Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Ian Lees
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)
Tipp City, Ohio, USA
3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?
The survivor is my wife. Her brain injury happened on July 5, 2005, the date of the accident. We were rear-ended in a motor vehicle accident.
4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?
My care began on July 5, 2005. Yes, I am the main caregiver. I have been since the accident.
5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?
6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?
Yes, and I still work.
7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?
I had no help really from anyone who lives close by.
8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?
My support began the day of the accident.
9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?
10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?
Yes, my wife did rehab for a while. She did occupational, speech, and physical therapies. I took her to rehab twice a week.
11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?
I take her for everything. She hasn’t worked or driven a car since 2005, contrary to the doctor’s point of view.
12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life hasn’t gotten worse. My wife has no real social life outside of me or unless she visits her family. She has depression and other issues.
13. What do you miss the most from pre-brain-injury life?
I miss lots of things. The list is long.
14. What do you enjoy most in post-brain-injury life?
I am in school for neuroscience and psychology because the doctors don’t have answers or don’t have the honesty to tell the truth. I read lots. I have spent most of my time reading books and studying. I am always looking for answers. My wife and I do cook together and have outings.
15. What do you like least about brain injury?
I don’t like how the brain injury has left my wife mentally. She is not on most medications because they have side effects we don’t care for.
16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?
My reading and going to school have helped. It was either divorce or find ways to take care of my wife. So, why not make a life and career out of this – and take care of her?
17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes. In many ways
18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
My plans are to get a degree and hopefully to help others get a better understanding of what to expect and what not to expect. There are dos and don’ts. I am a veteran and would like to help them, as well as others.
20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Suggestions: educate yourself as much as you can, and don’t always believe what you hear or read without checking other resources. There is a long road ahead, and it will keep you busy. For me, the more I read, the better I understand. It has cut down on arguments and fights. When you live with TBI (traumatic brain injury) and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), you see life from a whole different perspective.
(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 SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.
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