TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

 

 

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Heather Sivori Floyd (caregiver for her son, TJ)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Heather Sivori Floyd – caregiver mom to her son, TJ

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

Heather Sivori Floyd

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

Oldham County, Kentucky, USA

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you?

He (TJ) is my son.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury?

TJ was 7 years old.

11 TJ Floyd

TJ – Brain Injury Survivor – bicycle accident

What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

TJ was riding his bicycle when he wrecked into the back of his brother. He flipped over the handle bars and hit his head on the concrete. He went to “sleep” and never woke up until days after his emergency open brain surgery.

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

April 21, 2010

Were you the main caregiver?

Yes

Are you now?

Yes

How old were you when you began care?

Age stinks. I’d rather not discuss it. LOL!

TJ and Mom Heather Sivori Floyd

TJ – Brain Injury Survivor & his Mom, Heather Sivori Floyd

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

Yes – my three other children. I was also pregnant at the time.

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

Yes

If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes – part time from home.

7. Did you have any help? Mother-in-Law

My mother-in-law moved in to help with my other children so I could care full-time for TJ with his therapy and doctors.

If so, what kind and for how long?

Well, she is still here.

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

Immediately

9. Was your survivor in a coma?

I’m not sure of the medical term, but he was unresponsive until several days after his brain surgery.

If so, what did you do during that time?

I slept beside TJ in a chair. I was three months pregnant and heartbroken at the fear of the unknown. What was it they called it? . . . Ah yes, “the new normal.” I was trying to figure out what that meant. You don’t actually “get it” until years later.

14 TJ & Mom Heather Sivori Floyd copy

TJ – Brain Injury Survivor & Mom, Heather Sivori Floyd

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)?

Physical, occupational, and speech therapies; also, hippotherapy (the use of horseback riding to improve balance, coordination, and strength)

How long was the rehab?

TJ still goes to therapy.

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

With TJ

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

brain-injury-imageEverything. TJ’s brain bleed damaged the whole left side of his brain and parts of the right. He was left with severe impairments, specifically in speech, language, memory, and cognitive function. He has safety issues. Because of attention, safety, and balance issues, he has trouble walking without hands-on help constantly. He also has memory problems, speech problems, vision problems, physical issues from having hemiparesis (weakness on one side), and a lot more.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver?

Things that mattered to me prior his accident are non-issues to me now. I often times feel I can talk with doctors and therapists better than I can with most people my age. It can be lonely, difficult, and frustrating at times to find common connectors in my personal relationships with friends and family. Some weeks are packed full of appointments. I’m drinking so much coffee I think my system will crash. Just this past week, I knocked out four appointments in one day. The most I’ve done in one day has been seven.

Is it better?

I would say yes – my life is better. Even though this is the most challenging task of my life, my son is innocent, happy, and laughs a lot. I believe having the privilege to care for my child, who is special needs, has been the most rewarding love one can experience. The impact special-needs children make are life-long. You learn so much through them in how they view the world.

Is it worse?

No parent ever wants this for his or her child. That being said, my life is better because of the profound true joy my son has brought me. The worst part, I would say, is having struggles that are hard to overcome. Watching him struggle is hard. I do whatever I can to help him when this happens. Also, the stress of future planning is scary and overwhelming.

18 TJ & Mom Heather Sivori Floyd copy

Heather Sivori Floyd & her son, TJ

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

Our conversations. Most of the time, our conversations now are basic – food, eat, play a game, etc. I miss those conversations with my child that went beyond basic needs.

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

Oh gosh, a child like TJ changes you in a profound way. The love you have in your heart for your child and others like him or her is something that is hard to put into words. I want to protect all of them forever. The world is full of evil people who would take advantage. I also enjoy trying to help others – to make it easier for the family who comes after us. There will always be another family. I’ve also learned to let the little things slide because, at the end of the day, they are just that – little.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

Everything. It’s unrelenting and nasty. It takes a lot and rarely gives anything back.

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

Yes – TJ is happy. It is hard to justify my being sad or my crying all the time when he is happy. He lives in the now – not for tomorrow or the day before.

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

1-divided-path-tracie-kiernanYes – especially my personal friendships and my relationships with family. I think we are on different paths in life now. While they talk of work and social events, I am constantly thinking What can we do to make it better for TJ and others going through this? My closest friends are now the caregivers and survivors I’ve met locally. We work together locally to make a positive change for the brain-injury community. I also work with an amazing team of ladies who help me run two support-groups for survivors and caregivers. I started my first one seven years ago. I was scared after TJ’s brain injury, and I needed to know I was not alone. I needed hope. The groups grew to over 30,000, and the rest is history. The friendship we have is unbreakable. Shout-out to my amazing admins and friends: Melissa, Shauna, Margie, Mary, Michael, Eddie, and Alex. Love you all! We’ve met many who have inspired us in this journey.

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

Um, what social life?! Seriously, I have no social life. It’s too hard to connect with others.

19. What are your plans?

My #1 plan is finding the best long-term situation for TJ that will ensure the best care he can have when we can no longer do so. Personally, I also plan to continue making a difference locally. We have several projects we are working on, and I have some more ideas to help. I ALWAYS have an idea. I’m always thinking big. Nothing brings me greater joy than helping others. It is important for families to know they aren’t alone and that people care enough to try and make it better. I try to do my part because of my son and the many we have met.

What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope to still be laughing and loving the small joys in life with TJ. Hopefully, we will have made a big impact locally and beyond for the brain-injury community.

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Never Give Up

Never give up. Let the small things go. Love deeply, and give your all. If you don’t, one day you will wish you had. Be the voice for your loved one. Never let “no” be an obstacle; there is always a way. If the door closes, kick it open. Most importantly, hang on when the days are hard and you feel you cannot go on. You can, and your survivor needs you to. Connect with other caregivers so you don’t feel like you walk this path alone – because you don’t. There are many who walk it with you daily

Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

I think I’ve said what’s important for caregivers to know.

 

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Pattie Welek Hall  (caregiver for her son)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pattie Welek-Hall 3

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver for son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

 

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

Pattie Welek Hall

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

Summerville, South Carolina, USA     pattie@pattiewelekhall.com

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you?

He’s my son.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury?

19 years old

What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Motorcycle accident

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

MotorcycleOctober 6, 2002

Were you the main caregiver?

Yes

Are you now?

We live in different states now, but I’d have to say that emotionally I am his main caregiver.

How old were you when you began care?

56

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

I was in the process of finalizing a divorce and also raising my other two children, Annie (freshman in college) and Bo (junior in college).

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

th

Yes – at Barnes & Noble in Charlotte, North Carolina

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. Mid-October, I was scheduled to step into new position – Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble in Huntersville, North Carolina. The manager held my position until I was able to return.

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

When Casey returned home, he went to outpatient care in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that time, his dad’s insurance paid for a driver to take and pick him up from rehab so I could return to work. Casey remained in rehab until April 2003.

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

For the first eleven days after my son’s accident, I slept on the floor in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at the Medical University of South Carolina, and then I moved to Marriott Courtyard for the remaining days of his six-week stay.

A Mother's Dance

“A Mother’s Dance’ by Pattie Welek Hall

9Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Twice.

If so, what did you do during that time?

I prayed out loud to him; I talked to him; I relayed how his day unfolded (Guess who visited; I recounted what they said) . . . and I told him stories.

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)?

Outpatient—speech, occupational, and physical

How long was the rehab? kc8oAg59i

Five months

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

At work

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

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

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

I miss my boy’s easy-going nature.

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

Pattie Welek Hall

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver of son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

That my son is alive

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

That my son has frontal lobe damage which affects those he loves

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

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

Relationships are up and down – mostly due to frontal lobe damage.

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

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

I hope that my son’s life is filled with love, laughter, and peace.

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

 

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Darlene Watson Mabry (caregiver for her son, Gage)

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.

Darlene Watson Mabry (caregiver for her son, Gage)

Mabry, Darlene Watson Caregiver

Mabry, Darlene Watson – Caregiver

 

My son, who is now 22, suffered his TBI (traumatic brain injury) two years ago in a work-related accident. That’s when the nightmare began, and our lives were forever changed.

This altered state of reality is so overwhelming at times that I just have to sit down and cry. There are good days, but it seems like for every good one, there are three bad ones – for every advancement, there comes a setback. The everyday struggle to maintain wears you down. It’s like going the wrong way on a one-way street.

Right Way Wrong Way
The company that my son was working for when the accident happened is still fighting this, and Worker’s Compensation in Missouri is unscrupulous! For the last year-and-a-half, they have refused to pay for treatment and prescriptions or provide temporary-disability pay. Resources are limited in this situation until this claim is settled, so, financially, we are bankrupt. Not only are they making my son’s already-burdensome recovery more difficult, but they are actually hindering it. I have cried, thrown fits, prayed, been depressed, and had anxiety attacks that I thought were heart attacks, and that was just today.

Darlene Watson Mabry & Son, Gage

Darlene Watson Mabry – Caregiver for son, Gage – Brain Injury Survivor

Crayon

So, I have erased this, and tomorrow we will begin again. (I’m thinking of using a crayon, so I can color outside the lines – LOL.)

At the end of the day, I’m grateful – my son is alive and highly functional, unlike some who have suffered this type of injury. God has blessed us with another day, and for that I’m thankful.

 

(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.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Geo Gosling

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Geo Gosing 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Geo Gosling

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

St. Helena, California, USA     goose3@wildblue.net

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

In 1995 at the age of 25

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was riding my bicycle 40-45 mph down a steep hill. (That’s pretty fast on a bicycle.) It was dusk, and I didn’t have a bike-light. A car going in the opposite direction was at the bottom of the hill, didn’t see me, and turned left onto a street. I hit her. In auto accidents, this would be referred to as a “T-bone.” So, while on my bicycle, I “T-boned” a car at about 40 mph.bike

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

Pretty soon thereafter

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

I was transported by ambulance to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. (It should be noted that my crash occurred only a few hundred feet from the St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, but the ambulance was routed to Napa – about 25 min. south of where I was – because “The Queen” is much better prepared for head trauma.) I had a tracheotomy, and my right shoulder was pretty smashed. I fractured two neck vertebrae, so I had a broken neck. Some ribs were broken also. That all pales in comparison to the TBI (traumatic brain injury), however.

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

I was technically never in a coma, but I was unconscious for either six or eight days – I don’t remember which. (Funny story – I think: I was technically never in a coma because I would respond to outside stimuli. The doctor demonstrated this by talking loud at me or yelling or saying bad things or something, and I would just lie there in bed give him the finger. I just lay there and flipped him off. I later found out the doctors thought this to be rather amusing.)

Geo Gosling 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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)?

I had both inpatient and outpatient therapy. Both in- and outpatient therapy consisted of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and “thought” therapy. (I had to see a psychologist because I was rather … ah … depressed. I called it “thought therapy.”) I was in rehab for years. In fact, I still go to massage therapy because my muscles don’t seem to relax too well anymore. Speech therapy helped, but not much because, as a result of my TBI, I have dysarthria, which is basically paralyzed facial muscles. As a result, I have trouble speaking clearly, and I sound a wee-bit tipsy most of the time.

How long were you in rehab?

Years. I still go to massage therapy twice a month.

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I’m in constant pain. The part of my brain that is responsible for, or connected to, the gums on the left side of my mouth is injured or damaged or whatever. Anyhow, my brain thinks my gums on the left side of my mouth are telling it that they hurt because something is wrong. Well, something is wrong, but not with my gums. It’s my brain that is confused. My brain “thinks” my gums hurt. So, I just think my gums hurt, but they don’t. (Don’t think about that too long, or you will need to see a shrink.) I don’t like people anymore. I’m pissed off all the time. I haven’t had a date in 20+ years. That could also be why I’m pissed off and don’t like people. I can go from being “happy as a clam” to extremely furious in about ten nanoseconds. (I was never like that before.) My balance is terrible – I fall over very easily. (I couldn’t run to save my life – assuming I wanted to save it. I can’t even walk fast.) I have arthritis in my neck – hurts like hell. My lower back hurts often.

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

Is this a trick question?

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

I miss a career I enjoyed, laughing, hope, feeling good, living, friends.

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

Is this another trick question?

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I dislike my speech. I hate the constant pain. I’m unhappy with having no friends, no job, little money, and no hope. That about covers it.

dT76zBKac14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Passage of time, but nothing really helped. I just realized shit happens, and you have to deal with it.

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

I live alone and always will. I can’t really deal with people anymore. I don’t trust anyone, the reason being that my psychologist lied to me. As a result, I ended up in the mental ward of St. Helena Hospital and Health Center for two nights and three days. I also had a therapist call the police after I had done what SHE SAID I SHOULD DO!

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

I used to have somewhat of a social life, but now, the only person I do anything with is my mom. That’s a tad depressing.

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

I don’t really have one now.

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

I have no future plans. I will probably be doing the exact same thing ten years from now – nothing.

Geo Gosling 3

Geo Gosling – 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.

Just deal with it the best you can.

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

Do as much stuff for yourself as you can. Doing “everyday living” stuff is the best therapy. If you can walk, walk as much as you can.

Check out these books by Geo Gosling.

 TBI Hell by Geo Gosling 4      TBI Purgatory by Geo Gosling 5

 

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors 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!

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Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

(caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff

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

Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

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

Hendersonville, Tennessee, 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 oldest son, Jason. He was 30 years old. He was attacked from behind.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, I began to care for my son in a new way. Yes, with my husband and my ex-husband. Now we are his support. I was 51years old when my son was injured.

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

No, we were not. Jason’s youngest sibling was in his first year of college.

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff with Darryl Eubanks

My husband and I were both employed at the time. We both took a leave-of-absence and temporarily relocated to Illinois.

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

We were so incredibly blessed with help and support from family, friends, church members, strangers, and the wonderful doctors and staff of St. Francis Hospital. There was housing for the families of patients and transportation to and from the hospital. I think we used it for almost three months. When it was time for my son’s discharge from rehab, a good friend of my son provided us with a home to stay in – rent free. We resided there for five months. Friends and family donated money, food, gift cards, and groceries. Some spent nights with Jason, so that my husband and I could both sleep. Youth Build provided my son with money for clothing. He had lost so much weight.

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

Jason Westhoff – Survivor of Brain Injury

Our support of Jason started immediately. He’s our child. We needed to be with him, and he needed us with him. He lived in Illinois, and my husband and I live in Tennessee.

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

Jason was not in a coma when we arrived in Illinois, but in a few hours, he was. (A coma was induced for medical reasons.) While Jason was in the coma, we talked to him, touched him, loved on him, and played music. My husband read the Bible to him, and we prayed, cried, and believed God would heal him.

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)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Yes, Jason had inpatient and outpatient therapies. He had speech, physical, and occupational therapies. I think he had four weeks of inpatient therapies and about twelve weeks of outpatient therapies. We remained with him every step of the way – mainly my husband or I and his youngest sister.

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

Jason needed our care for everything but feeding himself and bathing. However, my husband had to be near the bathroom due to Jason’s issues with mobility and stability.

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

Since I’ve been a caregiver, I treasure life more. I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety. I’ve had to learn my new Jason. I really can’t characterize life as “better” or “worse.” It’s just our new normal.

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

It’s not what I miss for me. It’s what I miss for my son. I miss his stamina – both physically and mentally.

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

I enjoy Jason’s heart for people, his heart to help.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I don’t like the constant restarts.

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

Yes. The Fathers and Sisters at St. Francis helped me remain focused on one moment at a time. This is what it is!

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

Yes, it has. We talk to Jason a lot more. We’ve had good times and bad times. I believe that our family is stronger post injury. I don’t take tomorrow for granted.

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

Initially my social life was altered, but not now.

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

Ten years from now, I will be retired and hiking in Arizona.

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 strongly advise other caregivers of brain-injury survivors to get connected with a support-group. You must take care of yourself to be able to support and care for your loved one. Take people up on their offers of help.

 

(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.

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jason Westhoff

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Jason Westhoff IMG_9574

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jason Westhoff

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA     jrwesthoff1@gmail.com

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

March 11, 2012     Age 29

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was assaulted after leaving a club in Peoria, Illinois.

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

I realized I had a problem around eight months after the assault. I was in the Emergency Room and honestly realized I had lost all control. I had no clue how to go about regaining that control and made many wrong attempts over the next five years.

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

Hospital thI was knocked unconscious from the assault, and I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The medical staff noticed the swelling, and, as a result, I was taken into emergency surgery. I had a craniotomy to relieve the swelling.

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

After the emergency surgery, I was placed in an induced coma for approximately three weeks. I had another two surgeries during this time.

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 approximately three weeks of inpatient rehab before I was discharged. Afterwards, I continued physical, occupational, and speech therapies on a twice-weekly basis for approximately three months before I returned to school. At this time, I knew something was different, but I did not understand the battles I was fighting.

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

After my TBI (traumatic brain injury), I was a completely different person. It took me years to realize the extent of my injury. My balance and normal body functions were the easiest to check and the most obvious. The major changes, which I am still trying to adjust to daily, are my personality and perception during normal life-events. My injury has placed strains on every previous relationship I had and the new ones I have developed. I honestly feel like two completely different people. I still have the same general personality, but my ability to adjust to unplanned change is the ability most affected. I have a problem with the skill of adjusting in the moment.

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

My life has been extreme on both sides. It seems as if everything is extremely better or extremely worse on a rotating cycle. I am thankful on the whole because of the strength I have found to deal will all issues that have occurred. I am still working every day on my recovery, but I know, through this fire, I will become a better human being.

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

I miss my intellect and communication skills. It always feels as if I’m grasping for, but never quite reaching my projected goal.

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

I enjoy the communities I never knew about and the social interaction within the “brain-injury-support community”. There is a bond, which I have never quite been able to explain to others, of just knowing how something feels.

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

Medicine side-effects!Medicine bottle 7Ta6Ezr8c

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

Time. It has been extremely difficult to adjust and accept my brain injury.

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

Yes. It has been hard to be a successful father without the resources desired. Relationships in general have been a struggle because I don’t completely understand myself at all times. There is a constant unbalance in my life since the injury.

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

Yes. I had struggles – extreme struggles – in my social life, primarily involving drugs and alcohol. Alcohol was a bigger problem than the drugs. I often get so stressed and/or anxious I want to drown my thoughts away. It is very easy just to give up at times.

Jason Westhoff Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

My parents have been my main caregivers, my mother in particular for emotional support, which is where it has been needed most. It took me 2-3 years to start to comprehend the stress involved in being a caregiver, until I really tried to manage Jayla (my daughter) by myself for an extended period of time.

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

My plans as of this moment are just trying to get my medications set and lowering my mental-fatigue issues. My focus is primarily on understanding my new mind and body so I then have the ability to make the proper adjustments. I love it here in Arizona! By the time I do my radio interview with Donna, I will have been in Arizona for fourteen months. I am currently looking forward to doing more work in the brain-injury community.

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.

Listen! Listen! Listen! I am one of the worst listeners. I have proved this point time and time again. I would suggest to swallow your pride and let people help you.Ear_clip_art-1

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

My best advice to give to any survivor is to never stop growing. Don’t become content with your situation. We can always improve!

 

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors 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.

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Inspiring Other Survivors

by

Erin Lieben

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingIt’s okay to lose hope sometimes. We will never be the same as before. You’ll get used to the “new you,” and you’ll be a tough, beautiful, brave individual who knows what it’s like to feel hopeless. And, that is what makes it all worth it – because you can give hope to others.

bigstock_hope_2576413Tell other survivors that it’s okay to be the “new you” and to not necessarily meet the status quo or the goals they were striving for before their brain injury. Tell them to just make a new game-plan and to be exceedingly thankful for the little things they previously took for granted.

23804465_1469432809758930_2026712132_n

Erin Lieben – Brain Injury Survivor

When I present my story to others, my goal is for them to feel inspired. I don’t want pity, and I don’t want to bring others down. I’ve been given a gift, and I’ve worked like hell to be able to pass that on to others. There is always hope.

Cherish each passing moment as if it’s your last – because you know that it very well could be. It might sound crazy, but, when I’m at my lowest, that’s the time when I can lift others up. And, it lifts my spirit as well! My heart is with you all.

 

Thank you, Erin Lieben.

 

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Erin Lieben.)

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.

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