TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

YOU ARE INVITED!

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It took Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman 5 months and 5,300 miles to cross the USA (diagonally) on recumbent trikes. Blowouts, tumbles, and close encounters with bears and wild turkeys still left plenty of time to meet folks at the heart of our country. It also left time to get lost in one’s own mind. Cat and Dan rode to raise awareness for TBI and for Stroke, but I wonder what awareness they discovered within themselves along their journey. And, I mean to find out. :)

 

                Come One! Come ALL!

What:        Interview with Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman.

Why:        Cat and Dan will look inward and share their innermost thoughts.

Dan Zimmerman & Cat Brubaker

Dan Zimmerman & Cat Brubaker

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, December 21, 2014

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

SPEAK OUT! – Ken Collins

Brain Injury Radio Network Host

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Collins, Ken 2

Ken Collins – TBI Survivor Host on the Brain Injury Radio Network

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

Ken Collins

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

Gamerco, New Mexico, USA     on3.go@live.com

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

December 31, 1976     Age 26

4. How did your TBI occur?

I ran into a parked car while driving a snowmobile.

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

I realized the seriousness of my injury after I “woke” several weeks later. I was standing in front a mirror and picking at the wires in my mouth.

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

I was taken to the Emergency Room, and I had surgery. I broke my jaw below my chin on the left side and rammed my right jawbone into my right ear canal.

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

I have a month missing.  My hospital records say that I was “in and out” and that I was in a Posey jacket and wrist restraints all the time I was in the hospital.  I didn’t have any insurance, and there was no insurance on the snowmobile I was on or the car I ran into.  I was in the hospital a week, and then I was released to go home with my parents because I kept getting out of the restraints and wandering the halls.  On the last day I was in the hospital, they found me untied three times.  One of those times, I was urinating on a plant in the lobby.  I remember Christmas Eve, and then I don’t remember anything until I woke up in front of the mirror in late January.

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 didn’t have any rehab because there wasn’t any rehab in 1976.  My rehab came from playing baseball and community organizing.

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

My short-term memory problem has gotten much better over time. I have issues with balance and impulsivity.

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

My brain injury has given me insights that have allowed me to become a better person.

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

Nothing

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

I have a better understanding of people and life in general.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Nothing

14.Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time

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

I’ve been married three times. The relationships were hurt by my impulsivity and money-management issues.

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

Not really

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

My family provided me with the love and support I needed after my brain injury.  They also gave me a place to live for a couple years until I was able to live on my own.

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

I plan to be retired.

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.

Talk with other brain-injury survivors. I wish there would have been some people with brain injuries to talk to after my brain injury. I wish also that the Internet and smart phones would have existed.

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

Collins, Ken

Ken Collins – TBI Survivor Host on the Brain Injury Radio Network

Find purpose and meaning in your life again because this will make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Having a sense of purpose and meaning will give you something to live for. This will also help you feel worthwhile, help motivate you, and improve your recovery process. Take ownership of your recovery, and get rid of the word “can’t” in your vocabulary.

 

To learn more about Ken, stop by the Brain Injury Radio Network to hear some of Ken’s archived shows.

Thank you, Ken, 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 Ken.)

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.

Alicia Gilman (survivor)…Five years out from my stroke, I’m again trying occupational therapy for my hand. The neurologist actually discouraged me from trying and said not to expect any improvement, but I’m trying anyway. I picked up 25 foam balls and put them into a crate with e-stim (electrical muscle stimulation) assistance, but still it’s more than I’ve done in 5 years. Yay, me! I like my neurologist a lot. I’m sure he meant well when he told me that, but I’ve decided that no one will put limits on me – not even an awesome doctor with lots more education than I’ll ever have. I would rather hope for the best, expect the best, and receive what the good Lord decides He wants for me, than not to try and fall victim to apathy – just because my doctor said it’s not worth the effort. It is ALWAYS worth the effort! Thank you for doing what you’re doing here. It is great encouragement.

Debbie Madison (survivor)…I allowed myself a break during the craziness! Took a nap when I became overwhelmed. I think my Itty-Bitty Giant Step is to remember to listen to my body and give it a break. If I don’t, the results can be catastrophic!

Lessia G. Malloy  (survivor)…My new doctor actually added some fish oil to my diet. I do feel better.

Tracy McDonald (caregiver)…I told you all several months ago that my 27-year-old son, Charles, decided to get off the Duragesic pain patches. Well, before he discontinued the patches, he weighed 118 lbs. on his 6 ft. 1 in. frame – very underweight. He just weighed himself before showering and hollered, “Mom! My weight is now 135!” The worry of his low weight had been a great concern of his doctors. To know that Charles made the choice to stop taking that patch and now endures more pain – I am very proud of him. He wears long thermal underwear under his jeans to help with pain. He meditates. He is able to walk for hours out in the woods with his dog Cali. His agitation is less now too! I just wanted to share with my friends here. It has been 5 years since his accident. A big accomplishment – always believe!!

Lc Sossaman  (survivor)…Today I had two things to do – one was for my husband. I didn’t write them down and didn’t take a note, but I remembered them, so it was a good day. I got goat food, but that was an easy one to remember. I could remember goats – it was easy – they are my pets. My husband asked me to get a certain bucket and remember to get the lid. I did. Woo, hoo! I know it sounds so small, but not writing it down and actually doing it was good for me. Just a piddly thing, I know.

Kimberly June West (survivor)…I have been working on the “ab and butt” challenge. One of the exercises is lunges. Two years ago, I could not have done one lunge without losing balance and falling. I did 15!!! Yay, me!!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

SPEAK OUT! – Deb Angus

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Deb Angus & her book

Deb Angus with Regaining Consciousness

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

Deb Angus

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

Alberta, Canada

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

July 2001   Age 44

4. How did your TBI occur?

We were rear-ended at a red light by a distracted driver.

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

It was realized I had a brain injury about one week afterwards.

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

None

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?

My rehab was all outpatient: physical therapy, January-March 2002; vestibular therapy, March-April 2002; occupational therapy, April-May 2003; and speech therapy, May-June 2003.

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

I have light-sensitivity (pain from bright sunlight, photo flash, strobe lights, etc.), double vision, depth-perception problems, tinnitus, pain from loud noises, speaking problems (word-finding, stuttering, and stammering), memory problems, concentration and attention problems, a balance problem and dizziness, left-side weakness, sleeping problems, and spatial-coordination problems. I had constant debilitating head pain for the first three weeks and shooting head-pains from August 2001 until about 2010, which have dissipated quite a lot over the years. They still occur once in a while, but they’re much milder than earlier in my recovery. In 2005, I developed an extreme sensitivity to perfumes and colognes. It started as the result of olfactory and trigeminal nerve damage.

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

My life is worse. I cannot do many activities anymore (e.g., riding a bicycle or ice-skating). Parties, large crowds, and loud noises are difficult or impossible. Light-sensitivity is still an ongoing issue. It affects my driving, watching certain movies and TV programs, and attending certain events.

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

I miss the spontaneity – just going out and doing whatever whenever.

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

I have more compassion and understanding. I’m more aware of concussions and their impact on brain health.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I realize our fragility in life.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I have been helped by time, a lot of inner work on acceptance, and learning about TBI.

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

Many people have given up on me; good friends have stood by me; many more new friends have entered my life. Only I and my husband are here – I have no contact with my family back east. It wasn’t until halfway through my rehab that I realized what a brain injury was and how much it had affected me. I was then able to recognize the symptoms in my husband when he was rear-ended at red light by a drunk driver in ’92. He was never diagnosed. He hasn’t worked outside the home in 22 years. His injury is more depressive than mine, and he dislikes being around people now.

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

I don’t go out as much as I used to. A small circle of friends, who understand what I’ve gone through and what I still contend with, invite me out for lunches, etc. No more drinking; no more music events; no large-crowd events, like the Calgary Stampede or fireworks.

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

My caregiver is just me, my husband, and patience.

Book Cover-FINAL-6x9-web3

Regaining Consciousness: My Encounter with Mild Brain Injury — The Silent Epidemic

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

I still continue to work full-time. It took 10 years of writing and research, but I finally published my book on mild brain injury in 2014. I am now out delivering talks on concussions and brain injuries to raise awareness. I’m hoping to be able to retire in next 3-5 years and to concentrate more on promoting my book and delivering talks. I’m hoping that this work will help change the paradigms in the medical, legal, and insurance industries for recognition of these injuries, the recovery process involved, and the fact that many survivors need support for employment, housing, and medical issues that may crop up due to TBI – especially as we age.

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 wish I would have known how easily concussions occurred and that repeated concussions lead to permanent brain injury. And to deal more effectively with stress, which can wear the body and spirit down to dust. I am currently dealing with kidney failure due to a rare autoimmune response to a virus. My general practitioner is convinced that this occurred because of the stress I’ve endured working through brain injury, having a job that was uncertain from year to year, and having to move six times in four years, due to problem tenants, a rodent problem, and a job transition in 2012.

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

Deb Angus winter

Deb Angus

Be patient with yourself. Be gentle and nurturing with lots of self-care. Keep strong, be determined to improve, and be willing to explore all kinds of healing modalities. Keep trying to find the right doctors and the right therapists who will listen to you and help you.

 

Thank you, Deb, 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 Deb.)

SPEAK OUT! – Anthony Vigil Jr.

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

About a week after waking from the coma.  I had dropped down to 76 lbs!  Both legs were amputated, btw.-11. What is your name? (last name optional)

Anthony Vigil, Jr.

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

Guam

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

July 2011    I was 31 years old.

4. How did your TBI occur?

I was in a traumatic car accident while on my way to train for my 2nd half-marathon.  I was an avid long-distance runner, had completed my first in 1:39, and was training to come in under 1:30 for my 2nd.  The accident also resulted in the loss of both legs above the knees.

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

I realized I had a problem when I started studying for the LSAT (law school admission test) during the summer of 2013.

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

I was in bad shape – both lungs were collapsed, and my kidneys, liver, and gallbladder failed.  There was much more that I don’t remember.  I was lucky that my accident was less than a mile from the US Naval Hospital, where many doctors there were previously stationed in Iraq and Afghanistan and had experience with the kind of trauma I suffered.  I was eventually transported to St. Luke’s Hospital in the Philippines, where they had a brain drug that is not approved by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration), but is used in Europe and Asia.

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

I was in a medically induced coma for one month.

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 in physical rehab, both as an inpatient and an outpatient, for about two months. Then I decided to complete it at home. It took two years to fully recover physically. I’m still working on the cognitive aspect.

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

The doctors told my parents that I would have the mind of a child, but luckily that didn’t happen.  When I was being tested in the Philippines, I couldn’t even draw a clock, my speech was slurred, and I didn’t know what year it was or how old I was.  I did know who all my family was, though.  I still have trouble reading dense passages and have to reread them just to comprehend.  Because my short-term memory was affected, I have trouble keeping track of concepts in dense passages.

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

For the better – my relationship with my parents is so much better.

For worse – it has quashed (or at least delayed) my aspirations for a professional degree (law or MBA).

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

I greatly miss my processing speed.  I used to be very quick to pick up new concepts, and many people thought I was smart. (I guess they still do.)

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

I enjoy relationships with people.  I’ve realized that relationships are more important than money.  I also try to enjoy life in every little thing I do.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I dislike knowing that I’m not as capable as before, but I’ve finally arrived at peace with that.Vigil Jr., Anthony Relay Race Pre TBI

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I’ve been helped by reading other people’s stories and by learning how people were able to succeed despite the TBI.

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

For the first two years, I hated being stuck at home with my parents again, after I had been living on my own since 19.  I’ve finally come to enjoy and appreciate my parents.

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

I didn’t have much of a social life before the accident, so not much has changed.

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

During the first year of my recovery, my mom was my caregiver.  Yes, I understand that it takes a lot of love, even though you may not understand why things happened that way and even if the other person fights you the whole time.  =)

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

I was approved for a business loan a week before my accident, so I hope to resume that plan and maybe get a professional degree.  That’s a big maybe.

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.

Try working or really exerting your mind.  You won’t really know your capabilities until you try.

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

Research, research, research.  Reach out to other survivors, for no one else knows what you are experiencing.  I tried explaining it to my coworkers and parents, and it was impossible for them to understand!Vigil, Jr., Anthony

 

Thank you, Anthony, 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 Anthony.)

 

Major News About Football-Caused Concussions

Newsboy thYou’ve probably heard of Kosta Karageorge, the senior on the Ohio State University football team who apparently committed suicide. He enjoyed hitting his opponents. He had several known concussions, and probably several more that were unreported. It’s now very clear that concussions injure the brain. Kosta complained about his concussions in his last text message to his mother, saying “…but these concussions have my head all f—ed up.” His tragic case is still being investigated, but because he played on a major football team and because he had a history of brain trauma, his case has highlighted the need to know more about concussions and the need to better protect players, particularly young players, whose brains are still developing. (Full stories 1 and 2)

Both the National Football League (NFL), a league of professional players, and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), a national organization that oversees most college football, have settled class-action lawsuits about concussions. (The NFL settled for $765 million, and the NCAA, for $70 million, but judges are likely to rule that more is needed.) High school football is not regulated by a national organization, but rather by the individual states. Now the first class-action lawsuit has been filed against the athletic association of a state – Illinois. The attorney is the same one that filed the NCAA lawsuit. This is the first lawsuit for high school football, and the attorney believes that high school athletic associations need to be sued in every state to affect the sport nationally. He is representing a former high school quarterback who suffered several concussions. The objective of the lawsuit is to make the sport safer. (Full stories 3 and 4)

A star high school football player has written a poignant essay about why his concussion landed him in the hospital fighting for his life. He definitely enjoyed being one of the “elite,” but now he writes that football wasn’t worth shattering his life and dreams (“…was playing football worth it? The answer is no. Not by a long shot”). He hopes to warn other youths of the incredible danger. (Full story)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

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.

Bart Boughner (survivor)…I found my old horse this past month. I haven’t seen him since 2004. Today (yeah!) I remembered I can scan pictures to send to the new owner. Yesterday I tried the camera – not so good. I love days like today!

Bart Boughner, 2 months after TBI, poses with his horse.

Bart Boughner, 2 months after TBI, poses with his horse.

Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah and Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba

Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah and Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba

The big one is my old mare, Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah. She had two babies for me. The one I just found is the little one, Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba.  I still have the sister, and – funny thing – they were born on the same day, two years apart, and with the same parents.

Olivianjeana Collazo (caregiver)…Our biggest accomplishment has been finding fish oil and other things to help our son with his brain injury, which happened in July. All that the doctors could say was the worst. I can’t wait to show them our son now. He is doing half the things they said he wouldn’t! Thanks for reading.

Peter Cornfield (survivor)…Peter uses innovative measures to move a basket of firewood to the fireplace using only one hand. See his inspirational video on You Tube. Moving Wood With My Stick.

Jamie Fairles (survivor)…Hi, Donna. As of yesterday, I’m off for four weeks from my B SW (Bachelor of Social Work) field practicum placement until my second term begins in the new year. I have the rest of this practicum to finish, a second field placement, and only two more full courses until I’m a social worker!

 Heather Sivori Floyd (caregiver)…BIG NEWS to share! Kinda nervous to share but really excited! Had a meeting with a few people from Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky today. They have written something for bicycle helmet legislation for children. It will be called TJ’s law!! Very exciting! Now to get the right people involved to get this thing passed.

William Jarvis (survivor)…Donna, a big step for me was moving. Five months ago, I thought it would be impossible, due to my TBI and walking with a cane. However, I am now in my new home in Myrtle Beach. I got a lot of support from family and friends. You can do more than you think! Don’t be afraid to try things.

Debbie Madison (survivor)…I went to my first Christmas party, and I didn’t hide in the bathroom! It wasn’t so bad, and I had a nice time with my husband.

Debbie Madison (survivor)…I finished the shopping, and I sent out cards without losing addresses or the list.

Julie-Ann Manners (survivor)…It’s Wednesday here in Oz (Australia). I just got out of the hospital on Monday. [I was in due to my epilepsy from my ABI (acquired brain injury).] And this is HUGE FOR ME. I have finally been put on the list for rehab for fine motor control, speech, walking, reading, and writing!! Eventually I will be able to start being me again!! I’m so super excited!! My injury happened this year in February, and I have had no help, and now after Christmas, I am finally going to be able to get some! YAY!!!!

Michael Montepara (survivor)…Okay, here’s one of my Itty-Bitty Giant Steps: I am thankful that this week I did not have to sleep in my truck in the cold. AMEN.

Shanna Wolf Heart Powell‎ (survivor)…I accomplished grocery shopping tonight with out a break down, except for the pig head they were selling at the store!!! I broke down and cried in Walmart!!!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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