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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Rodney Smith

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Rodney Smith

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Rodney Smith

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

Ravenswood, West Virginia, USA

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

It happened on May 14, 2008. I was 52.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

It was just another day – Wednesday, May 14th, 2008. Really, it was just another day – in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, and almost in the middle of the year. It was beautiful weather, a little cool maybe, but a great morning for a quiet ride to work. Little did anyone know it could have been my last

I showered, shaved, and got ready for a day at the office like I had for the last eight years. I got on my motorcycle like I did most days for the last four years. I chose the Yamaha TW200 this day for reasons I will probably never remember. (I actually hope I never do.) I rode to the end of our dirt road and then headed west on Georgia 16. My wife left about the same time or shortly after, but she headed east on Georgia 16.th

About 10 miles down the road, my wife saw a Georgia State Police car speeding west with its blue lights flashing. Immediately, she felt sick in the pit of her stomach. She resisted a strong urge to turn around and follow the trooper. She said to herself that she had no way of knowing where the police car was going, but she felt deep in her heart that she was sure what had happened. The only question was “How bad was it?” My wife kept driving, and less than a mile down the road, a Spalding County sheriff’s car in front of her flipped on its blue lights, pulled a U-turn, and flew past her, going west on 16. The sickness in my wife’s stomach got worse, but once again, she fought the urge to turn around. She didn’t know anything for sure, and cops do that all the time, so she kept driving.

Shortly after, my wife’s cell phone rang. She looked at the number, and it all but confirmed her worst fears. It was from my cell phone, and I never used my phone while I was riding. Since I had left the house less than 20 minutes earlier and since it is at least a 30-minute ride to my office, this couldn’t be good. Still she had hope that maybe I forgot something or just broke down and was calling to let her know. But, as soon as she heard the voice on the other end, she knew. A man’s voice confirmed what she suspected when he asked, “Do you know an older gentleman who rides a motorcycle?” All she could say was “How bad is it? Is he alive?”

He told her I was alive. My wife said she was on her way there, but he told her not to come out 16 because the whole road was blocked. He told her to head for downtown Atlanta because they were life-flighting me there. He didn’t know which hospital yet, but he would call and let her know as soon as he found out.

This all seemed to be happening in slow motion, but the next few hours were a blur. My wife doesn’t remember stopping to turn around, but she found herself headed back to the house to get things she knew she would need – like the phone numbers of family and my office. She was not a person who prayed much, but she took time to ask God to help and keep me alive if He could. My wife did not give much more thought to that prayer, but God apparently did.

The only thing resembling a clear memory between the Sunday before the accident and the first week of August is of a canyon I was looking into. I was about to step in or float in or something when I felt a beautiful and powerful presence surround me and pull me back from the edge. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew it was my wife, Bonnie, pulling me back from wherever I was headed.

I believe with all my heart that that happened when I was in the life-flight helicopter. The medical reports say they had to revive me twice while flying me to Atlanta. I feel that, during that time, God heard my wife’s simple and sincere prayer and sent her spirit to the edge of the Valley of the Shadow of Death to bring me back because He was not finished with me yet. He wasn’t finished with either one of us.

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

I didn’t fully realize anything for about two and a half months. On the second or third day I was in the hospital, my wife, Bonnie, knew something was not right. She told the kids, “He’s not in there.”

2 Rodney Smith ICU

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I was treated at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Grady is a very good trauma center. It’s staffed with Emory University doctors. They did a great job with my broken jaw and broken wrist, fixing those with titanium plates and screws. They did a CT (computerized tomography) scan and found some bleeding on the brain. Since I could talk and tell them a birth date (actually, a wrong one), they didn’t refer me for any kind of rehab. Bonnie kept telling them that something was wrong. On the day of my discharge, they had an evaluation done and decided to refer us to a neurologist.

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

Maybe 36 hours

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)?

After working our way around the medical system for two and a half months, we finally got to a neurologist who at least knew she couldn’t effectively evaluate me. We were referred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta. This was the turning point in my recovery. Shepherd Center is one of the top ten rehabilitation hospitals in the country. They specialize in spinal cord and brain injury rehab.

3 Rodney in HospitalHow long were you in rehab?

I spent about three months in the Shepherd Pathways Day Program, which is their outpatient brain injury rehab. I had sessions three times a week in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

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

I have short-term and working memory problems. I lost most of my ability to multitask. I have problems with balance. Problem-solving takes much longer than it did pre accident. I have issues with dyslexia. I tend to cry more easily.

10. How has your life changed?

Is it better?

My life is better in that I appreciate things more and care more about things that really matter. I care less about things that don’t matter. My attention to detail is better when it comes to the one detail I can focus on (see how my life is worse).

Is it worse?

My life could be considered worse because I can only focus on one thing at a time. Because of this, people around me can’t depend on me the way they used to. But, there’s a flip side to that. When I work on a project, my single-mindedness allows me to focus on what I am doing and be more precise than before the injury. Those days, my mind was often on many things at the same time.

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

I miss being able to solve problems quickly.Decisions

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

I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, Bonnie, and my kids and grandkids. I also enjoy building things and working at my own pace.

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

I don’t like that it is still very difficult to make decisions. It takes me what seems like forever to weigh options and decide on anything. Bonnie makes a game of it, sometimes continuing to give me options. That’s frustrating, but amusing.

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

I accept it because I see that God has a plan, and I’m still part of it.

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

Yes. Bonnie and I are closer now. But, her life is more difficult because she doesn’t know what I will remember and what I won’t, so she has to remember everything just in case.

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

Not really. My social life is not much different, since I was kind of a loner and spent most of my time with family anyway.

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

Bonnie is my main caregiver and my angel. I know it is a very difficult task. I am very thankful every day for what she does.4 Rodney Smith Sideboard

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

I hope to be building furniture and fixing things for many years to come.

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.

One thing Bonnie and I have discovered is that, since my memory can’t be relied upon, I now use my camera phone and take pictures of everything I might need to refer to later.

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

There is hope and purpose after brain injury.

 

Thank you, Rodney for taking part in the SPEAK OUT! project

To learn more about Rodney Smith, visit his website, Hope After Traumatic Brain Injury

Take a few moments and pop over to Lash & Associates Publishing to read Rodney Smith’s article, “Brain Injury Adjustments: Self-Reinvention.”

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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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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Bonnie Weikel

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Bonnie Weikel

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bonnie Weikel – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Bonnie Weikel

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

New Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, USA

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

I was 47. My brain hemorrhage was in 2004.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I had a subarachnoid hemorrhage (blood leaking into the space between two of the membranes that surround the brain; mine was from a ruptured brain aneurysm). I always like saying the correct medical terminology because I can actually remember how to spell it. For the majority of the time, I refer to it as “My head blowing up.” I also had a stroke during my craniotomy.

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

I was aware of my problems after I woke up from surgery. (The doctor wasn’t able to guarantee what kind of shape I would be in if I survived the surgery.)

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

First, the hospital ruled out a stroke, and, because I complained of “the headache from hell,” they did a CT (computerized tomography) scan and found the bleed on my brain. They packed me up and transported me to Allegheny General Hospital in Pittsburgh, where I had my brain surgery done.

operating-theatre-illustration-surgeon-patient-hospital-41734906.jpg7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?

No, thank God. I recognized everyone when I came out of surgery. I just couldn’t remember who was there to visit from one minute to the next. My daughter took pictures of me with everyone who came to see me.

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 was in inpatient therapy for a month and then in outpatient therapy for about five weeks. I had to learn to do everything all over again – starting with feeding and dressing myself.

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

I have short-term memory loss and issues with balance, vision, and hearing. I have worked very hard over the past ten years to get to where I am today, and I did it all by myself.

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

My life has changed dramatically. It is better. I love the “new” me much better than the old version. I also found out who my true friends are.

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

I did lose one thing I used to love to do. I used to sew for hours. I had my own sewing business. I made anything from window treatments to wedding gowns, and I was good at it. I lost all desire to sew; it is no longer something I love to do. It is more of a chore.

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

I like that I am back in school. I am taking college courses online. It is the biggest challenge I have taken on since the TBI (traumatic brain injury).

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

I have an invisible disability, and some people think I am faking it and living off the system.

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

Yes. Changing my attitude about people and life in general has helped. One day, I decided I could sit and cry for the rest of my life about all that I have lost, or I could be happy with my new life and live it.

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

My home life has been affected, but in a positive way.

I take pride in myself and in my accomplishments. Relationship-wise, it’s been a curse.

I haven’t been able to find people who can deal with my issues because they just do not understand. I am thankful they don’t understand how life is for a TBI survivor because, if they did, it would mean they also suffered a TBI. (The only way anyone can truly understand what life is like for a survivor is to live it themselves.)

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

Yes. My social life has changed a lot. During the first year, I found out who my real friends are. Now I have a small circle of friends who I know I can trust. I go out dancing once a week with friends. I do this because I still can.

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

After living with my daughter for about a year, I am now on my own. I do everything myself – I am even back to driving. I will say this much: I thank God for my GPS! Ha, Ha! Yes, I understand what it is to be a caregiver, and it takes a special kind of patience for a caregiver of someone with a TBI.

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

I am working on a Communications degree and changing to Community Service and Social Work. My goal is to work with other survivors as a life-coach/advocate. I am getting better grades now than I ever did in high school. I can only handle two classes a semester, so it will take twice as long as normal to get my degree. But, I will see it through to the end.

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.

It didn’t take me as long as it does for some others, but learning to love your new self and accept your new life is, I believe, the secret to moving on. Love and acceptance of yourself is the base you can grow from.

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

I highly recommend that brain-injury survivors seek out other survivors. It was such an awesome feeling the first time I spoke to someone who “Gets it.” It was like someone turned my light back on. I felt free and almost normal again. I was no longer alone. I have a motto I live by. It was written from one of the first survivors I met – in a Yahoo health and wellness chatroom. I think he went by “Rhino.” Anyway, here it is. “Mourn what you lost. Use what you have. Anyone can quit.” My strongest advice to other survivors is “NEVER GIVE UP!”

 

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.

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.

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Amy Zellmer

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Amy Zellmer

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

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Amy Zellmer – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Amy Zellmer

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

Saint Paul, Minnesota, USA

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

February 3, 2014 – just shy of my 40th birthday

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I slipped on a patch of ice while walking down an inclined driveway.

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

I knew right away I wasn’t OK. I had an excruciating pain in my head where I landed, and my vision was distorted.

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

My physical injuries were addressed, but the doctor felt that I had a concussion and that I would be better in 4-6 weeks.

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

3-zellmer-amy-1

Amy Zellmer – Brain Injury Survivor

I wasn’t in a coma, but I may have blacked out for a minute or two.

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 didn’t find a functional neurologist until two years after my fall. He was able to help me with my dizziness and balance issues, which I had complained about to every single one of my doctors. Even the general neurologist didn’t do anything for me. I had only had craniosacral therapy up to this point.

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

My injury caused issues with dizziness, balance, gait, fatigue, overstimulation, brain fog, memory, and aphasia. My fall also caused a dislocated sternum, severe whiplash, and torn muscles.

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

My life is definitely different, and I have not yet returned to 100%. However, I now have more energy than I did right after my brain injury, and my memory is increasing.

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

I miss having the energy to do all the things I want to do and to be able to work 40 hours a week. I also used to have an “internal GPS.” Now I get lost easily.

5-zellmer-amy-yoga-on-beach

Amy Zellmer – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I enjoy the friendships I have made and the opportunities I have had to be an advocate and raise awareness about this often-invisible injury.

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

I dislike not having enough energy to get through an entire day, and I lament the loss of my organizational skills and memory.

4-zellmer-amy-computer-copy

Amy Zellmer – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Writing has been a huge part of my self-therapy.

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

No answer

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

I no longer enjoy crowds and noisy restaurants. It’s hard for me to listen to a conversation with more than just one or two people.

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

I am my own caregiver.

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

I will continue advocating for TBI (traumatic brain injury) awareness. This often-invisible injury is misunderstood by SO many – including healthcare professionals.

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.

7-zellmer-amy-with-brain

Amy Zellmer – Brain Injury Survivor

I wish I had found a functional neurologist earlier on in my recovery. It took me over two years to get the treatment I needed for my visual problems, dizziness, and balance issues. Also, I wish I had taken someone with me to my early neurology appointments to help advocate for me (plus to be able to remember what the docs said).

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

Our attitude determines our recovery. A positive attitude is a MUST. Even when we have dark days and it seems like we will never get better, we MUST remember that there is always hope. It’s a long road, but the new friendships made with other TBI survivors is worth it!

NOTE 1:

Amy Zellmer is the author of “Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal.” She also compiled more than 100 stories for “Surviving Brain Injury; Stories of Strength and Inspiration.”

2-life-with-a-traumatic-brain-injury

“Life With a Traumatic Brain Injury: Finding the Road Back to Normal” by Amy Zellmer

1-surviving-brain-injury-stories-of-strength-and-inspiration

“Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration” compiled by Amy Zellmer

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114.

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.

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.

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Mark Moore

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Mark Moore

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

moore-author-photo

Mark Moore – Bran Injury Survivor & Author

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

Mark Moore

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

McLean, Virginia, USA     mark@mbmoorefoundation.org

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

2007   At age 46

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I had two strokes.

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

I was coaching my son’s baseball practice, and I began to lose my balance.

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

I had a craniectomy (brain surgery in which a piece of the skull is removed, but, unlike a craniotomy, is not returned to its original location) to relieve the pressure on my brain.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for four weeks.

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?

Yes. I had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy as an inpatient for two weeks and then as an outpatient for two months.

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

Initially I had significant diminished use of my left side and loss of peripheral vision in my left eye. I couldn’t walk or speak.

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

Having a stroke was the worst day AND the best day of my life. It was the worst day because it was scary and it was one of the first times I realized that I had no control over the outcome. It was scary for my wife and my family. When I found out that I had basically been “asleep” for nearly six weeks, I was scared all over again. I had to face the fact that I might not walk, talk, or think like Mark Moore ever again. In fact, I had to recognize that the “old” me might actually be gone. At that moment, it felt like the worst thing I could imagine.

Mark & Brenda Moore with Obamas.jpg

Mark & Brenda Moore with President & Mrs. Obama

As I struggled with those concerns though, I remembered my mother’s words – words I had forgotten, words she had spoken to me during her own health crisis. She said, “Mark, God will never give you more than you are able to handle.” Those words impacted me and turned me around. I was slowly able to stop thinking just of myself. I started thinking about God and what He could do and would do with my life now. He could pick up the pieces of this broken version of me and heal me – create in me the person he meant for me to be. That thought began to work in me, and though I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I also knew that, with God’s help, I could let go of the old Mark and become a new man.

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

Riding rollercoastersroller-coaster-thought-of-the-day-jewels-art-creation-clip-art

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

I enjoy my relationship to God.

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

I dislike the constant scanning to drive

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

Having a stroke meant I had to learn to surrender. I had to face the fact that my abilities as a “fix-it guy” were not going to come to the rescue. I had to do something that was hard for me to do. I had to be willing to give up my illusions of who Mark Moore was and hold on for dear life to who God is. That’s surrender! That’s where everything you thought you knew comes to a halt and God finally has enough of your attention to help you become what He planned all along.

When I first looked at what was going to be required of me in the recovery process, I did not want to do it. I thought it would simply be easier if God just shut me down, packed me up, and sent me back to His house. But, He didn’t do that! He kept me in the hospital for several weeks and then sent me back to my house. He showed me that recovery meant I had to totally trust Him and my wife, Brenda, and the therapists, who would bring me back to good health.

mark-moore-brain-injury-survivor-dc-marathon

Mark Moore – Brain Injury Survivor – 5K Race

Starting therapy looks daunting. It is daunting, and it’s even frightening! Everything in me resented that I had to be there and that I had to learn all over again things I’d known all my life. If you’re facing therapy and recovery now, all I can tell you is to do what you’re told to do. Make the effort. Try harder than you’ve ever tried in your life, and lean on the people who love you. Open your heart and mind to all that can still be possible for you. That’s what surrender requires. That’s what trusting God is all about. You’ll be in recovery for a long time (maybe the rest of your life), but you’ll be in good hands in the process.

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

One day (May 12, 2007), I had a stroke, which was followed by another one. I was fine one minute and fighting for my life the next. In the process of recovering from those strokes, I discovered something I had not fully realized before. God had a plan for my life. He had a purpose for me, and I was not on the path He preferred. In one day, my life changed, and my purpose changed with it. To be honest, when I discovered God wanted something more from me, I was relieved. Clearly, there was more I could do, and it didn’t always revolve around the work I had carved out for myself. I was relieved to know that I could step back from the life I designed and be far more comfortable in the one He designed.

basketball-clipart17My friends were amazed when I did not show any interest in simply going back to work. They thought it was strange that I did not want to play basketball, a game I had loved playing all my life. What I did want to do was to please God. What energized my spirit and resonated with my soul was to do the things God wanted – to fulfill His purposes in me.

What a difference a day makes! What joy it is to my heart that God was with me through the strokes and is with me now to guide me into being the Mark Moore He always knew I could be. What a joy it is to live more intentionally and more fully awake to the places He would have me go.

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

Not really

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

I don’t have or need a caregiver.

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

When God had my attention as I lay in a hospital bed, He asked me a new question. Whose job is it to help others? Whose job is it to make a difference? Whose job is it to spread the gospel? The answer was the same in every case. It was MY job! God had blessed my work and made it possible for me to bless others. He took me out of the race in which I’d driven laps for twenty years and said, “I have something new for you. I want you to slow down and hear what I have to say.” I stopped then and listened.

God didn’t “give me a stroke.” He used the stroke to give me a new purpose. He used the situation to help me hear His voice more clearly and to understand the job He had in mind. Whose job is it … to do good, to help others, to lend a hand? It’s mine, and it’s yours! Let’s use whatever resources we have been blessed with to help those around us. It will fulfill our life-purpose like nothing else can do.

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.

It was interesting to me after my stroke experience to discover that I did not want to be “naked” in front of my family – in front of the people who knew me the best. Like Adam and Eve, I wanted to hide so they would not discover my fear and sense my weakness.

As I looked back at my initial reactions to my strokes, I realized we can’t hide from the people who know us well and love us any more than we can hide from God.

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Mark & Brenda Moore

My wife did not want me to hide from her. She was ready to help me – ready to stand beside me and offer me her strength. My friends were like that too. Caregivers and hospital personnel were set to help me, but I had to be willing to be “naked.” I had to be willing to let them see my weaknesses and my vulnerability. I was not the person I had been; I needed their strength.

Another thing that was extremely helpful during my stroke recovery was that I began to regularly put on my headphones to listen to gospel music. The effort to re-establish my fine-motor skills was sometimes grueling, and I wasn’t always sure I could do it. Gospel music comforted me and helped me get through the ordeal. It reminded me over and over again of what Jesus did to give me life, to lift me up, and to restore my soul. It also reminded me that there was nothing I was going through that Jesus did not experience. He paid the price so that I could be restored eternally, spiritually, and physically to this day.

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

One thing I tell everybody is that you can’t recover from a stroke or any debilitating illness without the help of your family, your friends, and your faith. It can take days, weeks, or months to see any real change in the things you are able to do physically. That means that mentally and emotionally you have to lean on the things that boost your morale and make a difference in your attitude. When it comes to the kind of help your family, friends, and faith can give in your recovery, it all depends on YOU!

I say it depends on you because you are the only one who can let others in to help make a difference. Your spouse can come to your aid every day and cheer you on and encourage you, but it won’t do any good unless you’re willing to receive it. I can admit that there were times when I didn’t really let my wife, Brenda, in. I was scared, and I didn’t want her to know it. I didn’t want to have to tell her that I didn’t think I could do what it took to recover. She had known me as a guy who was a go-getter – someone who rose to the occasion to get things done. After the stroke, though, I didn’t always believe that I had that same courage.

Friends stood beside me as well and helped me get the message that a lot of people cared and were rooting for me. They wanted me to get better and to become the old Mark again.

 

(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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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jordan Emerson

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Jordan Emerson

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

jordan-emerson-2

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.

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.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Bonnie Nish

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Bonnie Nish

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

bonnie-nish-5

Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

Bonnie Nish

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

Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

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

I had two: one in 2012 at age 55 and another in 2013 at age 56.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

For the first one – a child I worked with in a school was using a zip line, and, as he was coming off, he began to lose his balance. I put my head on his back to steady him, and his head came whipping back – the back of his head caught me just above the temple. For the second one, a basketball bounced off the rim and hit me in the same place that the first one did.boy-on-zipline

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

Immediately

basketball-clip-art-free-download6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

At first, I just went to a walk-in clinic, and they told me I should be better by Monday. (It was Friday.) About two weeks later, I couldn’t get two words out without stuttering, so I went to the Emergency Room. They did a CAT (computerized axial tomography) scan and sent me to see a neurologist. That neurologist thought I didn’t have post-concussion syndrome, even though I was stuttering and couldn’t move my right finger from my nose to his finger. The Workmen’s Compensation neuropsychologist disagreed with this and thought I did have it.

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

No

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 had outpatient therapy as designated by the Workmen’s Compensation Board.

How long were you in rehab?

Four months

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

I experience nausea, dizziness, light-sensitivity, loss of appetite, an inability to retain what I read, an inability to write, stuttering, a loss of words, impulsivity, anxiety, and an inability to follow multiple conversations at once. I have a problem with my balance. I lost twenty-five pounds. I have an over-stimulated sense of smell, an inability to play piano and remember what I knew, a loss of executive decision-making skills, a constant buzzing in my head, and concentration problems.

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

It’s mixed. I still have buzzing in my head all of the time, and it gets louder if I do too much. And, I still have some memory problems. But, I also appreciate my ability to think like never before. I have published two books since my concussions.

bonnie-nish-2

Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

I miss not hearing buzzing and not feeling anxious.

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

I enjoy knowing when I can do things that I couldn’t do while I was in the middle of it all.

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

I dislike not being able to write or read. That is the scariest thing for me.

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

Yes. Time.

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

Yes. My children became my caregivers. That was hard for them, especially for my youngest daughter. It took some time for us to get past my being dependent on her.

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

Yes. I don’t go out as much as I used to. I still find it hard to be in large groups and crowds.

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

My youngest daughter was my main caregiver. Yes, I understand how hard and how demanding it was for her. And how scary.

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

I have returned to my academic work. I intend to finish my PhD and teach and write. I would like to get a few more books out. (I am currently working on two.) Also, I hope to live somewhere else in the world for a while.

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.

My advice is to let people around you know that one thing that might happen to you is that you might become very impulsive. It is best if you can get some help with this. Leave your cards at home and only take a certain amount of cash with you. Mention to your friends and family that if they see you buying something you would never normally buy, they might want to question this. I didn’t figure this out until I was in the concussion clinic and heard a few of the guys talking about how impulsive they were. For this reason, they kept only $20 in their pockets. This was after I bought a stationary bike when I couldn’t get it out of my head that I needed it. I also bought five dresses and have worn only two.

bonnie-nish-1

Bonnie Nish – Brain Injury Survivor & author

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

This is a hard and difficult journey. You may feel as though you are a different person. You are in some ways. It takes time to grow into this new way of being. Have patience with yourself – the way you would for a dear friend.

 

 

 

To learn more about Bonnie Nish, please visit her website.

To order Bonnie’s book, click here.
 “Concussion and Mild Brain Injury: Not Just Another Headline” 


 

(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.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Kenneth Powell

Survivors SPEAK OUT!    Kenneth Powell

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Kenneth Powell

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

Saint Louis, Missouri, USA

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

2010     I was 42 years of age.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I’ve had three hemorrhagic strokes on the lower left side of my brain.

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

I fell out of bed after trying to stand up. My (then) girlfriend found me.

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

The first stroke occurred on April 30, 2010. I knew my name, where I was, and what I was told had happened. Immediately after sleeping that night, the second stroke occurred. I was put into a coma for the next 30 days.

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

Yes. 30 days

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 had occupational, physical, and speech therapies as an inpatient and an outpatient.

9. How long were you in rehab?

One month

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

Aphasia, right-side paralysis, complete amnesia

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

My life is challenging.

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

I miss running and normal kidney function.

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

I enjoy sharing my experience with others and proving mind over matter.

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

I dislike people’s perceptions of “the disabled.”

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

My faith has helped me accept my brain injury.

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

The perceptions about “disabled” or “handicapped” individuals have been a hindrance. Romantic relationships are nearly nonexistent.

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

Perceptions about the disabled greatly affect my life.

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

I am my own main caregiver. I am helped occasionally by my sister.

Kenneth Powell - Brain Injury Survivor

Kenneth Powell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I hope to be back to work.

20. 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.

Ask as many questions as possible. Know and interact with as many survivors as you can (via websites, support-groups, etc.).

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

Personal and spiritual FAITH is essential to the day-to-day survival of this injury.

 

(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.

 

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No memory of the day that changed my life

My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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