TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for October, 2017

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Barb George

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Barb George



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Barb George 1

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

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

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

Hoquiam, Washington, USA

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

2004, and again in 2005     Age 45

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was head-butted by my daughter’s horse. The second accident – we think I fainted. I was again in the hospital.

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

We don’t know how long I was “out,” as I was alone at the fence line. But, my husband realized there was a real problem when I did not recall all the work we had done on the property (fences built, pond in, etc.). He put me to bed, but I remained out of it, so he called an ambulance.

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

I had no surgery, but I was in the hospital for four days.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?Image result for Cartoon Horse Head Clip Art


8. Did you do rehab?

I had nearly no professional rehab. We lived in a very rural location, and I was unable to get to things. (My husband was working out of country for much of the first three years.) So, I was on my own.

I did create some of my own rehab. With reading, I got help from computer-friends, who were willing to put things into LARGE, ALL CAP type. My farm chores helped with many balance and stability issues.

What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? I did have a small time of physical therapy. That helped with balance.

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

a.) My vision was reduced from perfect to nearly nothing. I could not read anything with lower case letters or anything with under a 16-20 pt font.

b.) My stability and balance were horrible. I used shovels to maintain my balance in the fields, and I used the walls and furniture in the house.Woma Head Pain

c.) Head-pain was tremendous.

d.) I experienced various moods.

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

I had just launched my company in a new location, but I had to close my business. My relationships suffered. It was rough.

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

Stamina. I live an “every other day” sort of life. I do not sleep well, so that is difficult.

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

I have had four more grandkids since my accident. (I had 2.) I have gained two sons-in law. I am grateful to be alive.

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

I miss not having the ability to plan for anything. Life is a crap-shoot. I never know what will be possible.

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

Organization. Honesty with self and others. Creating a support-group around myself. (I facilitate the only support-group on the Washington coastline from Canada to Oregon.) Learning!

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

My brain injury has strained many family dynamics. It is hard. My husband is not very available emotionally – that is just the way he is. One child sees me as a “whiner.” The other sees me as open and honest. Two kids have been pretty distant.

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

I was never a party person, but I did like to go out in the evening hours. Now I cannot. Well, rarely. I cannot cope with loud restaurants or movies.

2 Gray's Harbor Barb George

17. Who is your main caregiver?

I am very self-reliant. My husband would say he is my caregiver since he is the only other person here. He does the paperwork (for which I am grateful). Other than that, I am on my own.

Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

Yes. I would give anything to share more of the responsibilities.

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

I would love to develop my skills enough to peer-mentor and advocate at a higher level. I would love to have an actual paying job at some point. I would like to continue to be self-sufficient as much as possible and to do some traveling. I plan to continue to be an involved grandmother and friend.

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.

The truth – that I really didn’t need to jump back in to life so quickly.

3 Barb George 3

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

I wish they would have sat my husband down and explained to him that this was a BIG deal. He didn’t get it.

The word “aphasia” was huge for me! No one could explain to me why my words were so garbled. When I learned that word, it was like “Well, it has a name, so it must be a thing.”

Communicating with other survivors helped me. I had a couple of HEROES in my corner. They gave me bits of wisdom and friendship that carry me through today – twelve years later. I am grateful to them.

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

Give yourself TIME. I see people every single day making comments such as “I am six months out. When will I be 100%?” or “When will my spouse be normal again – it has been four months?” Obviously, their doctors have neglected to tell them that TIME is a gift. That makes me angry. Yes, everyone is different, but no one, after an intense hit, is perfect in a couple of months (IMHO). By pushing (or being pushed by others), there are higher chances that other injuries will occur, and healing goes back to zero or further!

Find unique ways to simplify your life. And change it up. We gave up our mountain-dream-home-in-the-country for a smaller space in a small town. But, it is close to everything. I have less than half the home to care for. If I am unable to drive, I can catch a bus. I can walk to many things. People thought we were crazy – but being rural is a lot of work. Life was never perfect before the accident. It isn’t perfect now. But, life is worthwhile.


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.)

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries

High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries



Donna O’Donnell Figurski


football-teamA high school football team from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, forfeited its game after nine players left the game with possible head injuries. The coach took the precaution of having all players checked at the hospital. Before going to hospital, four players had already displayed symptoms of having a serious concussion (nausea, vomiting), and they still showed symptoms two days later when the article was written.

Illegal hits were not the problem, but the violence of football became even more obvious when the forfeiting team was clearly outmatched by its opponent.  The score was 35-0 about halfway through the game.

football13It is now known that players of US and Canadian football have a high risk of developing a brain injury, and the problem is particularly serious for youth, with their still-developing brains.  Concussions are the most obvious brain injury, but the multiple subconcussive hits common in US and Canadian football can also lead to brain damage, which may not become apparent for several years.  A highly-cited research paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) was found in a low but significant fraction (21%) of players who only played football through high school. CTE was more commonly found (>90%) in the autopsied brains of players who played professionally or only through college. Even with a possible bias in the brains studied, the findings are alarming. As a result of the new knowledge, some players are retiring early (1,2), and parents are becoming concerned. (1. Full story and 2. my radio interview of Cyndy Feasel, Mary Seau, and Debra Pyka, all of whom lost a loved one to football)


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

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TBI to “Victory” . . . . . . . . . . . . . by Daniel Mollino

TBI to “Victory”


Daniel Mollino

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski


Daniel Mollino – Brain Injury Survivor – Red Bull Athlete

Well, what a year I have had! I watched as all my competitions were abandoned due to blood clots (DVT, deep vein thrombosis: a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body), which laid me up for three months. But one race continued to call to me – the Red Bull 400 in Park City. See, I am a cyclist not a runner, but last year I took on the Red Bull 400 in Park City to simply see how I would do, and I completed it. I did no special training outside my usual for cycling. However, the Red Bull 400 in Park City is a whole new world of insanity in racing!

I initially went into this year with the push to try and race all the Red Bull 400s around the globe in a single year. But then medical issues struck.

The Park City race, however, still called for me. My wife wanted to run it. She has never run an event of any kind before, and I needed to get at least one competition in for the year. I was medically cleared a couple of weeks before the race. But I hadn’t done a bit of training of any kind to prepare.

Daniel Mollino -Brain Injury Survivor & Red Bull 400 survivor with spouse, Amby Silex

Nevertheless, I took it on. Now just crossing the starting line is an accomplishment, considering. I honestly hoped I would at least make it to the top somewhat close to the time I had the previous year. Sadly, that did not happen.

I did finish, eventually. My time this year was a little over 39 minutes. (I had to take the steps for the last half.) This is over double the time of last year. Still, I did cross the finish line and have an official time.

We ran and we finished. Last year’s time was much better, but it was a victory nonetheless considering the medical issues I had this year. Onward and upward ….


READ MORE about Daniel Mollino and the “Red Bull 400” results here.


(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

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Jenni Palczynski (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Jenni Palczynski (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.


Jenni Palczynski (survivor)

Jenni Palczyinski 2

Jenni Palczynski – Brain Injury Survivor

Before my stroke, I was a medical malpractice litigation defense paralegal, which I loved. After my stroke, my doctor was nice enough to “prescribe” my pets – a dog and a cat – as “therapy animals.” However, because of my living arrangements, I could not keep them with me for two years, and they had to go into foster care until I was able to get a place of my own. My dog was placed with a family-friend, and my cat took up residence at an animal clinic owned by a close friend of my cousin. They stayed in foster care for two years. During that time, my cat developed fatty-liver disease. Before Christmas two years ago, we thought we were going to have to put him down. But, like his mama, he is a fighter! Because of his being placed where he was, the vet there caught the disease early, and we were able to save him. He is back to being 100% healthy. But during the time he was sick, on the advice of the vet, I would spend several days a week visiting him. He improved so much more when I was there with him.

After all that time, I got to know the vet and the staff at the clinic so well that I started volunteering time – going in and visiting other clinic animals. The animals were placed there and were looking for homes, or the animals were sick, or they had been boarded there by their parents. We soon realized that, by having me around talking to them and loving them as my own, they would also improve.

So, rather than doing a job that I had learned to love over the years, I now volunteer at the clinic tending to their animals. I have gotten to see them get better, and I have even seen some get adopted into permanent homes. If you asked me while I was growing up what I wanted to do,

Jenni Palczyinski

Jenni Palczynski – Brain Injury Survivor

I said it was to become a veterinarian because of my love of animals. Now I have found that my purpose is to give love to those animals, to see them move on to the next chapter in their life, like I am. Other than to see my kids grow up, my new purpose in life is to give love and care to animals in need. It is definitely very rewarding, and it has given me new life-long friends in the process. I also have finally moved into my own apartment, where my dog and cat are spoiled rotten, but they give me all the unconditional love I could ever want or need. It has taken me five years, but I love my volunteer-work in addition to my still being a single-mom to my youngest son (age 16), who is now also back living with me. Life is good.dog_cat_dancing



(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.

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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