TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘firefighter’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Michael J. Kline – Survivor

SPEAK OUT!

Michael J. Kline – Survivor

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Kline, Michael Survivor

I am a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. On November 18th, 2011, I fell from a standing position. I had a sub-arachnoid hemorrhage, midline brain sheering, contusions, and a 3.5 cm skull fracture. I am happy and lucky to say that “I have made it.” I used many tools to help me focus on recovery, such as coin collecting, photography, metal detecting, and others. After eight months, I returned back to full-time duty as a firefighter. I also published a book, called “My Fall to Life,” that tells the story of my injury. My Fall to LifeMy injury resulted in 100% loss of taste and smell and other lingering effects. I don’t allow that to bring me down, and I am proud to say that, when all is said and done, my injury has helped me to become a better person by refocusing on life and never taking a day for granted. Recovery from brain injury has its challenges, but with motivation and a positive attitude, there is no path that I am afraid of.

 

To learn more about Michael J. Kline, please see his book, “My Fall To Life: Life After a Traumatic Brain Injury.”

Thank you Michael J. Kline for sharing your story.

 

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Joey Buchanan

SPEAK OUT! – Joey Buchanan

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Buchanan, Joey Injuries1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Joey Buchanan

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

Flovilla, Georgia, USA     Dekalbfd19@yahoo.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

Date of accident – July 18, 2012     Age at the time – 46

4. How did your TBI occur?

We were overhauling at a house fire (which means searching for hidden fire). I was standing against a wall, when a full sheet of sheetrock (4 ft. x 8 ft.) fell from a vaulted ceiling, striking me on top of the head.

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

Immediately. I was told that I fell into the wall, then onto the floor. I was asked twice if I was okay.  I don’t remember any of that.  It broke and cut my nose, and I could feel the blood running down my face.

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

Nothing major – just a routine X-ray and a cat (CT) scan

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

No

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?

Yes – cognitive therapy, emotional therapy, physical therapy, and vestibular therapy.  I am waiting on a driving exam and endocrinology testing.  I am currently in therapy.

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

I have difficulties with balance, decision-making, and reading and comprehension. I’m more emotional (crying and anxiety). I have headaches, dizziness, and tinnitus. My sorting skills and my ability to multitask (very important for a firefighter) have been affected. I experience depression, fatigue, and pains in my neck, hands, and feet. My motivation is a problem.

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

The mental and physical issues have been difficult. I went from working two fire-department jobs, homeschooling our daughter, and building a pool house to spending most of my time in bed, due to fatigue, depression, pain, and lack of motivation. My wife and daughter both say that I am much more easy-going. I tell them, “Well, yes. I am not working 120-plus hours per week.” (LOL)

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-TBI life?Buchana, Joey & Fire Truck

My other family at the fire department

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

To be able (when I am able) to be home with my daughter, and the chance of starting a new chapter of my life

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

The fatigue, the lack of motivation, and the pain

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

My faith in God and the support of family and friends

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

It has been a mixed bag in my home life. Although I am home, the majority of my time is spent in bed.

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

Yes. We don’t go to concerts, and we don’t go out to eat. I try to avoid crowds. This is all due to overstimulation and anxiety.

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

My wife is my main caregiver. In some respects, I became her caregiver when she became ill in 2005.

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

I hope to recover as much as possible and to start a group that goes out and assists other first responders when they are injured and have to be home. In 10 years, I would like to be able to travel.

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

I want people to know that this injury will take much longer to recover from than they could ever imagine.

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

Try to keep emotions and stimulation to a minimum in the beginning – it will help in the long run. Find a support group – they have valuable knowledge.  Doctors are not always as educated on TBI as they need to be. The sooner you can accept the “new normal,” the easier it will be. Don’t ever give up or stop trying. Find an advocate who will help you in your journey.Buchanan, Joey

 

Thank you, Joey, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

(Photos compliments of Joey.)

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.

 

 

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . Michael J. Kline

SPEAK OUT! – Michael J. Kline

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Kline, MIchael unknown

 

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

Michael J. Kline

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

Franklin, Pennsylvania, USA         9lt308@gmail.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

November 18, 2011   09:35 am         Age 41

4. How did your TBI occur?

While on duty as a firefighter, I fell from a standing position to a concrete floor.

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

I knew immediately that there was a problem because of the sound when I hit the floor. The fall was not witnessed.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have (e.g., surgery,

tracheotomy, G-peg)?


I was intubated. I had induced paralysis and an induced coma due to combativeness and the need to fly me to a trauma center in Pittsburgh.

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

My coma lasted 5 days.

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)?
How long were you in rehab?

I had occupational therapy. I don’t recall the length. I think it was about 3 months.

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

I have 100% loss of taste and smell, and a 40% hearing deficit in my left ear. I have positional vertigo. I am unable to control my verbal filter at times. I have personality changes – I am a rogue or “lone wolf.” I do not drop my guard, and I protect myself ferociously with my words.

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

My life has changed in many ways. I enjoy the Earth much more because I do not take anything for granted like I used to. It is worse because I am very misunderstood. I look the same, but people don’t understand that the pre-injury Mike is not here anymore. I am judged by the words that I say and the way I protect myself from harm. I have a very hard time letting people close to me. I feel like everyone is out to see if I am truly different or making it up.

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

I miss having fear. The only thing that I am afraid of is people seeing me as disabled or a worse person because of my injury. People just cannot grasp the change that has happened and continues to happen and bothers me every morning when I wake up.

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

I love my new-found love for the outdoors. Everything on this Earth has a purpose, and I am able to see that now. I enjoy speaking to other survivors and caregivers. I enjoy educating others and making them aware of this relentless hidden injury.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I don’t like the burden that I have placed on my family and friends. I am no longer the father with an “S” on his chest, even though I try so hard. My focus and concentration are nowhere near what they used to be. I feel like I have aged 20 years because of this injury.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I do not accept this injury at all. I have spent my entire life helping people. It may sound selfish, but I did not deserve this. I have lived a very fulfilling life in my effort to help others. I have lost some of that ability, and it pisses me off.

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

I am no longer the “King of the Castle” who can solve anything quickly. I can see it in my family’s eyes. They love me unconditionally, but I can see how they view me a little differently. I want to be the bulletproof man in the house like I used to be.

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

My social life has changed tremendously. I have lost many friends because they do not understand me like they used to. I have gained other friends in some of the support groups, and they are AWESOME people. I feel like I do not fit in the way I used to because I have been beaten up by this injury. I am a very positive thinker, but sometimes I have to put up a facade to prove it.

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

My wife and daughters take care of me and keep me in check when needed. I wish I knew what it is like to be in their shoes. I know I can be a bear at times, and I know that everything they do is best for me. I don’t always agree with it, but they do not give up, and I am thankful for that.

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

My plans are to retire from my job and become a speaker. I want to speak about my experiences to survivors, caregivers, and medical professionals. I will not give up, and I will reach that goal. Every cloud has a silver lining. Sometimes it is just very hard to see it.

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

I tried to rush my recovery way too much. At times, I refused to listen to anyone. That has held me back. If I would have just been patient and allowed myself time to recover without overloading my brain all of the time, I may be better off and less angry about my TBI.

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

Keep trying to improve yourself. It may be the smallest forward step ever, but it is a step. Then follow through and achieve that goal. Wake up every morning and tell yourself how you are going to be awesome that day. Do not be hard on yourself when you hit a roadblock – we all have them and always will.

 

Thank you, Michael, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.)

(Photo compliments of Michael.)

You can learn more about Michael on his blog, “My Fall to Life.”

 

If you would like to be a part of this project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

 

 

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No memory of the day that changed my life

My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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