TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Natalie Collins

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Natalie Collins - Brain Injury Survivor

Natalie Collins – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Natalie Collins

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

Shreveport, Louisiana, USA

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

I was 34.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

In a car accident

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

Immediately after the accident

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

None

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

I wasn’t in one.

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 had outpatient physical therapy for six months.

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

I have problems with balance, perception, and personality, and I suffer from mood changes.

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

My outlook on life is better, but I still grieve the “old” me. The worst is knowing I will be forever changed.

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

I miss being able to read a book.

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

I enjoy people more and “stopping to smell the roses,” as that old cliché goes.

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

I dislike needing constant assistance because of my memory.

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

I found it helpful to take Sticky Notes everywhere.

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

Yes. My current husband didn’t understand how big of a job it is to take care of me. As a result, I hide a lot of my disability. I also have to stay in the kitchen while cooking.

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

Absolutely. I really don’t have a social life now. Before the accident, I had all sorts of people to hang out with.

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

My mom has been a great help teaching me how to do stuff and not doing it all for me.

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

I honestly don’t know what I’ll be doing in the future. It depends on if this head injury allows me to continue my education in counseling.

Natalie Collins - Brain Injury Survivor

Natalie Collins – Brain Injury Survivor

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 brain injury.

My advice is to take notes everywhere, especially doctors’ offices. (I had a friend who made me make a daily list, so I would remember even to take a bath. If you’re like me, you won’t remember why the stove is dinging.) Keep a set routine. Stay in the kitchen when cooking.

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

All I can say is “Notes everywhere.” Sticky Notes are fairly cheap in comparison to forgetting really important stuff.

 

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.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

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Standing Still

by

Ed Steeves

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Boy Blogger thNo matter how great it sounds, we can’t go back. No matter how much we may want to, that bridge has burned. The past has passed for a reason. We need to accept that it is over. We can only take the lessons we’ve learned.

Now we have a choice, since we can’t change the past or return to it. We can’t get the past back and never will. So, the decision that we have to make is Will we move on into the future, or will we simply stand still?k20874676

I, for one, will go forward with my life. I have decided that, somewhere ahead, there is something better to find. Because, if we just stand there and stare at what’s dead and gone, we will surely lose our mind.

The thing we fail to notice at times is that, no matter how amazing the past was, the future is better. The past, sadly, is occupied only with our memories, and it’s our prison. Only in the future can we all be free.

Ed Steeves - Survivor

Ed Steeves – Survivor

It’s OK to take some time to reflect – to forgive and move on. I’ve finally given up on all that’s there in the past.

But remember that life is still alive in the future, and we are never certain how long it will last.

Thank you, Ed Steeves.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Ed Steeves.)

 

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

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury –  Bob Bernardi (survivor)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It 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.

 

Bob Bernardi - survivor

Bob Bernardi – survivor

Bob Bernardi (survivor)

Recently was an anniversary. It’s been 24 years since that terrible day back in 1992, when I lost control of my car and suffered my traumatic brain injury. Needless to say, I have experienced a lot of life’s lessons – both good and bad. I am still here, and I have accepted my standing in life, but that is not to say that I am not a fighter. If I feel that something is not right with my care or if I have questions, then believe me when I say I am going to express my concerns or ask my questions! I have had the very best in medical care and some of the worst, and, for that reason, I will not just “go with the flow.” I am sure that most of you know that, when the human brain is hurt and damaged, that alteration is an alteration to “us.” Our brain is “us.” Just trying to get back to our original selves is what we strive for. I know I can be a pain to many of my friends outside of the brain-injury community with how I view everyday life. But all that we have shared in the brain-injury community make us friends. I know that I depend on their views. I would be lost without the brain-injury community, and for that I am thankful!

 

Thank you Bob Bernardi for sharing your story.

 

(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 intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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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 lastname 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 Steps

georgeanna-bell-survivor-091016GeorgeAnna Bell (survivor) … For the first time, I took a shower sanding up! Normally, I use a shower-chair because of dizziness, but I was fine standing. I was supposed to get a Disability Room. I guess what I had was one to some degree. gg57881072I was looking forward to a walk-in shower, so I could place my walker into the shower and use it as a chair, but my room had a tub. I was extremely cautious, but I did it! I am so happy!

 

cat-brubaker-survivor-090916Cat Brubaker (survivor) … Today I used the oven – TWICE – all by myself! And I didn’t burn anything down. I got a little “fancy” (I added my own thing). I kept the timer with me at ALL TIMES.

cats-quiche

crustless, veggie butternut quicheTIMES.

 

 

 

 

 

sallie-stewartSallie Stewart (survivor) … Big win in life for me! (It may sound small and trivial to many.) I have said it before – I have this swallowing challenge. Nerve damage is some of it; synching of the epiglottis and trachea is also a problem. Then there is this crushed-disk issue with my jaw. Orthodontic braces were put on two years ago in hopes that things might change. They did. There are still challenges, but today was a great day! I ate ALL of my Eggs Benedict, ALL of my lunch, and ALL of my dinner. thAnd several snacks in between. I can chew – on BOTH sides of my jaw. It’s a giant win in life for me! I feel strong. It’s been a true challenge to try to find the majority of my nutrition in a blender. It was so nice to really be able to chow-down food. These braces come off soon. And for that, I am happy. But I’m not nearly as grateful for that as I am for being able to chew pain-free. My heart is full! A strong full!

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

 

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 intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Brain Injury Resources . . . CTE & Football

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Brain th-2The regular season of the NFL (National Football League) begins this week. Although American football can be exciting, we in the brain-injury community are very aware of the havoc that both concussive and sub-concussive head impacts play not only on the brain health of the pros, but also on the brain health of college and high school players (1). We are especially sensitive to the high risk of the trusting and still-developing young players in Pop Warner leagues (2, 3).th

There has been a growing public awareness of the brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), which can develop from hits to the ctehead and lead to “memory loss, confusion, impaired judgement, impulse control problems, aggression, depression and progressive dementia.” Some players have retired early (4, 5). Former players have sued or are suing the NFL (6). There is still a great deal of ignorance about CTE, but much research has been done and is being continued vigorously. This article tells us some basic facts that we should know.

Here is a brief outline from the article:

“Concussions in the NFL are more widespread than we thought

“An estimated 96 percent of deceased NFL players had CTE

“Researchers are working on a test for living players

“The NFL has donated $0 to this important new brain injury study”

I urge you to read the article for the details.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

As I say after each post:

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

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY 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. That works for me too!

 

 

Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Lynn Sandoval

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Lynn Sandoval - Caregiver

Lynn Sandoval – Caregiver

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

Lynn Sandoval

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

Brady, Texas, USA

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

The brain-injury survivor is my husband. He was 39 years old when he had the brain injury. He was in an automobile accident. His car was hit twice, once head-on. The first car hit my husband’s car at ~95 mph. This hit spun my husband’s car around, and a second car, following the first car, hit my husband’s car in the rear at ~85 mph. My husband’s car was spun back around and finally came to a rest in the middle of the road.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor?

I began care the day after my husband’s accident – when I was able to get to the hospital where he had been flown.

Were you the main caregiver?

In the beginning, my husband had hospital care in addition to mine.

Are you now?

I have been my husband’s only caregiver since he came home from the hospital.

How old were you when you began care?

I was 52.

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 brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes, I was employed. I have been able to utilize FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and sick leave. I have continued working whenever I am able to.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

I have not had any help at home caring for my husband.

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

My support began in the hospital, and it continues to this day.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

My husband was in a coma the first few days. While he was in a coma, I stayed by his bedside and talked to him. I touched him on the areas that weren’t bandaged to let him know I was there.

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

My husband had physical, speech, and occupational therapies in the hospital. They continued when we got home, once I got him set up for evaluations.

How long was the rehab?

k20116138My husband is still in physical therapy, and he recently started occupational therapy again. (He had “graduated” from occupational therapy about a year ago, but his neurologist requested that he do it again.)

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

I was there with my husband during the beginning therapies, but after some time, he went to the therapies alone. Now we work together on exercises at home.

 11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

Now my husband is able to do things for himself, but I still have to get his medications together for him every day because he doesn’t remember if he’s taken them or not.diabetes_medications

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

Since I’ve become a caregiver, I have discovered that people will withdraw from situations because they don’t understand TBI (traumatic brain injury). It has its ups and downs, but we are now seeing more positive steps and are hopeful for the future. I have found that I am more depressed and feel alone because I am more involved with making sure everything is OK for my husband, but I am learning to take time for me.

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

Life before my husband’s TBI was a lot less stressful – being able to leave the house and not worry if he is OK. Now I keep my phone with me continuously so that, if he needs something, he can call and I’ll be there for him.

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

I am grateful that I still have my husband with me.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I dislike the frustration and confusion that my husband feels when he is trying to remember something and he can’t.

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

Yes – support-groups and reading – and more reading – on anything and everything I can find about TBI and about what can and can’t be beneficial – not only for him, but for us and our relationship.

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

Yes. I find I am hyper-aware of anything and everything my husband does in an effort to keep him safe. The relationships with his family and friends have become nonexistent. It hurts my husband so much to feel that no one cares about him.

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

Yes. We don’t go out much anymore because my husband doesn’t like being in large, noisy crowds and because it is difficult for him to stand or walk for extended periods of time.

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

My husband’s plans are to hopefully get approved for disability insurance and then to return to his job (that they are holding for him) part-time so that he can financially contribute to our family. My plans, if we are able to get some additional income instead of just mine (which has been our income for almost the last two years), would be to find a job to use my Master’s Degree. I just completed my degree program this past year in psychology. I’d like to work with other traumatic-brain-injury survivors and help advocate for them. Here in our small town, nothing is available.

Lynn Sandoval - Caregiver

Lynn Sandoval – Caregiver

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

I would say that, despite the difficulties in being a caregiver, caregiving can be rewarding – when together you see the progress your survivor is making because of his or her drive and determination and because of the support and love that you give him or her. It is tiring, it can be frustrating, and you may feel like screaming – these are all normal responses. The key is to remember to take a moment, to try to take care of yourself (this is the hardest thing), and to believe in each other.

 

(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 SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(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 – Lisa Wickenden (survivor)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It 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.

 

Lisa Wickenden (survivor)

Lisa Wickenden

Lisa Wickenden – Brain Injury Survivor

Three years ago, my life changed forever. I now have some challenges that no one can see, but I am reminded of them every day. Three years ago, I had my accident. I will forever have a TBI (traumatic brain injury). You cannot tell I have one by looking at me. Three years ago, relationships changed between friends and me. Some friends stuck around and are still a very, very big part of my life. Some friends faded away. gg66084897Three years ago, I had to start loving a new me. It’s still a struggle. But with all the support I have from family and friends, I know it’s possible.

 

Thank you Lisa Wickenden for sharing your story.

 

(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 intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Tag Cloud

No memory of the day that changed my life

My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

GM1123

Bienvenue. I’m thinking this is the spot where I am to write a witty, flowery personal section that pulls you in......I got nuthin’

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