TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

A Friend?
The Need for Better Understanding of Brain Injury
Alan Gregory

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Alan Gregory 1

Alan Gregory Brain Injury Survivor


I was working at my minimum-wage, 3- to 4-hours-per-day job when an old friend came in. He asked why I was working there and not at my former job. (I had been an accountant at a large manufacturing firm – a job I held for more than 30 years.) I told him I lost my job after I suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Of course, my friend didn’t know what a TBI was, so I explained it to him. He then assumed I must have been in a car accident. But, when I explained to him that I had slipped on ice and landed on my head, he rolled his eyes and moved on.

I wanted to grab him and tell him, “Yes, it’s true, and it totally messed up my life!”clipart-of-person-slipping-on-ice-7

I deal with my brain injury every day. I struggle with the fact that I can no longer financially support my family. Some days, I have to force myself to get up, after I have bounced around the house all night with my head not allowing me to sleep. I used to have a great, salaried job, at which I usually worked ten hours per day. Now, I can barely work a total of ten hours in a week. Ugh!

I honestly wonder what my friend’s reaction would have been if I had told him that I had a heart attack or a stroke or even cancer. I am sure that his reaction would have been sympathetic and understanding with an offer of “If I can do anything …”


A little understanding and compassion go a long way.

Well, I don’t want his sympathy. We have survived these past two years without his help. A simple dose of understanding would have been preferable, rather than the perplexed look, the sudden turn and walk away, or the “Yeah, right” head shake that we survivors of brain injury all too often get from others.



Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Comments on: "TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A Friend? The Need for Better Understanding of Brain Injury" (3)

  1. Jennifer Stokley said:

    So well said & written!!!


  2. Thanks for this. I have this problem also. I have been able to do a part-time seasonal job because my daughter helped me, trained me. But she got tired of defending me and now does not speak to me at all.


    • Paula,
      I am sorry that your daughter backed away. So sad! It seems that that happens to a lot of survivors and family members. They just don’t get it!

      donna o’donnell figurski
      Author of “Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale”


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