Survivors SPEAK OUT! – Cheri R. Hicks
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)
Jackson, MS, USA
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
February 28, 2014 Age 37
4. How did your TBI occur?
Hemorrhagic stroke as a result of elevated blood pressure from postpartum eclampsia (10 days postpartum)
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
While at home, I felt what seemed like a bomb was going off in my head, and my neck became very stiff. The pain radiated down my spine. I was disoriented and unable to put words together. While being treated for suspected eclampsia at the hospital (I had recently delivered our second child), my nurse noticed one-sided weakness when she asked me to smile.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have? (e.g., surgery,
There were two ambulance rides. (The first facility thought it was an aneurysm, and they were not equipped to repair it.) I had multiple CT scans, a decompressive craniectomy, post-op ventilation, and nasogastric feedings.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
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 30 days of In-patient therapy [physical (PT), occupational (OT), and speech (ST)]. I am currently doing Out-patient rehab three times a week (3 hours a session for PT, OT, and ST).
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI? (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)
Left neglect, balance issues, blurred vision
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
I can’t do what I want when I want. But, I guess my life is better. I don’t really know why though. I guess it’s better because I realize how short and precious life is. Also, through this whole process, I’ve made some really good friends and met some really great people whom I would have never met otherwise.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss picking my son up from school, being independent, and being able to drive.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I love challenging myself and seeing how strong I really am.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
There are so many things. I especially dislike having to rely on others to do things for me and waiting for the things I once took for granted to come back.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
I don’t know. My TBI does not define who I am. I will become the whole person I was before and settle for nothing less.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes. I can’t be the stay-at-home mom I once was and care for my own children.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes, but I also had our second child (two under 2) ten days before my TBI.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My husband is my main caregiver. I only know physically what it takes to be a caregiver.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I intend to have a full recovery and become the same person I was before my TBI. I hope to travel to interesting places with my family.
19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors
Find a way to keep a positive attitude, and give 100% of yourself to your therapy. Also, find someone to talk with about how you’re feeling, and never give up!
20. Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
There will be bad days, but each new day will also bring new advances and victories. Time is both a healer and your enemy. You need it to heal, but you can’t wait for the long days to pass until you are better. You will be a stronger person because of your experience, and nothing will ever scare you again.
Thank you, Cheri, 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.)
(Photos compliments of Cheri.)
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.