TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Archive for the ‘TBI Tales’ Category

TBI Tales: Inspiration . . . . . . . . by Bonni Villarreal (caregiver)

Inspiration

by

Bonni Villarreal (caregiver)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bonni Villarreal – Caregiver

March 21, 2012, is a day that changed my life forever. It started off like any average day. I got up and went to work. Mike was asleep when I left. I called him around 8:30 that morning to let him know I wouldn’t be at my desk, in case he tried to call me. He sounded fine. Then, just by chance, I happened to be at my desk at 10 am when my phone rang. It was Mike … telling me he was having a stroke.

By the time I got to the house, the ambulance was there. Mike was awake and reaching for me. I didn’t think it was too serious because Mike was alert and talking. But, by the time we got to the hospital, that had changed. The doctor informed me that Mike had a huge blood clot near his cerebellum, and he had to be life-flighted to another hospital because he was too critical to stay at the one he was at.


I had to sign papers for life-saving brain surgery. Mike was in a coma for ten days. We didn’t know if he would wake up, and, if he did, what condition he would be in. When he “woke up,” Mike wasn’t anything like the man I married. He stayed in the hospital for another month, and then he was transferred to a nursing home.

Those days were some of the darkest in my life. They treated Mike as if he were a hopeless case. I wonder what would’ve happened to him if I hadn’t been around.

Mike Villarreal – TBI Survivor

He was tube-fed, couldn’t speak (he wrote instead), and couldn’t walk. He was totally helpless. Plus, he was battling infection after infection. I didn’t think things would ever return to normal.

Fast forward to January 2017 – almost five years post stroke. Mike passed his barium swallow test, and he is having his G-tube removed! He is walking almost unassisted! He is talking! I told Mike, “You are an inspiration. You give hope to people who have lost it, you have renewed hope for people who are about to give up, and you keep hope alive for people who are just starting this long journey.”

Mike wants everyone to know – DON’T EVER, EVER, EVER GIVE UP. No matter if it’s been five, ten, or fifteen years. Keep hope alive! Mike did, and look how far he has come!

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Caregivers, We Appreciate You

Caregiver’s We Appreciate You

by

Penny Byler

byler-penny-survivor

Penny Byler – Brain Injury Survivor

For the caregivers and families of us survivors, I know there is so much you can never understand about what we live with every day. But, please know that all you do is noticed and appreciated. Sometimes, we just don’t have the words to let you know that we understand that, on the day our life as we knew it completely ended, you also lost someone.

caregiver-supports-clipart-1Most of you never had the chance to mourn the loss of the loved one you knew because you were too busy helping this “new” person fit in where your dreams for your loved one left off. Although we don’t always show it, your kindness, love, support, and acceptance are noticed and appreciated. Thank you for never giving up on us. You help us know we can continue. We may not have the words to use when we need them, but you will see it in our eyes, by a touch of the hand, or when we smile.

You are a very important part of our recovery. You are noticed. You are appreciated.

 

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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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

Twelve Years, But Who’s Counting?

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1242232191169820850212_white,_green_rounded_rectangle.svg.med.pngTwelve years! Twelve years ago today, I came as close as a breath to losing my husband and best friend, David. While exercising (a thing he did every day to stay in shape), David did thirteen chin-ups, one more than he had done every other day. That was the proverbial “straw that broke the camel’s back,” or in David’s case, the “chin-up that caused his subarachnoid hemorrhage.” That day, as I rode with him in the ambulance to the hospital, I never realized what lay ahead for us. I never dreamed that this blip would be life-altering. I thought we’d be home by the end of the day, carrying on with life as usual. I was wrong!

david-jareds-wedding-060513

David H. Figurski, Ph.D. – Brain Injury Survivor

David remained in the hospital in the Neuro-Intensive Care Unit (NICU) and the step-down unit at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital (now New York Presbyterian Hospital) for three weeks. While he was there, he was treated to two more brain surgeries – one for an aneurysm and the other for an arterial venous malformation (AVM). He then became a guest at a local rehab hospital for another two months, until insurance wrongly said he was fine to go home.th-1

I am grateful that David is still with me. He wasn’t expected to be. Each surgeon gave me little hope that he would survive any of his surgeries. I’m glad that David proved them all wrong. I’m glad that we have had twelve more years together, and I hope to spend many more with this man whom I have loved since I was sixteen years old.

animated-book

Hopefully, in the sometime future, you will be able to read David’s whole story in my book-in-manuscript, titled “Prisoners Without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale.”

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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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Smiling is Contagious . . . . . . Smile, Harry, Smile!

Smiling is Contagious – Smile, Harry, Smile!

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

harry-jordan-in-gym

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor – in Gym

Recently I published Harry Jordan‘s “Itty-Bitty GIANT Step” and a great photo of a smiling Harry on my blog. Afterwards, we exchanged messages by Private Message on Facebook. I told him that I loved his smile. However, he told me that he rarely smiles and that his mother would be shocked to see this smiling photo of him.

Well, that was enough incentive for me to challenge Harry. I told him I would publish his smiling photos on my blog if he would send me five more. He did – including one of him AND his mom.

smile

 

harry-jordan-and-mom-122716

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & his Mom

 

 

You can read our chat below.

Donna: I just love your smile.

Harry: I really don’t smile. My mom will be shocked.

Donna: Why will she be shocked?

Harry: ‘Cause I don’t smile.

Donna: Well, you SHOULD every minute. You smile with your eyes.

Harry: I don’t look at my pics – always mean – no real reason to smile.

Donna: Well, look at this pic, and maybe you can see a reason to smile.

Harry: I will try.

Donna: It made me smile, and it’s contagious. See how many people you can affect. Start with your mom.

Harry: If it can help ANYONE, I will smile.

harry-jordan-smiling

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor – Smile, Harry, Smile

Donna: Well, it helped ME!!!!! Pick your mom up and hug her and give her a BIG smile. Then let me know what she said.

Harry: And for that I will smile.

Donna: See … it’s working! Send me five NEW photos of you smiling, and I will publish them. Challenge is on.

Harry: Ha! Ha! Ha! Dang, now THAT is a challenge.

Did you know that smiling really is contagious? How many times have you walked down the street or through a store and someone, a stranger, smiled at you. What did you do? Chances are you smiled right back. It’s almost an automatic reaction. Did you know that smiling is healthy for you? It is! It releases neurotransmitters, like endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. These hormones are produced in the brain and can help to relieve stress and lower blood pressure. Whoever thought that a smile could be your best medicine? Well, it’s certainly worth a try.

harry-jordan-and-friend

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & Friend

So, as we so often hear, “Turn that frown upside down!” and see how much better you feel. Harry did! Just look at all the photos of his wonderful smile. He makes me smile, and I hope he does you, too.

harry-jordan-original-smile

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan - Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor

Harry Jordan - Brain Injury Survivor & Cousins

Harry Jordan – Brain Injury Survivor & Cousins

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

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Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Don’t Let What You Survived Bring You Down by Karen Bradley Williams

Don’t Let What You Survived Bring You Down

by

Karen Bradley Williams

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Williams, Karen Bradley SurvivorI am a three-time traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor (2007, 2010, and 2011). After my first one, I lost everything, including my husband, but I always had my mom. Now nine years post my first TBI, I am remarried to a wonderful man. He loves me, knows and understands my limitations, and treats me like a queen. I have gone back to college, and I am a nationwide certified pharmacy tech. I have real friends and a great life.

Don’t let what you have survived bring you down. Look at what you have made it through. Do not give up now. Your miracle is just around the corner.

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Don’t Stop Believing” by Marilyn Seuffert

Don’t Stop Believing

by

Marilyn Seuffert

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Sueffert, Marilyn Caregiver

Marilyn Seuffert Found Her Love Again

Eleven years ago, I fell in love with the most beautiful gentleman I had ever met. I was 32, and he was 47. I was elated when I met him.

Two weeks into our wonderful love affair, we rode our bikes to my place. He turned to look for me and fell off his bike. He lost consciousness and sustained a subdural hematoma. I lost him in that moment. I tried to get him back for two years, but unfortunately his injury split us apart.

I never again met anyone whom I loved as much as him. On the ten-year anniversary of the accident, he contacted me, and we met up. I was so happy to see that he had made a great recovery.

Seuffert, Marilyn Caregiver 2 021516

Marilyn Seuffert and her Love

I was still in love with him. We got back together; we live together; and now we are engaged. My message is to have faith because miracles happen. Things may take time. Don’t stop believing!

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Surprise” by Miki Mashburn-Bailey

“Surprise!”

by

Miki Mashburn-Bailey

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

072715 Mashburn-Bailey Miki CaregiverA couple of years after my husband’s accident, I bought flowers for myself and gave them to him to “surprise” me with. I told him that I was going to walk out of the room and come back in and that he needed to say, “Surprise!” and hand them to me.

My husband thought I was weird. Pre TBI, I really couldn’t have cared less about the flowers, but my husband lost his knack for surprising me every once in a while with kisses and hugs, knick-knacks and treats, or flowers. I needed him to see that it was important to me.

I went out of the room and came back in. My husband yelled so loud that it scared my son in the other room. He was very sarcastic, and he gave me the flowers without a smile. But, I smiled and told him, “Thank you!” I said that I loved the flowers.8iAEyGerT

I placed the flowers on the table. Every time I knew that my husband would notice, I would deliberately stop, smell them, and smile. He would always say, “You really like those flowers.” I would correct him and say, “I just like that they’re from you.” My husband became convinced that he bought those flowers for me.

Thus began my husband’s new “routine.” He has done things like this ever since. He likes the idea that he can make me smile. He used to all the time before his TBI, but he doesn’t have it in him post TBI. The thought that my husband can do it had to be placed back into his mind.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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