SPEAK OUT! – Amy Rankin
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)
Auburn, New York, USA
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
October 30, 2004 Age 23
4. How did your TBI occur?
While walking home, I was hit by a drunk driver in a pickup.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
The driver of a passing car saw the truck flipping and called 9-1-1. They found my roommate dead a ways from myself and the truck.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery, tracheotomy, G-peg)?
Wonderful doctors removed half my skull to relieve swelling. I had a tracheotomy and a G-tube (gastrostomy tube).
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes, 33 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 rehab in Baltimore (but it wasn’t great) at Kernan Hospital. After they put my skull back together, I went to St. Camillus, where I did wonderful speech, physical, and occupational therapies both as an In-patient and an Out-patient. I did other therapies after my discharge from St. Camillus as an Out-patient. I continue to work with a language pathologist.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I’ve worked very hard to overcome many of my disabilities. I’ve run a couple of 5Ks and wrote a book about never giving up – Nobody Thought I Could Do It, But I Showed Them, and So Can You! (Amazon.com). My vision continues to be trouble. I cannot recognize people. It gets embarrassing.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Better – My faith in God has grown. I’ve met and worked with absolutely wonderful people.
Worse – I don’t like the loss of independence, the embarrassing moments, and not being with my friends as often as I’d like.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I greatly miss driving and being with friends.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I love to volunteer and to help other TBI victims or any victim. I wrote my book to help others. I met my great boyfriend, who is also a TBI survivor.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I don’t like being unable to drive and see friends. I’m sad that I can no longer teach Special Ed. I miss teaching very much, but I believe my book can do some teaching for me.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
I’ve been helped by God and by the positive attitudes and support of my family and all my doctors and therapists.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
We moved to a beautiful new house. I met my wonderful boyfriend. I don’t communicate with my girlfriends from college as much as I used to.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
My boyfriend also survived a TBI. We don’t see each other as much as we’d like to. When we do, it’s magical.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My father is my main caregiver. I dedicated my book to him. I know both my parents have given up a lot and changed dramatically. A good caregiver is caring and has love and respect for you.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I’m hoping to go back to school to become a recreational therapist and to have my book help even more people.
19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors
Have a positive attitude.
Be aware of the love of other people.
Do what you can.
Find something to smile about daily.
20. Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
A TBI changes your life forever, but don’t feel disabled. Work out of it! Believe you’re a survivor!
Thank you, Amy, 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.)
(Photo compliments of Amy.)
If you would like to be a part of this project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.