TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for January, 2017

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jordan Emerson

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Jordan Emerson

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

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Jordan Emerson – Brain Injury Survivor – Race Car Driver

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

Jordan Emerson

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

Windham, Maine, USA

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

I had my brain injury at 13 years young.

4. How did your brain injury occur?dan Emerson

Jordan Emerson - Brain Injury Survivor - Race Car Driver

Jordan Emerson – Brain Injury Survivor – Race Car Driver

I was driving a fully-safety-equipped racecar.

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

When I was unconscious

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

I was given a trach. I had emergency procedures for a cracked left hip, brain stem, seizures, a crushed left arm, paralyzed vocal chords, and paralyzed stomach.

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

Jordan Emerson - Brain Injury Survivor

Jordan Emerson – Brain Injury Survivor

Yes. Almost 3 months

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 have occupational and physical therapies as an outpatient. I was also helped by a speech-language pathologist.

How long were you in rehab?

I’m still attending OT and PT as an outpatient.

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

I still have awful trouble going to the bathroom. Being in crowded areas makes me tired. (It’s “overstimulation,” but instead of overstimulation, it feels like a “draining of my energy.”)

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

My life is neither better nor worse. It’s just different.

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

I miss being able to run around outside with my dogs.

th-112. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?

I like that everybody seems to offer to help more often.

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

I dislike that I’ll be thinking so hard about something, and then, *poof* it’s gone.

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

Talking with other survivors has helped.

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

Before I developed a filter, I said things to friends, and over time, those friends disappeared.

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

Yes. I have lost friends.friends

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

My mom is my main caregiver. I’m thankful for her every day.

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

I plan to be driving, living in my own apartment, married, etc.

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.

Hard work really does pay off.

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

Jordan Emerson and Mom & Dad

Jordan Emerson – Brain Injury Survivor and Mom & Dad

I owe a lot of my journey to my loving parents – I couldn’t have done this without them. I ♡ them!
Please feel free to reach out to me (#Believe). I enjoy helping whenever I am able. Believe!

 

 

 

(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! Survivors 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.

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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 last name 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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Ric Johnson – Brain Injury Survivor

Richard Johnson (survivor) … With two new grandsons, my wife and I decided we needed a baby crib in our house. So, we went to a store, bought one, drove it home, and then had to put it together. It should have been easy, but not so much after a traumatic brain injury.crib

First, it was hard to focus in the store – too much noise and too many lights. Then, having short-term memory issues and only two hands, I took four hours to put it together.

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributor!

(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.

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Lori Strauss Heckman

Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Lori Strauss Heckman

(caregiver for her son, Bartholomew Wayne Nathaniel),

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

lori-strauss-heckman-caregiver-012017Three years ago, our lives were turned upside down when my then 21-year-old son had his accident. It has been a long road with many hurdles to overcome, but I am so proud of him. He is my hero and my greatest blessing. And, proof to never give up. We were told that he would probably not make it that night. We were also informed that, if he did, he would not have any quality of life. But, he proved everyone wrong! Many prayers were prayed and many tears were shed, and my son is still with us – and doing very well. The first and second photos are of my son after the accident; the third is him wearing a helmet in recovery; and the fourth photo is of him with his car. (Yes, my son is driving, and his seizures are under control.)

Meet Bartholomew Wayne Nathaniel

bartholomew-wayne-nathaniel-survivor-hospitalbartholomew-wayne-nathaniel-survivor-012017

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bartholmew-wayne-nathaniel-survivor-car

(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 last name 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

david-june-14

David Figurski, PhD – Brain Injury Survivor

David Figurski (survivor) … Because my speech has been affected by partly paralyzed vocal chords and tongue, I was worried that my comments at my father’s funeral Mass would not be understood. On top of that, I was beginning to lose my voice from speaking with so many people the day before at the funeral parlor. But, with Donna’s support as she balanced me, I walked to the podium, and I gave my comments. For ten minutes, I gave them – careful to speak slowly and enunciate every sound.

david-at-church-podium

David Figurski at Podium

Several people came up to me afterward and said that they had no problem understanding me. It’s something I had wanted to do to honor my 95-year-old father. I was happy and proud that I did.

hank-figurski

Hank Figurski 1921 – 2017

 

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.

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1242232191169820850212_white,_green_rounded_rectangle.svg.med.pngTwelve years! Twelve years ago today, I came as close as a breath to losing my husband and best friend, David. While exercising (a thing he did every day to stay in shape), David did thirteen chin-ups, one more than he had done every other day. That was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” or in David’s case, the “chin-up that caused his subarachnoid hemorrhage.” That day, as I rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital, I never realized what lay ahead for us. I never dreamed that this blip would be life-altering. I thought we’d be home by the end of the day, carrying on with life as usual. I was wrong!

david-jareds-wedding-060513

David H. Figurski, Ph.D. – Brain Injury Survivor

David remained in the hospital in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the step-down unit at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (now New York Presbyterian Hospital) for three weeks. While he was there, he was treated to two more brain surgeries – one for an aneurysm and the other for an arterial venous malformation (AVM). He then became a guest at a local rehab hospital for another two months, until insurance wrongly said he was fine to go home.th-1

I am grateful that David is still with me. He wasn’t expected to be. Each surgeon gave me little hope that he would survive any of his surgeries. I’m glad that David proved them all wrong. I’m glad that we have had twelve more years together, and I hope to spend many more with this man whom I have loved since I was sixteen years old.

animated-book

Hopefully, in the sometime future, you will be able to read David’s whole story in my book-in-manuscript, titled “Prisoners Without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale.”

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 intact it 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

To Life – La Chaim! . . . . . . . Hank Figurski Memorial

To Life – La Chaim!

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

And to death … well, my father-in-law, Hank (Henry) Figurski, did it with grace and dignity.

On January 5th, we said our final farewell to Hank. It was bittersweet. He lived a very long, fulfilled life. He lived surrounded by the love of his family – his sons, his grandchildren and great grandchildren and his brothers and their families. He lived with the dream of someday being reunited with the love of his life, Lydia, in what he believed was the afterlife. We will miss the man that we loved, but his memory will live on in our hearts and our minds.

Hank Figurski La Chaim 111217.png

Another Fork in the Road . . . . . TO Support-group … or NOT TO Support-group

Fork in the Road copy“Another Fork in the Road”

This category is an extension of my radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” which airs at 5:30 pm (Pacific Time) on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month on the Brain Injury Radio Network. (See the “On The Air Show Menu” category for a list – with links – of all my shows, which are archived and thus always available.)

On the 1st Sunday of each month, I host a panel of brain injury survivors, caregivers, and/or professionals in the field. On these shows, my panelists and I examine topics pertaining to brain injury.

On the 3rd Sunday of each month, I host guests – brain-injury survivors, caregivers, or professionals in the field.

Since I spend countless hours in preparation for each show, I decided to share the knowledge that I gather with my readers.

TO Support-group … or NOT TO Support-group

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

There are support-groups for almost everything. Probably the most well-known group is “AA” (Alcoholics Anonymous). There are groups for eating disorders, domestic abuse, mental health, physical health problems, such as cancer and diabetes, groups to enhance relationships, and many others. If there is donate-to-us-www-frankiejohn-com-uexc3u-cliparta problem, there is probably a group for folks to join. Groups for supporting brain-injury survivors and their caregivers, family members, and friends are cropping up everywhere. This is relatively new, since little was known about the seriousness of brain injury until rather recently. When the troops began to come home from the Iraq war with serious brain injuries, people started to notice. Then when the deaths and illnesses of so many former NFL players came to light – starting with Dr. Omalu’s finding of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the brain of Pittsburgh Steeler Mike Webster during an autopsy in 2002 – more people took notice.

omalu

Bennet Omalu, M.D, M.B.A., MPH, CPE, DABP-AP, CP, FP, N

Two things you might consider when searching for a support-group are location (Is it within reach? Will you easily be able to get there?) and size (Is it large enough or small enough for you? Too large – you may get lost and not have any of your needs met. Too small – there may not be enough information to share, but it may be easier to connect with folks of the same interest). You will need to comfort-fit your support-group to your needs. If you are unable to join an in-person support-group, don’t fret. There are many support-groups on social media.

My husband’s brain injury happened in January of 2005. As his caregiver, I went it alone … for years and years. I wasn’t aware of the multitude of people who had a brain injury. I was ignorant that there were millions of caregivers like me, and I certainly never realized that there were support-groups for caregivers. It wasn’t until three years ago that I stumbled onto the support-groups on Facebook. I joined many of them, and I have made many good friends there – both virtual (some from across the world) and the ones nearer, some of whom I met in person to share a coffee or a lunch together.

support-group-clip-art-412049There are virtual groups for caregivers. (One is just for spouses or partners of survivors.) There are groups for both survivors and caregivers together. There are groups for traumatic brain injury survivors; for acquired brain injury survivors; or for survivors with ataxia, multiple sclerosis, or stroke. Some of the benefits of support-groups are that folks are more apt to understand what you are going through. Because they share similar issues, they are able to offer emotional support, suggest advice, or provide tips that worked for them. There is a veritable smorgasbord of ideas out there in cyberworld. If you are looking for an online group to hold your hand, hear you vent, or answer your questions, I promise you will find it.

david-jareds-wedding-060513

David H. Figurski, Ph.D. – Brain Injury Survivor

Support-groups are usually, but not always, beneficial. When my husband, David, had his brain injury in 2005, I had little knowledge of support-groups. We went to a local group a few times, but David didn’t find it helpful. In fact, for him, so early in his journey, it was not at all beneficial. He found it difficult to identify with the other survivors of brain injury. Though David was in poor shape physically and was unable to do much for himself, he still felt that his mental health condition was better than that of the others in the group. Being in the group brought David down and left him with little hope. He asked that we not go back, and I agreed. But, unlike this example, many people rely on support-groups.

Because our earth supports more than twenty-four different time zones, there is always someone available to talk with 24/7. That is one of the major advantages of belonging to support-groups on social media, and I am so grateful that I stumbled onto them. I finally knew that I and David weren’t alone. Just in the United States, there are more than five million people living with brain injury. Can you imagine the number if you counted up all of the survivors of brain injury around the world? Astronomical!

giphyIf you are not yet convinced that support-groups can be helpful for you, here are a few more reasons. They empower you. They put you in the driver’s seat to take control of what is happening in your life by helping you to find answers. You immediately become a member of a like-minded group of people who accept you, understand you, and is not judgmental. So, if you feel a support-group would be beneficial to you, by all means find one. They can be wonderful!

So, how do you find a support-group to comfort-fit your needs? If you choose to be a part of an in-person support-group, ask your primary-care provider, your neurologist, a social worker, or your church minister to recommend any groups near you. You may also contact become_a_facebook_fanthe Brain Injury Association of America (BIAUSA.org) and locate your local chapter for your state to find a support-group near you. But, if you prefer the comfort of your home (as I do) and you have nimble fingers, open up your computer and find a Facebook group. There are more than thirty to join. I know … because I am a member of at least thirty. I only wish that I had known about the social media support-groups when David had his brain injury over eleven years ago. With a support-group, you are never alone.

Click here to listen to my show

Another Fork in the Road – New Year Expectaions with Craig Sicillia & Me

(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 intact it 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


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