TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for December, 2016

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Smiling is Contagious . . . . . . Smile, Harry, Smile!

Smiling is Contagious – Smile, Harry, Smile!

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

harry-jordan-in-gym

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor – in Gym

Recently I published Harry Jordan‘s “Itty-Bitty GIANT Step” and a great photo of a smiling Harry on my blog. Afterwards, we exchanged messages by Private Message on Facebook. I told him that I loved his smile. However, he told me that he rarely smiles and that his mother would be shocked to see this smiling photo of him.

Well, that was enough incentive for me to challenge Harry. I told him I would publish his smiling photos on my blog if he would send me five more. He did – including one of him AND his mom.

smile

 

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Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & his Mom

 

 

You can read our chat below.

Donna: I just love your smile.

Harry: I really don’t smile. My mom will be shocked.

Donna: Why will she be shocked?

Harry: ‘Cause I don’t smile.

Donna: Well, you SHOULD every minute. You smile with your eyes.

Harry: I don’t look at my pics – always mean – no real reason to smile.

Donna: Well, look at this pic, and maybe you can see a reason to smile.

Harry: I will try.

Donna: It made me smile, and it’s contagious. See how many people you can affect. Start with your mom.

Harry: If it can help ANYONE, I will smile.

harry-jordan-smiling

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor – Smile, Harry, Smile

Donna: Well, it helped ME!!!!! Pick your mom up and hug her and give her a BIG smile. Then let me know what she said.

Harry: And for that I will smile.

Donna: See … it’s working! Send me five NEW photos of you smiling, and I will publish them. Challenge is on.

Harry: Ha! Ha! Ha! Dang, now THAT is a challenge.

Did you know that smiling really is contagious? How many times have you walked down the street or through a store and someone, a stranger, smiled at you. What did you do? Chances are you smiled right back. It’s almost an automatic reaction. Did you know that smiling is healthy for you? It is! It releases neurotransmitters, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones are produced in the brain and can help to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Whoever thought that a smile could be your best medicine? Well, it’s certainly worth a try.

harry-jordan-and-friend

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & Friend

So, as we so often hear, “Turn that frown upside down!” and see how much better you feel. Harry did! Just look at all the photos of his wonderful smile. He makes me smile, and I hope he does you, too.

harry-jordan-original-smile

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan - Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan - Brain Injury Survivor & Cousins

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & Cousins

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Bonnie Nish

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Bonnie Nish

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

bonnie-nish-5

Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

Bonnie Nish

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

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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

I had two: one in 2012 at age 55 and another in 2013 at age 56.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

For the first one – a child I worked with in a school was using a zip line, and, as he was coming off, he began to lose his balance. I put my head on his back to steady him, and his head came whipping back – the back of his head caught me just above the temple. For the second one, a basketball bounced off the rim and hit me in the same place that the first one did.boy-on-zipline

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

Immediately

basketball-clip-art-free-download6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

At first, I just went to a walk-in clinic, and they told me I should be better by Monday. (It was Friday.) About two weeks later, I couldn’t get two words out without stuttering, so I went to the Emergency Room. They did a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan and sent me to see a neurologist. That neurologist thought I didn’t have post-concussion syndrome, even though I was stuttering and couldn’t move my right finger from my nose to his finger. The Workmen’s Compensation neuropsychologist disagreed with this and thought I did have it.

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

No

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)?

I had outpatient therapy as designated by the Workmen’s Compensation Board.

How long were you in rehab?

Four months

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

I experience nausea, dizziness, light-sensitivity, loss of appetite, an inability to retain what I read, an inability to write, stuttering, a loss of words, impulsivity, anxiety, and an inability to follow multiple conversations at once. I have a problem with my balance. I lost twenty-five pounds. I have an over-stimulated sense of smell, an inability to play piano and remember what I knew, a loss of executive decision-making skills, a constant buzzing in my head, and concentration problems.

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

It’s mixed. I still have buzzing in my head all of the time, and it gets louder if I do too much. And, I still have some memory problems. But, I also appreciate my ability to think like never before. I have published two books since my concussions.

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Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

I miss not hearing buzzing and not feeling anxious.

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

I enjoy knowing when I can do things that I couldn’t do while I was in the middle of it all.

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

I dislike not being able to write or read. That is the scariest thing for me.

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

Yes. Time.

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

Yes. My children became my caregivers. That was hard for them, especially for my youngest daughter. It took some time for us to get past my being dependent on her.

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

Yes. I don’t go out as much as I used to. I still find it hard to be in large groups and crowds.

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

My youngest daughter was my main caregiver. Yes, I understand how hard and how demanding it was for her. And how scary.

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

I have returned to my academic work. I intend to finish my PhD and teach and write. I would like to get a few more books out. (I am currently working on two.) Also, I hope to live somewhere else in the world for a while.

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 let people around you know that one thing that might happen to you is that you might become very impulsive. It is best if you can get some help with this. Leave your cards at home and only take a certain amount of cash with you. Mention to your friends and family that if they see you buying something you would never normally buy, they might want to question this. I didn’t figure this out until I was in the concussion clinic and heard a few of the guys talking about how impulsive they were. For this reason, they kept only $20 in their pockets. This was after I bought a stationary bike when I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed it. I also bought five dresses and have worn only two.

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Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

This is a hard and difficult journey. You may feel as though you are a different person. You are in some ways. It takes time to grow into this new way of being. Have patience with yourself – the way you would for a dear friend.

 

 

 

To learn more about Bonnie Nish, please visit her website.

To order Bonnie’s book, click here.
 “Concussion and Mild Brain Injury: Not Just Another Headline” 


 

(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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . Matthew Vickers (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Matthew Vickers (survivor)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

matthew-vickers-3

Matthew Vickers – Brain Injury Survivor

Matthew Vickers (survivor)

I was diagnosed with a severe diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury two years ago as the result of a motor-vehicle accident. The car flipped four times, and I was ejected from the vehicle. The result was that I was in a coma for a month, and it was thought that I would remain in a vegetative state. I awoke, and, when I was able, I began rehab, which I matthew-vickers-2continue to this day. I have completed speech and vision therapies, and I am continuing physical and occupational therapies. Cognitively, I am 100% there, but physically, not so much. Although I am not wheelchair-bound, I have lost the ability to walk from the accident. Through physical therapy, I have progressed to using a cane and a walker. I can walk with minimal assistance a good seventy feet.

matthew-vickers-1

Matthew Vickers – Brain Injury Survivor

Going to therapy has been relearning life skills. With determination, I excel. It was thought that if I regained consciousness, I would be a vegetable. I’ve been told I’d never walk again. But, walk I do. Never accept defeat. Never quit.

Thank you Matthew Vickers for sharing your story.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Ed Steeves

Making a Choice

by

Ed Steeves

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Boy Blogger thI had a month to get ready. Yet mentally, it seemed a short time to prepare, but I would have gone immediately if it were possible. It had been such a long time coming, honestly. I was sitting around being idle for way too long. To be completely honest, this was one of the bravest things I chose to do, so I had to be strong. It was like getting the courage up to jump into the deep end, while uncertain about how cold or how deep the water is.
dive-in-poolFor the very first time in well over five years, I felt that the choice was completely up to me. I wondered if I should just consider playing it safe – dip a toe in and try to slowly get into the water, all the time staying at the edge of the pool. Or, if I should take the chance – go for the adrenaline rush.

I was tired of chickening out – of playing a fool. For the first time in a very long time (well, to be really truthful, possibly for the first time in my life), I made a choice for me, with only myself to thank or blame. I could have cut the tension with a knife.

suitcaseSo, off on my trip I went, with no end in sight, with no final destination set, but I knew I would figure it all out. I wanted to begin to live my life without all of the restrictions. Did I feel I was ready for that?

Ed Steeves - Brain Injury Survivor and World Traveler

Ed Steeves – Brain Injury Survivor and World Traveler

Without any doubt!

I headed off on an amazing adventure – to see who I could become and to travel the world. I followed the path that I dreamed of: the Philippines, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Australia, New Zealand, and more. I was ready to see the future into which I had been hurled. I found myself, did some soul-searching, and tested my limits.

 

Thank you, Ed Steeves.

Disclaimer:
Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Ed Steeves.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it (intact) with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it (intact) with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Kenneth Powell

Survivors SPEAK OUT!    Kenneth Powell

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Kenneth Powell

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

Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

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

2010     I was 42 years of age.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I’ve had three hemorrhagic strokes on the lower left side of my brain.

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

I fell out of bed after trying to stand up. My (then) girlfriend found me.

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

The first stroke occurred on April 30, 2010. I knew my name, where I was, and what I was told had happened. Immediately after sleeping that night, the second stroke occurred. I was put into a coma for the next 30 days.

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

Yes. 30 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)?

I had occupational, physical, and speech therapies as an inpatient and an outpatient.

9. How long were you in rehab?

One month

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

Aphasia, right-side paralysis, complete amnesia

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

11. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?

My life is challenging.

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

I miss running and normal kidney function.

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

I enjoy sharing my experience with others and proving mind over matter.

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

I dislike people’s perceptions of “the disabled.”

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

My faith has helped me accept my brain injury.

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

The perceptions about “disabled” or “handicapped” individuals have been a hindrance. Romantic relationships are nearly nonexistent.

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

Perceptions about the disabled greatly affect my life.

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

I am my own main caregiver. I am helped occasionally by my sister.

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I hope to be back to work.

20. 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.

Ask as many questions as possible. Know and interact with as many survivors as you can (via websites, support-groups, etc.).

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

Personal and spiritual FAITH is essential to the day-to-day survival of this injury.

 

(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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your lastname to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Step

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Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan (survivor) I’ve been blessed with many things in my life, but recently I was in tears. My left foot – on the side I had the stroke on – hasn’t moved since 2009 (pre stroke), but the other way-clipart-waycool2day, I was able to push down and move it! I know I’m being so emotional over something so small, but it’s HUGE TO ME! Maybe I am getting better. Maybe.

 
itsnottoolate-2015-1

simon-limbrick

Simon Limbrick – Brain Injury Survivor

 

 

Simon Limbrick (survivor) It’s been thirty-seven years since my TBI (traumatic brain injury), and I’m now learning that I should not have pulled out of my coma or made all the gains I did. I was determined to bring further improvement to my left eye, which sustained third nerve damage. I was told that I would eventually go blind in it and that I would definitely not be able to move it. In one of my annual eye checks, an optometrist remarked that he had never heard of someone with my condition having the eye improve year after year. In the last twelve months, there has been definite, noticeable vertical movement, as well.  My message to others? IT’S NEVER TOO LATE FOR HEALING!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Carol Starke-Pyle

(caregiver of her son, Thomas)

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

carol-starke-pyle-1

Carolyn Starke-Pyle – Caregiver for Brain Injury Survivor

 

This is my son’s story. Thomas was 43. He trained/rode horses for a living. He was very athletic, vivacious, funny, etc. He came to visit me one Sunday, and, as the day wore on, he became more and more delusional. I called an ambulance. My son knew his name, knew where he was, and walked to the ambulance. I followed to the Emergency Room. I was able to see Thomas twenty minutes later, as he was waiting in the cubicle. He could not talk – he babbled incoherently. He could not sit up or walk. He didn’t know me. He was admitted and was given many tests: a CT (computerized tomography) scan, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and a spinal tap. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) was called in. It was concluded that Thomas had brain damage. After two weeks, Thomas was transferred to a neurological center. He didn’t know how to swallow, he knew NO ONE, he was in a huge crib, and he was in diapers. More the-brain-hispinal taps and more MRIs. I was told his frontal lobe looked as if a bag of M&Ms had been tossed into it. Infectious/viral disease had been ruled out. It was determined that, due to numerous concussions from falls off horses, his brain had suffered too much damage – which was IRREVERSIBLE! I collapsed when his doctor said, “The Thomas you knew a month ago is no longer with us.” He continued to tell me that my vibrant son would need a nursing home for the rest of his life.

I went onto Facebook and shared my anguish and pleaded for prayers. A prayer chain encircled the globe. Meanwhile, I attended TBI (traumatic brain injury) seminars and met with social workers and more doctors to find a special nursing home for Thomas. Two months later, on my visit, his nurse grinned and said she had a surprise. Thomas was standing up! The next week, he was walking, then talking (he made little sense, but … !), then recognizing us, and then eating by himself. As I was a teacher, I chose to stick up all sorts of stimuli – photos of family, friends, pets, and horses. horse_adoptable_bay_animated_by_hikari_yumi-d5hrf17Thomas slowly improved (contrary to the opinions of ALL specialists). After four months, with short-term memory loss and some loss of intelligence, Thomas was released. I asked his doctor to explain. He looked at me and quietly said, “It is a miracle!”

My son is back to work with horses, has absolutely NO memory of the hospital, has a touch believe-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-qep8hi-clipartof short-term memory loss, and is as bright as he always was. BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! I am praying for YOU ALL!

 

(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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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