Survivors SPEAK OUT! Evan Powers
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)
Fort Mill, South Carolina, USA
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My brain injury happened on August 30th, 2014. I was 31.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
I was riding my Harley V-Rod Muscle with friends, and I was hit by an SUV. The driver, in a rush to buy smokes, turned illegally left and hit me. I died, was revived, fell into a coma, and “received” a traumatic brain injury (TBI) (diffuse axonal injury and brain stem damage). I had to relearn how to do everything! I’m doing very well, however – “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” and I’ve proven to be a tough SOB. (LOL!)
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
At the scene of the accident
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
A lot (LOL) – a craniotomy, arm surgery (compound fracture of my left arm), and intensive therapy (cognitive, vocational, physical, vocational, mental health, etc.). And I continued therapy (once a week and checkups).
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes. I was in a coma a month.
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?
Yes. I did intensive inpatient therapy at Craig Hospital in Colorado (an incredible place!). Afterward, I continued with intensive rehab. Now I’m going only once a week.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have balance issues, left-side weakness, and memory loss. I am prone to impulsivity and mood fluctuations.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life has changed in many ways – both negatively and, more importantly, positively! I suffer with balance issues, left-side weakness, memory issues, impulsivity, and emotional control issues. While those deficits suck (LOL), I’ve changed in so many ways for the better. I’m more positive. (I struggled with depression terribly before the accident.) I do not take life for granted, I am funnier and more fun-loving, and I am more passionate. Further, I’ve gained an understanding into the hell of having a TBI, and I have been moved to work with those who experience likewise – encouraging, sharing, and helping other survivors!
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss some things – my job, my friends (lost a lot after the accident), having a sense of purpose, working, and – crazy as it may seem, considering what happened – riding my motorcycle (LOL). … But all in time!
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I like how positive and passionate for life I am now. J
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike not working and my left arm being weaker.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
Yes. I have been helped by friends, doctors, experience, time, and especially my mom!
15, Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes, very much so! I’m now divorced. (My ex and I had a rocky relationship before the accident.) Because of my problem with impulse control, I rush into relationships and “move too fast.”
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes. I lost a lot of friends after my accident. There were several reasons: my crazy behavior, being afraid of interacting with me, or just being “lousy friends” (LOL) – (for the best, I see now).
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My mom is my main caregiver. She helps me out tremendously. I couldn’t have done what I did without her and my brother, Chris. Their love and support is much needed and is greatly appreciated!
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
My future plans include going to school to get a degree in a field in which I can work with TBI survivors. I want to continue to heal, and I plan to start working part-time. I intend to better myself and help others, which has me excited!
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.
Recovery from a TBI is brutal, but it gets better. Sometimes you run; other times, you crawl. Keep pushing and fighting – it’s worth it!
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Be patient with yourself. Do the best you can – that’s all you can do. Keep fighting. I know that it’s hard, but it is worth the struggle! Also, reach out – get involved with other survivors. We understand each other more then others without injuries can. We’re family – rely on, encourage, and strengthen one another!
(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.
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(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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