TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Debra Cody’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Debra Cody

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Debra Cody



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Deb Cody Post accident1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Debra Cody

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

Ailsa Craig, Ontario, Canada     debcody63@gmail.com

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

I was 47 when I was diagnosed, but I was 42 when I had my first concussion.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I suffered four concussions over a five-year span.

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

It was clear I had a problem about four months after my last concussion in 2010, but my mother and my husband say they noticed a difference in me about two years before that.

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

I was assessed in the Emergency Room after the first, second, and fourth concussions. I was always told to go home and rest for a couple weeks for the concussion. I opted not to go to the hospital after the third one because I knew I would just be told to go home and rest. For the fourth one (after the car accident), I was taken to the hospital by ambulance, as the concussion (according to the doctor) was “the least of my worries.” I had other injuries that needed surgery, a tracheotomy, and a G-PEG (gastric tube that leads directly to the stomach for feeding).

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)?

Yes. I was in an outpatient treatment program.

How long were you in rehab?

I have been in the program for three years now.

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

I have headaches. I tire easily. My personality was affected. I have issues with perception, hearing, anxiety, depression, confusion, and vertigo.

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

I like to say that “life is my oyster and my brain injury is the pearl.” My life started out as worse, but it has slowly gotten better. My life is quieter now. I am less socially active than I was before, but I am finding (TBI). I am careful about how I choose to spend my time, as I have so little “functioning” time to spend.

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


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

I enjoy having the awareness of how valuable time truly is.

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

My limitations

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

Counseling and the love and support of my husband and children have helped me to accept my TBI.

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

My home is quieter, and we have gotten rid of a lot of things. I get over-stimulated easily, so we streamlined our home. My relationships have changed greatly. There are fewer people in my life – I found that family and friends stopped coming around and calling. Slowly, over that past eight months, I am seeing some of “The Lost” coming back. Over all, people found the changes in me hard to understand and accept.

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

I go out less, and I am careful about the events I attend. It takes a lot of planning and preparation for me to go somewhere. The spontaneity is gone from my life.

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

My husband is my main caregiver. I don’t go far without him. I truly do understand what it takes to be a caregiver. (It helps the understanding that I am the mother of four children.)

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

My plans are to keep moving forward. I look back to where I was four years ago, and I know that I never want to go back there. The only way to prevent that is to keep “getting better.” As for ten years from now, I don’t know. I have become a “one-day-at-a-time” person. What I can say is that I hope to see that I have been able to reclaim some of my independence.

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.

My advice is to be gentle with yourself. I lost a lot of time trying to “force” myself to be who I once was.

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

Planning, preparation, and pacing are huge in my life now. On days when I think I am “Superman” and can “fly” by the seat of my pants, the “kryptonite” (my brain injury) “defeats” me every time! The three things above will make your life so much easier. Look for something good in every day. Remember to celebrate your accomplishments, no matter how small they may seem to others. And, be gentle with yourself. It takes time to create something as amazing as you are going to be!


(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 Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps


Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.


Here are this week’s Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Debra Cody (survivor)…I am so grateful to have my husband Phil by my side. I know that his life has been forever holding_hands_1changed by my injury and that he could walk away and have a much easier life, but he chooses to stay. I thank God for giving Phil the love in his heart and the strength of character to continue to hold my hand every day!

Karie Jacobson Collins (caregiver)…It has been a busy weekend here. On Friday night, we attended the service-awards banquet for my hubby’s work. He received an award for 25 years of service. Award 515wwJCwmXLWhile we were there, he repeatedly told me to be quiet – loudly. It was a bit embarrassing. Fortunately, we sat with people whom we are close to, and they helped to smooth things over. It still hurt, though. Then today, we went to a local event, called “The Crystal Classic,” with our daughters and grandsons. Then we washed his truck and vacuumed it out. (It has been unseasonably warm here, so he has been wanting to do that for a week now.) Then we went to dinner with our youngest daughter and her family before going to watch our oldest grandson ride mini-broncs in a rodeo. As we were leaving the restaurant after dinner, my husband apologized for being rude to me the night before. I almost passed out! This is the first acknowledgement of his bad behavior. Miracles never cease! It may never happen again, but I will take it for today. It was a great day.

Erica Renee Gilliam-Chiles (caregiver)…Today I saw my husband run. Fourteen months ago, he couldn’t move his left side. Being an active duty Marine, he had as one of his top goals to be able to run again, and he did!

15278739Kayla Bradberry Knight (caregiver)…Last year on February 13, my husband, Wyatt, took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. He and the kids gave me cards that morning. I was on cloud nine. Who would have thought that five days later my husband would be fighting for his life and our families would be turned upside down? God has taught me many lessons this year. Most of all, I’ve learned that earthly possessions mean nothing. Sure, they make one happy for a while. But no gift, flower bouquet, or box of chocolates could take the place of what I have today. My husband is still here! Oh, how happy it makes me to be able to say that! He may not realize that it’s even Valentine’s Day. Nor will he walk through the door with a gift, BUT I still get to hug him. The kids and I still get to tell him how much we love him. That, my friends, is irreplaceable. Don’t just sign that sweet card or have those beautiful flowers delivered. Show that person how much he or she means…not just today, but every day!

Sophia Hill Kusderci (caregiver)…My husband knows that I’m sad a lot living isolated in Germany. This past week, he said to me, “I try to talk to you. It’s why I ask you, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What are you reading?’ ” It was such a surreal moment that he “got it,” and I realized he’s trying very hard to make me happy. It’s nearly fourteen months, and I’m thankful for where we are right now. It’s not perfect, but it’s so far from where we were last year. It seems so small in real life, but for me, it is huge.cartoon-love-u-187615

Shelley Lawrence (caregiver)…My husband and I were in a shop today, and we walked past a huge Valentine’s Day stand. He stopped, looked at it, turned to me, and said, “I’d forgotten, but do you know that I love you so very much anyway?” I just grinned and said, “Yes!” How simply AWESOME is that!

Darcy Clarkson Leslie (caregiver)…Valentine’s Day – another gift-giving holiday with my brain-injured husband. I’m getting to hate this day because either he forgets or gives me a gift that his former wife would have liked. Last year at Christmas, he picked out a very large and bulky bracelet and watch set that was full of rhinestones. “You need a heart_&_key_2watch because you’re a nurse,” he said. I don’t do big. I don’t do bling. I am not a nurse. Today he gave me a necklace – a heart with a small key. “Now you really have the key to my heart,” he said. He picked this out himself. This is the first sign that my husband is really starting to get to know me again, and that is the best gift of all! Thanks for listening.

Lynn Sandoval (caregiver)…Today was a great Valentine’s Day for us! I had run to the gas station to get gas to mow the lawn, and I left my husband at home with his sister. When I returned home, I went into the kitchen and there was my husband – walking all by himself without his walker! It was the first time. thHe hadn’t realized that he did it at first. He just turned to walk over and try the chili that his sister had just made. When he got to the sink, he realized what he had done. He started walking back the other way, and that’s when I walked in. I began crying, and he walked over and hugged me. It was amazing!!! Best Valentine gift I’ve ever gotten!


YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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