TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘• Donna O’Donnell Figurski’

COVID-19 — It’s Everywhere . . . Vaccine is Possible

COVID-19 . . . Evidence that a Vaccine is Possible

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in these posts.)

COVID-19

The 100+ labs trying to develop a vaccine for COVID-19 were delighted with a study showing that COVID-19 stimulates a strong antibody response in humans. Scientists from the University of California at San Diego (UCSD) demonstrated that a vaccine for COVID-19 is definitely possible.

The scientists studied blood from mildly sick individuals who recovered. They found a high level of antibodies to the spike protein, used by COVID-19 to infect.

The strong antibody response suggests that immunity will occur in humans and will last a while, but no one knows for how long – weeks? months? years?

The scientists were surprised by another result. For you also to understand it, I have to give you some background. (Sorry!)

There are seven coronaviruses that infect humans.

Four are common and cause mild, cold-like symptoms.  We’ve all probably had one or more of these.

Three coronaviruses (SARS-CoV, SARS-CoV-2 <which causes COVID-19>, and MERS- CoV) cause serious human disease and some fatalities.

Blood taken before COVID-19 even existed in humans nevertheless showed the presence of antibodies that reacted with COVID-19.  Infection with one of the mild coronaviruses may have stimulated the body’s production of some antibodies that cross-react with COVID-19.

Some seemingly healthy individuals have died from COVID-19. In contrast, some people not predicted to do well had mild disease or were asymptomatic. Doctors are perplexed by their inability to predict who will recover.

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

One possibility is that the amount of cross-reactive antibodies arising from previous infection with one or more of the mild coronaviruses may determine how well a COVID-19-infected person will do.

 

Stay Safe and Healthy!

 

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Sneak Peeks for Prisoners

My book, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, will be released to the public on November 1, 2018 by WriteLife Publishing of Boutique of Quality Books Publishing Company.  Here are pre-order links for Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

 

Excerpt 3

Chapter 11

Hearths

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

figurski-1

David Figurski, PhD – a few months before brain injury

… The waiting room was huge. There were couches in clusters—some small, some large, each with a table in the middle. The groupings reminded me of The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean Auel that I read many years ago. Auel wrote about prehistoric man, the Clan people. She told how each family gathered around its hearth at night. The hearth was a private place. It was illustration-of-a-caveman-family-dancing-around-a-bonfire_158190224-1considered impolite to peer into someone else’s hearth. That’s the way it felt in the waiting room too …

 

 

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

 

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

 

Janice Tindle - Survivor

Janice Tindle – Survivor

Janice Tindle (survivor)…My accomplishment is getting published after my TBI (traumatic brain injury). I have a blog (janicetindle.com), where you’ll find all my links. I’m on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I’ve been published in Caregiver magazine, Fearless Caregiver, and TBI Hope and Inspiration magazine. I’m also a contributor to TheMighty.com. I raise awareness about TBI and dystonia (a neurological movement disorder). I recently won the 1pg. Short Screenplay Contest. My entry, entitled Galicia’s Granite, was performed at the Novel Writing Festival. It’s on YouTube. I just fought two spam sites and got them to remove my article, 7 Ways to Support a Loved One with a Traumatic Brain Injury, off their sites. kids-hand-writing-clip-art-hand_with_pencil_5CAnnie Ricketts has it posted (with my permission) on her site, biglobalpicnic.org. I’m very proud of that article. I’m working on a several books and hope to become a PAID writer very soon!

 

 

Raine Turner - Caregiver & Author

Raine Turner – Caregiver & Author

Raine Turner (caregiver)…I am going to brag – big huge momma brag! My son [my brain-injured son, who was not supposed to survive, never mind thrive; my drug-dealing son, with a federal criminal record; my son, who is now at the University of Calgary studying a dual degree in Business and Actuarial Science (I said I was going to brag) and getting 80s (yes, on a reduced course load and with tutors)] is thriving against all odds. congrats-you-did-itThis same young man was actually the KEYNOTE speaker at the Brain Injury conference in Ottawa, which is supported by the federal government! So, if you think you cannot achieve, cannot fight, or cannot rise up to be at a higher level than the one on which you are at, you should put on your “big boy” or “big girl” underpants and work hard. You WILL rise up to be at a level higher than the one you are at now. It will not be easy; it will not be fun; but you will improve your life. If you need, I can always “kick your ass” to achieve more, as I did for my son! I am so excited; I am so proud of him! He has worked so hard for so long. My son is my HERO!

Raine Turner, the author of “Only Son… Only Child,” will be a guest on my show, “Another Fork in the Road” on Sunday, August 21, 2016, at 5:30pm Pacific Time, with her son, Ryan. I hope you will join us.

 

Matthew Vickers - Survivor

Matthew Vickers – Survivor

 

Matthew Vickers (survivor)…A huge feat for a traumatic brain injury survivor tubshower11who can’t walk or stand and only has the use of his right arm and hand … For consecutive weeks, I have independently showered, and that includes completing all necessary transfers.

 

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

 

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

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.

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.

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

 

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Jump for JoyKaren Dickerson (survivor)…OMG! I was crying and jumping up and down (LOL). I passed my college entrance exam! Even better: 93% in English/Writing! Here I come, Baker College of Michigan, to become an Occupational Therapist Assistant. There is hope!Bakers College

Two years ago, after my motor vehicle accident, I couldn’t even process what I was reading, and I had to learn how to write my name again. I’ve worked very hard to get that comprehension back. I had over two years of speech and occupational therapies. Math is still a problem, just like it was twenty-one years ago. But I’m so proud. I didn’t think that I would ever reach this point after my TBI (traumatic brain injury).

 

writing pencil animated

Ric Johnson (survivor)…Well, it took me two months, but I was able to write an article concerning the importance of support-groups for the recovery and healing of TBI survivors. I have it published in the TBI Hope TBI Hope &amp; INspiration& Inspiration magazine, June 2016 edition.

 

FamilyElizabeth Leonard Lawrence (survivor)…I am twelve years post TBI from an accident I got while serving in the military. I was told by doctors that I would never have a family, that I would never drive a car, and that I would take multiple pills a day for the rest of my life. Well guess what! I have a wonderful husband of three years, a three-year-old little boy, and I only take one medication now. So overall, I’d say it’s a huge accomplishment in my life!

 

Jennifer Stokley (survivor)…I had the most amazing day. I actually went out without any fear with a friend who has been coming over for a while to do “talk therapy” with me. She asked me if I wanted to go over to her farm, and I immediately said, “Yes!” Farm

Out the door I went – no cane, just my coffee in hand and a smile on my face. I totally trust this person; I’ve gotten to know her well. In the car we went. Away… to a place I’ve never been to before. A real farm! WOW! We spent hours there. She cleaned out the stalls, while I sat on the grass watching the cows in the field near the pond. It was beautiful.Cow Then she came, and together, while sitting and lying on the grass, we spent the longest time just talking about anything and everything. It was absolutely the best time. I loved every second of it. I didn’t have a moment of anxiety pop up. I can’t wait to do it again. We intend to real soon.

 

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

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.

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.

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Lisabeth Mackall, Caregiver, Therapist, Author

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio
“Another Fork in the Road”
with Lisabeth Mackall, Caregiver, Therapist, Author

presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1When Lisabeth Mackall opened her front door at 2:30am on January 2, 2012, it changed her life forever. She learned that her husband, Police Officer Frank Mackall, had been in a serious motor vehicle accident while on duty, and had been airlifted to a hospital. When Lisabeth opened her front door, she unknowingly entered the world of brain injury. She had to follow “Another Fork in the Road.” Lisabeth will share how she and her family picked up the remnants, pieced them together with patience, persistence, and love, and forged a new life.

Lisabeth’s book, “27 Miles: A Tank’s Journey Home

Lisabeth’s Blog

If you missed Lisabeth’s interview on “Another Fork in the Road” on May 3, 2015, you are in luck. You can listen to the archived show here.

Click the link below to listen to Lisabeth Mackall and me.

See you “On the Air!”

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

with Lisabeth Mackall, Caregiver, Therapist, Author

Click here for a list of all “Another Fork in the Road” shows on the Brain Injury Radio Network.

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio Interview with Dr. David Figurski Prisoner without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio

Interview with Dr. David Figurski

Prisoner without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury

images-1

You’ve heard David’s story from my point of view. Yesterday David shared his perspective of living with traumatic brain injury. He spoke about how his life has greatly changed for better…and for worse.

david-running-in-hall-

David Figurski 3wks before Traumatic Brain Injury

We learned about David’s life as a child and his educational career, which he began as a Kindergarten dropout. He told of the years that led up to our marriage and also about his life as a Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University, both before and after his TBI. We found out how he is coping with this new life thrust upon him…and upon us. The show ends with me brushing tears from my cheeks as David talks about the heroic acts of caregivers and my role in his recovery.

12 D&D I Donna O'Donnell Figurski  & David Figurski Dancing 13 copy

David & Donna Figurski Starlight Dance Studio 8yrs after Traumatic Brain Injury

If you missed the show, don’t fret. You can always listen to the archived show. I’ve included the link below.

Please SHARE!

I hope you’ll tune in to my show, “Another Fork in the Road,” which airs the 1st and 3rd Sunday evenings of every month. The show starts at 5:00p Pacific Time and runs for 90 minutes. On the fifth Sunday in a month, Julie Kintz, Host of “Quantum Leap,” and I team up to cohost a show called “Another Quantum Leap in the Road.”

 

See you “On the Air!”

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Luke R. Hostetler

SPEAK OUT! – Luke R. Hostetler

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Use This Hostetler, Luke

Luke R. Hostetler

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

Luke R. Hostetler

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

Woodburn, Indiana, USA     Lrhostetler@gmail.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

September 10, 2010     Age 26

4. How did your TBI occur?

I fell down stairs.

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

Friends looked for me when they realized I was absent from the party for too long. The doctors diagnosed the TBI!

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

I had a tracheotomy, and a feeding tube was inserted. My jaw was wired shut. 😦

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

I think I was, but I don’t think it was for an extended period of 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 rehab (occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy – maybe others), both as an inpatient and an outpatient. Rehab was maybe two years?

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

My right optic nerve is damaged. I have a problem with short-term memory. 😦

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

I’ve met many new people, so that’s a very good thing!

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

I miss my occupation and driving!

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

A new friend whom I met because of my TBI. 🙂

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

My short-term-memory is junk. 😦

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

My new friend. She also has a TBI!

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

Home life: At 30 years old, I still live with my mom, and I depend on others for most everyday activities.

Relationships: I’ve made countless new friends. That’s ALL GOOD. 🙂

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

I am much more of a social being.

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

My Loving Mother, Vicki Rose Hostetler, is my caregiver. I know and understand it’s hard work, and I appreciate that!

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

I hope to be able to live independently. I’d like to have had found the love of my life!

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

Patience is a virtue!

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

Live your life in stride. Good things come to those who wait. God has a perfect plan. 🙂

Hostetler with Muskie 10639383_10204875651152455_5899253425922197294_n

Luke R. Hostetler & Muskie

 

Thank you, Luke, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

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

(Photos compliments of Luke.)

If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

 

Brain Injury Resources “You Disappear”

“You Disappear” by Christian Jungersen

(Insight Into the World of Brain Damage)

reviewed by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

"You_Disappear"_Jungersen-205x300

You Disappear by Christian Jungersen

As anyone who has had a brain injury and his or her caregiver know, life is forever altered. It will never be the same. Christian Jungersen takes his readers on the twisted journey of Frederick, a headmaster at a prestigious school; Mia, his wife and a reputable schoolteacher; and their teenage son, Niklas. Unlike many brain injuries that occur by an impact, an accident, or a hemorrhage, Frederick’s brain “injury” evolved over time, changing his personality bit by bit. Mia slowly noticed inexplicable changes in her husband. Talking too loud and eating too much were just two of the little signs that were manifested as Frederick’s brain changed. While on a vacation in Majorca, Frederick drove unusually erratically and dangerously. His driving caused their rental car to scrape a stone cliff. When Frederick, in a crazed state, jumped from the car, fell down a hillside, and woke in the local hospital, he was forced to seek help, and the mystery of his strange behavior is unveiled.

Once Frederick is diagnosed with a slow-growing brain tumor, his aberrant behavior becomes more understandable, but not excusable. As is the case for many brain-injured persons, Frederick’s behavior hampered his decision–making process. Frederick illegally took large sums of money from his school, causing the school to become bankrupt and Frederick to lose the respect and friendship of many people, including his chairman and close friend, Laust. Eventually Frederick, while seeking help, loses his job and faces a possible prison sentence.

Mia fondly remembers the years before the change in Frederick. She remembers the love they shared. She does what she can to help him, but his deviant and erratic behavior makes living with him difficult. Finally, Mia seeks help and companionship with a local brain-injury support group, where she meets Bernard, who not only becomes Frederick’s attorney, but also a “special” friend to Mia.

As Christian Jungersen so aptly states, “As any family member of someone with brain damage knows, the hard part isn’t the initial shock. The hard part comes when the adrenalin recedes and you have to set out down the endless gray corridor of disheartening days, days that look like they’ll last the rest of your life.”

As the caregiver for my husband, who has a traumatic brain injury, I understand Jungersen’s words completely. The adrenalin gets you through the early surgeries and the beginning days in the hospital. It may even carry you through the weeks in the rehabilitation facility. But the adrenalin-rush ends, and “real life” sets in when the caregiver brings the survivor home. That’s when the realization occurs that life will never be the same as it was. The survivor will never be the same as before, and neither will the caregiver. Brain damage has a way of changing the normal. That’s when the survivor and caregiver realize that the journey through the brain-damage maze has just started. They eventually realize that it has no end. Once brain damage comes to stay, it can tear families apart. But, it can also make families stronger, as they pull together to overcome the trials of brain injury.

In “You Disappear,” Jungersen portrays how one family finds their world breaking up. Will they find enough glue to repair it?

 

Jungersen 2

Christian Jungersen

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

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(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com. If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

 

Here are this week’s Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

(Though we’ve only two contributors, their accomplishments are great.)

DuWayne Hall…I got a job! My baby step this week is working for a non-profit organization that works with TBI survivors.

Carmen Gaarder Kumm…A giant step. I taught high-school Spanish for 23 years, but I had to resign because I couldn’t do it post accident. Tuesday I taught 20 adults how to tell their name, age, and condition and how to count to 100. I can hardly wait until next week.

DuWayne Hall…I’ve just been offered another job! It provides a paid apartment, full salary, and profit sharing. And that is in addition to the job I was offered on Monday, in which I would be working with military survivors who have PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)! Wow! Life is funny and God is Great!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

TBI Tales: Can Music Rewire Brain?

Playing a Mandolin

 by

 Richard Johnson

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

 

mandolin-for-gloggtserMy traumatic brain injury took place in October 2003. I did survive (fortunately), but one of the main side effects from my injury is short-term memory loss.

Years ago, I was in a local coffee shop drinking a cup of coffee and thinking – not “Why me? Why me?” but “What can I do to help my short-term memory loss?” The coffee shop had two people playing guitars. One person put down his guitar and picked up a mandolin. They then played three of my favorite songs. What they triggered was like a bolt of lightning had gone through me! I knew right away that learning how to play an instrument, how to read sheet music, and, most importantly, remembering what I just practiced would be the best memory therapy in the world.

When the musicians took a break, I asked about the mandolin. I told the mandolin-player that I had never played any instrument before. I asked if I could chord with less than four fingers (I only have about two-and-a-half usable fingers), and on and on we talked. He showed me a couple of mandolin chords and said to search on Google for two-finger mandolin chords. He told me to buy a beginner’s mandolin to start and to have fun. And that’s exactly what I did. I bought a good-enough beginner’s mandolin from a friend of a friend, found a great local music store that gives mandolin lessons, bought a couple of books and DVD’s, and started playing.

Well, it’s been a few years now, and I play at least one hour every day. It seems to take a month to learn a song. I’m taking the old “practice, practice, practice” route. I’m able to remember and play (most of) those songs without reading the sheet music. If I haven’t played one of those songs in a couple of weeks, I may need to read the sheet music to remember a measure or two.

I wake up in the morning thinking about the songs I practiced and played the day before. I think about the songs I will practice and play that day by “singing” the songs in my head (not the lyrics, but how they’re fretted and picked). When I’m playing, I’m in a whole different world, and the daily toils just slide away.  I’m sure I could refer to my playing-time as “therapy,” but, for me, it’s pure bliss.

In short, playing a musical instrument is one of the main keys I have gained for rewiring my brain. I truly think that beginning and learning a new hobby or new skill is very important, as it makes us think, think, and think. I also believe that playing music, any type of music, all the time helps my brain find those broken nodes and, with its neuroplasticity, “fixes” them. And most importantly, my short-term memory problem is less and less pronounced. Sure, I can still forget what I had for lunch an hour after eating it, but I can bring that memory back a few seconds later. I can still forget who called me earlier today or why, but again it’s easier to make that connection again.

I would like to continue talking, but my mandolin is calling me.

(Richard Johnson’s experience is an excellent example of something I thought might be true – using the playing of a musical instrument to stimulate the brain and thereby help heal an injured brain.)

 

RJohnson-PortraitThank you, Richard, for sharing your story in TBI Tales. I hope that your experience will offer inspiration to my readers.

(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.

(Pictures compliments of Richard.)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

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 lower right corner of your screen. (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.

 

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