Survivors SPEAK OUT! Bill Gasiamis
Stroke Survivor & Podcaster
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)
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My stroke happened on February 12, 2012. I was 37.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
It was caused by bleeding of an AVM (arteriovenous malformation).
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
It was seven days before I took any action about it.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was in hospital for seven days. After six weeks at home, my brain bled again (March). It bled again in November 2014, and then I had surgery.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
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?
I had inpatient rehab for one month and out-patient rehab for six months. I had to learn to use my left side again and learn how to walk.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have numbness on my left side. Fatigue is a problem. I have minor balance issues when I am tired.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Life is better. It’s more complicated because of what happened but my personal growth has been huge.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss playing running-sports, like soccer.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I have a new appreciation for working on things that are hard and take a long time to complete.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
Sometimes, I wish I had more energy.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I was helped by lots of counselling.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
It has, but for the better. By my own standards, I am a better person than I used to be.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I don’t have one. (I am my own caregiver.)
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I intend to continue to interview stroke survivors on my podcast, to speak on stroke-related topics, and to write books on stroke recovery.
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.
Survivors need to understand that emotional recovery is a very important part of recovery. It is often overlooked. Emotional recovery supports both the physical and mental aspects of a survivor’s recovery.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Take responsibility for your own recovery, and learn to put your energy into solutions instead of focusing on the problem.
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