Survivors SPEAK OUT! Amanda Parten
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)
Grove Hill, Alabama, USA firstname.lastname@example.org
3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?
4. How did your TBI occur?
My Jeep was hit by a Mack Truck. I was sitting in the median, and a Brand Energy Mack Truck jackknifed me in the driver’s door.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
The EMS (Emergency Medical Service) technicians realized I had a problem as soon as they were on the scene.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was life-flighted south to the Medical Center at The University of South Alabama in Mobile. I suffered a broken hip, a crushed pelvis, and a lacerated spleen. Transverse processes were broken off my spine. I had a “mild to moderate” parietal TBI. I was in a coma, and I remained in the hospital for a few weeks after I woke up. I was in physical therapy for six weeks after I was released from the hospital.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes. I was in a coma for eleven days. Technically, I was still in my coma for an additional 4-6 months after the wreck – according to the Rancho Los Amigos coma scale.
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 physical therapy as an outpatient.
How long were you in rehab?
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I am mostly plagued by short-term memory loss. I experience hip pain, mood swings, and personality changes. I have difficulty sleeping. I had a year of depression.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Everything about my life has changed. Sometimes I feel like my life is better; sometimes I feel like it’s worse.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?
I miss my awesome memory. I could remember things from every moment – no matter how long ago. I never had to write anything down.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?
I appreciate little things more now. For example, when I wake up and remember a dream, it’s like a gift! This has happened maybe six times in six years.
13. What do you like least about your TBI?
I dislike the fact that I really have to warm up to new people. New people tend to make me nervous.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?
Time…knowing that there is nothing that will undo the accident and that I must press on.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I feel like people don’t want to stay around for more than a few months once they see what an impact the TBI has had on me. I was living with my boyfriend at the time of the accident. We broke up two years later. I was married a couple years after that – but for only four months.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
It has. I don’t go out anymore. I’m no longer spontaneous. Everything has to be very scheduled.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I am my own caregiver. I also take care of my two children.
18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
Ten years from now, I expect one daughter to be graduating from college. The other will be in middle school. I will still be a therapist.
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.
If you cannot accept your new self, then try to compensate. When I stopped thinking that I would “wake up” and be back to normal, accepted myself, and started putting compensatory strategies into place, life stopped being such a struggle.
20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Get into a group, whether it is on Facebook or somewhere else on the Internet. Having access to others who are going through the same thing as you can be such a help. Sometimes knowing that you aren’t the only one who has ever felt a certain way or that the same thing that happened to you has happened to someone else can make a huge difference.
Thank you, Amanda, 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 Amanda.)