TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘assault’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Jason Westhoff

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jason Westhoff

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Jason Westhoff IMG_9574

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jason Westhoff

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA     jrwesthoff1@gmail.com

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

March 11, 2012     Age 29

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was assaulted after leaving a club in Peoria, Illinois.

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

I realized I had a problem around eight months after the assault. I was in the Emergency Room and honestly realized I had lost all control. I had no clue how to go about regaining that control and made many wrong attempts over the next five years.

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

Hospital thI was knocked unconscious from the assault, and I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The medical staff noticed the swelling, and, as a result, I was taken into emergency surgery. I had a craniotomy to relieve the swelling.

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

After the emergency surgery, I was placed in an induced coma for approximately three weeks. I had another two surgeries during this 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 approximately three weeks of inpatient rehab before I was discharged. Afterwards, I continued physical, occupational, and speech therapies on a twice-weekly basis for approximately three months before I returned to school. At this time, I knew something was different, but I did not understand the battles I was fighting.

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

After my TBI (traumatic brain injury), I was a completely different person. It took me years to realize the extent of my injury. My balance and normal body functions were the easiest to check and the most obvious. The major changes, which I am still trying to adjust to daily, are my personality and perception during normal life-events. My injury has placed strains on every previous relationship I had and the new ones I have developed. I honestly feel like two completely different people. I still have the same general personality, but my ability to adjust to unplanned change is the ability most affected. I have a problem with the skill of adjusting in the moment.

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

My life has been extreme on both sides. It seems as if everything is extremely better or extremely worse on a rotating cycle. I am thankful on the whole because of the strength I have found to deal will all issues that have occurred. I am still working every day on my recovery, but I know, through this fire, I will become a better human being.

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

I miss my intellect and communication skills. It always feels as if I’m grasping for, but never quite reaching my projected goal.

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

I enjoy the communities I never knew about and the social interaction within the “brain-injury-support community”. There is a bond, which I have never quite been able to explain to others, of just knowing how something feels.

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

Medicine side-effects!Medicine bottle 7Ta6Ezr8c

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

Time. It has been extremely difficult to adjust and accept my brain injury.

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

Yes. It has been hard to be a successful father without the resources desired. Relationships in general have been a struggle because I don’t completely understand myself at all times. There is a constant unbalance in my life since the injury.

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

Yes. I had struggles – extreme struggles – in my social life, primarily involving drugs and alcohol. Alcohol was a bigger problem than the drugs. I often get so stressed and/or anxious I want to drown my thoughts away. It is very easy just to give up at times.

Jason Westhoff Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

My parents have been my main caregivers, my mother in particular for emotional support, which is where it has been needed most. It took me 2-3 years to start to comprehend the stress involved in being a caregiver, until I really tried to manage Jayla (my daughter) by myself for an extended period of time.

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

My plans as of this moment are just trying to get my medications set and lowering my mental-fatigue issues. My focus is primarily on understanding my new mind and body so I then have the ability to make the proper adjustments. I love it here in Arizona! By the time I do my radio interview with Donna, I will have been in Arizona for fourteen months. I am currently looking forward to doing more work in the brain-injury community.

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.

Listen! Listen! Listen! I am one of the worst listeners. I have proved this point time and time again. I would suggest to swallow your pride and let people help you.Ear_clip_art-1

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

My best advice to give to any survivor is to never stop growing. Don’t become content with your situation. We can always improve!

 

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . Rogan Grant

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Rogan Grant

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

Rogan Grant - Brain Injury Survivor

Rogan Grant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Rogan Grant

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

Edinburgh, Scotland     rogan_g@hotmail.com

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

I acquired my brain injury in 2006. I was 35.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was attacked outside a nightclub by some customers I had thrown out of my pub the previous week.

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

I knew something was wrong when I woke up the next day. I was admitted to the hospital and then released the next morning. A friend found me unconscious and in a pool of blood and vomit. I was rushed back to the hospital. A few weeks later when I was released, I thought I was OK, but I kept forgetting things. I set the kitchen on fire three times in one week because I forgot I was cooking. Once I even went to bed and left a full meal cooking. I knew then I needed to be around family “for a week or two, until I cleared my head.”

Rogan Grant – Survivor of brain injury

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

In the first hospital, I theoretically had a CT (computerized tomography) scan. After I was released from that hospital and went to stay with family, I had an X-ray. That’s when I was told of the multiple fractures of my skull and around my face. So I don’t think I had a scan done.

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

I was lucky – I didn’t go into a coma. I just went in and out of consciousness for a few hours.

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)?

I went to a head-injury service and to the Neurology Department at a hospital. Rehab just seemed to be a social event. But it became more useful as time went on and I struggled more and more.

How long were you in rehab?

Six years

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

I had no sense of smell or taste for two-three years. For about three years, I dreamt every night that I died. My balance went all to hell. My vision had a problem with focus. My hearing became strange. (I hear everything at once and can’t isolate specifics, so I struggle to hear people with a lot of noise around.) I lost family contact and friends because I was emotional and aggressive, I couldn’t focus mentally, and my memory was erratic. I still have no concept of time in regards to the memory of anything since the injury. Facial recognition is gone, unless the person speaks or is where I would expect that person to be. I have to work every day to keep calm and controlled. My panic attacks and anxiety are now under control (my agoraphobia was the result of anxiety). My self-confidence was shot – I doubted everything I said and what I remembered, and I wondered whether or not I had done things I shouldn’t have. My personality went from being the life and soul and centre of every party (and there were a few) to sitting on a sofa with a blanket trying to avoid anybody and everybody. Self-loathing and a feeling of hopelessness and loss were incredibly strong. I felt people would be better off without me around. My mood was so low that I had very, very dark thoughts. Now I work on my mood. I use my techniques to stay “normal.”

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

I was happy with work, I was back at University doing a double degree (I had completed three years in two), I was working full-time, I had great friends, and I was always busy. Now, after a lot of work, I realize I can’t work for other people because I can’t keep their schedules. So I am trying to work for myself. I also have a new partner; we have a baby and a nice home.

Rogan Grant – Survivor of brain injury

My life’s not “better” or “worse,” but it is different. I always try to remember it is important not to compare my current life to what it was before. Life changes day to day, and, yes, my brain injury caused a major change with massive problems. But I am here, and I have things I didn’t before.

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

I miss the self-confidence and the feeling of self-assurance I had. I knew what I was doing, what I had done, and where I wanted to go. People could come along for the ride or not. I was me, and I did well.

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

I learned from mistakes I didn’t know I was making. I am much more aware of others, and I can now help them because I trained as a therapist to do just that. I have a new family, and we are happy.

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

I dislike the loss of memory and recognition. I hate having to fake that I remember someone or that I remember things he or she told me. But, if I say I had a head injury, people often treat me like I lost 80 points off my IQ. And the headache … the constant headache … never left; it just eased a bit. At least the sudden “brain-freeze” attacks are down to every couple of months and only last a day. They used to be three days long and twice a week.

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

Yes. I was helped by hypnotherapy. After years of being pumped full of drugs, I got more results in six weeks with hypnotherapy. It made a massive difference. I can now focus, stay calm, recall information, and even read books again.

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

I lost a lot of my old friends. Family are only just now coming around to understanding that I have a problem. It took a decade, but at least it has started. Of course, they are there now that I no longer need their help or their understanding. It has been very hard not to throw that back at them, but it is their issue, not mine. I got through my problems; they still have theirs.

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

I was always out. I was the one people called when they wanted things to get lively and fun. I ran pubs. It was my job to make people enjoy themselves, and I enjoyed doing it. I loved being in a crowd – laughing, singing, music pumping – everything busy. Now I don’t like going into a supermarket at peak times. Although I am generally better, I still have my moments. I don’t get anxious, but I am wary of how I could react.

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

My main caregiver is my partner, Jane. She understands a lot, but not everything. We try to have a “normal” relationship, but she knows I can react differently – and quickly. Now, instead of getting angry with myself and blowing things out of proportion, I can take a moment, calm down, apologize for acting out, and start again. She reminds me of pretty much everything. She also has to keep pushing me on those days when it all gets to be too much.

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

I hope that in ten years’ time, I will have a business running that pays the bills. Jane and I will have moved to a bigger house because there will be another baby or two. I will have found a way to fix my remaining problems and will have shared the solutions with those who are trying to regain control of their own lives.

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.

Sudden change is very hard to deal with or understand, but, if you spend your time comparing yourself to who you were or to what you could do, you will never move forward. We ALWAYS change; it is the only constant. Look back before your injury – were you the same person every year then? No, of course not. So look forward; find what you want to do with who you are now and go ahead. All human beings compare themselves to others, and we hate ourselves for it! Why do we do it? If someone has wavy hair, he or she looks at someone with straight hair and feels jealous. If we are big, we want to be smaller; those who are small want to be bigger. It is never ending! With a head injury – no matter how you got it or how it affected you – look forward and stay away from comparing yourself to the past.

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

Rogan Grant - Brain Injury Survivor

Rogan Grant – Brain Injury Survivor

As I said before, look forward, stay away from comparisons, and be honest to those around you. No one will ever understand your feelings, unless that person has been there. (I know none of us would wish that knowledge on anyone.) When it gets too much, say so, and when you feel that frustration and anger build, find a way to let it out sensibly. Let it out any way you can, but let it out before you hurt those whom you care for and love.

 

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:

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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 Step

Otto Rodriguez (survivor) (submitted with permission by Otto’s sister, Sylvia Rodriguez Witt)…

Rodriguez, Otto Survivor 121115

Otto Rodriguez, Survivor

Otto sustained a diffuse axonal traumatic brain injury on February 28, 2015, due to an assault. Otto had to relearn to walk and talk, and he continues to learn independence. Before his injury, my brother was a marathon runner. Recently he and I completed a 5K together. Otto completed the 5K in an hour.

Rodriguez, Otto Survivor & sister Sylvia Witt

Otto Rodriguez, Survivor & sister, Sylvia Rodriguez Witt

I write this to offer hope to those in the early stages of this journey. Each day, my brother continues to heal. It is slow and requires patience. But with love, support, and patience, it is possible to loosen the grip of this awful beast, otherwise known as “TBI.” This holiday season, I am thankful for resilience, patience, and perseverance. Stay strong survivors!

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.

 

 

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