TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘aneurysm’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Katey Ratz

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Katey Ratz

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

10887811_768025126566372_1831835211_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Katey Ratz

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

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA     KateyKat626@yahoo.com

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

I had my first traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2002 at age 22 and my second TBI in 2007 at age 28 (if I remember correctly).

4. How did your brain injury occur?

My first TBI occurred because I was getting electroconvulsive shock therapy. During my fifth treatment, I had a fifteen-minute seizure. I lost a lot of short-term memory. I have great long-term memory. My second TBI occurred when I thought I had epilepsy. I went to a neurologist. They did an EEG (electroencephalogram). They discovered left temporal lobe epilepsy and an aneurysm.

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

My fifteen-minute seizure happened January 21, 2002 – the day before my mom’s 50th birthday. As far as the second, I’m not sure.

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

I’m not sure about my treatment for the emergency during electroconvulsive therapy. With the aneurysm, they removed a portion of my brain on the left side. Because they had to go through my skull, I now have a dent on my head.

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

I don’t think so.

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 don’t think I officially did rehab. I am in a kind of rehab now. I go to the Milwaukee Center for Independence. It is for people with a brain injury. I go there three days a week. They have two groups a day and different groups every day.

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

I have a LOT of short-term memory loss. Like, I would call my mom and have a good conversation, hang up, and call her right back – forgetting that I had just spoken to her. And, my personality has been affected. I’m short-tempered – both with myself and with others.

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

My life is both better and worse. I definitely don’t have the life I wanted. I have to rely on other people, which I hate. But, I am so lucky to be alive. My life is better because I am able to ask for help. I know I need it. Also, I am determined. And, my creative gift is outstanding. It’s my greatest strength. My life is worse because I can’t get the education I wanted. I cannot be a nurse or an occupational therapist. I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse or a pediatric/adolescent occupational therapist specializing in psych.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?10872431_768025869899631_857990768_n

I miss that I had so many friends. I was very outgoing. I still am somewhat outgoing – I will talk to strangers in coffee shops. But, now my friendship is way down. I get emails, but like I call once a week, if that.

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

My creativity is strengthened. My poetry is awesome. I combine sonnets with acrostics, and away I go. Right now, I have over 1,250 fourteen-letter phrases for the acrostic part. I have them all in ABC order. I can go to a coffee shop for four hours and write several poems. It keeps me out of trouble. I listen to the church message and “take notes” by listening for a fourteen-letter phrase. Today it was “The Great Reward.”

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

I miss the old Katey. I hate relying on others. I hate not being able to live on my own.

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

Knowing that I am not alone has helped me accept my brain injuries. There are different levels of TBI. I mean, looking at me, you wouldn’t think I have a TBI. There are probably many more out there like me. I just have to accept that and know I am not alone.

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

I live in an apartment where there are caretakers, although they aren’t doing that great of a job. The caretakers are supposed to cook and help me clean, but they aren’t. They give me my allowance – I get my laundry money and $10 twice a week. As for relationships, my family is great. I love them so much! As for friends, I have a few, but only a couple really understand.

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

My social life has changed. I go out, but I can’t be the old Katey. I can’t go to new places because I am afraid of getting lost. I have gotten lost a few times and had to call people for support. I want to join a bible study group, but I haven’t because of my fear of getting lost!

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

Like I said before, I live in an apartment where there are caretakers. There are a couple of them who pass out meds. At times, it frustrates me. They lay my meds out on a table at like 4 pm for bedtime, but I will forget to take them at bedtime. They need to give better care.

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

I would so love to be back in school. If I only had all my brain! I would love to have a job helping people. I would love to be happily married and have kids.

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.

I had an aneurysm. Yes, part of my brain is missing. But, I am still here and deserve to be. I deserve the help I need. And, I will gladly give back any help I can!

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

TBIs do take time. At times, there are great days. They may not last, but that does not equal failure. That is the TBI. The “T” in TBI stands for “traumatic” – but we still survived!Katey Ratz Survivor 061015

 

Thank you, Katey, 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.

(Photos compliments of Katey.)

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Barrett Sturgill

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Barrett Sturgill

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

(submitted by Barrett’s mother and caregiver, Amanda Sturgill)

 bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718We were in a motor vehicle accident on April 13, 2012. It caused Barrett to have an aneurysm and a brain hemorrhage from contrecoup (a contusion resulting from the brain contacting the skull on the sideBarrett Sturgill Survivor 0610115 opposite from where impact occurs). He was only five years old at the time.

He immediately had a frontotemporoparietal craniotomy (the frontal, temporal, and parietal bones were removed from the skull). He suffered epidural and subdural hematomas. (Both allowed the buildup of blood to impinge on the brain.) Barrett was then flown to a children’s hospital. He was in critical condition and was in the intensive care unit until May 1.

Barrett Sturgill 3 Survivor 060115On April 26, he was given a G-tube (gastric feeding tube, which allows nutrients to be introduced directly into the stomach) and trach (a small tube inserted in the trachea to keep the airway open). Barrett Sturgill 2 Survivor 060115Barrett remained in a coma until May 1. Then he only opened his eyes. We went to Cardinal Hill Rehab on May 4 and stayed there until June 30. On June 14, the trach was removed. He remained nonverbal until June 22. At that time, he also began to eat small amounts. On August 6, the feeding tube was removed.

In October, he started walking with assistance. Barrett Sturgill Survivor 060115 And his SisterNow three years later, Barrett walks, runs, talks, and eats. He has muscle weakness in his right side – he uses his leg better than his arm. Barrett is in a regular first grade with his sister, and he only goes to Special Ed for two hours – for spelling and math. He loves video games.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(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 Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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

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

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care! Feel free to “Like” my post.

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Charline

SPEAK OUT! – Charline

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Charline

Charline & Rick April 2012

 

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

Charline

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

Abilene, Texas, USA

3. What is the TBI survivor’s relationship to you?

He (Rick) is my husband.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the TBI?

52

What caused your survivor’s TBI?

The TBI was caused by an aneurysm that started to hemorrhage. Two days after the surgery to repair the aneurysm, he had a major stroke.

4. On what date did you begin care for your TBI survivor?

September 2013

Were you the main caregiver?

No

Are you now?

Yes

How old were you when you began care?

49

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

No

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s TBI?

Yes

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. My husband and I were snowbirds at the time of the TBI. We worked on the Gunflint Trail in Minnesota during the summer and at an antique store in Texas during the winter. Rick is a Minnesota native, and I am a Texan. He was flown to Minneapolis, so I was not able to continue my summer job. We came back to Texas in June 2014.

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

My two daughters and their families live here and are able to come and relieve me for a few hours a week.

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

Immediately

9. Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Rick was in a medically induced coma.

If so, what did you do at that time?

I spent every day in the Intensive Care Unit talking and reading to Rick. He had family that came daily to visit as well.

10. Did your survivor have rehab?

Yes

If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)?

Rick was in a nursing home between the hospital and rehab. He had to relearn everything. He had physical therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy when he was moved to the rehab facility.

How long was the rehab?

3 months

Where were you when this was happening?

I attended most of every therapy session and doctor visits. Rick responded better to me than to anyone else.

11. What problems or disabilities of your TBI survivor required your care, if any?

His memory was severely damaged. He can never be left alone. He is also incontinent. (I have him on a bathroom schedule. If I ask him if he needs to go, he always says no; but if I tell him it’s time to go, he does.) His appetite is great.

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

I can’t say that my life is better or worse. I can say that it’s different.

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

I miss the freedom to be able to just “go.” My husband and I were very active. We hiked, canoed, fished, shopped, and worked. I miss my jobs and the people I worked with.

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

I enjoy the brief moments of lucidity.

15. What do you like least about TBI?

The lack of “me time.” I hit the floor running every day – taking care of his needs and taking care of all the household duties.

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

I am still learning how to accept my new life.

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

Yes. I sometimes feel like a prisoner. I can’t just go shopping for groceries anymore. If I take him with me, he gets distracted and puts everything in the basket or tries to eat it before buying. I usually have to get one of my kids to come and sit with him so I can do any errands.

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

Yes. I don’t have a social life anymore.

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

I hope and pray that in ten years we will be a little more active.

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

Charline image

Charline & Rick July 2014

My advice is to stay strong. Take time to care for yourself.

 

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

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

(Photo compliments of Charline.)

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

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . Kevin Middleton

SPEAK OUT! – Kevin Middleton

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Kevin with his granddaughter

Kevin with his granddaughter

 

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

Kevin Middleton

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

Courtenay, British Columbia, Canada     
5gemm9@gmail.com

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

Circa 1973

4. How did your TBI occur?

Birth defect

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

1977

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery,

tracheotomy, G-peg)?

I had 7.5 hours of surgery to remove two blood clots and to clip off several aneurysms. An AVM (arteriovenous malformation) and a haematoma were removed December 05, 1977.

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

No

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)?
How long were you in rehab?

No. I was just sent home and told “No school for a year.”

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

Neuropsychological tests in 1978 and 1994 showed identical results. Short-term memory and recall in the 7 percentile mean that I am disabled. Anger issues ensued, born of frustration over continually forgetting.  Editing oneself is challenging.

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

Since I was quite young, the loss of a photographic memory was a challenge. I withdrew from society. I have no close friends. I have many acquaintances, but I don’t like to socialize. The plus side is that my intellect increased from the removal of the blood clots. The downside is that by then I resented school. Learning took four times longer, and it was difficult to write an exam. My greatest joys are my five children and ten grandchildren.

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

My memory

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

Family

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I dislike the fact people say they forget too. They don’t understand the frequency or the fact you lost your kids more than once or your wallet eight times.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time helped. Being involved with a brain injury society has been beneficial. Even having friends who understand is helpful.

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

I experienced a divorce. I attribute partial blame to my not being rehabilitated professionally.

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

Yes. Though I have been married 23 years, I like being by myself with my dogs. My wife socializes without me.

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

My wife is my main caregiver. It was she who said, “There’s something wrong here.” Due to her, I sought out help, which she supported.

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

I’m 54, so retirement is my goal. I’m so done with my brain injury. I like to help online those who are just beginning the healing journey.

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.

It’s not your fault that you forget…it’s the fault of the brain injury. In other words, don’t take forgetting personally. I beat myself up for this all the time. However, why am I apologizing for something I have no control of?

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

Don’t get caught in the trap of chasing your past self. Before you know it, it’s 40 years later, and still your former self is bigger than life itself. My 18-year-old self had not fathered, had not grandfathered, had not held a job for 14 years, nor owned several businesses, yet he still was bigger than what I have accomplished. How ludicrous is that? Embrace who you are…a survivor…and move forward because that is where the future lies. Leave your past self in the rear view mirror where he/she belongs.

 

If you’d Like to learn more about Kevin Middleton, please visit his blog at My Broken Brain.

 

Kevin's brain.

Kevin’s brain.

Thank you, Kevin, 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 Kevin.)

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

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