SPEAK OUT! – DuWayne Hall
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)
Colorado Springs, Colorado, USA Braindamagedguy@gmail.com
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
August 16, 1992 – I was 32 years old.
4. How did your TBI occur?
It was a single vehicle motorcycle accident. (For complete story see Guest Blog.)
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
As soon as I became aware in the hospital!
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was on total life support, so they did whatever was necessary for that. My arm was tied around my neck because they expected me to die.
I was not wearing my helmet at the time of the accident. I had my right ear torn off; they sewed it back on. My right cheek was crushed from my shoulder’s smacking my face as I face-planted the road. They put a titanium cheekbone in to fix my face. My right eye was hanging out of its socket; it had to be placed back into my skull. I sustained a closed-head injury. My right frontal lobe and the pons portion of my brain sustained what they refer to as a “contracoup” injury (that is, the brain is damaged exactly opposite to the impact point). They implanted a shunt on the top of my head. I’ve got a metal plate in the top of my head.
I had road rash from being dragged 100 or so feet before the motorcycle stopped sliding. My arm was shattered at the elbow. My collarbone was broken in two places. I had knee surgery.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was in a coma 24 days. On the 25th day, my living will was going to become effective, and they were going to unplug me from life support.
8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?
I was in rehab three years. I relearned everything from how to go to the bathroom to how to eat again, talk again, and interact again. I was just like a child relearning how to do everything – dress myself, cook, shower, stand upright, etc.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
As a result of my TBI, I became increasingly more isolated, until Facebook came into the picture about ten years ago. I walk with an uneven gait. I have problems seeing just one of something. I’m partially deaf. My face is partially paralyzed. Over the years, I’ve developed PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) as a result of multiple TBI’s. I get frustrated very easily, but it is perceived as anger by others.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
It became more burdensome and unfulfilled.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss friends, family, social relationships, and camping. Any exercise is burdensome. Personal relationships ended. I can’t defend myself. I lost my hospital job of 8 years.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
It gave me PTSD. Anybody diagnosed with it understands what I am talking about! It is hell!
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
It is hard to define “accept.” I know that it has happened and that I can’t do anything about it. I believe all things happen for a reason, but I cannot find any good being returned because I am disabled. So, if I can help keep one soul from going through the hell I’ve been through these last 24 years, then that would be worth it to me!
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I have been married two times since my TBI. No lady wants me because I’m broken, not only physically, but also emotionally and mentally.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I have no social life! At first, people seemed happy that I did not die. However, after time, I no longer had the number of friends that I had before my accident. The example would be that I receive a get-well card at the hospital with approximately 825 signatures of people wishing me well during recovery. If only 25 percent were sincere, I would have 207 friends. I have two – one who lives out-of-state and one who lives out-of-town. I am constantly lonely and feeling rejected!
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I don’t have one. I am my own caregiver!
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I don’t have any plans. I believe that life has ended for me! I am just waiting to die.
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.
I’m too gullible. Most TBIers are.
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Be patient with yourself. Recovery takes a long time!
Thank you, DuWayne, 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 DuWayne.)
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.