SPEAK OUT! – Daniel Mollino
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)
Ringwood, New Jersey, USA Daniel@mollino.net
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
August 11, 2010 Age 27
4. How did your TBI occur?
At work, I fell from a ladder on a telephone pole.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
Right away. The emergency response was fast.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was in a medically induced coma. I had a craniotomy, and a shunt was inserted.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was in the medically induced coma for about three weeks.
8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?
I had speech therapy as an inpatient. As an outpatient, I had physical therapy and therapy for executive skills.
How long were you in rehab?
Three months as an inpatient; a little over a year as an outpatient.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have deafness of and ringing in my right ear. I have issues with fatigue, memory, balance, personality, pain, and finding words. (See my website below for more details.)
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Things became harder. It is in some ways better and in others, worse.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
That I got back to being able to ride
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
The problem with my memory; also the public’s understanding of how a TBI impacts a person
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
My family’s being there helped. My strong headed, never-give-in mentality stuck and resulted in the support and the joining in of larger groups in my 2015 cross country bike ride to get brain injury addressed and donations to research groups. I am also on a calling basis with the offices of federal politicians from my district trying to get them to fix a system I saw fail. Hopefully the ride will get more people calling their politicians.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
My home life changed in some ways. My wife and I switched roles – but not in a bad way.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
My social life hasn’t really changed that much. But, my deafness is an issue, and I don’t like loud environments.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My wife is my main caregiver. Thankfully, I am not as bad off as some.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
My future plans are in motion. I am biking coast to coast in hopes of getting attention for brain injury and donations flowing to research groups. I also hope I can get the media involved and possibly get more sponsors, so I can continue on that path for years to come. A book would be nice. However, my English is really bad, so I am looking for a ghostwriter. My hope is that I can keep going and prove that “disabled” does not mean that someone is incapable of great things. That aspect is aimed at all those who give up.
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 have to say no, but I may be wrong. As I have said to others, when you accept “broken” as a status, you will always be broken. You need always to push for a want. Nothing is impossible, but life is a pathway of obstacles. You will at times just have to step back and find another way. For when you give up trying, that is the point in the life that you have willfully chosen to be in the broken state.
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors?
Fight for what you want. Ask others for help, and keep your eyes on the goal. Never give in to defeat. My personal view is that I will do this or die trying. Not to sound morbid, but the idea is that if you try your entire life, you are living life – not letting life live you.
Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
I hope that some of you see my ride as I post my routes and progress in 2015 and show up if you’re near. Nothing is better than seeing others involved and having the support. I will be personally calling media stations I can find numbers to, but getting calls from others, sharing photos on Facebook, etc. would be a great help. The more exposure and media I get, the more we can educate the public and force the politicians to move on fixing the issues.
You can learn more about Daniel at the following sites.
Thank you, Daniel, 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 Daniel.)
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.