TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Shauna Farmer

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Shauna Farmer

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Shauna Farmer – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Shauna Farmer

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

I currently live in Thermopolis, Wyoming, USA, with my family. I’m originally from Portland, Oregon.

Email (optional)

sfarme0@yahoo.com

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

August 8, 2015

At what age? 37 years old

4. How did your brain injury occur?

While not wearing a helmet, I rolled an ATV. My head hit a tree or a pile of rocks. I continued to roll, crushing more bones. Then I stopped unconscious.

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

I didn’t return to camp, and, after twenty minutes, my sister came looking for me.

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

I was taken to the hospital by ambulance. Then I was life-flighted to a larger hospital. I spent three weeks in the ICU (intensive care unit). I had surgery to reinflate my lung, and I had a drain tube put in. Then I was sent back to the ICU.

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

Shauna Farmer – Brain Injury Survivor

For roughly two weeks, I was in and out. They needed me to be awake, but when I woke up, I was lashing out at the nurses, doctors, and my family. I pulled out my tubes and detached monitors. I climbed onto a wheelchair with my head bandaged. I tried to persuade the other patients to get out of there.

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 was in an inpatient rehab facility for two weeks. I had speech, occupational, and physical therapies and some cognitive therapy. Now I do most things at home, and I go to the gym three days a week.

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

I have a diffuse axonal injury (DAI, shaken-baby syndrome). I have chronic back pain from the crushed vertebrae. I suffer from fatigue, dizziness, and vertigo. My personality has been affected. I sometimes misconstrue what others say. Also, my temper is not what it was, nor is my patience.

10. How has your life changed?

I live with family now, which I don’t like. I love my family, but I don’t love when others have to do things for me that I can no longer do. For example, I depend on others to drive me to the store, as I’m not allowed to drive yet. I have to limit my exercise routine because of injury – no running, no jogging, no skydiving, no heavy lifting. My balance is off due to BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo; one of the most common causes of vertigo; will cause brief episodes of mild to intense dizziness), so I have to be careful with quick movements, stairs, heights, and foreign places.

Is it better? Is it worse?

No answer

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

I miss living close to the beach in my own home and being so damn independent.

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

I enjoy the sunny weather.

Shauna Farmer – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I dislike not being able to go hiking in the forest or to go on the beach.

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

I became editor of three Facebook online support-groups for TBI (traumatic brain injury). That helps me a lot. I feel I can give something of value to others living the same journey I am. I’m also in the works to create my own Facebook support-group, specifically for DAI (diffuse axonal injury), the injury I have. DAI is the most common and also the most devastating brain injury out there.

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

Yes! I lost my home, my job, and my independence. I live with family now. I do have my own room with space, but I’m not used to cooking for others or depending on others to provide for me when I did everything before. I feel like my family tiptoes around me and treats me like a fragile bird. I’m not! I can still do most things. Let me prove myself. If I don’t succeed, then maybe you can help me the next time.

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

I have no friends here. The few I have are 1400 miles away, and they haven’t seen me since before the accident. I don’t know how they will feel or react when they see I’m still pretty much the same person, just a little slower when running.

17. Who is your main caregiver?

My sister was my caregiver, but after a week, she knew I could take care of myself, and I do.

Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

Yes, I know it’s hard, especially if the survivor is family.

18. What are your plans?

I plan to move back to Oregon and return to school.

What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I aspire to become a paralegal, or maybe I’ll become something with occupational therapy and assist those with brain injury.

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: (1) Water is so important, and being tired is your new normal. (2) Find something positive that you like to do, and stick with it so you can move forward.

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

positive-thinking-clipart-positive-thinking-world-Ng196D-clipartIt will take time to accept the new you. Find something you like, and keep doing it. Or, try something you’ve never done before, like work out regularly. I was not a fan of the gym, but I made myself go three days a week. After a month, it became routine, and now I look forward to it. My personal trainer pushes me, and I find myself looking for ways to improve to show her the next time. I have more energy, and I am happy when I accomplish things I couldn’t do six weeks ago. That’s a great feeling! Even if it takes me longer to do it, the satisfaction is still there.

 

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! Taylor Trammell

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Taylor Trammell

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Taylor Trammell

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

Grand Prairie, Texas, USA     taylor.dot24@gmail.com

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

I had my brain injury on February 14th, 2010, at age 13.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Carbon monoxide poisoning

(Donna’s note: The story of the poisoning of Taylor and her mother, Shelley Taylor, will be published later on this blog under “Faces of Brain Injury.”)

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

The problem was apparent the night we were poisoned.

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

I was put into a hyperbaric chamber.

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)? How long were you in rehab?

No

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

Afterward, I started to sleep poorly or not to sleep any at night. I also suffer from horrible migraines. Sometimes, when I hold on to something, I just drop it. But overall, it’s a mystery because every day could be something different.

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

Now I have sleeping problems, and I get horrible migraines. But, I can’t really say if my life is better or worse. I mean, it’s not fun on some days, but at least I have a life to live.

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

I miss being able to go to a concert or an event and not having to turn away from the stage or to have my boyfriend hold my head in his chest to block the light. I miss being able to talk normally and not forget what I was saying. Most of all, I miss not being able to sleep.

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

I enjoy just living in general. I mean that because it was such a close call to be living. God saved me, so I will live my life to the fullest and not let my TBI (traumatic brain injury) hold me back.

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

Not sleeping and my migraines

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

Yes. I’ve been helped by knowing that God saved me and that He is always right beside me.

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

I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand my migraines or that I’m grumpy from not sleeping.

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

Yes, it has. I realize that life is short, so I try to do everything I want to do. I have fun. I love music and going to concerts, but that has changed due to the lights.

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

N/A

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

I am graduating in a few weeks with my degree in ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreting. I plan to become an interpreter and to be married next year and start our lives.

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.

No matter what has become the new you, you have to remember that there is a you because God saved you. I had to accept who the new me was and just roll with it. I mean, there wouldn’t be a you if you were not saved. SO, accept it, and learn what you need to do to live your life every day.

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Just remember to be thankful, even in the hardest times. Life isn’t easy, and it never will be. Be strong and be supportive to everyone because you never know what the other person is going through. I know a lot of people in my life who have no idea what I go through every day, so just be strong and remember God is with you.

 

 

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & Inspiration

Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration

NOTE 1:

Taylor Trammell and her mother, Shelley Taylor, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

 

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.

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

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Barbara Asby

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Barbara Asby

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Barbara Wilson Asby

Barbara Wilson Asby – TBI Survivor

 

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

Barbara Asby

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

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

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

My brain injury happened over seven years ago. I was 41 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Pesticide Toxic Exposure

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

Some symptoms occurred during the first couple of days during the exposure. Symptoms gradually got worse after the following two weeks and beyond.

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

hospital5I went to the Emergency Room after a week, because of shortness of breath and cognitive issues. They found an enlarged lymph node in my lung. This finding was followed up by other specialists. I had MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), an EEG (electroencephalogram), a SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scan (a test that uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to determine how an organ is functioning), and other tests, to name a few.

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

No

7. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

Yes. I had occupational, speech, and vestibular therapies.

How long were you in rehab?

My therapy has been on and off from 2010 to the present.

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

I have problems with balance, perception, cognitive abilities, memory, organizational skills, and word retrieval. I am plagued with fatigue, headaches, and partial seizures.tired-woman

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

I am now disabled and unable to work in my former job as an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agent.  (This injury happened on the job.) My life is better because I realize how important life really is. It’s worse because I realize what I took for granted.

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

I miss the ability to work and have a career. I really miss not having a better memory, more energy, and the organizational and multitasking skills that I once had.

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

I am aware of the beauty that life has to offer. I see the good in life and in people.

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

I dislike the fact that others aren’t willing to educate themselves about TBI (traumatic brain injury) or try to understand what others go through. People lose interest over time – they do not want to hear about your problems or your pain anymore. I think this is the greatest suffering from my TBI.education-clipart-9c4y5zycE-1

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

It’s been over seven years, and I am still trying to accept my brain injury. It still changes – it’s hard to accept when it does not stay stable. Therefore, I can’t accept something when each day is different.

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

Yes. It has ended my marriage.

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

Yes. Due to the balance and sensory issues, my social life has been greatly affected.

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

I am my caregiver.

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

My future plan is to write a memoir. I also want to volunteer to help others who have a brain injury.

18. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time HistoryMissionusewhereveriStock_000017322294Smallto 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 look for support-groups and to try to reach out to others. Also, educate yourself with brain injury material.

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

Just reach out to other survivors – we are a big family. We understand – when others do not. TBI survivors – like other survivors – are strong. God kept you on this earth for a reason. Keep your chin up. Look to others for strength, and give others strength when it’s needed. BIG HUGS.

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! Shelley Taylor

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Shelley Taylor

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Taylor, Shelley Survivor 3 050417

Shelley Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

 

 

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

Shelley Taylor

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

Grand Prairie, Texas, USA     shelley@shelleytaylor.net

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

I had my brain injury on Valentine’s Day seven years ago. I was 45 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Both I and my daughter, Taylor, were poisoned one night by carbon monoxide gas coming from an outside generator. We were fortunate to awaken and survive. Both of us have a brain injury as a result. (Donna’s note: Their horrific story will be published later on this blog under “Faces of Brain Injury.”)

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

The likelihood of carbon monoxide poisoning was first evident to the Fire Chief when the detector showed very high levels of carbon monoxide near the house. I was treated for carbon monoxide poisoning at Methodist Dallas Medical Center. Eventually it was discovered that I have a traumatic brain injury (TBI).

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

I was taken to the Emergency Room at Methodist Hospital in Mansfield. I had stitches for a head wound (see story), and I was given a CT (computerized tomography) scan. A hyperbaric chamber at Methodist Dallas Medical Center was used to treat me for carbon monoxide poisoning.

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)? How long were you in rehab?

Yes. I had occupational therapy.

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

I have a problem breathing. I also have problems with balance, depth perception, and memory. I am plagued with migraines, vertigo, and light-sensitivity.

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

My daily life has changed, with issues in breathing, balance, light-sensitivity, depth perception, noise-sensitivity, and memory. Now I also have daily headaches. (I got a migraine on February 4th, and I have not gone a day pain-free.) Life is just different. I am who I am for a reason. I’m living God’s plan for me.

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

I miss being able to remember, wearing high heels, and pain-free days.

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

Taylor, Shelley survivor

Shelley Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

I try to live every day with a positive attitude. My daughter and I live with gratitude. We are very thankful that God saved us.

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

I dislike coughing, falling, the light-sensitivity, the noise-sensitivity, and the memory issues. Many doctors don’t have experience with our type of injury. It’s frustrating.

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

Yes. My relationship with Christ.

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

I think my family offers me an abundant amount of grace on days when my head is killing me and I’m extremely nauseous. They know I need to rest my brain a lot in the calm and quiet.

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

Yes. I was an extrovert pre brain injury. Post brain injury, I’ve become an introvert. I love calm and quiet now.

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

N\A

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

I just finished writing a book, “With My Last Breath, I’d Say I Love You” – when your faith and hope slip, grace wins every time. I hope to find a publisher soon. Also, I’d love to speak and encourage others. book

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.

Early on, realize that you are here for a reason and make the most of each day. Our struggles are what make us stronger. Reach out to others and ask for help when necessary. Love yourself for who you are, not for what you aren’t.

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

See my comments in the preceding question.

NOTE 1:

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & Inspiration

“Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration”

Shelley Taylor and her daughter, Taylor Trammell, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

 

 

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! 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.”

**********

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

12092720_887813074587576_567905417_n

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.

 

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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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