TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘David Figurski Professor Emeritus Columbia University’

Read All About It! . . . . . . . Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

Read All About It!

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author

Donna & David with ARC of Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

My memoir, Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale, is not only a story of David’s and my struggles after his traumatic brain injury, but it is also a love story. Though my memoir addresses a dire topic, it is peppered with comedic situations. They say laughter is the best medicine, and again, they are right.

Prisoners without Bars is a heart-wrenching memoir that will make you laugh, cry, and G-A-S-P. I promise!

Boy Laughing

Girl Crying girl-crying-clipart-34

Girl Gasping 2

It’s not a beach read, but it reads like one. It’s fast! It’s easy! It’s fascineasy. I mean fascinating.

What Readers are Saying!

Jackie said – “A beautiful and touching story.”

Anonymous Amazon Customer said – “I loved this book. almost couldn’t put it down.

jlgwriter said – “I found the story powerful and compelling.

Todd & Kim said – “This is such an inspirational story of survival! The book is a very easy read and informative as well as inspiring!!”

Judy said – “Donna O’Donnell Figurski tells her story of grace, love, frustration, anger, disappointment, strength, joy, and above all hope.”

Marge said – “I read it in one fell swoop… I guess the word that would describe your book, your life, and who you are is SUPERCALIFRAGILISTICEXPIALIDOCIOIUS.”

Anonymous said – “This book pulled me in immediately and didn’t let me go until the end! ”

Helen said – “Could not put this book down. Written for easy reading. It was like having a conversation with a friend.” “I finished it in one day with some teary moments along with some chuckles. A must read!!”

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Long COVID . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Serious Long-term Effect of Some COVID-19 Infections

Long COVID – a Serious Long-term Effect of Some COVID-19 Infections


by


Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 <severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus #2> and the disease it causes as COVID-19 <coronavirus infectious disease of 2019>.  Because the majority of people, including most of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19” or “COVID,” to avoid confusion, I use “COVID-19” as the name of the virus.)

David Figurski

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Finally – the news I’ve been waiting for!

Bottom line: The news is good … if you’re vaccinated.

Dr. Daniel Griffin, a Columbia University infectious disease physician, has said that long COVID is a public health crisis.  Several million people worldwide are living with the mysterious, often disabling, ailments of long COVID.

What is long COVID?

Everybody knows about the acute phase of COVID-19 infection. Some infections are serious and require hospitalization – and maybe intensive care. However, infected people and even the survivors of hospitalization seem to fully recover. They feel fine and test negative for the virus.coronavirus_PNG38

But weeks or months later, people who appear to have recovered from a COVID-19 infection may experience any one or several symptoms, which include fatigue, severe headaches, brain fog, anxiety, depression, muscle pain, cough, fever, cognitive impairment, joint pain, chest pain, shortness of breath, vertigo or loss of balance, memory issues, rash, heart palpitations, and sleep issues.

What’s worse – the symptoms can persist. No one knows when the symptoms will end. Some long COVID patients worry that their symptoms will be lifelong. Society needs to be ready for many more disabled people.

Scientists and doctors don’t know the cause.

Particularly worrisome is the fact that even asymptomatic and mild infections can lead to long COVID. Since vaccination still permits asymptomatic and mild infections but prevents the severe infections that require hospitalization, I have been concerned that long COVID can still occur with vaccination. Now it’s clear that vaccination prevents long COVID too.

Because long COVID occurs weeks or months after a COVID-19 infection, it took a while for the data on vaccination and long COVID to come out.

apps.31154.13510798883188545.eeff598f-9fb6-4eae-b36b-53296e4adb2eA recent paper submitted by an Israeli group showed there is a significant reduction (an appropriately conservative conclusion for data that showed 0 cases of long COVID) if a person was vaccinated before getting infected.  In contrast, with no vaccination, about half of hospitalized COVID-19 patients will get long COVID. Vaccination after getting COVID-19 helps: Vaccination within 30 days of COVID-19 infection helps reduce the incidence of long COVID significantly. Getting vaccinated 30-60 days after COVID-19 infection helped, but not as much as within 30 days. Getting vaccinated after 90 days post COVID-19 infection does not help.

You can listen to Dr. Griffin talk about long COVID in two short segments – minutes 38:25-41:30 and 47:25-50:15 – of his clinical update in the video podcast (TWiV #856 – This Week in Virology by Columbia virologist Dr. Racaniello.

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COVID-19: Vaccines (Part 2 of 3): Protection by Antibodies is Only Part of the Story

COVID-19: Vaccines (Part 2 of 3): Protection by Antibodies is Only Part of the Story
by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski
presented by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus.)

 

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Vaccination against COVID-19 primes your immune system to be ready to use every defense it has to fight the virus. It stimulates the creation of a potent and specific defense tailored to fight the COVID-19 virus.

Vaccination has been shown to be amazingly effective. All three vaccines for COVID-19 that have been used in the US (Moderna, Pfizer, and Johnson & Johnson) are 100% effective in preventing both hospitalization and death.

When people think of vaccination, they usually think only of antibodies. But this ignores the stimulation of an equally potent arm of immune system.

The bottom line is that vaccination (1) stimulates the production of antibodies that bind to the virus to prevent infection and (2) creates and activates “killer” T cells that destroy cells that have been infected.

Because antibodies are only part of the defensive power of your immune system, no one should be worried about variants, despite hysterical articles by a largely ignorant press.  We should certainly continue to monitor variants, but there is nothing to be worried about yet.  The antibodies are less able to block virus, but they still work.  Importantly, the killer T cells are unaffected by any variant.

The T cell response after vaccination against COVID-19 is as potent as the antibody arm of the immune system.  Some people cannot make antibodies, yet they do well after infection by COVID-19.

Some facts:

Your immune system is composed of two parts.  A first line of defense (Innate Immunity) acts immediately against any foreign substance.  It is non-specific.  After about a week, a specific and more potent immunity (Adaptive Immunity) has developed. The adaptive arm uses antibodies and T cells.

Vaccination stimulates your adaptive immunity, so the antibodies and T cells are ready before infection.

Scientists don’t yet know how long the anti-COVID-19 antibody levels remain high, but data show that antibodies have remained high for six months so far.  You may need to get vaccinated every year, as you do for the flu virus.

The antibody level will eventually go down, but your immune system maintains a few “memory cells” of the antibody-producing cells. These cells make antibody-producing cells immediately after infection.  So your immune system is fully armed in 2-3 days.

I strongly urge you to listen to minutes 6:25-22:00 of the interview TWiV 736 <March 28, 2021>of Dr. Alessandro Sette, a world-renowned expert on T cells and COVID-19 from The La Jolla Institute for Immunology, by Dr. Vincent Racaniello, a virologist and expert on COVID-19 from Columbia U.  Dr. Sette gives a basic explanation of T cells, the response to COVID-19, and vaccination.

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COVID-19: Long COVID and Children

Long COVID and Children
by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski
presented by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19.  Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

It has been accepted that the infection of teens and children with COVID-19 rarely results in significant symptoms, but it’s worrisome that they may be as susceptible as anyone else to a recently identified effect of COVID-19 – a syndrome called “long COVID.”

Children with the virus often show no signs of infection, and sometimes they (and their parents) are not even aware that they have been infected.  Contrast that with the experiences of the very old.  Infection of the elderly often leads to severe disease and can result in death.  Nobody has yet been able to explain how age results in the radical difference in sensitivity to the effects of the virus.

Doctors and scientists are also unable to explain the onset of the delayed symptoms of long COVID.  In one study, 10-13% of children who knew they were infected thought they had recovered.  They tested negative for the virus, and most of their symptoms were gone. In some cases, there were several weeks of good health. But weeks or months later, they showed new symptoms. (Adult symptoms include fatigue; fever; cough; sore throat; chest pain; shortness of breath; neurocognitive problems with memory, concentration, processing, or finding words; diarrhea; headaches; insomnia; dizziness; heart palpitations; abdominal cramps, rashes; tinnitus; joint pain; depression; and anxiety.) The symptoms may last weeks or months, and some people still have symptoms after several months.

Particularly worrisome is the fact that mild or asymptomatic acute infections can still lead to long COVID.  This means that children, who were thought to be unbothered by infection, are, in fact, sensitive to long COVID.

I haven’t seen the data, but I suspect that the 10-13% number came from people who either had an obvious symptom or tested positive.  If we include the number of asymptomatic infections, the percentage of infected children who get long COVID will likely go down significantly.  If you and your children are using masks and social-distancing, then you’re already at a low risk of even getting infected.

The bottom line is that this virus still shows surprises. It’s definitely too early to relax.

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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Another Fork in the Road ~~~ Do You Know Someone with a Brain Injury? I Do!

Do You Know Someone with a Brain Injury? I Do!
presented
by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski 

Chances are you know someone who has suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI.) More than 1.7 million Americans each year sustain a brain injury.  I personally know five people who are living with some form of TBI. In fact, I’m living with one.

My husband, David, had his brain injury in 2005. A professor friend of ours from Brigham Young University has one. So do my nephew, an actor/director friend from my local community theater, and the husband of my friend, Judy.

A brain injury can occur in the blink of an eye. Brain injury is not discriminating. It cares not about color, race, or creed. It can happen to a child or an octogenarian and everyone in between. A child may fall off his bike or off her swing.  A teenager may meet up with a TBI on the soccer or football field or a gymnastic mat. Car and motorcycle accidents are common causes of traumatic brain injuries. An assault in a dark alley or domestic abuse in your home can result in brain injury too. One can even have a traumatic brain injury while exercising (e.g., while doing chin ups in the wee hours of the morning after doing Tai Chi while listening to Deuter or some other new age CD). David did!

Like snowflakes, no two brain injuries are the same. Each survivor is different too and each method of healing is unique to the person who is struggling to regain his or her former life. With a lot of hard work, patience, and persistence many survivors can enjoy a “new normal” life.

Check out this article, Facts About Traumatic Brain Injury, for more information.

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COVID-19: Dr. Fauci: Don’t Worry – Santa Claus – Immune to COVID-19

COVID-19: Dr. Fauci: Don’t Worry – Santa Claus – Immune to COVID-19
by
Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski
presented by
Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion, I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

     Children and parents don’t have to worry that the pandemic will ruin Christmas.

 Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has stated (video) that Santa has excellent innate immunity. (Innate immunity is the body’s first line of defense against viruses. Specific neutralizing antibodies develop a couple of days later.)

 Santa’s immunity is so good that he can’t get infected by COVID-19 and, consequently, he can’t spread the virus. In fact, he doesn’t need a vaccine. All the elves and Mrs. Claus are staying safe by wearing masks and practicing social distancing. It also turns out that the cells of Santa’s reindeer don’t make the receptor for the virus, so the reindeer can’t be infected.santa-2

 

For those who are concerned about receiving gifts on Christmas morning, the good news is that Santa and his reindeer will make their usual Christmas eve worldwide trip.

To track Santa’s trip around the world on December 24th, 2020, go to Norad Tracks Santa.

Have a safe and healthy Merry Christmas

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 4 of 4)

COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 4 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The President returned to the White House Monday evening. Was that too soon? Was the President at risk? Was he contagious?

The President’s doctors at Walter Reed were comfortable with his leaving the hospital because the White House has its own doctors and medical facility. Remdesivir is given IV for five days. Putting in an IV line would not be a problem at the White House. If the President needed supplemental oxygen, a chest X-ray, antibiotics, etc., they are readily available. The doctors at the White House can also do the daily blood tests needed to monitor the state of the President’s immune system and his propensity for clotting. Dexamethasone is usually prescribed for ten days, but an oral form is available.

Two important questions loomed. Is the President immune? And, is the President contagious?

The conferral of immunity by COVID-19 infection is a major question yet to be answered. If there is protective immunity and, if so, how long it lasts are major concerns of vaccine producers. There are now reports of people being infected with COVID-19 a second time. Immunity may depend on the severity of the initial infection and the robustness of the consequent immune response. There has been a report of mild or asymptomatic infections that do not elicit an antibody response. Are these people more vulnerable to a second infection? Alternatively, was their response so effective without antibodies that the virus could not become established and cause symptoms?

Is the President contagious? We can’t say without knowing his test results. Dr. Griffin considers a patient virus-free if that person has two negative tests on two consecutive days. Otherwise, a person is considered to be potentially contagious for 20 days. Since the doctors are permitting the President to hold rallies, I assume he is not thought to be contagious.

Dr. Griffin’s extensive experience with COVID-19 patients has allowed us to surmise what was happening with the President’s infection. The President appears to have completely recovered from his COVID-19 infection. But, several questions remain.

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 2 of 4)

COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 2 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

Dr. Griffin labels Week 1 of the infection as the “viral phase.” During Week 1, the virus is multiplying and is present in abundance. A test for COVID-19 would easily be positive. Because the President first felt symptoms on Wednesday, it’s likely that the President was infected for several days before the positive result on Friday, October 2.

Other data suggest that the President was at the end of Week 1 of the infection or at the beginning Week 2.

Week 2 of the infection is called the “cytokine storm phase” by Dr. Griffin.Cytokine Cytokines are molecules released by some cells that cause an action by other cells. When certain immune system cells sense a problem (like a virus-infected cell), they release cytokines to get other immune cells to multiply, to make attack molecules, or to come and help eliminate the cause of the problem. Normally, the immune system works well, but sometimes the immune system overreacts and causes severe problems or even death. “Cytokine storm” refers to an overreaction by the immune system. A steroid (for example, dexamethasone, which the President was given) is effective because it will dampen the immune response, a potentially beneficial effect when the immune system is overreacting. But, dexamethasone is considered harmful if the drug is not needed. (For example, dexamethasone is not given in Week 1 <the viral phase> because a normally functioning immune system is needed to reduce the amount of virus in the body.)

The President began taking dexamethasone while he was at Walter Reed. Dr. Griffin said that dexamethasone is not usually given in Week 1 because studies have shown that doing so can make COVID-19-disease outcomes worse. National Institutes of Health guidelines for physicians state that dexamethasone should only be given to patients with moderately severe or serious COVID-19 disease. The White House acknowledged that the President received oxygen before he was taken to Walter Reed. Supplemental oxygen is consistent with the President’s being given dexamethasone. Dr. Griffin said that oxygen, if needed, is usually given in Week 2, further indicating that the President’s infection may have started several days before Friday. October 2nd.

Doctors have found that COVID-19 has a third phase – a “clotting phase,” which starts at the end of Week 2 and extends at least through Week 3. COVID-19 infection can trigger clots, which can sometimes (albeit rarely) lead to strokes. Aspirin is routinely given at the end of Week 2 because it helps prevent clotting. Some patients had already been discharged from the hospital (having had two negative COVID-19 tests over two consecutive days and having agreed to self-quarantine for 14 days as a precaution) when a problem-clot occurred.

(To Be Continued)

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Please check out my book.

Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

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COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 1 of 4)

COVID-19: The President’s Infection (Part 1 of 4)

by

Columbia University Professor Emeritus, Dr. David Figurski

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(Disclaimer: The World Health Organization <WHO> has officially named the new coronavirus as SARS-CoV-2 and the disease it causes as COVID-19. Because the majority of people, including much of the press, commonly refer to the virus as “COVID-19,” to avoid confusion I use COVID-19 as the name of the virus in this post.)

This is an unusually long post, so I’ve divided it into four parts. It is easy to read, even though it’s filled with much information.

David H. Figurski, Ph.D & Survivor of Brain Injury

The complete story of the President’s COVID-19 infection and treatment is not known by the public. Virologist, Dr. Vincent Racaniello, interviewed Dr. Daniel Griffin, a New York City physician who has been treating hospitalized COVID-19 patients since the beginning of the pandemic. Vincent has been releasing podcasts about COVID-19 every couple of days. His TWiV podcast (This Week in Virology) of October 5, 2020, is a special podcast in which he and Dr. Griffin have a conversation about COVID-19 infection and treatments, as they relate to the President’s infection.

Vincent Racaniello is a professor and virologist and my former colleague in the Department of Microbiology & Immunology at Columbia University. His guest, Daniel Griffin, is a physician in the Infectious Disease Department of Columbia. Because Dr. Griffin has both an M.D. and a Ph.D., he is a physician-scientist and so has an additional appointment as Professor of Biochemistry & Molecular Biophysics. Dr. Griffin is also the Chief of the Division of Infectious Disease for ProHEALTH Care Associates. ProHEALTH Care is the largest physician-owned multi-specialty practice in the nation. He is also on the COVID-19 response team for the tri-state area.

Dr. Griffin has applied his clinical and molecular knowledge of COVID-19 to the few details we know about President Trump’s infection. In doing so, we now have a better idea of the President’s case. I urge you to listen to the complete 34-minute TWiV podcast of October 5th. I have defined some terms and explained some concepts that may be unfamiliar to you.

President Trump announced at 1:00 am on Friday, October 2, 2020, that he and the First Lady tested positive for COVID-19. Later that day, the President was admitted to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. He returned to the White House at 6:30 pm the next Monday. Many of the details of the infection and the President’s condition have remained unknown.

When the President’s COVID-19 infection began is unclear. The President first reported a positive test in the early morning of October 2nd. The President said he is not tested for COVID-19 every day, and the White House will not say when the President’s last negative test occurred. In his Town Hall on October 15th, the President said he didn’t know for sure that he had taken a test before the debate three days before he was admitted.

(To Be Continued)

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As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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Prisoners without Bars: A Caregiver’s Tale

New News: . . . . . . . ZOOM! Coffee with the Authors @ BIAAZ

New News: . . . . . . . . ZOOM! Coffee with the Authors @ BIAAZ

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David & Donna Figurski

I’m so excited to be invited by the Brain Injury Alliance of Arizona (BIAAZ), to share my book with you. PRISONERS WITHOUT BARS: A CAREGIVER’S TALE has been called a compelling read, a true-to-life drama, and a heart-warming and inspiring love story. What do YOU call it?

More than fifteen years after my husband, David’s traumatic brain injury in January 2005, we are still searching for the light at the end of the tunnel. It’s there. It’s just still so tiny.

I hope you will join me on Saturday, October 24th at 10:30a Pacific Time for a virtual book club meeting on ZOOM.

It’s FREE! It’s FREE! It’s FREE! It’s FREE!

Please come hear me talk about my book and read a short excerpt.
Bring your QUESTIONS.

REGISTER HERE and you will receive a link to attend.

Can’t wait to see you there.

I’d love to hear what you think of PRISONERS WITHOUT BARS: A CAREGIVER’S TALE. Reviews on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and Goodreads are really appreciated. Reviews keep books alive.

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Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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