TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

SPEAK OUT! – Julie


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Julie Pre-TBI

This photo was taken on Julie’s 16th birthday – one month before her accident.


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


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

Atlantic Canada

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

 1995 (16 years old)

4. How did your TBI occur?

MVA (motor vehicle accident)

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

Right away

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
(e.g., surgery,

tracheotomy, G-peg)

ICU (intensive care unit)

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

Yes – 2 weeks or more.

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

Yes – pain clinic, chiropractor, acupuncture, physio, massage, meditation, etc.

How long were you in rehab?

It has become a part of life…Keep your body and mind healthy.

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

I have balance, perception, personality, and memory problems (to name a few).

There were physical, chronic pain, arthritic, and TMJ (temporomandibular joint)problems from the accident.

Epilepsy (grand mal and petit mal) formed 10 years later.

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

I was 16, so I don’t know how my life would have gone. I know I had a plan for myself, and the MVA changed it all.

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

Feeling normal

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

My family and trying to stay positive

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

It changed everything about me… but on the outside I still look the same.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

 After almost 20 years, I suppose time made me accept it.

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

 I lost friends. I became extremely moody, very hateful, and difficult for a very long time. My parents split shortly afterward. The accident was just the last thing to tip things over the edge for them. Depression and anxiety ganged up on me, and everything piled up, feeding off one another, leading to an unhappy life for a very, very long time.

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

 You name it…

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

 My husband and I work together. He helps me with learning, any physical obstacles, during/after seizures, and over the past five years or so things seem to have improved in many ways.

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

 Working and enjoying life with my family

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

 No one knows what you are going through. No one knows how long it will last. Everyone has a different story. You are no less important than anyone else. You are still a person and still count.

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

 Don’t let yourself get depressed. That dark place will take you nowhere fast and can keep you for a long time.

Julie Post-TBI

More recent photo. Post-TBI

Write about your feelings, draw, paint, sing, do anything you can…but be sure to get your feelings out and make peace with life and how it has gone for you.


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

(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 Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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