TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Bob Millsap

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! Bob Millsap

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bob Millsap - Caregiver

Bob Millsap – Caregiver

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

Bob Millsap

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

Glendale, Arizona, USA

Email? (optional)

robertemillsap@gmail.com

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

My wife, Shelly, is the brain-injury survivor. She was 46. It happened because of a freak accident in our home – a bottle of homemade ginger-ale exploded just as Shelly walked by. It broke her nose and bruised her face, but the TBI (traumatic brain injury) symptoms did not become apparent for two weeks.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

I began care on January 17, 2013. I was 45. I was then and am now Shelly’s main caregiver.

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

Yes. Our boys were 12 and 18 at the time.

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Yes. I worked many hours. I had an employer who was not very understanding. This was very challenging. It made me re-evaluate things career-wise.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

No. We lived at the time in Victor, Idaho (near Jackson Hole, Wyoming). We were in a very rural area. There was no family support near us.

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

My support started once my wife’s TBI symptoms became apparent.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

Shelly was unconscious for twenty minutes.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Shelly had to relearn to walk and talk. She worked with a couple of alternative
providers that we will always be thankful for. She continues to do home therapy.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

Shelly has severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), so I help any way possible for this. I try to keep daily life as simple and consistent as possible, with constant support and advocacy. I do the driving and I manage her medications.

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

It hurts so much to witness Shelly live this every day. But I am more patient and understanding as a person. I don’t sweat the small things as I used to.

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

I miss Shelly’s being able to live life without fear.

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

I like that the deep bond in our immediate family has strengthened.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I dislike knowing that Shelly must face challenges every day.

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

Dealing with this has been made possible by our faith in God, our love for each other, and Shelly’s AMAZING outlook. I never see her feeling sorry for herself. It’s amazing and inspiring.

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?iloveuredflyingheartsgifanimatedimagesfreedownloadbannerlove-gifphotographicclipartmobileiphoneipadscreensaverbackgroundfreeclipartanimationgifmaniahd3diloveyou

Our relationship is stronger than ever. It has really given us perspective on what is important. Our two boys are very compassionate and understanding. I am very proud of how they handle this.

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

We moved back to Arizona earlier this year, and that has been great for Shelly! It was lonely for her in rural Idaho, even before the accident. Some of her friends have been
GREAT once she got back here. Others … not so much. We try to make
sure to stay out of loud, chaotic, or unpredictable situations. We adjust to our new normal. Shelly’s TBI is truly an invisible injury, so some friends and family understand … some do not.
19. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I would love to see Shelly be able to have a rewarding, peaceful life outside of the home. She is such a kind and helpful person. I always believe there is a way that her experience with TBI and PTSD can greatly help others.

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

Shelly Millsap - Brain Injury Survivor Bob Millsap - Caregiver

Shelly Millsap – Brain Injury Survivor
Bob Millsap – Caregiver

Take one day at a time. Be patient. Ask questions of the medical and rehab communities. Search for answers. Try not to ask “Why me?” and feel sorry for yourself. Rid yourself of negative situations and negative people. Be flexible and have thick skin. Find support-groups to become involved with.

(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 SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Shelly Millsap

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Shelly Millsap

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Shelly Rupert Millsap - Brain Injury Survivor

Shelly Rupert Millsap – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Shelly Millsap

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

Glendale, Arizona, USA

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

My brain injury happened on January 17, 2013. I was 46.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a freak accident at home – a bottle of homemade ginger ale exploded in my face.dcredykoi

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

I realized I had a problem approximately 1-2 weeks after my accident.

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

I was taken to the Emergency Room for CT (computerized tomography) scan.

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

I was knocked unconscious for about twenty minutes.

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 had to do rehab to relearn to walk correctly and talk correctly. I still do home therapy – I’m trying to regain abilities for a lot of things that I once could do easily and now cannot.

How long were you in rehab?

A few months

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

gg61447820I have severe PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and cannot be around loud noises or big crowds. I have issues with being in new environments. I tire very easily. I don’t understand people when they talk too quickly. I can’t remember new information very easily. I get lost easily or become disoriented. I have balance issues. I have a bit of anger inside that wasn’t there before … the list goes on and on.

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

I can’t say that my life is better, but I refuse to say that it is worse. It is a work in progress. Life is full of ups and downs. I have always been a person who likes to take care of people. It is hard for me to let anyone take care of me. My life has changed in the mere fact that I need help with certain things … I used to be very independent. I still am, but I know that I have limitations now.

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

I miss being out-and-about without worrying that the noise will be too much or that I’ll be in a situation that will mentally paralyze me. I miss the ability to get into my car and know that I can drive myself anywhere I want to go.

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

I enjoy seeing the changes that have happened to my immediate family. They have become more compassionate.large_familylovetitle

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

I dislike my new limitations and the loss of who I once was intellectually.

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

God. I’ve always had a strong faith, and I know that God isn’t looking down and laughing at me. This didn’t happen because of some sick joke. God is going to use me and my experience to help someone else. I believe that we all have the choice to have a good day or a bad day. When I wake up, I choose to have a good one. There are things that come into my path at times that aren’t always pleasant, but I try to not focus too much on that and move on.

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

Yes. I have friends who have a hard time with this and really don’t call or communicate much anymore. I understand. It’s hard for some people. I don’t worry myself too much about what is out of my control with people who don’t understand. I just try to focus on the people who are still around and cherish them.

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

I can’t go out a lot because of the noise. I don’t handle situations very well when I don’t know what is going to happen. I can’t be spontaneous. I have a hard time going to movies because of the noise. It’s hard going out to eat at times. But I do get together with my good friends a lot.

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

Shelly Rupert Millsap - Brain Injury Survivor Bob Millsap - Caregiver

Shelly Rupert Millsap – Brain Injury Survivor
Bob Millsap – Caregiver

My main caregiver is ME … with some help from my husband.

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

I’m not sure. It’s hard for me to look that far into the future. So many things have changed in my life that I kind of take it day to day. My main goal in life is to help people, and I plan on continuing to do that. I think that we should all give more than we take from this world. That is how I live my life. I’m not a “people-pleaser.” I could care less sometimes if I please someone. I hate that term. I do things because they need to be done. I just try to treat people the way that I want to be treated.

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.

Gosh, that is a hard one. I am tired and can’t think of anything right now.

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

No matter what your circumstance, there is always someone else out there who probably has it worse. If you are having a bad day and are feeling hopeless, remember that tomorrow is just around the corner and that most likely it will be a better day. You can pick yourself up and make the most out of what you still have. Life is a precious thing. Live it, love it, and be around people who love you as you are.

NOTE:surviving-brain-injury-stories-of-strength-and-inspiration

Shelly is a contributing author on”Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration,” which will be available in mid November 2016. You can order the book by clicking the title. The book includes stories from about 80 brain injury survivors or caregivers.

 

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.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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