Survivors SPEAK OUT! Mimi Hayes – Survivor, Author, Comedienne
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
(author of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale)
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
Brooklyn, New York, USA
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My brain injury happened approximately in late August 2014. I was 22 years old.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
I got a bad migraine while I was on a blind date. After about a week, I’d developed weird symptoms, vision problems, coordination difficulties, etc.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
My mom knew pretty quickly that something was wrong. It wasn’t until after a few doctor visits
that we got an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) and it was finally taken seriously.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
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 was in inpatient therapy for two weeks and in outpatient therapy for about three months. 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 some lasting vision issues on the left side, but they’re minimal and happen only when I’m tired. I have issues with concentration, memory, fatigue, coordination, and sensitivity to lights and sounds.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life changed for the better in every way. Yes, it’s hard to have to adjust to a new brain, but I would never be where I am or who I am without this experience
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
Probably just being a bit more fit. I used to play ice hockey, and my brain completely forgot that
muscle-memory. Also, I wasn’t such a scatterbrain, but that’s endearing most of the time.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
Challenging myself to live in New York City, a place where I never imagined I could live with a TBI (traumatic brain injury).
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I don’t like that my brain injury has elevated my anxiety, which I had before the injury. It’s probably a low-grade PTSD (post traumatic-stress disorder) tied to all things medical.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I don’t think I’ve ever not accepted my brain injury. It’s just that I forget it sometimes. I maybe do something I could have done before with no problem, like a concert, but I’m completely exhausted the entire next day.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
Sure. My family had to learn about my new challenges. We had to stop eating dinner with the TV on in the background, and we learned that I’m quicker to anger. They never weren’t there for me, and, if anything, my brain injury brought me much closer to them.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I’ve always been very social. It’s just that now I have to power-down more to recharge.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
Me. But, I don’t really understand what it takes to be a caregiver. I was a nanny to three small boys for a year, and that was a lot of work! But no, I’ve never been a caregiver.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
Hard to say, but I’d like to put out a few more books, do a TED Talk, and continue to travel with my comedy. As soon as theaters are back open, I’d like to put my one-woman show on off-Broadway.
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.
Just give yourself grace. Don’t compare yourself to other people’s recoveries or even to who you used to be before. Also, it’s OK to change who you are after a near-death situation. It’s OK to change your job, your city, hell, anything you want. You deserve to explore the new you.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
There’s a great big community out here. You are not alone. You’d be surprised how many people I’ve met on Instagram and now consider them to be best friends. I would have never met them in real life.
We are strong, and we all want to share our stories with each other and connect. My advice is to get online, start using hashtags, and explore. You will find us. And, we can’t wait to connect with you!
To learn more about Mimi Hayes, visit her website.
Mimi Hayes’ book, I’ll Be OK, It’s Just a Hole in My Head
Clip Art compliments of Bing.)
(Photos compliments of contributor.)
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