TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Read All About It!

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author

Donna & David with ARC of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

My memoir, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, is not only a story of David’s and my struggles after his traumatic brain injury, but it is also a love story. Though my memoir addresses a dire topic, it is peppered with comedic situations. They say laughter is the best medicine, and again, they are right.

Prisoners without Bars is a heart-wrenching memoir that will make you laugh, cry, and G-A-S-P. I promise!

 

Boy Laughing

 

Girl Crying girl-crying-clipart-34

Girl Gasping 2

It’s not a beach read, but it reads like one. It’s fast! It’s easy! It’s fascineasy. I mean fascinating.

What Readers are Saying!

Jackie said – “A beautiful and touching story.”

Anonymous Amazon Customer said – “I loved this book. almost couldn’t put it down.

jlgwriter said – “I found the story powerful and compelling.

Todd & Kim said – “This is such an inspirational story of survival! The book is a very easy read and informative as well as inspiring!!”

Judy said – “Donna O’Donnell Figurski tells her story of grace, love, frustration, anger, disappointment, strength, joy, and above all hope.”

Marge said – “I read it in one fell swoop… I guess the word that would describe your book, your life, and who you are is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOIUS.”

Anonymous said – “This book pulled me in immediately and didn’t let me go until the end! ”

Helen said – “Could not put this book down. Written for easy reading. It was like having a conversation with a friend.” “I finished it in one day with some teary moments along with some chuckles. A must read!!”

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Stay Safe and Healthy!

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 4 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The President returned to the White House Monday evening. Was that too soon? Was the President at risk? Was he contagious?

The President’s doctors at Walter Reed were comfortable with his leaving the hospital because the White House has its own doctors and medical facility. Remdesivir is given IV for five days. Putting in an IV line would not be a problem at the White House. If the President needed supplemental oxygen, a chest X-ray, antibiotics, etc., they are readily available. The doctors at the White House can also do the daily blood tests needed to monitor the state of the President’s immune system and his propensity for clotting. Dexamethasone is usually prescribed for ten days, but an oral form is available.

Two important questions loomed. Is the President immune? And, is the President contagious?

The conferral of immunity by COVID-19 infection is a major question yet to be answered. If there is protective immunity and, if so, how long it lasts are major concerns of vaccine producers. There are now reports of people being infected with COVID-19 a second time. Immunity may depend on the severity of the initial infection and the robustness of the consequent immune response. There has been a report of mild or asymptomatic infections that do not elicit an antibody response. Are these people more vulnerable to a second infection? Alternatively, was their response so effective without antibodies that the virus could not become established and cause symptoms?

Is the President contagious? We can’t say without knowing his test results. Dr. Griffin considers a patient virus-free if that person has two negative tests on two consecutive days. Otherwise, a person is considered to be potentially contagious for 20 days. Since the doctors are permitting the President to hold rallies, I assume he is not thought to be contagious.

Dr. Griffin’s extensive experience with COVID-19 patients has allowed us to surmise what was happening with the President’s infection. The President appears to have completely recovered from his COVID-19 infection. But, several questions remain.

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 3 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The President was given two anti-COVID-19 drugs – the antiviral, remdesivir, which was used in the ultimately controlled Ebola pandemic and which was recently found to work on coronaviruses, and Regeneron’s experimental mixture of two monoclonal antibodies.

Remdesivir was found to inhibit the virus-encoded molecular machine that copies the chromosome of coronavirus to make more virus. Because it blocks virus multiplication, remdesivir shortens a hospital stay by 3-4 days.

Working with chimpanzees, Dr. Susan Weiss showed that remdesivir works best when given early in the infection when most viral multiplication takes place. This is impractical in humans because they don’t have symptoms for several days following infection.

Regeneron is developing a drug that seems to be effective against COVID-19, as suggested by a small clinical study. It is a mixture of two monoclonal antibodies.

When an individual gets infected with COVID-19, that individual makes a number of antibodies that bind the virus. There are many antibodies, but each one is produced by a single cellular clone (a cell and its descendants). Some of these antibodies are “neutralizing” antibodies, which inactivate the virus or block its ability to bind to a cell to start an infection. Such a diverse antibody response is said to be “polyclonal.” In 1984, César Milstein was awarded a Nobel Prize for developing a way to isolate a single-antibody-producing cell. As expected, its clone only produced one type of antibody. The antibody produced by such a cell line is a “monoclonal antibody.”

Regeneron’s scientists identified two COVID-19-neutralizing antibodies in people that recovered from a severe COVID-19 infection. They isolated the cell clones that produced them and put them into specially engineered mice so they could produce more of each antibody. The President was given this experimental drug because the Food and Drug Administration issued a Compassionate Use authorization.See the source image

(Irrelevant fact: I know Dr. George Yancopoulis, who founded Regeneron and is now its Director and Chief Scientist. He earned both an M.D. and a Ph.D. at Columbia University while I was a professor there. He worked on his Ph.D. in the laboratory of Nobel Laureate Richard Axel, whose lab was a few floors below mine.)

The President was also given vitamin D, zinc, and melatonin. Vitamin D helps prevent infection. It is a preventative and not a therapeutic agent. Zinc is also thought to prevent infection, but there are no convincing studies on zinc. Melatonin was given as a sleep aid.

(To Be Continued)

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 2 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Dr. Griffin labels Week 1 of the infection as the “viral phase.” During Week 1, the virus is multiplying and is present in abundance. A test for COVID-19 would easily be positive. Because the President first felt symptoms on Wednesday, it’s likely that the President was infected for several days before the positive result on Friday, October 2.

Other data suggest that the President was at the end of Week 1 of the infection or at the beginning Week 2.

Week 2 of the infection is called the “cytokine storm phase” by Dr. Griffin.Cytokine Cytokines are molecules released by some cells that cause an action by other cells. When certain immune system cells sense a problem (like a virus-infected cell), they release cytokines to get other immune cells to multiply, to make attack molecules, or to come and help eliminate the cause of the problem. Normally, the immune system works well, but sometimes the immune system overreacts and causes severe problems or even death. “Cytokine storm” refers to an overreaction by the immune system. A steroid (for example, dexamethasone, which the President was given) is effective because it will dampen the immune response, a potentially beneficial effect when the immune system is overreacting. But, dexamethasone is considered harmful if the drug is not needed. (For example, dexamethasone is not given in Week 1 <the viral phase> because a normally functioning immune system is needed to reduce the amount of virus in the body.)

The President began taking dexamethasone while he was at Walter Reed. Dr. Griffin said that dexamethasone is not usually given in Week 1 because studies have shown that doing so can make COVID-19-disease outcomes worse. National Institutes of Health guidelines for physicians state that dexamethasone should only be given to patients with moderately severe or serious COVID-19 disease. The White House acknowledged that the President received oxygen before he was taken to Walter Reed. Supplemental oxygen is consistent with the President’s being given dexamethasone. Dr. Griffin said that oxygen, if needed, is usually given in Week 2, further indicating that the President’s infection may have started several days before Friday. October 2nd.

Doctors have found that COVID-19 has a third phase – a “clotting phase,” which starts at the end of Week 2 and extends at least through Week 3. COVID-19 infection can trigger clots, which can sometimes (albeit rarely) lead to strokes. Aspirin is routinely given at the end of Week 2 because it helps prevent clotting. Some patients had already been discharged from the hospital (having had two negative COVID-19 tests over two consecutive days and having agreed to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution) when a problem-clot occurred.

(To Be Continued)

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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Please check out my book.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 1 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

This is an unusually long post, so I’ve divided it into four parts. It is easy to read, even though it’s filled with much information.

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The complete story of the President’s COVID-19 infection and treatment is not known by the public. Virologist, Dr. Vincent Racaniello, interviewed Dr. Daniel Griffin, a New York City physician who has been treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Vincent has been releasing podcasts about COVID-19 every couple of days. His TWiV podcast (This Week in Virology) of October 5, 2020, is a special podcast in which he and Dr. Griffin have a conversation about COVID-19 infection and treatments, as they relate to the President’s infection.

Vincent Racaniello is a professor and virologist and my former colleague in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University. His guest, Daniel Griffin, is a physician in the Infectious Disease Department of Columbia. Because Dr. Griffin has both an M.D. and a Ph.D., he is a physician-scientist and so has an additional appointment as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics. Dr. Griffin is also the Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease for ProHEALTH Care Associates. ProHEALTH Care is the largest physician-owned multi-specialty practice in the nation. He is also on the COVID-19 response team for the tri-state area.

Dr. Griffin has applied his clinical and molecular knowledge of COVID-19 to the few details we know about President Trump’s infection. In doing so, we now have a better idea of the President’s case. I urge you to listen to the complete 34-minute TWiV podcast of October 5th. I have defined some terms and explained some concepts that may be unfamiliar to you.

President Trump announced at 1:00 am on Friday, October 2, 2020, that he and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19. Later that day, the President was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He returned to the White House at 6:30 pm the next Monday. Many of the details of the infection and the President’s condition have remained unknown.

When the President’s COVID-19 infection began is unclear. The President first reported a positive test in the early morning of October 2nd. The President said he is not tested for COVID-19 every day, and the White House will not say when the President’s last negative test occurred. In his Town Hall on October 15th, the President said he didn’t know for sure that he had taken a test before the debate three days before he was admitted.

(To Be Continued)

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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Please check out my book.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Craig J. Phillips

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Craig J. Phillips
Survivor of Brain Injury

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

Craig J, Phillips

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

Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

My email is secondchancetolive1@yahoo.com.

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

August 11, 1967 at age 10

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Motor vehicle accident – We were in a Volkswagen Beetle that was hit by a woman driving a Cadillac. She lost control of her car, ran off the side of the road, hit a pole, came across her two lanes and a grass medium, and hit our car in the passing lane. I went up over my Dad’s bucket seat and hit the windshield, fracturing my left femur.

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

My father, who was driving.

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

Hospitalization – I was not expected to live the night of the accident.  I was put into traction to set my femur. I was then placed into a full body – or Spica – cast for 5-6 months. With obvious external wounds, an invisible traumatic brain injury was not considered.

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

Yes. I remained in a coma for three weeks.

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?

In 1967, there was nothing in the way of brain injury rehabilitation. Once my external wounds healed, I was on my own to navigate life with the impact of right frontal lobe damage and a severe brain bruise. I attended two physical therapy appointments, but was then on my own to teach myself how to walk.

For details, see my article:

Finding Craig — Learning to Walk Again by Not Giving Up (Part 3)

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

I underwent two EEGs (electroencephalograms – given to detect electrical activity in the brain) and a battery of cognitive and psychosocial tests. The results showed that I probably would not succeed academically beyond high school. That conclusion was shared with my parents, but not with me. I grew up not knowing that my life was being impacted by the traumatic brain injury that I sustained when I was 10 years old. I had difficulty reading non-verbal cues and social nuances and learning sequences of information. I had to discover how I learn best and to accept myself. I am not my traumatic brain injury.

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

Better – I obtained my undergraduate degree in ten years, after attending two universities and one college and having four different majors. I obtained my graduate degree in rehabilitation counseling in three and a half years, after attending two graduate schools.

There were twenty years of getting and losing jobs. Twice, I had Department of Vocational Rehabilitation (DVR) evaluations. I was deemed to be unemployable by the DVR counselor after the second evaluation. Of my three applications for SSDI (Social Security Disability Insurance), two were denied, but I was approved after the third application.

Nevertheless, I still wanted to contribute and use my gifts, talents, and abilities. I created Second Chance to Live on February 6, 2007 (secondchancetolive.org). I have written 1860 articles and made 413 video presentations and 10 eBooks. I have 30 slide show presentations, 33 posters, and other creations.

For details, see my article:

Finding Craig – My Academic Path (Part 4)

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

I had my TBI (traumatic brain injury) at the age of 10. I don’t remember my life before then.

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

I enjoy using my creativity in ways that work for me. “Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” Theodore Roosevelt

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

It is as it is. I would like to have more of a social life. However, I accept that I do not have the skills to have more of a social life – so it is stressful for me.OIP-1

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

When I reached a point in my life when denying my reality became more painful than my need to deny my reality, I began to grieve my reality through the five stages that Elisabeth Kübler-Ross spoke about in her book, On Death and Dying. Once I moved through confronting my denial; experiencing anger for what I was powerless to change; trying to bargain my way out of what I could not change; and experiencing depression, I was able to increase my acceptance. As I grew in acceptance of what I could not change, I was open to discovering possibilities. Possibilities through choices. Choices that helped me to get into action. Action that helped me to create hope in my life.

For details, see my article:

15. Finding Craig – My Brain Injury Awareness (Part 5)

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

Yes. As I accepted my reality, I stopped needing to convince other people of my reality. People cannot give what they do not possess. For people to accept my reality would mean that they would have to feel feelings and make changes – feelings and changes that they may not know how to feel or want to feel. Changes that they may not know how to make or want to. As I stopped trying to change people, I had more peace in my life.

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

I enjoy my solitude and my freedom to create through Second Chance to Live. I have a small circle of friends.

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

I am my own case manager. As a rehabilitation counselor, I fully understand what a counselor does. A counselor is not in the position of having to do for another person what that person cannot do for himself or herself. As a counselor, what I seek to do is to teach and encourage the individual to fish – not provide fish, so that that individual will never go hungry again.

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

I am an author, advocate, keynote speaker, and a motivational coach. I created Second Chance to Live nearly fourteen years ago. I do not know what the future holds. I am preparing to be available to present at more conferences and organizational settings as a keynote speaker/workshop leader. I am doing the footwork – one day at a time. I am trusting the process, a loving God, and myself. More will be revealed with time. The pieces of the puzzle will come together at the right time and in the right order.

For details, see my article:

Finding Craig – Making Sense of Brain Injury (Part 8)

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.

Pursue excellence, instead of being driven by perfectionism.

I have difficulties learning sequences of information. I have written an article that explains what has helped me with this information: Neuroplasticity, Small Successes and Learning/Relearning Skills and Skill Sets.

Craig J. Phillips 120. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Trust the process, a loving God, and yourself.

See that your circumstances are a way to build you up, not to keep you down.

See that you are not your traumatic brain injury or your disability.

See the disappointments and disillusionment that you experience as important parts of your process.

See how those events move you in the direction of your destiny.

Find ways to use what you can through your gifts, talents, and abilities.

Accept your inability to do some things because of your deficits and limitations. Stop berating yourself for your inability to do those things.

Live and explore outside of the box that society seeks to keep you in through dismissing, discounting, patronizing, minimization, and marginalization.

Love, accept, and celebrate who you are as an individual.

Break free from the denial system that keeps you feeling like a mistake. Stop identifying as a patient.

Accept the things you cannot change, change the things you can, have the wisdom to know the difference, and then be at peace with that difference.

See life as a process – a journey.

Realize that your job is to learn “how-to” from various ingredients and then combine what “you learned” together to bake various “cakes.”

Realize that there is no such thing as failure, only an opportunity to learn.

Realize that what occurs in your life is meant to set you up, not set you back.

Begin to live the “now” in life.

Struggle makes you stronger.

Avoid the comparison trap.

Share with other traumatic brain injury survivors that there is hope.

Realize that what happened to you is not as important as what you do with what happened to you.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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As I say after each post: 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.

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Please check out my book.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Rico Principe (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Rico Principe – Brain Injury Survivor

Rico Principe (survivor and advocate)

Don’t let my looks fool you. I have a laundry-list of deficits. Some are obvious, and some become obvious only to those who live with me. The brain aneurysm didn’t kill me, but it killed the “me that I was” and gave my family and my friends the “new me.”

The brain aneurysm turned my world upside down. I wasn’t even aware of brain aneurysms until I had the “worst headache of my life” in 2004. It gave me a 24/7-headache, occasional bouts with depression, aphasia, neurofatigue, forgetfulness, memory loss, PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), sleeplessness, and loss of filter.  I also have a short fuse.

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It came unannounced, and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for the actions of my wife (Elvie). She was there and called 9-1-1 so I could be taken to the hospital as soon as possible.

I struggle with the “baggage” that comes with being a brain aneurysm survivor, but I chose not to be burdened by it.  Instead, I chose to be an advocate. I help run a Facebook group of brain aneurysm survivors with almost 11,000 members.

This is me. A survivor and an advocate.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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As I say after each post: 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.

Please check out my book.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

itty-bitty-giant-steps-for-blog

Andrea Coffey – Survivor of Brain Injury

Andrea Coffey (survivor) … I cooked for the first time today – just something very simple.

I’m kind of proud of myself.  Frozen pesto pasta! I threw some chicken in it.cartoon_chicken22-1

 

(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 Comment” below this post.

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Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

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Please check out my book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale.th

New News: . . . . . . . . ZOOM! Coffee with the Authors @ BIAAZ

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David & Donna Figurski

I’m so excited to be invited by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ), to share my book with you. PRISONERS WITHOUT BARS: A CAREGIVER’S TALE has been called a compelling read, a true-to-life drama, and a heart-warming and inspiring love story. What do YOU call it?

More than fifteen years after my husband, David’s traumatic brain injury in January 2005, we are still searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s there. It’s just still so tiny.

I hope you will join me on Saturday, October 24th at 10:30a Pacific Time for a virtual book club meeting on ZOOM.

It’s FREE! It’s FREE! It’s FREE! It’s FREE!

Please come hear me talk about my book and read a short excerpt.
Bring your QUESTIONS.

REGISTER HERE and you will receive a link to attend.

Can’t wait to see you there.

I’d love to hear what you think of PRISONERS WITHOUT BARS: A CAREGIVER’S TALE. Reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads are really appreciated. Reviews keep books alive.

(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 Comment” below this post.

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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.

Caregivers SPEAK OUT: Author, Abby Maslin

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

 

Caregiver, Abby Maslin – author of “Love You Hard”

 

 

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

Abby Maslin

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

Washington, DC, 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?

My husband, TC, is the TBI (traumatic brain injury) survivor. He was 29 at the time of the assault that caused his injury.

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?

I became my husband’s full-time caregiver on August 18, 2012. I had just celebrated my 30th birthday.

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

I had a 21-month-old son, named Jack, whom I was also caring for at the time.

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

I was employed as a fourth-grade teacher. TC’s injury occurred the weekend before school started. I was not able to return to work for a year.

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

We had family members who lived nearby and who offered intermittent help. My parents were both ill, however, and unable to help in any large capacity.

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

Immediately. It began as I was tasked with advocating for TC’s medical care.

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

Yes. TC was in a deep coma for about four days, but he took more than two weeks to fully come out of it.

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. TC received all the therapies: speech, occupational, and physical. He received occupational and physical therapies for about one year. He received speech for more than two years.

Love You Hard by Abby Maslin

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

TC had severe aphasia (struggles with both expressive and receptive language). He had physical weakness on one side of his body and needed to relearn how to walk. He continues to have limited use of his right hand.

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

It’s really impossible to compare. My life since becoming a caregiver is far more complex and difficult. It’s required a lot of emotional growth and healing to let go of the life I had and the relationship I once shared with my spouse. This new life, however, is far richer in purpose and gratitude than it was before. I have a clearer sense of who I am, what I’m capable of, and how I want to spend my time on earth.

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

I miss the sense of safety I once felt. I miss the easy conversation my husband and I once shared. (His aphasia makes communication much more effortful.)

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

I enjoy the sense of gratitude I live with daily. I can identify and reflect on my blessings with clarity. It’s a wonderful thing to appreciate life as it’s happening.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

The unpredictability. As a caregiver, I find that it’s difficult to align one’s expectations to the recovery of a loved one, as everything is always in flux and changing.

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

What’s helped me is the recognition that suffering is universal. My family and I were never exempt from life’s challenges and normalizing that experience of hardship has helped me make peace with its existence.

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

Absolutely. While my husband’s personality is mostly unchanged, there are subtle changes that have required us to relearn each other as people. It has shifted the dynamics of responsibility and roles in the household.

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

Yes, at first. But, we were fortunate to have many friends who stuck out the recovery process with us and with whom we still socialize. We are not as social as before, but we also have two young children these days.

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

Praying for continued good health. TC has wonderful healthy habits, but we can’t control the aging process. If all goes well, in ten years, we’ll still be working and living at home with a 14-year-old daughter and a 20-year-old son at college!

Caregiver, Abby Maslin – author of “Love You Hard”

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

Be forgiving of yourself and your own process of grief. It cannot be rushed. The hand you’ve been dealt is a terribly unfair one, and it is OK to acknowledge the gravity of that fact. Life with brain injury requires persistence, patience, and a lot of hope, but life can be as beautiful and as rich as before.

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

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Kid Books – Just for Fun
reviewed by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Clover Kitty Goes to Kittygarten

written by Laura Purdie Salas
illustrated by Hiroe Nakata

My rating 5 of 5 stars

 

I loved this book. Flashing lights, ringing bells, and playful shouts are common occurrences in most elementary classrooms, but they can often be a challenge for children with issues of sensory overload. Find out how Clover Kitty solves her problem and how her new friend, Oliver, helps.

Donna O’Donnell Figurski
author – “Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale”

View all my reviews

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