SPEAK OUT! – Marty Salo
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
Tampa, FL, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
April 7, 1982 Age 11
4. How did your TBI occur?
Bike/motor vehicle accident
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
Immediately. I was medivacked to Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters in Norfolk, Virginia
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have? (e.g., surgery,
I had an intracranial pressure monitor and I assume some other tubes. The divot in my head is still visible after all these years when the hair is cut very short.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was officially in a coma for something like 53 days. I was brought home on Day 49, but I had been in pediatric ICU for 14 days.
8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)? How long were you in rehab?
I did most of the recovery at home. I was tutored by a 5th grade teacher over summer, and I progressed through Catholic primary school. I had some speech therapy at public school. I had help from vocational rehabilitation to get training leading to a job.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI? (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)
Fortunately, I had been brilliant as a child, and much of the brilliance continued. There were memory problems, I guess, as well as balance problems and the need to re-master skills from traumatic amnesia. I read more online. I’ve been excited about the Internet from my days in college – even before then. I had been excited about my Apple 2c with a 300-baud modem, which allowed me to communicate to others through asynchronous communications.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
I adapted. I chose easier courses, changed majors at the university, graduated with an undergraduate degree in Religious Studies, and continued to get my Master’s Degree in Library and Information Science. There are still situations where I can get overwhelmed, I suppose.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I don’t really have much memory of my pre-TBI life. I have only vague, fleeting memories of childhood.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I like having fun. I like going to EPCOT and Disney World. I enjoy being around other happy people.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I’ve been different from others, but I didn’t really understanding how different from others I was. I just knew that things were not as easy for me. I have adapted by not driving, after an accident at age 19 or so.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
My father is in AA. He exposed me to the Serenity Prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference.”
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
From childhood, there is no comparison. Fortunately, I met a woman who would later become my wife. She has been very beneficial to me and my experiences.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Again, childhood and adulthood are largely incomparable, but I’d venture to say that as a financially minded individual, I don’t spend a lot of money on alcohol or cigarettes. We have a pretty happy life, even if not much time is spent out drinking with fellas, or whatever. Other usual socialization patterns exist.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My mother, then my wife. My wife is not so much of a caregiver as a partner, but she does drive.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
It’d be very nice if I were somehow able to get something going where I work at the VA Hospital – doing something to help others with computers and expanding awareness. But, I’m happy enough continuing to work with computers, getting them ready for issuance to providers.
19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors
Keep on progressing. Life gets better if you allow it to get better. Most people probably want to see you succeed. Some bosses might not have patience, but your progress is more important. Do not compare yourself to peers who are doing more than you are. Compare yourself to where you have been. Appreciate what you have overcome to get where you are.
20. Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
So many things. Realize that you are not alone. Realize that others have had similar journeys. Realize that others probably would like to see you succeed. Your success builds collective good will, and helps people feel better. http://martysalo.wordpress.com/ is a website I maintain. I have some TBI-related stuff there as well.
Thank you, Marty, 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.