SPEAK OUT! – Daisy Lou
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)
Boyertown, Pennsylvania, USA
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
The first one was on July 6, 2012. I was 30 years old. The second one was in February 2014. I was 32 years old.
4. How did your TBI occur?
Someone ran a stop sign and T-boned my car for the first one. I don’t remember the accident, but my car was totaled. For the second one, I fell in the street on six inches of ice.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
In August 2012, I started having back problems. I realized in November that I was having other problems, like nausea, dizziness, balance being off, sleeping all the time, noise sensitivity, and headaches, among a multitude of other problems. But I waited until December (5 months after my accident) to talk to the doctor. For the second one, I realized I had a problem a few days after I fell, when my nose started dripping and I started sleeping a lot. I wasn’t sick at the time.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
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?
For the first TBI, I did physical therapy for a month and a half as an Out-patient. I did biofeedback with a neuropsychologist for four months. For the second one, I took a week off of work. That’s all.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I sometimes have balance problems. If I try to get up too quickly, I get dizzy. I have lots of memory problems, anxiety, impulsiveness, and trouble concentrating. I tend to tell people things three or four times because I forget whether or not I’ve told them whatever that thing happens to be. I get frustrated very easily. I have trouble talking and finding words. I don’t handle stress very well, and sometimes I can’t handle it at all. I get tired very easily, and sometimes I have to take a nap in the middle of the day.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
It’s better in the fact that I don’t remember things. So, if something happens that is upsetting, I soon forget it. But that’s also worse because I forget things I want to remember. I’ve learned to become more patient with myself and with other people.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss being able to explain something to someone and have them understand what I’m saying. Now I can’t seem to find the right words.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
When my brain is functioning on a capable level, I enjoy explaining to people what a TBI is like and how it affects you. To some people who seem interested, I give the address of an interesting blog to look at, so they can understand TBI even better.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I dislike forgetting things and feeling stupid all the time. I feel like a part of my brain has gone missing, and no matter how much I search for it, it continues to hide from me.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
Time and talking about it with friends
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Not really. It’s more that I forget where I put things more often, so I’m continually asking someone if they’ve seen the items I’m looking for. But my relationships haven’t really changed, and my home life hasn’t changed.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I always was a loner, but I’m more of a hermit than before. I tend to stay in more often or go places by myself, instead of asking someone to go with me. Even if the person is on the way to wherever it is I’m going, I don’t call them because it seems like too much work to have to drive to their house and then talk to them until I drop them back off at their house.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
Myself – I don’t have a caregiver. Although, I live with my mom, and she’s the one I’m always asking where things are.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
Right now, I’m just concentrating on making it through the day. I have no future plans, except to take things one day at a time.
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.
Write everything down! If you have memory problems, it makes your life so much easier when you can look at a piece of paper and say, “Oh yeah, that’s what I wanted to do!”
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Rome wasn’t built in a day…. It’s frustrating to suddenly have some part of your body go berserk on you, but don’t beat yourself up. A very important part of your anatomy was bruised and battered, and it takes time for it to heal. Everyone recovers at a different rate, so don’t expect the same results as someone else with a TBI.
Thank you, Daisy Lou, 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 Daisy Lou.)
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.