Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . DeWayne Banner
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)
Morganton, Georgia, USA
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
4. How did your TBI occur?
My head was crushed between the rear of a tractor-trailer and a concrete wall.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was life-flighted to Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia, where I was placed on life-support. I cannot really give a great number of details about these days because my mind was in another place. After I was declared stable, I was moved to The Shepherd Center to begin rehab, which continued for about four years.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was in a coma for two 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)? How long were you in rehab?
I did every kind of rehab in the books. In the beginning, I dealt with a lot of problems, and I worked with a whole team of therapists. Also, I had a counselor, and I participated in a group-therapy session.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I am almost blind in my right eye. I am deaf in my right ear. My left side is partially paralyzed. I have completely lost sensation on the right side of my face. My balance was bad in the beginning, but it has gotten better over time. My short-term memory is poor; my long-term memory is like Swiss cheese (i.e., full of holes). I also have fatigue and sleep issues.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Tough question. I cannot say that my life is better or worse – just much different. My life is not what I had planned, but I have adapted to create the best life I possibly can.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss my friends. It’s no secret that, in most cases, friends, and sometimes family, disappear from your life. I believe that after a catastrophic injury, such as a TBI, a person has to face his or her own mortality. (This may have happened to me!) It is very scary, and most people pull away from this constant reminder.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I like that I get to decide what my days will be. I get to choose my direction.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I dislike the things that have become difficult for me to do alone. I was once very independent and loved the great outdoors.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
I did not die! I will never give up!
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I have lost friends, but I feel fortunate that my wife and I still have a great relationship. So many families that are faced with TBI end up broken and divorced.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I still like to spend time with friends and family, but it is a little difficult to do long stretches. I have many, many new friends.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My wife is my main caregiver, but I do my best to take good care of her too!
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
It is hard to say. I plan to travel a little. I help others like myself when I can. I hope to continue to improve my quality of life.
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 want people to know that time does heal. Also, TBI is a journey that we have to travel one step at a time.
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!! Get out of bed every day, put your feet on the ground, and take a step down the path to a better life. IT can happen if you want it to.
Thank you, DeWayne, 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 DeWayne.)