-love-u-187615

Shelley Lawrence (caregiver)…My husband and I were in a shop today, and we walked past a huge Valentine’s Day stand. He stopped, looked at it, turned to me, and said, “I’d forgotten, but do you know that I love you so very much anyway?” I just grinned and said, “Yes!” How simply AWESOME is that!

Darcy Clarkson Leslie (caregiver)…Valentine’s Day – another gift-giving holiday with my brain-injured husband. I’m getting to hate this day because either he forgets or gives me a gift that his former wife would have liked. Last year at Christmas, he picked out a very large and bulky bracelet and watch set that was full of rhinestones. “You need a heart_&_key_2watch because you’re a nurse,” he said. I don’t do big. I don’t do bling. I am not a nurse. Today he gave me a necklace – a heart with a small key. “Now you really have the key to my heart,” he said. He picked this out himself. This is the first sign that my husband is really starting to get to know me again, and that is the best gift of all! Thanks for listening.

Lynn Sandoval (caregiver)…Today was a great Valentine’s Day for us! I had run to the gas station to get gas to mow the lawn, and I left my husband at home with his sister. When I returned home, I went into the kitchen and there was my husband – walking all by himself without his walker! It was the first time. thHe hadn’t realized that he did it at first. He just turned to walk over and try the chili that his sister had just made. When he got to the sink, he realized what he had done. He started walking back the other way, and that’s when I walked in. I began crying, and he walked over and hugged me. It was amazing!!! Best Valentine gift I’ve ever gotten!

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio

Another Fork in the Road

Brain Tumors and a Love Story

with Jamie & Crystal Fairles

 

images-1It took two brain tumors to make a love story. What an appropriate interview for this Valentine’s Day weekend! It was unlikely that Jamie and Crystal would have met had they not each suffered a brain tumor. But they did have brain tumors and they did meet . . . with a little help from their friends. An email relationship began, which eventually led to their engagement and some years later Jamie and Crystal were married. They now share their love with their toddler as they walk the road of brain injury hand-in-hand.

08 Jamie Fairles 10966701_785893851446166_2004498939_nJamie was first diagnosed with a brain tumor in 1998. That surgery lasted 13 ½ hours. He had 3 more surgeries before he was released, but he was not able to walk or talk and had to relearn those skills again. By 2005 Jamie had undergone 7 brain surgeries.

05 Crystal Fairles 10967058_785893721446179_257216402_nCrystal’s brain tumor was diagnosed in 2008 when she suffered a gran mal seizure. After her brain surgery, she was released from the hospital with little direction and permission to return to work. But the stress of her job was the catalyst for additional seizures.

If Jamie and Crystal hadn’t each had a brain tumor they would never have met. They are glad that they met and are happy to share their “love” story.

If you missed their interview on “Another Fork in the Road” on February 15th, you are in luck. You can listen to the archived show here.heart animated -beat

Click the link below to listen to Jamie, Crystal, and me.

See you “On the Air!”

Brain Tumors and a Love Story with Jamie & Crystal Fairles

What’s Really Important

 by

 Kayla Bradberry Knight

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

 

Kayla Bradberry KnightLast year on February 13, my husband, Wyatt, took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. He and the kids gave me cards that morning. I was on cloud nine. Who would have thought that five days later my husband would be fighting for his life and our families would be turned upside down?valentine-s-day-clip-art

God has taught me many lessons this year. Most of all, I’ve learned that earthly possessions mean nothing. Sure, they make one happy for a while. But no gift, flower bouquet, or box of chocolates could take the place of what I have today. My husband is still here! Oh, how happy it makes me to be able to say that!

He may not realize that it’s even Valentine’s Day. Nor will he walk through the door with a gift, BUT I still get to hug him. The kids and I still get to tell him how much we love him. That, my friends, is irreplaceable. Don’t just sign that sweet card or have those beautiful flowers delivered. Show that person how much he or she means…not just today, but every day!Love Every Day

 

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

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

 

As I say after each post:

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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