TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘GeorgeAnna Bell’

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

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski


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 neelyf@aol.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 lastname to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

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


Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

georgeanna-bell-survivor-091016GeorgeAnna Bell (survivor) … For the first time, I took a shower sanding up! Normally, I use a shower-chair because of dizziness, but I was fine standing. I was supposed to get a Disability Room. I guess what I had was one to some degree. gg57881072I was looking forward to a walk-in shower, so I could place my walker into the shower and use it as a chair, but my room had a tub. I was extremely cautious, but I did it! I am so happy!


cat-brubaker-survivor-090916Cat Brubaker (survivor) … Today I used the oven – TWICE – all by myself! And I didn’t burn anything down. I got a little “fancy” (I added my own thing). I kept the timer with me at ALL TIMES.


crustless, veggie butternut quicheTIMES.






sallie-stewartSallie Stewart (survivor) … Big win in life for me! (It may sound small and trivial to many.) I have said it before – I have this swallowing challenge. Nerve damage is some of it; synching of the epiglottis and trachea is also a problem. Then there is this crushed-disk issue with my jaw. Orthodontic braces were put on two years ago in hopes that things might change. They did. There are still challenges, but today was a great day! I ate ALL of my Eggs Benedict, ALL of my lunch, and ALL of my dinner. thAnd several snacks in between. I can chew – on BOTH sides of my jaw. It’s a giant win in life for me! I feel strong. It’s been a true challenge to try to find the majority of my nutrition in a blender. It was so nice to really be able to chow-down food. These braces come off soon. And for that, I am happy. But I’m not nearly as grateful for that as I am for being able to chew pain-free. My heart is full! A strong full!


YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)


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On the Air: . . . . . . . . . . . . “Another Fork in the Road” Panel: Cognitive & Memory Deficits After Brain Injury

On the Air: “Another Fork in the Road”

Panel: Lisabeth Mackall and GeorgeAnna Bell

Cognitive & Memory Deficits After Brain Injury



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1Memory loss and cognitive deficits are both prevalent for many survivors after brain injury. Memory loss literally leaves many folks feeling a loss of control over their lives. Cognitive deficits can leave one feeling less than whole.

Lisabeth Mackall Book 061215

Lisabeth Mackall – Caregiver, Author, Speech Therapist


My panel, caregiver, Lisabeth Mackall and survivor, GeorgeAnna Bell joined me to discuss how memory loss and cognitive deficits affect them personally and how the deficits hinder their family dynamics. They offered suggestions that have worked for them.

Click on the link below to listen to the show.

GeorgeAnna Bell - Survivor

GeorgeAnna Bell – Survivor



See you “On the Air!”

On the Air: “Another Fork in the Road”

Cognitive & Memory Deficits After Brain Injury

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of panelists.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

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

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

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SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger . . . GeorgeAnna Bell . . . . . . . . . . . . . How My Brain Injury Affected My Life

How My Brain Injury Affected My Life


GeorgeAnna L. Bell



Donna O’Donnell Figurski


Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingI was diagnosed as being moody at nine years old. I still have that diagnosis to this very day: “mood disorder due to brain injury.” I also have anxiety and panic attacks. I still have today most of the same problems I had back then, just in an expanded manner.

GeorgeAnna Bell - Survivor

GeorgeAnna Bell – Survivor

I remember one thing that always frustrated me – Before my head injury, I was able to read, comprehend, and retain what I was reading. I remember having A to A+ grades and never getting into trouble. But, as soon as I had my head injury, I remember being hit a lot with a ruler by the nuns, being called “demon child,” not being able to read out loud, and having issue after issue trying to remember what we just learned or read five minutes ago and being told that I was lazy. (Oh, that one always got my goat.) I could not keep quiet or shut my mouth for more than five seconds, and I would speak out of turn. I could not sit still in my seat, and I was constantly moving around and around. These are some of the things I personally remember.

Kids_smiling_girl_cartwheelI know my parents wondered why I acted out, and they took me to multiple specialists during my youth. I was diagnosed with optic nerve damage, but no other problems resulting from my head injury were identified. Each doctor gave my parents the same answer: “There is no logical explanation as to why she is doing this now when she did not do it before the head injury.

I was extremely impulsive and still am to this day. In addition to the moodiness, this has been one of the hardest things for me to overcome. I experience emotions very quickly and intensely. As a child and into my teen years, I was very moody and got aggravated very quickly over the littlest things. I always felt anxious without exactly knowing why most of the time. It still happens to me to this very day. I will have an anxiety/panic attack, and I cannot explain why it happened. Recently, I went to a friend’s house, and I had to leave soon after I got there because I started to have an anxiety attack. I get anxious easily still today because I am so afraid people are going to make fun of me and tease me because I am different. I do not tend to keep friends very long because they tend to find something that is strange or I say something weird and they run from me.

I have absolutely no tolerance for change. I have no patience when it comes to waiting – I have to have everything NOW, NOW, NOW. I am always told I have indiscreet ways for making my feelings known to others. So many people take my statements out of context. I feel that I am acting appropriately, but others do not see me that way. When I change my way of saying something or going about something, I am told I am coming off as hostile or aggressive. I do not see it that way, nor do I mean it in that way either. I try to explain my head injury to others, but they tell me to shut up and act normal and stop giving excuses. Yet, it is not an excuse; it is the truth.gg66852714

As a child, as a teenager, and even in my adult years, I lacked awareness of my own personal deficits. It was only about five years ago that I started to realize the things I do that cause these issues, and I personally have tried to change them.

I would verbally lash out, cry, become depressed, and literally throw temper tantrums. This went on into my early 30s. I realized that, if I do not change, I will never have anyone in my life because all I do is find a way to push everyone out of my life. It wasn’t until maybe a year ago that I started to try to change things on my own.

I have also tried to seek professional help, even going as far as intentionally getting myself diagnosed as being “severely mentally ill” just to get the help. But, nothing worked. Actually, getting that diagnosis set me back years.

I had NO assistance from the mental health system. They were actually making my problems worse. Now I try to address the fact that there is an issue, and I doggedly try to understand what the physical, emotional, and psychological effects are upon my daily day. I try to rectify those effects that I deem as a hindrance to my social well-being by forcing myself to change the way I interact with others. I started by intentionally going to bars, not to drink, but to interact with others so I could watch how people reacted to certain behaviors. Honestly, this was hard and long. I lost people from my life, but those people were not the people I truly wanted in my life anyway.family-clip-art

I have a problem keeping people in my life as a result of my inability to function properly in certain social situations. The majority of family and/or friends that choose to maintain their relationship with me either ignore or downplay any behaviors that I portray. Only a select few recognize and respond well when my behaviors are considered outside social normality. When people start to see the social abnormalities in my personality, most either ask what is wrong with me, why I am acting like a crazy person, or just never speak to me again by cutting me out of their lives. (Almost always, they cut me out little by little.)

sad-teenage-girl-clipart-teen_girlDuring my teenage years and into my 20s and even 30s, I had depression on and off. It got better after I had a hysterectomy. When my behaviors started to level out a lot, I was able to control myself better and move past other issues by actually learning not to do this or that.

Amber GeorgeAnna Bell's Service Dog

GeorgeAnna Bell’s Service Dog, Amber

Within the last year, I have found one of the best outlets to cope with the changes in my behavior. I now fall back on crocheting. I make things for others who are in need of certain things more than I. For years, I would fall back a lot on my dogs and my boyfriend. Honestly, one of the dogs – my service dog, Amber – helped me break free from my isolation. The attention that people placed on her made me break free of the isolation I had restricted myself to. I interacted with people just by talking. I learned how to cope with my anxiety and my expression around other people.


Thank you, GeorgeAnna Bell.

Any views and opinions of the Guest Blogger are purely his/her own.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of GeorgeAnna Bell.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

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

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.


On The Air: . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Another Fork in the Road:” . . . . Panel: Behavioral & Emotional Problems After Brain Injury

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

Panel: Behavioral & Emotional Problems After Brain Injury with

Lisa Dryer and GeorgeAnna Bell



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1One of the most difficult aftereffects of brain injury is losing oneself. Depending on the injury and which part of the brain is impacted determines the type of emotional and behavioral change in one’s personality. A person who was agreeable, complacent, reasonable, and calm before the injury may change drastically to one who is violent, depressive, or struggles with anger management. These effects are not easy for others to understand – BUT, have you thought about how difficult it must be for the survivor?

Dryer, Lisa Survivor

Lisa Dryer – Survivor & BIRN Host


My panel, M.S. (Multiple Sclerosis) survivor, Lisa Dryer, and brain injury survivor, GeorgeAnna Bell, will join me to discuss this sensitive topic.

03 Bell, GeorgeAnna, Bell copy

GeorgeAnna Bell – Survivor

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” Panel: Behavioral & Emotional Problems After Brain Injury

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

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

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

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! – GeorgeAnna Bell

  SPEAK OUT! – GeorgeAnna Bell


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

10570970_836853459658124_752128615_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)


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

San Tan Valley, Arizona, USA

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

My first was at the age of 6 years old. I have had multiple concussions as a child. I had yet another head injury in 2001 and another concussion from another car accident on June 25, 2014. I am now 40 years old.

4. How did your TBI occur?

My first brain injury was from a bicycle accident – I lost control of my bike. I flipped over the handlebars and landed on the right side of my head, cracking my skull. The concussions were from falls; sports; an ATV (all terrain vehicle); motor vehicle accidents; rapes; abuse; falls; and being young, foolish, and idiotic.

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

My parents realized I was a different child the day they brought me home from the hospital.

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

I’ve been treated by the ICU (intensive care unit). I’ve had eye/vision therapy and cognitive behavior therapy. I attended specialized schools – junior high school and senior high school – that were for children with mental, emotional, physical, and developmental disabilities.

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

Yes     72 hours

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 did not go to a rehab center. I got everything from schools, specialized doctors, etc.

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

I have a balance problem, dizziness, seizures, short- and long-term memory loss, mental illness (anxiety, depression, mood disorder, personality disorder), cognitive issues, social issues and social anxiety, headaches and migraines, numbness and tingling in my extremities, ringing in my ears (the ear, nose, and throat specialist calls it tinnitus), insomnia, vision and hearing issues (optic and audio nerve damage), and blurred vision (on and off). I am easily confused and distracted. (For example, I cannot multitask. I have to do one thing at a time. Otherwise, I get flustered and stressed out.) I am sensitive to lights, sounds, or distractions. I developed fibromyalgia, tremors, and speech issues, all of which the doctor thinks are the result of my head injury. I also have arthritis (rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis). I have a developmental disability (due to the age at which I sustained my first head injury) and learning disabilities. I attended a special educational school from 7th grade until my senior year because I could not stay mainstream in a public school.

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

I honestly do not know because I was so young when my first head injury occurred. However, over the years, I have sustained multiple head injuries. (For example, because of a short-term coma and concussions, I have increased mental, emotional, and physical issues.)

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

I wouldn’t remember what it was like before because I was only 6 years old when I sustained my first head injury.

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

I am grateful for my Significant Other – the ONLY person I personally know who is supportive of me and tries to be understanding.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I dislike how people treat me. People act as if I am some kind of idiot because I am slower than others, and then they look at me as if I have serious issues. I hate being judged. I want people to treat me as I would treat them. I don’t want them to judge me and look at me and say, “Well, you look fine.”

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

People’s ignorant behaviors and idiosyncrasies

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

My parents did not want to deal with my issues. They did not allow me to speak of my issues to anyone because it embarrassed them that they had a child with a disability. They still do not like my talking about my disabilities and TBI. However, I tell them I am a full-grown adult now, and I say to them, “If you do not like it, do not listen.”

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

I have issues keeping friends. People tend to easily get annoyed with me. I tend to get frustrated easily, too. As for relationship with guys, I was always told I am a very taxing person – annoying, weird, and psychotic. I have had nicknames given to me by guys over the years: pain-in-my-ass, crack baby, wacko, weirdo, dumbass, stupid, idiot, retarded, sensitive bitch, nagging bitch, crazy, worthless.

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

My main caregiver is my boyfriend. No, I do not understand what it takes to be a caregiver.

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

I would love to open a 501c3 animal shelter and help unwanted animals – mainly dogs. I would like to extend the knowledge I currently have on animal studies and have better knowledge and understanding of the animal behavior.

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.

Do not stop trying. Eventually it will work out.

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

I encourage you to just try your best and keep trying. Do not give up. Once you give up, you lose everything, and it is not easy to get everything back again – even if you are able to get things back again.10695279_836854542991349_1216029697_n


Thank you, GeorgeAnna, 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.)

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.

(Photos compliments of GeorgeAnna.)

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