TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Overcoming Obstacles while Getting On with Life
by
Chelsea Rolph

presented by


Donna O’Donnell Figurski
(author – Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale)

 

chelsea rolph

Chelsea Rolph – Survivor of Brain Injury

This has been one heck of a decade! When I think back to how it all began, I would have never seen myself where I am now.

I began this decade healing from a concussion and graduating high school. I chose to do a “Victory Lap” so I could have the time to figure out what I wanted to do with my future.

As the school year began in September 2010, I returned back to varsity sports to continue to do what I loved … play.

Unfortunately, as most people know, it did not end well. I was knocked out during a basketball game in the last 4 seconds, leaving me with the concussion of all concussions.

I remember sitting in accounting, music, and business classes and crying to myself because it hurt too much to read the text. I also remember going home and breaking down because I no longer had the sports to turn to as a stress relief. I was frustrated with the amount of exhaustion I was feeling at the end of the day.

I was sent to a concussion rehab clinic for a few months, and this was the first time I felt like I finally had some answers. At the beginning of this decade, my parents would take me to the hospital every week to get tests done on both my heart and my brain. These tests concluded with doctors suggesting that my “new normal” was going to be a long transition with no end in sight.

Although all of my friends were applying to colleges and universities, I was told that I should not consider post-secondary education at that time. Despite this, I still applied to colleges and universities to keep my options open.

After being accepted to all of my options, I decided to go to McMaster University (MAC), so I had family support close by if I were really struggling. After accepting MAC, I met with a counselor to discuss what the rehab clinic had said I should have for accommodations.

After the guidance counselor at MAC agreed to all of the accommodations that were recommended for me, she suggested that I should take two classes a semester and take ten years to complete my undergrad.

Fast-forward to the end of the decade – most people know that not only did I choose to take a full course load, but I also chose to try to accomplish it without the accommodations recommended. The counselors did not believe I would be successful even with the accommodations and tried to talk me out of it. Not only did I take a full course load, but I was also working close to full-time hours at the same time.

Get-a-Bachelors-Degree-Online-Step-15Four years later, in May of 2015, I graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree. In August 2015, I was hired in my first full-time job! After three months, I received a promotion, and then, ten months after that, I was promoted again to the position I am currently in. Over the last 4.5 years, I have had the amazing opportunity to work with so many amazing students and colleagues who have helped shape me into the person I am today. Unfortunately, I have chosen to leave my current position to pursue other opportunities.

As this decade ends, a new and exciting chapter begins! Today I find myself writing this from the comforts of my home as I begin my journey as an entrepreneur. My business partner and I are so excited to have the opportunity to quit our full-time jobs to focus on running our own business.

Along with reminiscing about my professional career over the past ten years, I also think about the personal experiences. Many have been positive, but I also had my share of sorrows. I have lost so many amazing people in my life, including both of my grandmas, my uncle, and a friend. I have lost a pet and nearly lost two more. I struggled with immigration. And, my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer.

I am very happy to say that I have also had the opportunity to see my mom defeat cancer and ring that victory bell. I am also happy that Rod and I no longer need to worry about immigration or travelling out of the country together for events. I also have a long list of amazing other things that have happened over the past decade: graduating, falling in love, buying a car, travelling to many cities and countries (for example, Las Vegas, New York City, Ecuador, the east coast of Canada, mainland Europe, and the UK), attending a conference in the United Nations headquarters, fundraising around $150,000 for both OIPlocal and global organizations, making so many amazing new friends, experiencing weddings, getting over my fear of babies, having nieces and nephews, getting a kitten, and going back to school to study French as a second language.

Here’s to hoping that the next decade will bring less of the sadness and more of the happiness and excitement that I have been lucky enough/privileged to experience.

Cheers to 2020!

Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

 

On the Air: Guest: Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David Figurski

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

 

Dr. David Figurski, retired professor of microbiology, talks about his brain injury and COVID-19

I don’t often publicize my radio show on the Brain Injury Radio Network, but one of our brain injury survivors is knowledgeable about the COVID-19 pandemic, which I’m sure is on your mind.  Like me, you probably have lots of questions.

My guest on the April 19th show was my husband, Dr. David Figurski.  David has been living with several physical disabilities since January 2005, when he had a brain hemorrhage, but, fortunately, after three brain surgeries in two weeks, he was unaffected cognitively.  For 35 years, including eight years after his traumatic brain injury, David was a professor in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University, where he also had a research lab.  David has done research on bacteria and viruses for 45 years.  Unsurprisingly, he has been very interested in the new human coronavirus and the global pandemic it has caused.news-clipart-news-anchor-4

My 80-minute show was live on April 19th, but it was recorded and can now be listened to at any time as a podcast.  My interview of David has two parts.  From 9:30 to 49:50, David and I talk about life with his brain injury.  From 49:50 to the end, David and I discuss the COVID-19 pandemic.

To Listen Go To:

SPEAK OUT! On the Air with . . . Brain Injury Radio Show Menu “Another Fork in the Road”

blogtalkradio.com/braininjuryradio/2020/04/20/another-fork-in-the-road-bi-survivorcolumbia-prof-dr-david-figurski-covid19

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of guests.)

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 intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Harriet Hodgson (caregiver for husband)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale)

 

Harriet Hodgson – Caregiver for her husband, John – Author of many books.

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

Harriet Hodgson

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

Rochester, Minnesota, USA      harriethodgson@charter.net

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

I cared for my mother, who had been a brilliant woman before her Vascular Dementia. At the time, nobody knew mini-strokes continued to spread.

4. When did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I started caring for my mother after she was found wandering in a department store. Interestingly, my mother called from Florida to tell me this story. “The clerk told me cars are parked outside the store.” In my fifties, I moved my mother from Melbourne, Florida, to Rochester, Minnesota, to care for her.

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

I wasn’t caring for anyone else at the time.

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes. I was a freelance writer. Continuing to write was difficult. My mother lived with us for a month, while her apartment in an assisted living community was being readied for her. If I sat down at the computer, she stood behind me and literally breathed down my neck.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

I moved my mother into an assisted living community. Also developed a weekly schedule of care: shopping day, medical/dental day, errand day, out to lunch day, etc.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

On a frigid night, when the temperature was 35-below and the wind chill was 50-below, my mother called and said she was going back to Long Island to be with friends. All of the people she mentioned were deceased. I called her physician, and he wrote orders sending her to nursing care, a locked ward.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

No coma. Profound confusion.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

No rehab. There was no way to fix my mother’s mind.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

Complained to management. Social services came and evaluated her. Mom couldn’t answer any of the questions on the Mini Mental Status Exam. Worse, she said, “My daughter put me in here.”

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Years later (maybe ten), caregiving took over my life. I’ve cared for three generations of family members: my mother, my orphaned twin grandchildren, and now my husband, who has a spinal cord injury. This prompted me to write a series of books for family caregivers.

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

I miss the freedom of my old life and being able to do what I want. Am also physically and emotionally tired.

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

Being even closer to my husband. We are devoted to each other.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I hate the unpredictability of brain injury. For example, my mother would call my phone number repeatedly and hang up repeatedly because she didn’t recognize my voice.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Learning about Vascular Dementia and writing have helped.

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Eventually my mother’s brain shut down. She couldn’t read, couldn’t speak (grunts), didn’t recognize me, and thought I had come to harm her. This was heartbreaking.

Harriet Hodgson – Caregiver and Author; Dr. John Hodgson

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

I don’t really have a social life.

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

My plans are to care for my husband until one of us dies. Both of us are 84 years old.

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

Be kind to yourself, and be on the lookout for Compassion Fatigue.

 

If you would like to learn more about Harriet, please visit her website;

Harriet Hodgson

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 (intact) with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

 

Dr. David Figurski Speaks Out about the Exponential Spread of Coronavirus

Learn About It

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David Columbia Award May 2017

David H. Figurski  Professor Emeritus of Columbia University  Microbiology and Immunology

Why are the WHO, scientists, and some leaders really worried about this pandemic? Why has society been asked to basically shutdown? Why has the governor of California predicted that half of the State will be infected with the new coronavirus?

… because viruses spread exponentially throughout a population.

Exponential spread is a concept that is not intuitive to humans. Here is an easy-to-understand illustration of the explosive power of an exponential function.

Start with $0.01. Then double the amount every day. (You will have $0.02 on day 2, $0.04 on day 3, $0.08 on day 4, etc.) Continue doing this every day for a month (30 days). It’s an piggy-bank-png-clip-art-image-5a1ca3f171b701.9718908215118264174658-1exponential function because every day you double the amount of the previous day (i.e., in this case, you multiply by 2) to get a new amount.

Watch how exponential growth leads to an explosion in the amount.

On day 1, you start with $0.01.1
On day 7, you will have $0.64
On day 14, you will have $81.92
On day 21, you will have $10,485.76
On day 28, you will have $1,342,177.28
On day 30, you will have $5,368,709.12

The number of coronavirus infections in the US is about to explode! The US pandemic is like about day 14 of the example. Some people are still thinking, “No big deal.” They have no idea of what’s about to happen.

A friend sent a link to me of a video that explains exponential growth in simple, very easy to understand math. Have a look. I highly recommend it. (How is Covid-19 Growing?)

People are totally wrong to be complacent about this pandemic. There have been relatively few confirmed cases, so some people are thinking we’ve got this licked. They’re wrong for two reasons. (1) The US was unprepared for this outbreak. Few (except the very sick and some celebrities) have been tested because the US had an insufficient number of test kits. So, it’s an illusion that we are seeing so few people with the virus. (2) They don’t understand the concept of the immense power of exponential spread.Growth_Bar_Graph

The primary reason people are alarmed by the number of infections is the high death rate of people who have been infected. As of this writing, deaths are 11,402 worldwide, while cases are said to be 276,104 (WorldoMeters). Calculated death rates have ranged from 1.4% (the latest, from Wuhan) to 4%.

There are 39 million people in California, and the governor has predicted that about half (19.5 million) will be infected with coronavirus. About 18% of infections are Virus and infection, image illustrationasymptomatic (about 3,500,000 in this scenario). Since the death rate is calculated with symptomatic infections (predicted to be 16 million), the lowest death rate (1.4%) gives 224,000 deaths in Calif. if the governor’s prediction is accurate.

 

David H. Figurski, Ph.D – Molecular Biologist

Columbia University Professor Emeritus

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

Dr. David Figurski Speaks Out About Coronavirus

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

David Columbia Award May 2017

Professor David Figurski        Columbia University College of Physicians &Surgeons

 

“In graduate school, I worked with a virus that infects bacterial cells (bacteriophage T1). One T1 virus particle takes about 10-12 minutes to break open the E. coli cell and release over 100 new virus particles. Each new particle can infect a cell and produce over a hundred new virus particles. So, 10-12 minutes later, there are 10,000 viruses. I could do some experiments in the morning and have the results that afternoon.

0.40555600_1467108645_microbes

Random Petri Plate

To make stocks of the virus, we would infect a late culture of bacteria. A couple of hours later, all the bacterial cells were broken open, leaving only virus.

1800x1200_coronavirus_1

Coronavirus

 

 

 

Animal viruses, like coronavirus, probably take hours to reproduce, but each infected cell produces at least a thousand new virus particles.

Consequently, I have a healthy respect for viruses.”

David H. Figurski, Ph.D – Molecularbiologist

Columbia University Professor Emeritus

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Thomas Hopkins, Jr (Tommy)

presented

by Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Tommy Hopkins, Jr Survivor of Brain Injury

 

 

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

Thomas Hopkins, Jr.

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

Mountain Home, Idaho, USA (originally from Wisconsin)

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

I was 19 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I have had several head traumas that led to my brain injuries. I’ll discuss the main ones. I have two injuries from February 2003. The first was due to a JDAM bomb (Joint Direct Attack Munition – a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs into all-weather precision-guided munitions). The second was from an explosion in a unit I was working with. In 2006, on my 4th tour, I had gotten a hammer to the head. I do not recall this incident at all. My fourth injury was in May 2007. I was still on my 4th tour. Our camp got morning RPG/mortar hits. The shop I was working in had one hit close by that shook the shop. The 40-lb. equipment I was working on fell over and hit me in the back of the head.

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

I started noticing issues after my first injury back in 2003 – daily headaches, ringing in my ears, light sensitivity, plus I would invert numbers.

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

Due to the units I was in, I did not get treatment. I’ll rephrase that – due to the units I was part of, unless you lost a limb, your sight, etc. or your life was in danger, you were not allowed to seek medical treatment.

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

No 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 started seeking help once I got out of the army. I started at the VA (medical care at hospitals of the Veterans Administration). It was not the best outcome.

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

I have convergence insufficiency (a condition in which your eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects, creating double or blurred vision),

photophobia, daily headaches that turn into migraines, and constant tinnitus. One doctor said I have damage to the autonomic and limbic systems in my brain. Other doctors have said that I don’t even have a brain injury! (LOL) I have no concept of time; I experience jerks (involuntary muscle movements); I search for words; my speech is slurred; my brain often won’t let me get my words out; and I have a poor memory. I do not feel 60+% of my body, and my lower limbs do not work a lot of the time. “Partial Para” is what they call it. At times, I need to be in a wheelchair.

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

Worse

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

I miss my memory. It used to be photographic.

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

Retirement (LOL) … Driving my wife nuts (LOL) … Um, working my brain in different ways to work on problems and situations that come up in my hobbies

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

I’m not Johnny-on-the-spot anymore. I miss my memory. My body is going to shit.

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

MY WIFE. Even though most of my injury is “invisible,” she showed me that I also have physical scars that I and others can see.

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

Yup. That’s a very long answer.

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

Yup. We lost a lot of friends and family because I was not the same Tommy I was before I was brain-injured in the war.

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

Tommy Hopkins, Jr. Brain Injury Survivor
Caregiver – Kristina Hopkins

MY WIFE! I have a rough idea of some of what she does for me, but I have no clue of what all she does.

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

My “plan” is to maintain what I have and live each day as if it is my last.

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.

Yes. You have to adapt to your new self. That old person is gone. I had to realize I will never be as I once was, BUT I am still able to do most things with adaptation.

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

My advice: Good days come and go. Work with the day you have because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

Brain Injury Ressources

The Resilient Soul by Karen Leavitt

reviewed by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

I am so proud to be an author of a chapter, “Living Nightmare – TBI” in “The Resilient Soul” by Karen Leavitt.

This book shares poignant stories of folks meeting and surmounting their struggles as they face life’s hardships. We are all resilient souls.

 

The Resilient Soul” offers hope and encouragement.

Donna O’Donnell Figurski
author of “Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale”
donnafigurski.com

Learn more here.

SPEAK OUT! Are You Kidding Me?

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY 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. That works for me too!

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

What’s Really Important

(previously published on February 14, 2015)

 by

 Kayla Bradberry Knight

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

 

Kayla Bradberry KnightLast year on February 13, my husband, Wyatt, took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. He and the kids gave me cards that morning. I was on cloud nine. Who would have thought that five days later my husband would be fighting for his life and our families would be turned upside down?valentine-s-day-clip-art

God has taught me many lessons this year. Most of all, I’ve learned that earthly possessions mean nothing. Sure, they make one happy for a while. But no gift, flower bouquet, or box of chocolates could take the place of what I have today. My husband is still here! Oh, how happy it makes me to be able to say that!

He may not realize that it’s even Valentine’s Day. Nor will he walk through the door with a gift, BUT I still get to hug him. The kids and I still get to tell him how much we love him. That, my friends, is irreplaceable. Don’t just sign that sweet card or have those beautiful flowers delivered. Show that person how much he or she means…not just today, but every day!Love Every Day

 

(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 donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.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.)

They Meant Well, But I Knew Better

by

David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

David Figurski, PhD Brain Injury Survivor

 

 

Close friends of Donna and me, with whom we have a deep mutual affection, thought I needed some advice on my ongoing recovery from my traumatic brain injury (TBI). I know our friends care about me, so their words were well-meaning – but I have to admit their comments stung quite a bit. I’m sure they didn’t want to upset me. They think they know me, but, in ignoring my nearly compulsive commitment to getting better, they got me totally wrong. They also had no idea that what they thought to be helpful advice was completely unwarranted because it was based on my own deliberately artificial impression. Let me explain.

Our friends’ advice did not come from an ignorance of brain injury, as their daughter had a nearly lethal brain-bleed eight years ago. The daughter and I are both fortunate to have fully retained our cognitive functions, but we both exhibit physical disabilities. Some of her problems are similar to mine. The advice actually began with the daughter describing some positive experiences that led to a lessening of her disabilities – but then the discussion turned into advice for me.

One piece of advice that disturbed me was that our friends and their daughter think I don’t challenge myself enough. I don’t regard myself as a slacker, nor has anyone ever referred to me as one. Here’s where they got me wrong: I always try to do better at whatever I’m doing. In fact, it was my challenging myself that caused my brain hemorrhage in the first place. Every morning, I did tai chi and chin-ups. I had worked up to twelve chin-ups. The next day, my attempt to do thirteen caused my cerebellum to bleed and put me into a coma.

After surviving my TBI fifteen years ago, I continued to push myself as hard as I did before my TBI to improve in the shortest possible time. I currently do exercises to improve my balance, build strength, and help my eye muscles (I see double) six days a week. Three of those days, I also ride my recumbent trike (15 miles each time I ride – about two hours). On two of the non-riding days, I use the treadmill for 45 minutes. (I was riding 25 miles a day and using the treadmill for 60 minutes, but Donna worried I was pushing too hard and talked me down.) By the time I get ready, do my workout, and then shower and get dressed, six or seven hours have elapsed. My normal day begins after 2:00, sometimes after 3:00.

IMG_2935

David exercising on his Catrike recumbent trike (and showing off my book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale)

I keep my weight down, and I work constantly to improve my posture because I know that both weight and posture affect balance. Also, to improve my brain’s ability to control my balance, I try not to brace myself with my hands. Even when I appear to be sitting calmly, I’m likely to be working. The brain hemorrhage affected the tendons in my neck, and my head tilts. To keep it straight, I have to work against my tendons. Hopefully, this will get easier, but it will take more years.

Our friends don’t really know any of this about me.

 

David Alinker IMG_4470

David exercising on his Alinker

 

 

When the father assists me outside, he deliberately increases the challenge to me. I do it, and would never say I can’t (My self-esteem has already taken a big hit), but I know I couldn’t maintain that effort indefinitely. (On the other hand, Donna is an incredible help to me. She knows when to assist me to make my life possible and when to challenge me.)

I think the father assumes that I can improve my balance like his daughter did. What he doesn’t realize is that my hemorrhage began in my cerebellum, which controls my balance. So, my brain’s mechanism for controlling balance has been disrupted. His daughter doesn’t have my severe balance problem, so her brain’s mechanism for controlling balance appears to be functioning. Her problem may have been a signaling issue.

It was surprising to hear that kind of advice from the daughter. We are fond of each other, and we have mutual empathy. It’s clear that the differences in our disabilities indicate an obvious fact: that different parts of our brains are affected. Thankfully, she doesn’t have all the problems I have. (For example, her vision is fine, and she is able to drive.) Her balance was affected, but fortunately, she can walk outside, including on grass, dirt, sand, or gravel. In contrast, my balance issue makes it impossible for me to walk unassisted anywhere outside, even on sidewalks because of their slight irregularities.

I am immensely thankful that that the daughter has none of the other problems that I have – double vision (which I mentioned), less feeling in my right leg, a swallow problem, a less coordinated tongue that makes chewing hazardous, a urinary frequency problem, extreme difficulty standing after sitting a while, an ataxic right arm, left hand and fingers that aren’t as good as they used to be, and paralysis on the right side of my face. I used to race cars, but now I can’t drive at all.

The daughter said her balance was improved rapidly by allowing herself to fall and learning the point at which that would happen. I do that when I’m near the bed, where I know I can fall safely. I’m reminded of race drivers who learned the limit of a turn by driving so fast that they would go off the course. That is one strategy for learning, but I chose another: to drive to the point I was scared I wouldn’t keep the car on the track. I learned that, even though it was scary, I was able to drive through the turn faster than I used to. (Incidentally, I was rarely passed by a driver from the other group.) Falling worked for the daughter, but it’s not the only way to improve. I use another, equally effective, method.

My second point illustrates another reason why our friends’ advice was incorrect: What I allow our friends to see does not reflect my life at all. Their error was to assume that it does.

Donna constantly offers to help me, and she doesn’t like to see me struggle. We discussed how I need to do things myself. My efforts take much longer than they did before my TBI, but doing them myself is good for my recovery and my self-esteem. Donna has since achieved a nice balance. She reluctantly lets me struggle and only assists when I ask for help.

At home, I do whatever I can physically, including making the bed every morning, doing the laundry, cleaning up after dinner every night, and loading and unloading the dishwasher. In fact, every movement I make is excellent therapy.

When we visit friends or when we go to parties, people see a very different version of me. I use a cane and take small steps to ensure I walk in a straight line and don’t bump the walls. Our friends would freak out if I they saw me pushing the envelope like I do at home! I let Donna help me or do things for me, not because I want her to wait on me, but because my instability would upset people and make them feel uncomfortable. Our friends are concerned because they constantly see me accepting Donna’s help.

They feel I’m not where I should be. They have erroneously assumed that I don’t work hard enough to improve myself. Their advice, while well-intentioned, is totally wrong. Given that I spend several hours each day working out, given that I believe everything I do is therapy and helps my recovery, and given that I accept Donna’s help to protect our friends from seeing my instability whenever I’m in their presence, “insufficient challenge” is an entirely misguided and utterly inappropriate concept to apply to me.

I would argue that, with all my disabilities, I’m actually doing much better than expected.

David Figurski, Ph.D.           Brain Injury Survivor of 15 years

David & Donna Dec 2019 Lupitas

Donna O’Donnell Figurski and David Figurski – 15 years post-Brain Injury for David

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

 

 

Brain Injury Resources …

“I Give Up”

Composed and Played by Elijah Bossenbroek

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

This is an amazing piece of piano music composed and played with breathtaking emotion by the young and upcoming (some say “genius”) pianist Elijah Bossenbroek. It’s Pianoa very moving piece, about which commenters have written “sad,” “uplifting,” and “inspiring.”  I can only assume that Bossenbroek has “triumphed” over an extremely sad part of his own life.

It is an appropriate piece for survivors of brain injury, who usually experience these emotions at one time or another. Listening to this piece gave me chills.

Never Give Up

 

 

 

Never Give Up!
Scream!
Yell!
Breathe. Breathe. Breathe.
Move on…

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY 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. That works for me too!

Tag Cloud

The Care Factor

Loving someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog With Free TBI Information

Brain Injury Blog and Helpful Articles

Montclair Write Group

Writing Support Group

Brain Injury Support Group of Duluth-Extension

Brain Injury Information and SUPPORT

Women Worldwide Network

Women around the world share their incredible stories

Brain Aneurysm Global Insight

Brain Aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging, hemorrhage stroke

Motivational Coping & Healing

Rising Above the Hardships

catherinelanser.wordpress.com/

Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, and the Brain

Wrath of Violets

A retrospective documentary of my most inner thoughts: A success in the making

Karen DeBonis

Memoir and creative nonfiction

Surviving TBI

Learning how to survive with spouse's TBI

BQB Publishing

Tomorrow's Best Sellers Today

Knit Neutrality

Knit (Verb) | 'nit : to join together

Ten Thousand Days

The long and winding journey after loss

Wordcrafter9's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Tripambitions

It contains the world best places and things.

%d bloggers like this: