Survivors SPEAK OUT! Abi
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)
Columbia City, Indiana, USA
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
I had my TBI (traumatic brain injury) at age 20.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
I was hit by a freight train in a suicide attempt.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I knew I had a problem when I started speaking, as my voice pitch changed quite a bit. Also, when I was asked to remember things from the day before, I had trouble doing so.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was taken to a hospital right away. In addition to the problems noted above, I also had a messed up back and an amputated right arm, so those were tended to right away. I was also immediately given stitches to close up a wound on my head.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I don’t think I was in a coma, but I don’t recall very well the two days after my incident.
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 therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy both as an inpatient and as an outpatient. I was in the rehab inpatient therapy for at least six weeks. I was in outpatient therapy even longer, but the outpatient therapy focused more on my missing arm. I also had in-home therapy.
9.What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have poor balance and slurred speech. I experience personality changes.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
I believe my life has changed for the better, as I’ve met so many who are worse off than me.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss nothing from my pre-brain-injury life, as my personality changed for the good. But I do miss people understanding me.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I like to meet others with a TBI and other disabilities.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike my slurred speech and sounding different than I used to.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
Yeah – meeting those worse off
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I’m much better, as I’m more social.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yeah. I went from being deathly shy to a social butterfly.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My mother is my main caregiver. Yeah, I do understand what it takes. It’s hard work.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I plan to have a family and to be a counselor helping suicidal people.
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.
Don’t give up.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
My advice is Don’t give up, and be you.
(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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