SPEAK OUT! – Kevin Middleton
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)
Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada firstname.lastname@example.org
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
4. How did your TBI occur?
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery,
I had 7.5 hours of surgery to remove two blood clots and to clip off several aneurysms. An AVM (arteriovenous malformation) and a haematoma were removed December 05, 1977.
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?
No. I was just sent home and told “No school for a year.”
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
Neuropsychological tests in 1978 and 1994 showed identical results. Short-term memory and recall in the 7 percentile mean that I am disabled. Anger issues ensued, born of frustration over continually forgetting. Editing oneself is challenging.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Since I was quite young, the loss of a photographic memory was a challenge. I withdrew from society. I have no close friends. I have many acquaintances, but I don’t like to socialize. The plus side is that my intellect increased from the removal of the blood clots. The downside is that by then I resented school. Learning took four times longer, and it was difficult to write an exam. My greatest joys are my five children and ten grandchildren.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I dislike the fact people say they forget too. They don’t understand the frequency or the fact you lost your kids more than once or your wallet eight times.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
Time helped. Being involved with a brain injury society has been beneficial. Even having friends who understand is helpful.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I experienced a divorce. I attribute partial blame to my not being rehabilitated professionally.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes. Though I have been married 23 years, I like being by myself with my dogs. My wife socializes without me.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My wife is my main caregiver. It was she who said, “There’s something wrong here.” Due to her, I sought out help, which she supported.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I’m 54, so retirement is my goal. I’m so done with my brain injury. I like to help online those who are just beginning the healing journey.
19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.
It’s not your fault that you forget…it’s the fault of the brain injury. In other words, don’t take forgetting personally. I beat myself up for this all the time. However, why am I apologizing for something I have no control of?
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Don’t get caught in the trap of chasing your past self. Before you know it, it’s 40 years later, and still your former self is bigger than life itself. My 18-year-old self had not fathered, had not grandfathered, had not held a job for 14 years, nor owned several businesses, yet he still was bigger than what I have accomplished. How ludicrous is that? Embrace who you are…a survivor…and move forward because that is where the future lies. Leave your past self in the rear view mirror where he/she belongs.
If you’d Like to learn more about Kevin Middleton, please visit his blog at My Broken Brain.
Thank you, Kevin, 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 Kevin.)
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.