TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Brain Injury Resources………The Crash Reel – Kevin Pearce

(originally published March 30, 2014)

th-8

 

 

The Crash Reel” is a gripping 4+ star movie about Kevin Pearce, a champion snowboarder who was expected to win a gold medal in the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Kevin Pearce - after TBI

Then his dream was interrupted by a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI.)

There is amazing footage of Kevin before and after his crash.  The incredible love and concern of his family is readily apparent.  Kevin’s dream is different now, and he has found a useful and fulfilling life.

The movie/documentary will give you an inside look at one young man’s battle with TBI. I highly recommend the movie.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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SPEAK OUT! – Lauren

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(originally published April 13, 2014)

 

Lauren - about 4 days post TBI surgery

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

Lauren

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

Belfast, Northern Ireland

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

September 2012. I was 35

4. How did your TBI occur?

Playing roller derby

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

It was very sudden, I felt something wasn’t right in my head, then my vision went and I collapsed.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have? (e.g., surgery, tracheotomy, G-peg)

Ambulance to Accident and Emergency.
A CT scan, then a craniotomy

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

4 days. It was medically induced because I kept wanting to wake up!

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient and/or Out-patient; Occupational, Physical, Speech, and/or Other)? How long were you in rehab?

No rehab to speak of, Out-patient appointments with Neuro every few months. I’m now discharged.

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

Initially I had palsy of the left eye. Most of my problems have been psychological. I also had fatigue for a long time. (It’s still here but not as strong.)

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

How do you put this into words? My life has changed in many ways, I was very independent. Now I rely on my partner a lot, mainly due to anxiety and depression.

There are things that are better – the ability to let small things slide is easy. I have an appreciation of life. I know what I DONT want anymore. My BS detector is much improved.

The bad – feeling scared for no reason. Crying a lot

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

My independence

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

The slower pace; the ability to filter stressful people

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Anxiety anxiety anxiety

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time, patience, writing, lots of reading and meeting other survivors

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

It has made us a lot closer. It’s not an easy ride. It can get rough, but we’ve learnt to communicate in a much more meaningful and honest way.

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

Yes, I’ve become more isolated. My social circle reduced a lot post-injury. That hurt at first, but I’ve accepted it now. More contact with others would be nice though.

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

My partner, he’s great. He’s put up with so much. I have an idea of what he’s been through, but I’ll never truly understand how it feels. It is difficult and tiring.

18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope to study again. I want to complete a Psychology or counselling course so I can help others. I want to be out in the world again, and most of all I hope to have my joy back.

19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors?

It’s hard but it will pass
What you feel is normal
Be kind to yourself, and you will also need plenty of patience!

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

Good luck to all TBI/ABI survivors. Remember you are never alone.

Lauren celebrating her birthday about 16 months post-TBI

 

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

 

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

(Photos compliments of Lauren.)

 

(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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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Carole Starr

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Carole Starr Survivor Speaker

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor – Author of “To Root and to Rise”

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

Carole Starr

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

Maine, USA

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

I had my brain injury on July 6, 1999. I was 32 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a car accident. My vehicle was broadsided on the driver’s side by someone going about 50 mph.

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

My brain injury was diagnosed about six weeks after my accident. It was the physical therapist I saw for the whiplash who realized that I also had a brain injury. It became apparent to me when I tried to return to my regular life and struggled with tasks that used to be easy.

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

After my accident, I was transported by ambulance to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with severe whiplash and other soft tissue injury. The signs of the brain injury were there, but they were missed.

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

I was not in a coma.

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 receive any brain injury rehab until nearly a year after my injury. That was the worst year of my life, as I tried and failed numerous times to return to my old life. A physiatrist referred me to outpatient brain injury rehab. I’ve had physical, occupational, speech, and recreation therapies and counseling. I’ve also found help from alternative therapies, including cranial osteopathy, neuro-optometry, and homeopathy. I received rehab therapies on and off for several years. I still see several medical professionals, and I continue to make slow progress, even after more than eighteen years.

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

tired-womanI am plagued by extreme mental fatigue, sound and light sensitivities, balance issues, memory loss, visual midline shift, and difficulties with decision-making and problem-solving.

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

My life changed dramatically after my brain injury. I had to give up my teaching career and my classical music hobby. I struggled to manage everyday-life tasks. I felt dependent on family and friends. For many years, I grieved the loss of my old life. I hated the new me. It was a long process to work through that grief and start to build a new life. I try really hard not to judge whether my life is better or worse. It’s just different. That helps me with the acceptance process.

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

I miss performing as a musician. I miss being able to go a whole day without needing to rest. I miss being able to trust my brain to do what I want it to.

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

Brain injury gave me the passion for a cause that was missing in my old life. This has become my life’s work. I like being able to use my experience to help other brain injury survivors. I do that through my book (To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury), my keynotes at brain injury conferences, and the volunteer group I lead (Brain Injury Voices).

Carole Starr & Book To Root and to Rise

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I dislike having to rest every day and missing out on activities I’d like to do. I never know when too much sound, light, motion, talking, or thinking is going to overwhelm my brain and require hours or days of rest to recover from.

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

For a long time, I didn’t think I could ever accept my brain injury. It was a long process. Some things that helped me were support-groups, reading books by other survivors, counseling, journaling, crafts, learning to laugh at myself, finding silver linings, and focusing on what I’m thankful for.

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

For a long time, I felt like I was a burden – the one who always needed help. I had to learn to accept help from my family and friends and not resist their advice. I can now manage taking care of my home, but everything requires strategies. 67-Help_me

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

My life is much smaller. My daily activities are short and quiet. If I want to do something bigger, I know that the price will be days on the couch recovering my mental energy.

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

I’ve been able to live on my own. Family, friends, and medical professionals have helped me learn strategies to take care of myself.

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

kids-hand-writing-clip-art-hand_with_pencil_5CI plan to continue writing and speaking about brain injury. I want to use my experience to make a difference. I’ve spoken at brain injury conferences and events in six states so far. I’d like to speak in all fifty! I’d also like to help other survivors create education/advocacy groups like Brain Injury Voices in other states.

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.

Find an activity that the new you can enjoy and do successfully. Start small, find success and build on it. Over time, small successes can grow into large achievements and lead you in directions you never imagined.

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

Find ways to connect with other survivors – either through an in-person support-group or online. Interacting with others who “get it” is invaluable.

 

Know that progress doesn’t stop after the first year or two after brain injury. Our brains are always healing. We may never be able to return to our old lives, but we can continue to grow into this new one.

Please feel free to contact me, either through StarrSpeakerAuthor.com or BrainInjuryVoices.org.

Brain Injury Voices Logo

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!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

Did you know you can preorder your copy of my book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale?

You can! It’s easy.

You can order it in e-book form or paperback copy on Amazon.com or Barnes & Noble.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just click the book cover or the title below.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

Can’t wait for you to join our journey.

 

(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 (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.

Can’t wait for the release of my book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

04.29.18

184 days to the release of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

4,440 hours to the release of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

266,400 minutes to the release of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

15,984,000 seconds to the release of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

But–WHO’S Counting?

Me! Me! Me! I am!

Check out my new website:  donnafigurski.com

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Michelle Bartlett

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Michelle Bartlett 2

Michelle Bartlett – Survivor of Brain Injury

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

Michelle Bartlett

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

St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

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

I had my brain injury in March of 2004 at age 36.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Two days after open heart surgery, I had a severe anoxic brain injury.

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

It was known immediately, as I was still in hospital.

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

I have been told the doctors did CPR and other life-support methods for hours.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for ten to twelve 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?

I did inpatient rehab for three weeks and outpatient rehab for over a year. I had speech, occupational, and physical therapies.

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

I have problems with balance, executive functions, and memory. I deal with fatigue and personality change.

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

My life now isn’t what I planned it would be. It is what it should be.

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

Working

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

I enjoy helping others.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?sleeping_on_job_5

The fatigue

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

It helped to remember how accepting my grandfather was during times of stress.

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

Yes. It is difficult for me to express myself, and it is difficult for people to understand.

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

Yes. Before my brain injury, I would never have had the confidence to do any public speaking. Now I have spoken at two national brain injury conferences. I also have numerous newspaper articles and radio interviews in Canada.

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

I’m pretty much independent now.

18. What are your plans?

I will continue to cherish my second chance.

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

I intend to continue my advocating/support and education work in Canada, focusing on the east coast.canadian-maple-leaf-clip-art-42678

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.

Patience can be your best and worst enemy.

Michelle Bartlett Survivor 040318

Michelle Bartlett – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Life is hard, no doubt about it, BUT always remember you are NOT alone. There is always someone else hiding in the shadows or around a corner who has a brain injury you may not know about.

 

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!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Christine Durant

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

28722393_1570405716328305_1310268133_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Christine Durant

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

Connecticut, USA

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

I was 21.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Medical neglect

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

I did when I was 13.

28829269_1570406372994906_1587925987_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Brain surgery

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

No coma

8. Did you do rehab?

Yes

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 went to inpatient rehab for a week or so.

28740893_1570406139661596_1150992867_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I have balance and visual memory issues and some difficulty with visual identification. I had a LARGE personality change that included explosive issues and lack of impulse control. I also had double vision.

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

The medical neglect caused excruciating neurological pain, but it stopped with my first brain surgery. I was a diagnostic educator. My issues made me better at what I dith-2d because I finished my undergraduate work like this and did all four of my graduate degrees with strategies I developed for myself. I believe I am better off.

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

Energy

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

My ability to see things differently than most folks

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

Lack of energy and visual memory issues

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

28741255_1570405966328280_1345947392_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor and partner.

Meeting my wife and having a 25-year relationship … all post TBI

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

I am more sensitive to other people’s moods now. I can become what they are feeling.

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

Everyone who was my friend at that point is not a friend now. However, I chose better after my recent brain surgery because they all helped us through it.

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

I don’t really have a caregiver. I have a “care-partner.” We had an accident together twenty years ago. Someone was late for lunch and went over the yellow line – into us head-on. We help each other as life necessitates.

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

I would like to travel on the money from the accident while we still can. In ten years, I will be retirement age!Travel

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Know that you will adjust to your new personality. Find life-giving, happy people to get you there. I went home to my mother at 21. She was always an angry woman. I didn’t realize what a toll that was taking on me until I met my sweet, wonderful, happy wife.

28829065_1570406592994884_447684030_n-1

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor & partner

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

Give it time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Find a passion that you are able to do within the confines of your new body. My wife has a broken foot from the accident that can’t be fixed. She used to paint theatrical scenery for Broadway. She can’t do that from a wheelchair. So, she discovered she has a passion for pottery.

 

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!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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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.

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