Survivors SPEAK OUT! Ryan Stoltz
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)
Eureka, California, USA Ryan.Stoltz2014@gmail.com
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My traumatic brain injury (TBI) happened on July 13, 1997. I was 17 years old.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
My TBI was caused by a car accident.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
About six months
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was intubated at the scene. I was then given a trach (tracheostomy tube), a G-Tube (gastrostomy tube), and IVs.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was in a coma for 23 days.
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 had occupational, speech, and physical therapies. The physical therapy was to relearn how to walk. I was in acute physical rehab for nine months.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have problems with balance, memory, speech, and perception.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life is dramatically much worse. I have no independence.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss being able to go out and about on my own – without assistance from anyone. I also miss having my own family.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I don’t enjoy anything because every day is a struggle.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike not being able to accomplish the dreams and goals I had for myself.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I was helped by my support system at home (my family) and by my support systems at my job and my day program.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
My relationships at home were not affected because my parents have been a great support for me.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
My social life was affected greatly because I can’t go anyplace or do anything on my own. All my friends have grown and were able to move on with their lives. I feel like I was left behind.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My parents have been my main caregivers. Yes, I do understand what it takes. They help me with all my needs and wants in my home life. I also have a respite worker who takes me out into the community to do the fun things I like to do.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I want to be a mentor to others by telling them my life-story from before my accident to my accident and then telling them how the accident has affected my 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 survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.
I would like survivors to be more willing to hear both sides of the story.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Don’t get angry at your situation. Take life day by day.
If you’d like to learn more about Ryan, please check out his blog.
(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.
(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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