Survivors SPEAK OUT! Michelle Bartlett
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
St. Stephen, New Brunswick, Canada
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
I had my brain injury in March of 2004 at age 36.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
Two days after open heart surgery, I had a severe anoxic brain injury.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
It was known immediately, as I was still in hospital.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I have been told the doctors did CPR and other life-support methods for hours.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes. I was in a coma for ten to twelve 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 did inpatient rehab for three weeks and outpatient rehab for over a year. I had speech, occupational, and physical therapies.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have problems with balance, executive functions, and memory. I deal with fatigue and personality change.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life now isn’t what I planned it would be. It is what it should be.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I enjoy helping others.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
It helped to remember how accepting my grandfather was during times of stress.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes. It is difficult for me to express myself, and it is difficult for people to understand.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes. Before my brain injury, I would never have had the confidence to do any public speaking. Now I have spoken at two national brain injury conferences. I also have numerous newspaper articles and radio interviews in Canada.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I’m pretty much independent now.
18. What are your plans?
I will continue to cherish my second chance.
What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I intend to continue my advocating/support and education work in Canada, focusing on the east coast.
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.
Patience can be your best and worst enemy.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Life is hard, no doubt about it, BUT always remember you are NOT alone. There is always someone else hiding in the shadows or around a corner who has a brain injury you may not know about.
If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.
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