TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Dancing’

TBI Tales: …………………………………. A Fork in the Road to Recovery

(Reposted from my other blog – Donna O’Donnell Figurski’s Blog May 14, 2010)

A Fork in the Road to Recovery

I woke up a few weeks ago with an astounding revelation. (Aren’t they all?) But, this one really was. Though trying to sell my brilliant idea to my husband, David, would take some fancy footwork.

As our family and friends know, David is still on the long road to recovery after suffering a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) more than five years ago at 7:06 AM on January 13th, 2005. His TBI left his body compromised. His recovery is a balancing act – literally.

Though David’s balance has improved somewhat through the years, it is still seriously impaired. Each step David takes is deliberate, well-planned, and thought out. He is consciously adjusting his balance at every footfall. His brain constantly generates new neurons and reconnects the old in an attempt to reestablish alternate pathways to help him relearn what he already learned easily and quite well when he was a mere fourteen-month-old toddler. It’s amazing how those little tykes can balance atop their plump, squatty legs. Even more amazing that they can move them from place to place – but they do. And if they can do it … well so can David – right?

David works hard every minute of every day to relearn to walk. It’s not as easy as the two-year-olds make it look. So I had an idea to make the process easier – at  least, I hope it will.

The germ of my idea was unwittingly sown in October 2009 when I first began my salsa lessons. I admit, it was a slow-growing seed, since it took six months for it to finally hit me over the head.

On a recent morning as I pondered my first days of salsa, I recounted how difficult it was for me to make my feet and my body go where my instructor guided. He made it look easy, and I wanted my mind to comply, but my feet simply would not cooperate. I tried and tried, but the only thing I was successful at was tripping and stumbling over my own feet – not to mention my dance partner’s feet. I felt like a total  klutz. I was convinced I would never be able to do the steps. I would never learn salsa – let alone become proficient at it.  As the weeks went by and my instructor introduced the right and left turn, the hammerlock, and the cross-body lead, my mind went into swirl. No, I would never learn – I was sure of it. But, as more weeks passed, I did learn. It took time and it took practice, and after six months I can do each of those steps and I’m not too bad at it. I have even moved on to the advanced class.

What I understood on that morning of my revelation was that as I concentrated so intensely on learning each step, nothing else occupied my mind. I was entirely focused. During my lessons, it seemed that my brain rewired to accommodate the strange and foreign steps I was being asked to do. Realizing this, set the light bulb flashing. I reasoned that if my mind could overcome my dance challenge, why couldn’t David’s overcome his walking challenge?

That’s when I had my astounding revelation. It made sense to me. I had to choose the perfect time to present my idea to David, though I knew no time would be good. I knew that as soon as I uttered the words, I want you to take dance lessons. David’s immediately answer would be, “NO!”

So, I started my conversation like this … David, I have a really, really good idea. (I thought two reallys might be more convincing.) I need you to listen to my whole idea before you say anything. I don’t want you to make up your mind before I finish.” He looked skeptical. Well anyone would with that opening, but he nodded and I went on. “David, I want you to take dance lessons.” His immediate reply was “NO!” No surprise there.

I presented my ideas. He listened. One by one I ticked off all of the reasons that I thought dance lessons would be beneficial to him. He listened. I explained how I thought that the process of intense concentration might help him to overcome his balance issues as it had helped me to conquer my dance steps. He listened. I threw in the neurons and the brain-rewiring ideas. He listened. Then I told him I wanted to speak with my instructor to arrange for private dance lessons. I held my breath as I waited for his reply. He said, “Okay!”

It took a few weeks to set the lessons up, but last Monday night David had his first dance lesson with Oscar. I took the lesson with David. As we clung to each other, (He was holding on to me for dear life.) we waltzed around the room 1, 2, 3.- 1, 2, 3. Okay … so we didn’t really waltz around the room. We stayed in about a three-foot square. But at least it is a start!

When the lesson was over, I figured David would bolt. So I was really surprised when he asked to schedule the next lesson. He actually liked it. Yeah!


If you have a story to tell, please contact me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of ME.)


As I say after each post:

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 lower right corner of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Permission granted to “Reblog” my post.



TBI Tales: SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . Mansion Dancing Under the Stars



David and I met on the dance floor when I was 16 years old. He was 17. We fell in love under a strobe light. Through our married years, we danced at weddings and at parties, but when David’s Traumatic Brain Injury left his body as limp as Raggedy Andy, I never dreamed that David and I would ever dance again. But, during a recent trip to Westport, Massachusetts, to spend time with our son, Jared, his fiancé, Emily, and her family, we found ourselves staying in a mansion … only feet from the Atlantic Ocean. Our host, dancers-thSusan, was beyond gracious, concerned about our every comfort. On our second night there, she threw a big family party on her extensive patio and even more expansive grounds overlooking the ocean; and she invited us. We stopped in about midnight.


The partygoers were huddled around the fire-ring … music still blaring. Jared and Emily began to dance on the patio. I swayed. David sat in a tall patio chair. Then the unthinkable happened. David asked me to dance. I hadn’t expected that! David can barely walk – dancing had not been on his radar for more than seven years. I looked at him expectantly. Was he kidding, being facetious? ballroom_dancing_stars_swinging_lg_clrNo! With a huge grin, I answered, “Yes!”


We didn’t Cha-Cha or Swing, as we had learned in our Ballroom Dance classes. We didn’t attempt the Fox Trot, or even the Waltz, though Paula, our dance instructor after David had his TBI (another story), would have been proud of us if we had. But, we did our own dance. We swayed back and forth – never moving our feet. We call it the “TBI Sway.” We swayed with my head resting against David’s shoulder and his hand gently placed at the small of my back. We swayed with David holding on to me for dear life … for balance. We danced under the stars to an old favorite, “Unchained Melody” by The Righteous Brothers, with the sounds of ocean waves lapping the shore, with smiles on our lips, and remembrances of days gone by … and the promise of our days ahead.

dance under stars


As I say after each post:

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 lower right corner of your screen.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Permission granted to “Reblog” my post.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of ME.)

If you have a story to tell, please contact me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com

Tag Cloud


Help One Person Excel - To Be Independent

  WriteForKids - Writing Children's Books

Become a published children's book author via books, ebooks and apps.

For the Love of Books, Old and New

Katie Fischer, Writer and Reader of Stories

Charlie Bown

Children's Author

Jessica Hinrichs

“We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect.” ― Anais Nin

VIVIAN KIRKFIELD - Writer for Children

Picture Books Help Kids Soar

Mindy’s Writing Wonderland

For authors, parents, teachers & everyone who loves children’s books.

Math is Everywhere

Where the magic of math and writing comes together!

Surviving Traumatic Brain Injury

TBI - Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

How Life Has Happened For Me

Grow Through What You Go Through

Claire Stibbe

Thriller Author and Blogger


New Age Blogger

The Care Factor

Loving someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog With Free TBI Information

Brain Injury Blog and Helpful Articles

Montclair Write Group

Writing Support Group

Brain Injury Support Group of Duluth-Extension

Brain Injury Information and SUPPORT

Women Worldwide Network

Women around the world share their incredible stories

Brain Aneurysm Global Insight

Brain Aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging, hemorrhage stroke

%d bloggers like this: