TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

SPEAK OUT! – Shirl


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Shirl 35571_137366786279300_5704951_n



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


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

Seville, OH, USA       mstrow7@gmail.com

3.    What caused your survivor’s TBI?

Car accident – July 24, 2010

4.  On what date did you begin care for your TBI survivor? Are you the main caregiver? How old were you when you began care?         

I began Sept. 2010.
Yes. I am the main caregiver.
I began care at age 48.

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


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

Somewhat. I just had a paper route. No, I was not able to continue.

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


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


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

He wasn’t in a coma, but he didn’t respond for 15 days. I visited every day, played music, and talked to him.

10.   Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab? (i.e., In-patient and/or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, and/or Other)

Yes. He had 4 weeks of In-patient rehab. He had Out-patient rehab for physical therapy and speech therapy.

How long was the rehab?

Several weeks.

Where were you when this was happening?

I was at home. I visited him and then brought him to out-patient rehab.

11.   What problems or disabilities of your TBI survivor required your care, if any?

Short-term memory loss

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

I guess it’s both. It has been the hardest thing I’ve gone through, yet it has taught me a lot.

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

Fun times with my husband

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

Time to relax a little

15.     What do you like least about TBI?

What it does to the family. Personalities changed – anger, pain

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

Finding support groups on Facebook
Seeing there are others in the same place as us

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

Yes. There were trust issues for a while – misunderstandings. Our children didn’t understand why their dad acted the way he did.

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

Somewhat. I don’t do much with friends.

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

Not sure. Would like to travel with my husband, but probably won’t have the money since have to work all the time and there isn’t enough.

20.     What advice would you offer other TBI survivor caregivers? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Go to a neuropsychologist for counseling if needed. Or, go to someone for counseling. Find support groups. Read as much as you can to learn about TBI. Try to understand your survivor and be compassionate.


Thank you, Shirl, 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 Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Photo compliments of Shirl.)

Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.


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