TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Charles Ross, Jr.

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Ross, Charles Survivor

Charles Ross, Jr. – Brain Injury Survivor

1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Charles Ross, Jr.

2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)

Pittsburg, Missouri, USA     buds5101@gmail.com

3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?

My TBI (traumatic brain injury) happened on November 15, 1985. I was 18 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a head-on car crash on a narrow, two-lane highway on a rainy and foggy day. I swerved around a truck that was stopped in the road. The truck left the scene.

5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?

A witness came to the car and forced the door open. I had thrown up on impact. Until help arrived, he held my head up to keep me from choking.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I had the paddles put on me before I got on the helicopter to fly to a large hospital. I also had a tracheotomy.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

I was in a coma for fifty 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 physical, occupational, and speech therapies as an inpatient for nine months after I came out of the coma. I continued physical therapy as an outpatient for seven years after the accident. My mom then took over. She was a physical therapist aide in a nursing home at the time of the accident. She also did occupational therapy with me too.

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury
(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

I was in a wheelchair for one and a half years. I can now walk with a single cane. That level did not immediately come after the wheelchair. It occurred after seven summers of surgeries on my legs. I walked with two canes for many years. I also have epilepsy. That diagnosis took a grand mal seizure five years after the accident. I had thousands of petite mal seizures prior to my grand mal seizure. Only then did the neurologist say that the “spells,” as I called them then, were petite mal seizures. I take multiple medicines to control them. It took twenty-two years to find the right mixture to control them. Balance and memory are also great problems today – thirty years later. My sense of balance is gone. I fall frequently, even using a cane. My short-term and long-term memories were damaged. The short-term memory was destroyed. It took years of training to get back what I have. Long-term memory – I don’t recognize it as affecting me so badly. I just don’t think of it. I take two medicines that they give to Alzheimer’s patients. I am hoping they help me. I don’t know yet if they do.

10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?teacher-improvement

I struggled to get two Associate Degrees over seven years. I struggled more in the workforce for fourteen years. Most of the time, I had no insurance. The meds I needed for the seizures came out-of-pocket. So my credit rating tanked, and a bankruptcy followed. I filed for disability insurance after losing my last job. I was making the most money ever, but I still had no benefits. On the last job, I grossed more money in a week and a half than I make in a month now.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?

I miss a sense of being normal – being able to go out and do anything at almost any time. My only restriction was money.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I enjoy knowing the people I have met as a result of the injury – the countless doctors and nurses who took care of me and other individuals who also have had head injuries. I never would have met them, or even thought of meeting them, had I not had a head injury.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?

I dislike not having my “normal” life.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

I never had the attitude where I just wanted to give up on life, even though it could be depressing at times.

15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes. I think I experienced jealousy from a brother because I got more attention afterward. I’ve had many different relationships, but all have ended up failing. The lack of money was the usual excuse. Most relationships were started over the web.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?

I don’t go out very much. Right now, I’m living with my mom. (My dad just passed.) As a 48-year-old male, I don’t regret living with my mom. It’s just not normal.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

I am able to take care of myself, including my meds and my bills. I cooked when I was not with my mom.

18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I want to get a place of my own again.

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.

Charles Ross, Jr. - Brain Injury Survivor

Charles Ross, Jr. – Brain Injury Survivor

My advice: Do not turn down any kind of help that’s offered – do not be too proud.

20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

You should take pride in being a survivor. Most people, if faced with the challenges you have, could not do it. You have already accomplished the hardest thing, which was to survive.

 

 

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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Comments on: "Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . Charles Ross, Jr." (14)

  1. I have the most problem with anger issues. I pray a lot for the lord to help me forgive. I thank God for my life. I just trust Him to help me and lead me.

    Dale Christianson

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dale, anger issues are prevalent with many brain injury survivors. I am sorry you are dealing with this side of brain injury. I know it must be awful for you and the folks around you. The fact that you are aware of the problem is a great step forward. I wish you all the best.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski
      survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com
      donnaodonnellfigurski.com

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dale, the anger issues are a normal part of the head injury. I was in the rehab hospital so many months, and you heard yelling, screaming, and cursing coming down the hallways from every direction when I was there. Now, that hospital has the rehab ward sectioned in quiet, screamers, and those that try to get away, and the doors are locked in between sections, I am not sure I agree with that though.
    Those with head injuries need to see normal behavior in order to learn it again. The head injury makes people go to the primitive state of mind, and people have to see normal in order to learn normal.
    It is a slow process! Just like learning how to walk, use your legs, arms, and hands again.
    Your brain is a muscle, and has to be retrained. I was fortunate! My anger issues occurred mainly while on heavy doses of the seizure medicine Keppra. While I still take it, I take the lighter dose in the morning and the heavier at night. I take four other kinds of seizure medicine too, and they have less effect on my moods, but my seizures are controlled.
    I don’t know if you take any seizure medicine, if you do and one is Keppra, it could be a factor. There are other seizure meds, and one or a combination of others might help you. It took 27 years for me to find the correct mixture and dosage.
    My biggest problems have been physical, retraining the muscles and brain how to think and remember thoughts and motions of the body. I am still learning almost 31 years later. It will never be easy again, but I do my best. Congrats on surviving, you have won the hardest battle.

    Best wishes my TBI friend.
    Charlie

    Like

  3. lee staniland said:

    Proud of you Charles! One of the biggest steps is to accept who you are NOW! Lee, a fellow survivor

    Liked by 1 person

    • Lee, I think that acceptance of the injury, figuring out who one is after a brain injury, and making the lemons into lemonade is a big hurdle many survivors need to jump.

      Thanks for your thoughts.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski
      survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com
      donnaodonnellfigurski.com

      Like

  4. Pam Lorincz said:

    I just met Charles via Facebook last week. With his help I found your Website and signed up. My son was also in a very serious Jeep accident 30 years ago at age 17. I have never heard or seen any story like mine and my son’s. But, thanks to Charles, he has helped me feel not alone anymore.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Pam, and welcome to my blog. I’m so glad you found Charles. I hope you meet a lot more survivors and caregivers. There are millions of us, so you do NOT have to feel alone. Take a look around the blog. There are many survivor and caregiver interviews, so you can see what others are going through and how they deal with their brain injury. Hopefully, you can get some good information from them.

      If you or your son would like to do a caregivers’ or survivors’ interview, please contact me at neelyf@aol.com.

      On August 21, 2016 I will be interviewing a mother and her survivor son on my radio show, “Another Fork in the Road.” You might want to listen in to that show.

      Wishing you all the best.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski
      survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com
      donnaodonnellfigurski.com

      Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lorincz said:

        Hi Donna. Thanks for responding so quickly. My son’s name is Stephen and he is now 47 years of age. He was 17 when he had his accident and lived with his Dad. We divorced 3 years earlier but we lived in the same town close by when the accident occurred. When the divorce came about, I didn’t have insurance and a one room apartment, so Stephen made the decision to stay with Dad. Also, Dad had health insurance that covered Stephen. My son was 14 when we divorced. At the time of Stephen’s accident he had just graduated from high school with high honors. He was awarded a scholarship to college. He was a swimmer and winning all the meets in several states. So, he was working very hard to an Olympic swimmer like Michael Phelps. On June 20 1986, everything changed. Stephen had just finished a swim meet that day and had another swimmer with him when they decided to have some fun in his old CJ5 Jeep after drinking two beers and his buddy was hitting mailboxes with a stick, going off and on the road, when the Jeep flipped over. His buddy was thrown out of the Jeep and Stephen was trying to get control back. Well, he was driving the Jeep with no top, no doors, no roll bar and no seat belt. Well, his friend suffered only a shoulder injury but Stephen’s Jeep rolled over with him in it and he suffered a TBI, brain stem injury. There is a lot more to say but my husband now of 22 years and I are going on vacation in 2 days and I still have to pack. Following the accident Stephen was in a coma for 6 and 1/2 months and in hospitals for 3 years but he has never lived with me because my ex made sure I would never be able to take care of him. Stephen now has lived in a home paid for by Medicaid for 27 years. I also have a daughter who has also made sure Stephen would never live with me. More to come.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Pam Lorincz said:

    Thanks Charles. I have a lot more to say. Love, Pam

    Liked by 1 person

    • WOW! Pam, what a story! When you get time, you might want to do the interview. Have a good vacay.

      Donna O’Donnell Figurski
      survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com
      donnaodonnellfigurski.com

      Like

      • Pam Lorincz said:

        Donna, how do you do the interview? Is it on the phone, or on line? As you can probably figure out, my son won’t be able to be interviewed. He does know I am his Mom and he loves my husband, John and says he would love to live with us, but that is another part of the story.

        Like

      • Pam, go to this link on my blog. All the directions are on this page.

        https://survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com/2014/04/16/tbi-caregiver-interview-questionnaire/

        What I need:

        1. Completed interview

        2 Completed Release form

        3 At least 2 photos of you (and your son, if possible.)

        You can contact me at my email, if you wish. neelyf@aol.com

        Donna O’Donnell Figurski
        survivingtraumaticbraininjury.com
        donnaodonnellfigurski.com

        Liked by 1 person

      • Pam Lorincz said:

        I received the e-mail from you and I have printed it up. I am bringing my laptop on the trip so I plan to work on this while I am on vacation. I will also try to gather two photos of Stephen and me and also send them to you. Thank you so much Donna.

        Like

  6. Pam Lorincz said:

    I do want to say for 30 years no one wanted to hear my story; but then I met Charles on Facebook and now you. Thank you both so much.

    Liked by 1 person

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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