Survivors SPEAK OUT! Natalie Collins
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)
Shreveport, Louisiana, USA
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
I was 34.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
In a car accident
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
Immediately after the accident
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I wasn’t in one.
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 outpatient physical therapy for six months.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have problems with balance, perception, and personality, and I suffer from mood changes.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My outlook on life is better, but I still grieve the “old” me. The worst is knowing I will be forever changed.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss being able to read a book.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I enjoy people more and “stopping to smell the roses,” as that old cliché goes.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike needing constant assistance because of my memory.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I found it helpful to take Sticky Notes everywhere.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes. My current husband didn’t understand how big of a job it is to take care of me. As a result, I hide a lot of my disability. I also have to stay in the kitchen while cooking.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Absolutely. I really don’t have a social life now. Before the accident, I had all sorts of people to hang out with.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
My mom has been a great help teaching me how to do stuff and not doing it all for me.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I honestly don’t know what I’ll be doing in the future. It depends on if this head injury allows me to continue my education in counseling.
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.
My advice is to take notes everywhere, especially doctors’ offices. (I had a friend who made me make a daily list, so I would remember even to take a bath. If you’re like me, you won’t remember why the stove is dinging.) Keep a set routine. Stay in the kitchen when cooking.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
All I can say is “Notes everywhere.” Sticky Notes are fairly cheap in comparison to forgetting really important stuff.
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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