TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Heather Sivori Floyd’

SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger Heather Sivori Floyd . . . . . Thoughts from a Caregiver Mom

Thoughts from a Caregiver Mom


Heather Sivori Floyd



Donna O’Donnell Figurski


Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingThere is nothing sweeter or more rewarding in life than spending time and helping those with special challenges.

I do not like the word “disability,” so I use “special challenges.” Why define people by what they are or are not capable of? While some days my heart hurts from my knowing the challenges that TJ (now 13) will face in life, my heart is actually very full from my spending the time with him that I do.

Heather Sivori Floyd 1

Heather Sivori Floyd – Caregiver

As I tucked TJ in the other night, I just sat there in a moment of silence and reflected back on everything we have been through. He has an innocence about him now. But I was overcome with a moment of sadness thinking about all that was ripped from TJ at such a young age (7 years old) and the special challenges that he will be faced with in adulthood.

I try not to think like that, but sometimes a parent does. I would say that it is quite normal. The burden a parent carries when advocating for his or her child with special challenges will at times take your breath away. You constantly question if you are doing the right thing or if you could be doing more. You realize that, even into adulthood, your child’s ability to have a voice is gone. You will forever be your child’s voice. You accept that, and you do what you have to do to make that voice heard – even if it means roaring.

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TJ – Brain Injury Survivor

Over the years, people have told me not to worry about the future. But it is never a possibility. I know my mom-friends in a similar position will understand this. When in a position like this, you have to think about it. It’s really not an option. You are the sole caregiver, and if you do not make a plan for the future, no one else will. Also many programs to help children like TJ as an adult have a mile-long waiting list (meaning years).

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TJ – Brain Injury Survivor

Being TJ’s sole caregiver has been challenging and exhausting but, at the same time, very rewarding. I have learned so much about myself and my desire to help others. I have learned from TJ about the human spirit and not giving in. He amazes me daily. Yes, things are very elementary for TJ now. His day consists of food, cartoons, therapy, etc. – very basic needs. In-depth conversation has never been a possibility with my son since his brain injury so mercilessly ripped away his dignity and his ability for independence. The list goes on. But that doesn’t mean we give up. TJ certainly has not.

With love and persistence, TJ has defied the odds. After all, 60-80% of patients typically do not survive an acute subdural hematoma, even with surgery. TJ did. He continues to defy the odds and what we were told would be our “new normal.”

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Heather Sivori Floyd, caregiver for her son, TJ

I am often asked how I do it. (It is a general question, and it is the most-asked question from many family members and friends over the years.) I just do it. You do not have a choice. Many times your heart hurts like no other, but you keep going because you are it for them. There is no one else. You learn to draw on inner strength. You learn to keep it together because you can’t afford to break down.

In my case, I learned from my son how to love life and still laugh. TJ does daily. If he can, then so can I. It doesn’t make the special challenges any easier or the decisions to be made any

Heather Sivori Floyd & TJ

Heather Sivori Floyd and her son, TJ

less hurtful. What it does is fill your heart with an overwhelming love. I am honored to know a person like TJ in my life. He is the definition of courage, strength, hope, and love. I’ve said it before, and I will say it again: He is my hero. To overcome daily adversity with a smile on his face makes him downright amazing. No matter where he ends up intellectually, TJ will always be pretty amazing to me.


Thank you, Heather Sivori Floyd.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Heather Sivori Floyd)

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SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog



SPEAK 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.

Bart Boughner (survivor)…I found my old horse this past month. I haven’t seen him since 2004. Today (yeah!) I remembered I can scan pictures to send to the new owner. Yesterday I tried the camera – not so good. I love days like today!

Bart Boughner, 2 months after TBI, poses with his horse.

Bart Boughner, 2 months after TBI, poses with his horse.

Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah and Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba

Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah and Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba

The big one is my old mare, Ever So Dirty, aka Hannah. She had two babies for me. The one I just found is the little one, Rightly Zipped, aka Bubba.  I still have the sister, and – funny thing – they were born on the same day, two years apart, and with the same parents.

Olivianjeana Collazo (caregiver)…Our biggest accomplishment has been finding fish oil and other things to help our son with his brain injury, which happened in July. All that the doctors could say was the worst. I can’t wait to show them our son now. He is doing half the things they said he wouldn’t! Thanks for reading.

Peter Cornfield (survivor)…Peter uses innovative measures to move a basket of firewood to the fireplace using only one hand. See his inspirational video on You Tube. Moving Wood With My Stick.

Jamie Fairles (survivor)…Hi, Donna. As of yesterday, I’m off for four weeks from my B SW (Bachelor of Social Work) field practicum placement until my second term begins in the new year. I have the rest of this practicum to finish, a second field placement, and only two more full courses until I’m a social worker!

 Heather Sivori Floyd (caregiver)…BIG NEWS to share! Kinda nervous to share but really excited! Had a meeting with a few people from Brain Injury Alliance of Kentucky today. They have written something for bicycle helmet legislation for children. It will be called TJ’s law!! Very exciting! Now to get the right people involved to get this thing passed.

William Jarvis (survivor)…Donna, a big step for me was moving. Five months ago, I thought it would be impossible, due to my TBI and walking with a cane. However, I am now in my new home in Myrtle Beach. I got a lot of support from family and friends. You can do more than you think! Don’t be afraid to try things.

Debbie Madison (survivor)…I went to my first Christmas party, and I didn’t hide in the bathroom! It wasn’t so bad, and I had a nice time with my husband.

Debbie Madison (survivor)…I finished the shopping, and I sent out cards without losing addresses or the list.

Julie-Ann Manners (survivor)…It’s Wednesday here in Oz (Australia). I just got out of the hospital on Monday. [I was in due to my epilepsy from my ABI (acquired brain injury).] And this is HUGE FOR ME. I have finally been put on the list for rehab for fine motor control, speech, walking, reading, and writing!! Eventually I will be able to start being me again!! I’m so super excited!! My injury happened this year in February, and I have had no help, and now after Christmas, I am finally going to be able to get some! YAY!!!!

Michael Montepara (survivor)…Okay, here’s one of my Itty-Bitty Giant Steps: I am thankful that this week I did not have to sleep in my truck in the cold. AMEN.

Shanna Wolf Heart Powell‎ (survivor)…I accomplished grocery shopping tonight with out a break down, except for the pig head they were selling at the store!!! I broke down and cried in Walmart!!!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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