SPEAK OUT! – Ken Collins
Brain Injury Radio Network Host
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)
Gamerco, New Mexico, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
December 31, 1976 Age 26
4. How did your TBI occur?
I ran into a parked car while driving a snowmobile.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I realized the seriousness of my injury after I “woke” several weeks later. I was standing in front a mirror and picking at the wires in my mouth.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was taken to the Emergency Room, and I had surgery. I broke my jaw below my chin on the left side and rammed my right jawbone into my right ear canal.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I have a month missing. My hospital records say that I was “in and out” and that I was in a Posey jacket and wrist restraints all the time I was in the hospital. I didn’t have any insurance, and there was no insurance on the snowmobile I was on or the car I ran into. I was in the hospital a week, and then I was released to go home with my parents because I kept getting out of the restraints and wandering the halls. On the last day I was in the hospital, they found me untied three times. One of those times, I was urinating on a plant in the lobby. I remember Christmas Eve, and then I don’t remember anything until I woke up in front of the mirror in late January.
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)? How long were you in rehab?
I didn’t have any rehab because there wasn’t any rehab in 1976. My rehab came from playing baseball and community organizing.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
My short-term memory problem has gotten much better over time. I have issues with balance and impulsivity.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My brain injury has given me insights that have allowed me to become a better person.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I have a better understanding of people and life in general.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
14.Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I’ve been married three times. The relationships were hurt by my impulsivity and money-management issues.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My family provided me with the love and support I needed after my brain injury. They also gave me a place to live for a couple years until I was able to live on my own.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I plan to be retired.
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.
Talk with other brain-injury survivors. I wish there would have been some people with brain injuries to talk to after my brain injury. I wish also that the Internet and smart phones would have existed.
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Find purpose and meaning in your life again because this will make it easier to get out of bed in the morning. Having a sense of purpose and meaning will give you something to live for. This will also help you feel worthwhile, help motivate you, and improve your recovery process. Take ownership of your recovery, and get rid of the word “can’t” in your vocabulary.
To learn more about Ken, stop by the Brain Injury Radio Network to hear some of Ken’s archived shows.
Thank you, Ken, 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.)
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.
(Photos compliments of Ken.)