SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Carol Starke-Pyle
(caregiver of her son, Thomas)
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!
It 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.
Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)
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 spinal 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. Thomas 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 of 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.
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