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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . Carole Starr

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Carole Starr

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Carole Starr Survivor Speaker

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor – Author of “To Root and to Rise”

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

Carole Starr

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

Maine, USA

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

I had my brain injury on July 6, 1999. I was 32 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a car accident. My vehicle was broadsided on the driver’s side by someone going about 50 mph.

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

My brain injury was diagnosed about six weeks after my accident. It was the physical therapist I saw for the whiplash who realized that I also had a brain injury. It became apparent to me when I tried to return to my regular life and struggled with tasks that used to be easy.

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

After my accident, I was transported by ambulance to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with severe whiplash and other soft tissue injury. The signs of the brain injury were there, but they were missed.

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

I was not in a coma.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I didn’t receive any brain injury rehab until nearly a year after my injury. That was the worst year of my life, as I tried and failed numerous times to return to my old life. A physiatrist referred me to outpatient brain injury rehab. I’ve had physical, occupational, speech, and recreation therapies and counseling. I’ve also found help from alternative therapies, including cranial osteopathy, neuro-optometry, and homeopathy. I received rehab therapies on and off for several years. I still see several medical professionals, and I continue to make slow progress, even after more than eighteen years.

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

tired-womanI am plagued by extreme mental fatigue, sound and light sensitivities, balance issues, memory loss, visual midline shift, and difficulties with decision-making and problem-solving.

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

My life changed dramatically after my brain injury. I had to give up my teaching career and my classical music hobby. I struggled to manage everyday-life tasks. I felt dependent on family and friends. For many years, I grieved the loss of my old life. I hated the new me. It was a long process to work through that grief and start to build a new life. I try really hard not to judge whether my life is better or worse. It’s just different. That helps me with the acceptance process.

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

I miss performing as a musician. I miss being able to go a whole day without needing to rest. I miss being able to trust my brain to do what I want it to.

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

Brain injury gave me the passion for a cause that was missing in my old life. This has become my life’s work. I like being able to use my experience to help other brain injury survivors. I do that through my book (To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury), my keynotes at brain injury conferences, and the volunteer group I lead (Brain Injury Voices).

Carole Starr & Book To Root and to Rise

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I dislike having to rest every day and missing out on activities I’d like to do. I never know when too much sound, light, motion, talking, or thinking is going to overwhelm my brain and require hours or days of rest to recover from.

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

For a long time, I didn’t think I could ever accept my brain injury. It was a long process. Some things that helped me were support-groups, reading books by other survivors, counseling, journaling, crafts, learning to laugh at myself, finding silver linings, and focusing on what I’m thankful for.

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

For a long time, I felt like I was a burden – the one who always needed help. I had to learn to accept help from my family and friends and not resist their advice. I can now manage taking care of my home, but everything requires strategies. 67-Help_me

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

My life is much smaller. My daily activities are short and quiet. If I want to do something bigger, I know that the price will be days on the couch recovering my mental energy.

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

I’ve been able to live on my own. Family, friends, and medical professionals have helped me learn strategies to take care of myself.

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

kids-hand-writing-clip-art-hand_with_pencil_5CI plan to continue writing and speaking about brain injury. I want to use my experience to make a difference. I’ve spoken at brain injury conferences and events in six states so far. I’d like to speak in all fifty! I’d also like to help other survivors create education/advocacy groups like Brain Injury Voices in other states.

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.

Find an activity that the new you can enjoy and do successfully. Start small, find success and build on it. Over time, small successes can grow into large achievements and lead you in directions you never imagined.

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

Find ways to connect with other survivors – either through an in-person support-group or online. Interacting with others who “get it” is invaluable.

 

Know that progress doesn’t stop after the first year or two after brain injury. Our brains are always healing. We may never be able to return to our old lives, but we can continue to grow into this new one.

Please feel free to contact me, either through StarrSpeakerAuthor.com or BrainInjuryVoices.org.

Brain Injury Voices Logo

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!

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SURVIVORS SPEAK OUT! Michelle Bartlett

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Michelle Bartlett

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Michelle Bartlett 2

Michelle Bartlett – Survivor of Brain Injury

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

Michelle Bartlett

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

St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada

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

I had my brain injury in March of 2004 at age 36.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Two days after open heart surgery, I had a severe anoxic brain injury.

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

It was known immediately, as I was still in hospital.

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

I have been told the doctors did CPR and other life-support methods for hours.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for ten to twelve 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)? How long were you in rehab?

I did inpatient rehab for three weeks and outpatient rehab for over a year. I had speech, occupational, and physical therapies.

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

I have problems with balance, executive functions, and memory. I deal with fatigue and personality change.

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

My life now isn’t what I planned it would be. It is what it should be.

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

Working

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

I enjoy helping others.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?sleeping_on_job_5

The fatigue

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

It helped to remember how accepting my grandfather was during times of stress.

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

Yes. It is difficult for me to express myself, and it is difficult for people to understand.

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

Yes. Before my brain injury, I would never have had the confidence to do any public speaking. Now I have spoken at two national brain injury conferences. I also have numerous newspaper articles and radio interviews in Canada.

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

I’m pretty much independent now.

18. What are your plans?

I will continue to cherish my second chance.

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

I intend to continue my advocating/support and education work in Canada, focusing on the east coast.canadian-maple-leaf-clip-art-42678

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.

Patience can be your best and worst enemy.

Michelle Bartlett Survivor 040318

Michelle Bartlett – 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?

Life is hard, no doubt about it, BUT always remember you are NOT alone. There is always someone else hiding in the shadows or around a corner who has a brain injury you may not know about.

 

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! Christine Durant

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Christine Durant

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

28722393_1570405716328305_1310268133_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Christine Durant

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

Connecticut, USA

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

I was 21.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Medical neglect

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

I did when I was 13.

28829269_1570406372994906_1587925987_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Brain surgery

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

No coma

8. Did you do rehab?

Yes

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 went to inpatient rehab for a week or so.

28740893_1570406139661596_1150992867_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I have balance and visual memory issues and some difficulty with visual identification. I had a LARGE personality change that included explosive issues and lack of impulse control. I also had double vision.

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

The medical neglect caused excruciating neurological pain, but it stopped with my first brain surgery. I was a diagnostic educator. My issues made me better at what I dith-2d because I finished my undergraduate work like this and did all four of my graduate degrees with strategies I developed for myself. I believe I am better off.

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

Energy

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

My ability to see things differently than most folks

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

Lack of energy and visual memory issues

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

28741255_1570405966328280_1345947392_n

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor and partner.

Meeting my wife and having a 25-year relationship … all post TBI

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

I am more sensitive to other people’s moods now. I can become what they are feeling.

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

Everyone who was my friend at that point is not a friend now. However, I chose better after my recent brain surgery because they all helped us through it.

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

I don’t really have a caregiver. I have a “care-partner.” We had an accident together twenty years ago. Someone was late for lunch and went over the yellow line – into us head-on. We help each other as life necessitates.

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

I would like to travel on the money from the accident while we still can. In ten years, I will be retirement age!Travel

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.

Know that you will adjust to your new personality. Find life-giving, happy people to get you there. I went home to my mother at 21. She was always an angry woman. I didn’t realize what a toll that was taking on me until I met my sweet, wonderful, happy wife.

28829065_1570406592994884_447684030_n-1

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor & partner

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

Give it time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Find a passion that you are able to do within the confines of your new body. My wife has a broken foot from the accident that can’t be fixed. She used to paint theatrical scenery for Broadway. She can’t do that from a wheelchair. So, she discovered she has a passion for pottery.

 

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! Geo Gosling

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Geo Gosling

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Geo Gosing 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Geo Gosling

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

St. Helena, California, USA     goose3@wildblue.net

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

In 1995 at the age of 25

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was riding my bicycle 40-45 mph down a steep hill. (That’s pretty fast on a bicycle.) It was dusk, and I didn’t have a bike-light. A car going in the opposite direction was at the bottom of the hill, didn’t see me, and turned left onto a street. I hit her. In auto accidents, this would be referred to as a “T-bone.” So, while on my bicycle, I “T-boned” a car at about 40 mph.bike

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

Pretty soon thereafter

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

I was transported by ambulance to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. (It should be noted that my crash occurred only a few hundred feet from the St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, but the ambulance was routed to Napa – about 25 min. south of where I was – because “The Queen” is much better prepared for head trauma.) I had a tracheotomy, and my right shoulder was pretty smashed. I fractured two neck vertebrae, so I had a broken neck. Some ribs were broken also. That all pales in comparison to the TBI (traumatic brain injury), however.

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

I was technically never in a coma, but I was unconscious for either six or eight days – I don’t remember which. (Funny story – I think: I was technically never in a coma because I would respond to outside stimuli. The doctor demonstrated this by talking loud at me or yelling or saying bad things or something, and I would just lie there in bed give him the finger. I just lay there and flipped him off. I later found out the doctors thought this to be rather amusing.)

Geo Gosling 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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 both inpatient and outpatient therapy. Both in- and outpatient therapy consisted of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and “thought” therapy. (I had to see a psychologist because I was rather … ah … depressed. I called it “thought therapy.”) I was in rehab for years. In fact, I still go to massage therapy because my muscles don’t seem to relax too well anymore. Speech therapy helped, but not much because, as a result of my TBI, I have dysarthria, which is basically paralyzed facial muscles. As a result, I have trouble speaking clearly, and I sound a wee-bit tipsy most of the time.

How long were you in rehab?

Years. I still go to massage therapy twice a month.

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I’m in constant pain. The part of my brain that is responsible for, or connected to, the gums on the left side of my mouth is injured or damaged or whatever. Anyhow, my brain thinks my gums on the left side of my mouth are telling it that they hurt because something is wrong. Well, something is wrong, but not with my gums. It’s my brain that is confused. My brain “thinks” my gums hurt. So, I just think my gums hurt, but they don’t. (Don’t think about that too long, or you will need to see a shrink.) I don’t like people anymore. I’m pissed off all the time. I haven’t had a date in 20+ years. That could also be why I’m pissed off and don’t like people. I can go from being “happy as a clam” to extremely furious in about ten nanoseconds. (I was never like that before.) My balance is terrible – I fall over very easily. (I couldn’t run to save my life – assuming I wanted to save it. I can’t even walk fast.) I have arthritis in my neck – hurts like hell. My lower back hurts often.

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

Is this a trick question?

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

I miss a career I enjoyed, laughing, hope, feeling good, living, friends.

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

Is this another trick question?

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I dislike my speech. I hate the constant pain. I’m unhappy with having no friends, no job, little money, and no hope. That about covers it.

dT76zBKac14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Passage of time, but nothing really helped. I just realized shit happens, and you have to deal with it.

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

I live alone and always will. I can’t really deal with people anymore. I don’t trust anyone, the reason being that my psychologist lied to me. As a result, I ended up in the mental ward of St. Helena Hospital and Health Center for two nights and three days. I also had a therapist call the police after I had done what SHE SAID I SHOULD DO!

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

I used to have somewhat of a social life, but now, the only person I do anything with is my mom. That’s a tad depressing.

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

I don’t really have one now.

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

I have no future plans. I will probably be doing the exact same thing ten years from now – nothing.

Geo Gosling 3

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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.

Just deal with it the best you can.

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

Do as much stuff for yourself as you can. Doing “everyday living” stuff is the best therapy. If you can walk, walk as much as you can.

Check out these books by Geo Gosling.

 TBI Hell by Geo Gosling 4      TBI Purgatory by Geo Gosling 5

 

 

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! . . . Jason Westhoff

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jason Westhoff

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Jason Westhoff IMG_9574

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jason Westhoff

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA     jrwesthoff1@gmail.com

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

March 11, 2012     Age 29

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was assaulted after leaving a club in Peoria, Illinois.

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

I realized I had a problem around eight months after the assault. I was in the Emergency Room and honestly realized I had lost all control. I had no clue how to go about regaining that control and made many wrong attempts over the next five years.

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

Hospital thI was knocked unconscious from the assault, and I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The medical staff noticed the swelling, and, as a result, I was taken into emergency surgery. I had a craniotomy to relieve the swelling.

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

After the emergency surgery, I was placed in an induced coma for approximately three weeks. I had another two surgeries during this time.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?

I had approximately three weeks of inpatient rehab before I was discharged. Afterwards, I continued physical, occupational, and speech therapies on a twice-weekly basis for approximately three months before I returned to school. At this time, I knew something was different, but I did not understand the battles I was fighting.

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

After my TBI (traumatic brain injury), I was a completely different person. It took me years to realize the extent of my injury. My balance and normal body functions were the easiest to check and the most obvious. The major changes, which I am still trying to adjust to daily, are my personality and perception during normal life-events. My injury has placed strains on every previous relationship I had and the new ones I have developed. I honestly feel like two completely different people. I still have the same general personality, but my ability to adjust to unplanned change is the ability most affected. I have a problem with the skill of adjusting in the moment.

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

My life has been extreme on both sides. It seems as if everything is extremely better or extremely worse on a rotating cycle. I am thankful on the whole because of the strength I have found to deal will all issues that have occurred. I am still working every day on my recovery, but I know, through this fire, I will become a better human being.

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

I miss my intellect and communication skills. It always feels as if I’m grasping for, but never quite reaching my projected goal.

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

I enjoy the communities I never knew about and the social interaction within the “brain-injury-support community”. There is a bond, which I have never quite been able to explain to others, of just knowing how something feels.

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

Medicine side-effects!Medicine bottle 7Ta6Ezr8c

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

Time. It has been extremely difficult to adjust and accept my brain injury.

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

Yes. It has been hard to be a successful father without the resources desired. Relationships in general have been a struggle because I don’t completely understand myself at all times. There is a constant unbalance in my life since the injury.

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

Yes. I had struggles – extreme struggles – in my social life, primarily involving drugs and alcohol. Alcohol was a bigger problem than the drugs. I often get so stressed and/or anxious I want to drown my thoughts away. It is very easy just to give up at times.

Jason Westhoff Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

My parents have been my main caregivers, my mother in particular for emotional support, which is where it has been needed most. It took me 2-3 years to start to comprehend the stress involved in being a caregiver, until I really tried to manage Jayla (my daughter) by myself for an extended period of time.

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

My plans as of this moment are just trying to get my medications set and lowering my mental-fatigue issues. My focus is primarily on understanding my new mind and body so I then have the ability to make the proper adjustments. I love it here in Arizona! By the time I do my radio interview with Donna, I will have been in Arizona for fourteen months. I am currently looking forward to doing more work in the brain-injury community.

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.

Listen! Listen! Listen! I am one of the worst listeners. I have proved this point time and time again. I would suggest to swallow your pride and let people help you.Ear_clip_art-1

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

My best advice to give to any survivor is to never stop growing. Don’t become content with your situation. We can always improve!

 

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! . . . Barb George

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Barb George

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Barb George 1

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

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

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

Hoquiam, Washington, USA

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

2004, and again in 2005     Age 45

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was head-butted by my daughter’s horse. The second accident – we think I fainted. I was again in the hospital.

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

We don’t know how long I was “out,” as I was alone at the fence line. But, my husband realized there was a real problem when I did not recall all the work we had done on the property (fences built, pond in, etc.). He put me to bed, but I remained out of it, so he called an ambulance.

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

I had no surgery, but I was in the hospital for four days.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?Image result for Cartoon Horse Head Clip Art

No

8. Did you do rehab?

I had nearly no professional rehab. We lived in a very rural location, and I was unable to get to things. (My husband was working out of country for much of the first three years.) So, I was on my own.

I did create some of my own rehab. With reading, I got help from computer-friends, who were willing to put things into LARGE, ALL CAP type. My farm chores helped with many balance and stability issues.

What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? I did have a small time of physical therapy. That helped with balance.

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

a.) My vision was reduced from perfect to nearly nothing. I could not read anything with lower case letters or anything with under a 16-20 pt font.

b.) My stability and balance were horrible. I used shovels to maintain my balance in the fields, and I used the walls and furniture in the house.Woma Head Pain

c.) Head-pain was tremendous.

d.) I experienced various moods.

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

I had just launched my company in a new location, but I had to close my business. My relationships suffered. It was rough.

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

Stamina. I live an “every other day” sort of life. I do not sleep well, so that is difficult.

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

I have had four more grandkids since my accident. (I had 2.) I have gained two sons-in law. I am grateful to be alive.

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

I miss not having the ability to plan for anything. Life is a crap-shoot. I never know what will be possible.

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

Organization. Honesty with self and others. Creating a support-group around myself. (I facilitate the only support-group on the Washington coastline from Canada to Oregon.) Learning!

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

My brain injury has strained many family dynamics. It is hard. My husband is not very available emotionally – that is just the way he is. One child sees me as a “whiner.” The other sees me as open and honest. Two kids have been pretty distant.

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

I was never a party person, but I did like to go out in the evening hours. Now I cannot. Well, rarely. I cannot cope with loud restaurants or movies.

2 Gray's Harbor Barb George

17. Who is your main caregiver?

I am very self-reliant. My husband would say he is my caregiver since he is the only other person here. He does the paperwork (for which I am grateful). Other than that, I am on my own.

Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

Yes. I would give anything to share more of the responsibilities.

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

I would love to develop my skills enough to peer-mentor and advocate at a higher level. I would love to have an actual paying job at some point. I would like to continue to be self-sufficient as much as possible and to do some traveling. I plan to continue to be an involved grandmother and friend.

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.

The truth – that I really didn’t need to jump back in to life so quickly.

3 Barb George 3

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

I wish they would have sat my husband down and explained to him that this was a BIG deal. He didn’t get it.

The word “aphasia” was huge for me! No one could explain to me why my words were so garbled. When I learned that word, it was like “Well, it has a name, so it must be a thing.”

Communicating with other survivors helped me. I had a couple of HEROES in my corner. They gave me bits of wisdom and friendship that carry me through today – twelve years later. I am grateful to them.

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

Give yourself TIME. I see people every single day making comments such as “I am six months out. When will I be 100%?” or “When will my spouse be normal again – it has been four months?” Obviously, their doctors have neglected to tell them that TIME is a gift. That makes me angry. Yes, everyone is different, but no one, after an intense hit, is perfect in a couple of months (IMHO). By pushing (or being pushed by others), there are higher chances that other injuries will occur, and healing goes back to zero or further!

Find unique ways to simplify your life. And change it up. We gave up our mountain-dream-home-in-the-country for a smaller space in a small town. But, it is close to everything. I have less than half the home to care for. If I am unable to drive, I can catch a bus. I can walk to many things. People thought we were crazy – but being rural is a lot of work. Life was never perfect before the accident. It isn’t perfect now. But, life is worthwhile.

 

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!

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Pamela Ann Taylor

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Pamela Ann Taylor

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pamela Ann Taylor Survivor 092417

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Pamela Ann Taylor

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

Mansfield, Ohio, USA     Teach621@aol.com

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

Age 55

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I have been in three accidents in my life. The last one was a rollover.

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

I had some issues with balance and vision after the second accident, but more recently it has become far worse. This is due to the rollover-accident.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?0016

I was transported to a Trauma Center in an ambulance, where they found I had a concussion. I was released and told to go home. They had done some tests, but, because they had given me pain meds, they thought that I was throwing up due to the meds and not the concussion. I was throwing up in the wheelchair all of the way to the car, but they still sent me home.

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

N/A

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 had occupational, physical, and speech therapies.

How long were you in rehab?

My first round of physical therapy lasted a few months and helped somewhat with back pain, neck pain, and headaches. I am now in rehab again. I have been going for about four months, and I’m still working with an Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapist. Speech therapy did not last as long. I found these places myself through searching and asking my doctor for referrals. A general doctor in my area seemed not to know of TBI (traumatic brain injury) treatments much at all. Be a self-advocate if you can.

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

I have issues with vision, balance, perception, and personality. I’m more aggressive – things escalate more easily. My eyes are like that of a 6-month-old baby – not coordinated.

10. How has your life changed?

I cannot work and cannot drive. I have no income (as the disability stuff is still in process), and I don’t know when I will get an income. I do not go to crowded places or shop for long in fluorescent lighting. I have lost connection with some friends, as I cannot get to them to visit now, etc.

Is it better?

I am home more.

Is it worse?

I get bored, and at times I’m lonely. I wish I could go out to lunch or drive to a friend’s house.

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

I miss feeling like I make a difference in the world. I used to travel and do missions work, but now, without an income and a way to get myself to the locations to serve, it is a real challenge to help others. It is forcing me to focus more on myself.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?no-noise-1

I do enjoy the solace in that I cannot tolerate noise, etc. much anymore. I am finding ways to write like I used to, and I am finding more time to pray, which I do like.

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

People don’t understand – I don’t look sick.

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

I’ve been helped by prayer and focusing on those who love me unconditionally. Baby steps forward bring joy as well.

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

The house is more organized and cleaner (LOL). I have made a new friend through needing a driver to take me to therapy sessions. She is a real gem.

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

My social life is near nil. I can’t get to the places I used to go to.

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

I do most things for myself, but the financial burden is all on my husband. I would rather it be 50:50 like it used to be.

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

I hope to be able to travel again. I am beginning to work on my physical healing, including walking more, etc. I have put on weight and need to get back in shape. I also see myself being with my grandchildren more. I hope to be able to drive to local places and get out more with them and others I care about. I am beginning to blog, and I’m hoping that takes off and helps others. Perhaps I will publish another book one day. (I had a book coming out when the accident happened under a pen name – Phoebe Siylor; the book – Molding Sharon.)

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.

Pamela Ann Taylor & dog

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

I would tell you to be an advocate for yourself or your loved one. Seek out what you need. It does not seem as if those in the medical field know what to do. I should have stayed at the hospital and not gone home. Also, I should have been told about therapy and not had to find it on my own. Seek, and you will find some answers. It is a process, and it takes time. Be patient, and keep moving forward.

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

Find a therapist who knows how to help you. If he or she does not seem to be the right fit, move on. When people comment things, like how long do you expect me to support you in the system, remember that you paid into that system, and it is your right to get help if you need it. Don’t let them kick you down – rise up and be strong. It is hard, but you can do it. Pray – connect with a church and with God – He will always love you unconditionally. I fall back on Him a LOT.

 

HUGZ

You can learn more about Pamela Ann Taylor on her blog. Pamela Ann Taylor Blog.

 

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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