Survivors SPEAK OUT! Annie Ricketts
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
Isle of Wight, United Kingdom
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
July 23, 2000 Age 36
4. How did your brain injury occur?
I flew off a horse.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I was diagnosed with a severe TBI (traumatic brain injury) in the hospital.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
None! On the day of the injury, I was left in the waiting area alone and unconscious for four hours. The next day, I was taken back to the hospital by ambulance and admitted. I had no scan – no observational tests were taken at all. I was sent home three days later without seeing a specialist.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
I was unconscious after the accident, but never in a coma.
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)? How long were you in rehab?
As an outpatient, I had occupational and speech therapies from year 5 to year 6.5 post injury. These therapies were repeated in years 10, 14, and 18.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
My problems are complex and multiple, but there is no visible physical impairment.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
It is fabulous!
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
Living life with a purpose
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
My executive-function impairments intrigue and fascinate me. There is nothing I like least. I accept everything and continue to work on improving.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I had a total loss of self-awareness, so I didn’t ever have any problems with acceptance. It is a different journey.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
My family didn’t understand – it took a lot of time. Now, I get a lot of understanding and support.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I have been isolated since the injury, and I want to remain this way. I had a normal social life before.
17.Who is your main caregiver?
-Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope to be doing what I am doing now – only less hours!
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.
Neuroinflammation starts straight after injury. It is like a switch being flicked ON. For many people, this inflammatory response continues until it is addressed. Research shows it can last upward of 17 years post injury. If you would like to know more about this and how inflammation creates and exacerbates symptoms, please visit globalbia.org.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Take care of your body – it is connected to your brain.
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