TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘ABI’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Abi

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Abi

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Abigail

Abi – brain injury survivor

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

Abi

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

Columbia City, Indiana, USA

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

I had my TBI (traumatic brain injury) at age 20.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was hit by a freight train in a suicide attempt.

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

I knew I had a problem when I started speaking, as my voice pitch changed quite a bit. Also, when I was asked to remember things from the day before, I had trouble doing so.

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

I was taken to a hospital right away. In addition to the problems noted above, I also had a messed up back and an amputated right arm, so those were tended to right away. I was also immediately given stitches to close up a wound on my head.

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

I don’t think I was in a coma, but I don’t recall very well the two days after my incident.

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 occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy both as an inpatient and as an outpatient. I was in the rehab inpatient therapy for at least six weeks. I was in outpatient therapy even longer, but the outpatient therapy focused more on my missing arm. I also had in-home therapy.

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

I have poor balance and slurred speech. I experience personality changes.

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

I believe my life has changed for the better, as I’ve met so many who are worse off than me.

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

I miss nothing from my pre-brain-injury life, as my personality changed for the good. But I do miss people understanding me.

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

Abigail 2

Abi – brain injury survivor

I like to meet others with a TBI and other disabilities.

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

I dislike my slurred speech and sounding different than I used to.

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

Yeah – meeting those worse off

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

I’m much better, as I’m more social.

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

Yeah. I went from being deathly shy to a social butterfly.

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

My mother is my main caregiver. Yeah, I do understand what it takes. It’s hard work.

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

I plan to have a family and to be a counselor helping suicidal people.

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.

Don’t give up.Don't Give Up

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 is Don’t give up, and be you.
(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

As I say after each post:

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

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jen Swartz

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jen Swartz

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

jen swartz Survivor1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Jen Swartz

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

Castleton, New York, USA     Passionate4Christ29@yahoo.com

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

My brain injury happened on June 8, 2000. I was 18.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a car accident. I was following a close friend to her boyfriend’s house. My car was T-boned by another car going 55-60 mph. My small car, a 1987 Toyota Corolla, was thrown across the street. Jen (the person I was following) said that my body was hanging out the door. She thought I was dead because there was blood coming out of my mouth. (To top it off, I also have congenital scoliosis and had to have a major operation when I was nine years old – a bone fusion in my neck to prevent the curve from progressing further. I had to wear a halo to restrict neck movement so the bone fusion could heal.)

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

I think it was probably when I was in a coma that people realized that I would have some cognitive problems.

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

I required a tracheotomy and a food tube. Also, my head was shaved for a reason. At the beginning, my brain was swelling, but, praise the Lord, the swelling went down. So, it was not necessary to take a piece of my skull off to allow room for the swelling.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for six weeks.

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)?

Yes. I did inpatient rehabilitation at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. This included speech, occupational, physical, and recreational therapies.

How long were you in rehab?Jen Swartz Survivor

I was in rehabilitation for seven months.

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

I have memory issues for certain! I have problems with concentration, focusing, emotions, and balance.

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

My life is MUCH better! I don’t remember eighteen years of my life, but from what I am told, I was very unhappy. Now I have God. He is my purpose! I am also blessed to say that I am engaged to an incredible man, who has an acquired brain injury (ABI). It is so great! We have known each other for three years, and we see eye-to-eye on practically everything.

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

Absolutely nothing!

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

I like that I don’t take anything for granted and that I am content with the way things are. God blessed me with a second chance at living, so I am trying to make the most out of everything in life.

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

I dislike the anxiety issues, the memory problems (which seem to happen quite frequently), and the migraines.

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

Yes! I was helped by Living Resources, where I participated in a group for people with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). I was also helped by the Cognitive Group, which consisted of survivors working on different goals/strategies for different areas of life. The belief is that each individual can improve his or her life after a TBI. The group is run by neuropsychologists and counselors.

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

Yes. My mother and sister are very distant mentally from me, since they don’t seem to have the desire to want to accept the change that this injury made. I feel it may be caused by a little pride with them, considering the fact that I believe that I was quite an intelligent woman before my injury. Before my accident, I was accepted into Ithaca College, since I wanted to delve into the medical field in some way. My mother and sister do not work well with the cognitive change in me that the injury has caused, such as my not desiring to be with large groups of people or my forgetting things.

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

I believe my life has changed immensely. I used to have many, many friends and loved to be in large groups of people. Now, however, I don’t enjoy being in large crowds or in large groups of people. I get overwhelmed. I enjoy spending much more alone-time now, as well. I have even been taught how to crochet. I love doing crochet, especially when the winter months roll in.

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

I haven’t needed a caregiver, but I understand what it takes to be a caregiver, since I have had staff work with me on and off throughout the years.

Jen Swartz 218. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My future plans consist of buying a home with my fiancé through the Section 8 program. My fiancé will be my husband on May 27, 2017. I plan to continue working with Living Resources in the years to come, and my fiancé does as well.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

My helpful hint is to be patient. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race! Slow progress is key to amazing growth. Also, be open-minded to hearing from staff-members assisting to help you. If you listen to any suggestions, which may guide you to improve, you are being very wise in opening up your mind for possible progress.

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

Keep at it! Don’t give up! Also, you will grow if you listen to what “staff” suggest you do in order to improve! You can and will do it!
(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

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 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. That works for me too!

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . William

SPEAK OUT! – William

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

th-2

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

William

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

Eastern Tennessee, USA

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

Age 43

4. How did your ABI occur?

I was subjected to 334 ppm (parts per million) of carbon monoxide for six days.

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

At 6:00 am on the seventh day, I was found unconscious outside my apartment door.

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

A hyperbaric chamber was used on three occasions while I was in a coma.

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

I was in a coma 32 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 had physical and speech therapies for two years – first, inpatient; then outpatient.

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

Pre-injury, I was a retired Marine Colonel on discharge leave. After my injury, I developed a pronounced hyperkinetic motion disorder, with severe spasticity, a short-term memory disorder, and slow-awakening problems. I cannot walk, type, write, or do anything requiring either fine-motor control or large muscle use.

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

I went from an active Marine to an inactive thinker. From one perspective, my life got significantly worse – about the worst it could. In another perspective, it became rather better. I have a better logical process; I am more understanding of others; and I have the dubious privilege to be unable to use any pharmaceutical drug. To combat this odd aspect of my disability, I studied to be an herbalist, and I live quite well. I cannot have many food chemicals, so I eat better too.

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

I miss being a Marine Corps Colonel.

What do you enjoy most in your post-ABI life?

12. I enjoy knowing how to help people who cannot yet cope with their disability. I help anyone who asks.

13. What do you like least about your ABI?

My brain injury turned me into a burden on everyone in my circle. I can do very little. Whenever I try to use my muscles, hyperkinesia starts up, followed by severe spasticity. It makes doing most things impossible.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your ABI?

I eventually realized that this was what I had left in my life. I could either mope about lost opportunity, or I could grasp any opportunity that came my way. I chose the latter – I cannot change anything, so I willingly accept it.

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

My life has been affected in every conceivable way. Everything is different. Relationships are far harder – people do not wish to know the twitching cripple in the fancy wheelchair. Physical relationships are completely different – I cannot be an active partner, so I must be passive. It takes a special person to be able to cope with that.

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

Able-bodied people do not like to see severely disabled people. It embarrasses them. This makes socializing rather difficult. People will say “Call me” and give me the wrong number. Or, they will shudder at the thought of seeing me again. In stores, I am apparently invisible.

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

Caregivers come and go. Some are good; some are perverts; some are thieves. They are necessary, so I lose things, get humiliated, or get assaulted. I have a friend who takes time to look after me once or twice a month. My friend works away and is home infrequently.

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

It would be nice to still be breathing. I have lived as I do now for twenty years. I hope to live for longer.

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 ABI survivors with your specific kind of ABI.

Accept it as it develops. It takes time to reach the level you will live at. Accept that, and it will be easier.

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

It is easy to be angry at the condition you find yourself in. You were not supposed to get disabled in any way, and you probably think that it is horrifically unfair. That is completely true in every case, but it does not help you go on with living. To do that, you have to look at what you have been given, what you still have, and what you can do. Take that inventory slowly and carefully because it is important. When you know what you have to work with and what you can do, don’t try getting anything else. Just accept what you have and adapt to live at that level. When you have done that and you can live calmly at that level, you could try to do more, but not until you are calm with your disability. So many people spend all of their time trying to fight the un-fightable. They are constantly miserable because it does not seem fair. I know it isn’t. I lost nearly everything three months after I retired from the Marines. All my dreams, hopes, and expectations died along with some of my brain. I really do not need to make worse what I have left by being miserable about it. That is foolish. I have to go on living. I had, and still have, no alternative, so I must make the very best of what I have. You will enjoy a better standard of living if you do the same.

 

Thank you, William, 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.)

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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