SPEAK OUT! – Jodi Jizmejian
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)
Fresno, California, USA
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
September 8, 2011 I was 47, almost 48.
4. How did your TBI occur?
Roof crush due to a single vehicle roll-over
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
A woman in a house by the road heard the accident. My 16-year-old daughter was in the accident also, but she was ejected from the vehicle and landed in the dirt on the side of the road. She was coherent and gave the lady my husband’s cell-phone number. He was called after a 9-1-1 call.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery,
I was told (because I don’t remember anything) that I had a craniotomy. I did have a tracheotomy and a g-tube (gastrostomy tube). I’m sure I had multiple surgeries because I have scars that I didn’t have before. I was told that I had multiple facial breaks and other broken bones. My husband told me that the doctors were happy that they could say – after 7 days – that they saved my life.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes, I was in a coma. I was told it was for 30 days, but my current memory starts December 1, so I think I was in some sort of coma from September 8 to December 1.
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’m still doing physical therapy. I did physical, occupational, speech, and recreational therapy when I was in Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. I was there from December 1, 2011, until I came home on December 29. I did physical, occupational, and speech therapy as an Out-patient for a few months after I returned home.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
My balance was affected for sure. I also have several other issues: vision, hearing, fine-motor skills, slower (speed), reasoning, and personality.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
I think my life is better. Pre-accident, I worked all the time. My husband and I owned our own business, so I worked all the time. After my accident, he said he “fired” me because I didn’t show up for work. I abandoned my “job.” He is being funny, but I really don’t work anymore because there is no way I could have returned to what I was doing.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss being able to play tennis.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I have more time to do things that I’m physically capable of doing.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I don’t like my balance issues. I also dislike that my head feels “big/heavy/muffled,” and there is a “numbness/heavy/big” feeling of my right arm and leg.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
Jesus. I’m a positive person, so having the mentality of “It is what it is” helps me accept that “_ _ _ _” happens.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Home life – I’m now home most of the time.
Relationships – I now have time to develop friendships.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I don’t drive right now and don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to drive. My social life is pretty much reliant on my husband to drive me around, so if I want to do something and he doesn’t or he is busy, I don’t/can’t do it. I’m also reliant on friends to take me places.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My husband is my main caregiver. I do understand what it takes to be a caregiver, but there’s nothing that I or he can do to change that. Hence the marriage commitment, “Until death do us part.”
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope someday to be able to drive again and to play tennis. I want to write and speak to help other TBI survivors.
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.
Accept that you have a “new” normal and that you will never be the person you were pre-TBI. Learn to like the new you and make friends with the new you. Realize you weren’t “picked” out to have a TBI. There is always someone else who has it “worse.” Research Nick Vujicic, Life Without Limbs. When I started to have a pity party or a “woe is me” or a “life isn’t fair” attitude, I think of Nick. I also tell myself that we all have a cross to bear, meaning an unpleasant situation or responsibility that you must accept because you cannot change it.
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Never give up, but never expect things or you to get back to “normal,” i.e., the way they were pre-TBI. Learn to like yourself in your “new” normal. Realize you survived for a purpose. Do that purpose. If you don’t believe in Jesus, then start there and do whatever research you need to. Publicly and verbally accept Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior. Then I’ll see you in Eternity. God bless. Thank you for letting me participate.
Thank you, Jodi, 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 Jodi.)
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.