Survivors SPEAK OUT! Barbara Asby
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)
Norfolk, Virginia, USA
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My brain injury happened over seven years ago. I was 41 years old.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
Pesticide Toxic Exposure
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
Some symptoms occurred during the first couple of days during the exposure. Symptoms gradually got worse after the following two weeks and beyond.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I went to the Emergency Room after a week, because of shortness of breath and cognitive issues. They found an enlarged lymph node in my lung. This finding was followed up by other specialists. I had MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), an EEG (electroencephalogram), a SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scan (a test that uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to determine how an organ is functioning), and other tests, to name a few.
6. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
7. 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 had occupational, speech, and vestibular therapies.
How long were you in rehab?
My therapy has been on and off from 2010 to the present.
8. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have problems with balance, perception, cognitive abilities, memory, organizational skills, and word retrieval. I am plagued with fatigue, headaches, and partial seizures.
9. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
I am now disabled and unable to work in my former job as an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agent. (This injury happened on the job.) My life is better because I realize how important life really is. It’s worse because I realize what I took for granted.
10. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss the ability to work and have a career. I really miss not having a better memory, more energy, and the organizational and multitasking skills that I once had.
11. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I am aware of the beauty that life has to offer. I see the good in life and in people.
12. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike the fact that others aren’t willing to educate themselves about TBI (traumatic brain injury) or try to understand what others go through. People lose interest over time – they do not want to hear about your problems or your pain anymore. I think this is the greatest suffering from my TBI.
13. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
It’s been over seven years, and I am still trying to accept my brain injury. It still changes – it’s hard to accept when it does not stay stable. Therefore, I can’t accept something when each day is different.
14. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Yes. It has ended my marriage.
15. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes. Due to the balance and sensory issues, my social life has been greatly affected.
16. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I am my caregiver.
17. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
My future plan is to write a memoir. I also want to volunteer to help others who have a brain injury.
18. 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 advice is to look for support-groups and to try to reach out to others. Also, educate yourself with brain injury material.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Just reach out to other survivors – we are a big family. We understand – when others do not. TBI survivors – like other survivors – are strong. God kept you on this earth for a reason. Keep your chin up. Look to others for strength, and give others strength when it’s needed. BIG HUGS.
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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