TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Cheri Marie Johnson

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Johnson, Cheri Marie Survivor 101717 2

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

Cheri Marie Johnson

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

Hayward, Wisconsin, USA

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

September 11, 2016      I was 24.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I fell down 27 stairs.

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

I was out with my dad. A person from the establishment saw me fall instead of going to the restroom. The doors to the men’s room and ladies’ room were right next to each other, but I was found at the bottom of the stairs – unconscious. So, I was life-flighted to North Memorial Hospital. It was the best TBI (traumatic brain injury) ICU (intensive care unit) near me.

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

I was in an ambulance, put on a back board, given a neck brace, and brought to Spooner for a life-flight.air-rescue-clipart-14-1

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

I was in a coma for three weeks in North Memorial and then put on the general floor. I was sent to Miller-Dwan in Duluth, Minnesota (of Essential Health-Duluth). I was in another coma for three weeks because I was still bleeding in my brain. It was swollen, so they couldn’t do surgery. They said I wouldn’t have lived.

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?

When I was sent to Miller-Dwan, it was for inpatient occupational, physical, and speech therapies. I was there for four days and then put into another coma after the coma I was in in the ICU. I had a tracheostomy, and, two weeks later, I was put on the general floor for three weeks. There I had occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy. Now I’m in speech therapy. I talk differently, and I have a hard time breathing from the intubation. I am also in occupational therapy. I have bad posture, and it’s hard to breathe that way.

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

I have bad balance. (I recently fell out of the shower.) I am being put on life-alert (helps contact emergency services). I have vertigo when I lie down. My personality has changed – I’m like a different person. I have anger that I can barely handle. At times, it feels like a Jekyll and Hyde disorder.Split Personality

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

It’s worse. I am so angry all the time. I try to talk to who I am – it seems like I talk to an old friend of the person I used to be.

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

I miss singing and working for my kids.

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

I enjoy my kids and my dad. They make me so happy.

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

I don’t like all the confusion. It’s even hard to put one foot in front of the other.

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

I’m glad I’m alive and still have my kids.

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

I can’t work anymore. I’m exhausted. I need help with almost every daily task. I barely know how to take care of myself, but I still know how to take care of my kids. Relationships are a little harder because of my anger issue.

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

People like to abuse people who they know they can. I have kicked people out of my life – they tried asking me for my medicine, and I will not do that.

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

NurseI have a social worker and a nurse team help me. I also have a nurse who comes over twice a week to plan my medicine box and write down my appointments. I just did a neuropsychological test, and they are saying I need a guardian.

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

I’m hoping to feel like I am better, then okay. I hope they can find a way to fix my throat so I don’t have to live with a tracheostomy for the rest of my life. And I hope to find a way to not be so angry.

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 things that make you happy – your kids, animals, activities, etc. It will take you out of thinking about what happened.

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

I am here if you need to converse with a survivor. It’s nice to open up to someone with the same condition.

Please leave a comment/question. I will respond.

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SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Lauren Ziaks

Lauren Ziaks – Brain Injury Survivor

Lauren Ziaks (survivor) … I faced a huge fear today. I wanted to hike a slot canyon, but I was scared of claustrophobia, dizziness/balance issues from recent re-injury, falling etc. But, with (a lot of) help, some positive talk, and a couple of tears of fear at a really steep part, I was able to do Zebra Slot Canyon!8f71e4d8a4fe5b982b90c51e430a75c5

Keep pushing yourself to face your fears and limitations, whatever they are for you. And, lean on those around you for help when you can.

 

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to Lauren!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

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

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

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

My book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, will be released to the public on November 1, 2018 by WriteLife Publishing of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company.  Here are pre-order links for Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

 

Excerpt 3

Chapter 11

Hearths

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

figurski-1

David Figurski, PhD – a few months before brain injury

… The waiting room was huge. There were couches in clusters—some small, some large, each with a table in the middle. The groupings reminded me of The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel that I read many years ago. Auel wrote about prehistoric man, the Clan people. She told how each family gathered around its hearth at night. The hearth was a private place. It was illustration-of-a-caveman-family-dancing-around-a-bonfire_158190224-1considered impolite to peer into someone else’s hearth. That’s the way it felt in the waiting room too …

 

 

Please leave a comment/question. I will respond.

(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.

Please 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 “Like” my post.

Knitting through the Honeymoon

by Liza Spears

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

bride-and-groom-clipart-14I’ve been married for almost seven months. Since my wedding, I’ve knit twenty-five hats, five sweaters, three scarves, and one blanket.

I started my first “married life” knitting project on the third day of my honeymoon. It was a ribbed seed stitch hat in my wedding colors–deep reds and purples. I pretended that it was for my husband, even though I knew there was way no he’d wear such a feminine pattern.Liza Spears Wedding Photo

I started the hat over more times than I can count. I didn’t start over because of any mistakes–I hadn’t dropped a stitch or miscounted any rows. The pattern wasn’t complex. I just knew each time I finished that it wasn’t quite right. Every time I got to the last row of the hat, I’d finish as instructed–threading the yarn through the remaining stitches and pulling it tight. Instead of weaving in the ends, though, I’d just completely undo the whole thing and start from the beginning.

I knew how to knit before I got married, but I never trusted myself to do anythingclipart-knitting-DP2n1R-clipart more complex than a simple hat, knit in the round, just knit, purl, knit, purl. I’m happy to say that out of the twenty-five hats I’ve knit since my wedding day, not a single one is that old favorite of mine. Before the wedding, I avoided new patterns because I avoided counting as much as possible. How could an activity be fun if it involved math?

Liza Spears 062418

Liza Spears – Knitter Extraordinaire

It was that third day of my honeymoon and that brand-new hat pattern that taught me how much I needed to count stitches. I learned that if I was counting stitches, I wasn’t counting other things, like the number of the days my husband had been in the ICU (intensive care unit) or the number of nurses that cried when they saw me. If I focused on the 44 stitches I had to cast on to a pair of size 11 needles, I might not notice that his ICP (intracranial pressure) levels* kept creeping up. The number 44 isn’t so scary when it’s just the number of stitches in a row, but when it’s the number flashing on your husband’s monitor next to “ICP” as one of his nurses ushers you out and three doctors rush in, it is scary.

I wasn’t supposed to have time to knit on my honeymoon. I was supposed to be rappelling down waterfalls in the Azores and soaking in thermal baths, but you can’t do that when you wake up in the middle of your wedding night to the sound of your husband falling down the stairs. Going to the bathroom should be easy. It shouldn’t end with your husband lying in pool of his own blood. The first time you use the phrase “my husband” shouldn’t be when calling 911, and as much as you love your bridesmaid, she isn’t the person you should be sharing your bed with. I wasn’t supposed to spend the third day of my honeymoon in the waiting room of the ICU sobbing with my mom, not understanding why my husband wasn’t awake, and what it meant that his nurse had kicked me out.

In the waiting room, I just focused on the ribbing of the hat. Knit 3. Purl 2. Repeat. I was already switching to larger needles to begin the rest of the hat when my husband’s nurse came out and told me I should say goodnight. The pressures in my husband’s brain were just too high for any extra stimulation, even if I just sat next him counting my knits and purls.

The hospital called me at 4 am the next morning to tell me that they were rushing my husband in for an emergency decompressive craniotomy. They could no longer control the rising pressure in his brain with medication alone, so they removed half of his skull.

I realized I’d have to adjust my hat pattern if it was going to fit my husband’s new head, so I started over, knitting and counting the stitches until he woke up.

*Intracranial pressure levels between 7 and 15 are normal. Levels above 20 are dangerous and indicate brain swelling.

To read more posts by Liza Spears, click on Knit Neutrality.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

 

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Jim Ledgewood

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Jim Ledgewood 1

 

 

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

Jim Ledgewood

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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

January 27, 2006      Age 27

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was shot with a 9 mm on the left side of my face.14 Jim Ledgewood 071518 f0282624

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

I did not realize I had a brain injury until seven years after being shot. My company brought to my attention that something was off.

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

I had multiple surgeries. They had to put twenty-five coils around my carotid artery to stop the bleeding around my brain.

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

I believe they induced a coma in me. Not sure, though.

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 inpatient rehab (cognitive, physical, and speech therapies) at St. Joseph’s Hospital/Barrow Neurological Institute and at Mesa General Hospital; outpatient rehab (cognitive, physical, occupational, and speech therapies), for one week at Mesa General and for one week at Chandler Regional Medical Center.

18 Jim Ledgewood 071518 f293356169. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

The frontal and temporal lobes were damaged, so all the things that those two parts of the brain control were affected in a negative way.

Donna’s note: The cerebral cortex can be divided into four sections, which are known as lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal.

Following a frontal lobe injury, an individual’s abilities to make good choices and recognize consequences are often impaired. Damage can cause increased irritability, which may include a change in mood and an inability to regulate behavior, such as anticipation, goal selection, planning, initiation, sequencing, detecting errors, and initiating novel responses.

The temporal lobe is located behind the ears and extends to both sides of the brain. It is involved in hearing and holds the primary auditory cortex, which receives sensory information from the ears. Secondary areas process the information into speech and words. Left temporal damage can disturb recognition of words and impair memory for verbal material.

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

There are certain things that I was able to do before my TBI (traumatic brain injury) that I cannot do now. This has affected all aspects of my life.

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

I miss the control I had over my life.Control

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

I like helping others and being able to share my story. I take pleasure in doing something that only 5% of 5% of the population is able to do.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?Jim Ledgewood 2

Everything

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

Learning and understanding my TBI and what it is doing have helped.

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

I have to move at a different pace than others. A lot of people around me have a hard time because they don’t know or understand why I do what I do or why I express myself the way I do. Once people learn that I have a TBI, the part of my brain that was injured, and what that part of the brain controls, they get more comfortable. But, I believe they are still not 100% comfortable.

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

I was not in a relationship before my injury. I have found it hard to get into a relationship since my injury.

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

I am my own caregiver.

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

I hope to have that relationship/family that I thought I would have by now. I don’t try to look that far into the future.

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.

6iyo54M5TI would say that you should learn as much as you can about your TBI. That way you know that problem. Then you can try to come up with solutions to better your life.

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

It is not what happens – it is what you do about it that defines the person you are.

N-E-V-E-R  G-I-V-E  U-P!

 

Please leave a comment/question. I will respond.

(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.

 

 

My book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, will be released to the public on November 1, 2018 by WriteLife Publishing of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company. Here are pre-order links for Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

 

Excerpt 2

Chapter 22

I Love You

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

figurski-1

David Figurski, PhD – a few months before brain injury

 

… When the videofluoroscopy was complete and David was settled into his wheelchair chair-clipart-handicap-2for the ride back to his room, he licked his lips and said, “Mmm, that was good!” He still had traces of the barium k3636498stuck to his lips. Meghan, Dave, and I burst into laughter. Meghan said she had never heard anyone describe the barium-laced foods as tasty. David laughed too. I guess when you haven’t eaten real food for a while, anything tasted good …

 

Please leave a comment/question. I will respond.

 

(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.

This Song Could Be a Caregiver’s Anthem

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David & Donna Aunt Irene's Funeral 060718

 

I happened to hear this old hit song (“Lean on Me”) a couple of days ago. After listening to the lyrics, I realized it reflects what we caregivers do. We just want to help.

a0379e35efb379c624212808302a9194

We don’t look this bad.

As the song implies, we give much-needed help. “Lean on Me” could be our anthem. Give it a listen.

PS. I just had to dance with this man to that song and we each did a bit of “leaning on.”

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

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