TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

(caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff

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

Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

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

Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

The brain-injury survivor is my oldest son, Jason. He was 30 years old. He was attacked from behind.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, I began to care for my son in a new way. Yes, with my husband and my ex-husband. Now we are his support. I was 51years old when my son was injured.

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

No, we were not. Jason’s youngest sibling was in his first year of college.

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff with Darryl Eubanks

My husband and I were both employed at the time. We both took a leave-of-absence and temporarily relocated to Illinois.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

We were so incredibly blessed with help and support from family, friends, church members, strangers, and the wonderful doctors and staff of St. Francis Hospital. There was housing for the families of patients and transportation to and from the hospital. I think we used it for almost three months. When it was time for my son’s discharge from rehab, a good friend of my son provided us with a home to stay in – rent free. We resided there for five months. Friends and family donated money, food, gift cards, and groceries. Some spent nights with Jason, so that my husband and I could both sleep. Youth Build provided my son with money for clothing. He had lost so much weight.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

Jason Westhoff – Survivor of Brain Injury

Our support of Jason started immediately. He’s our child. We needed to be with him, and he needed us with him. He lived in Illinois, and my husband and I live in Tennessee.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

Jason was not in a coma when we arrived in Illinois, but in a few hours, he was. (A coma was induced for medical reasons.) While Jason was in the coma, we talked to him, touched him, loved on him, and played music. My husband read the Bible to him, and we prayed, cried, and believed God would heal him.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Yes, Jason had inpatient and outpatient therapies. He had speech, physical, and occupational therapies. I think he had four weeks of inpatient therapies and about twelve weeks of outpatient therapies. We remained with him every step of the way – mainly my husband or I and his youngest sister.

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

Jason needed our care for everything but feeding himself and bathing. However, my husband had to be near the bathroom due to Jason’s issues with mobility and stability.

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

Since I’ve been a caregiver, I treasure life more. I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety. I’ve had to learn my new Jason. I really can’t characterize life as “better” or “worse.” It’s just our new normal.

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

It’s not what I miss for me. It’s what I miss for my son. I miss his stamina – both physically and mentally.

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

I enjoy Jason’s heart for people, his heart to help.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I don’t like the constant restarts.

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

Yes. The Fathers and Sisters at St. Francis helped me remain focused on one moment at a time. This is what it is!

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Yes, it has. We talk to Jason a lot more. We’ve had good times and bad times. I believe that our family is stronger post injury. I don’t take tomorrow for granted.

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

Initially my social life was altered, but not now.

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

Ten years from now, I will be retired and hiking in Arizona.

20. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

I would strongly advise other caregivers of brain-injury survivors to get connected with a support-group. You must take care of yourself to be able to support and care for your loved one. Take people up on their offers of help.

 

(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 SPEAK OUT! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Jason Westhoff

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jason Westhoff

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Jason Westhoff IMG_9574

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jason Westhoff

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA     jrwesthoff1@gmail.com

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

March 11, 2012     Age 29

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was assaulted after leaving a club in Peoria, Illinois.

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

I realized I had a problem around eight months after the assault. I was in the Emergency Room and honestly realized I had lost all control. I had no clue how to go about regaining that control and made many wrong attempts over the next five years.

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

Hospital thI was knocked unconscious from the assault, and I was transported by ambulance to the hospital. The medical staff noticed the swelling, and, as a result, I was taken into emergency surgery. I had a craniotomy to relieve the swelling.

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

After the emergency surgery, I was placed in an induced coma for approximately three weeks. I had another two surgeries during this time.

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 had approximately three weeks of inpatient rehab before I was discharged. Afterwards, I continued physical, occupational, and speech therapies on a twice-weekly basis for approximately three months before I returned to school. At this time, I knew something was different, but I did not understand the battles I was fighting.

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

After my TBI (traumatic brain injury), I was a completely different person. It took me years to realize the extent of my injury. My balance and normal body functions were the easiest to check and the most obvious. The major changes, which I am still trying to adjust to daily, are my personality and perception during normal life-events. My injury has placed strains on every previous relationship I had and the new ones I have developed. I honestly feel like two completely different people. I still have the same general personality, but my ability to adjust to unplanned change is the ability most affected. I have a problem with the skill of adjusting in the moment.

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

My life has been extreme on both sides. It seems as if everything is extremely better or extremely worse on a rotating cycle. I am thankful on the whole because of the strength I have found to deal will all issues that have occurred. I am still working every day on my recovery, but I know, through this fire, I will become a better human being.

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

I miss my intellect and communication skills. It always feels as if I’m grasping for, but never quite reaching my projected goal.

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

I enjoy the communities I never knew about and the social interaction within the “brain-injury-support community”. There is a bond, which I have never quite been able to explain to others, of just knowing how something feels.

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

Medicine side-effects!Medicine bottle 7Ta6Ezr8c

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

Time. It has been extremely difficult to adjust and accept my brain injury.

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

Yes. It has been hard to be a successful father without the resources desired. Relationships in general have been a struggle because I don’t completely understand myself at all times. There is a constant unbalance in my life since the injury.

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

Yes. I had struggles – extreme struggles – in my social life, primarily involving drugs and alcohol. Alcohol was a bigger problem than the drugs. I often get so stressed and/or anxious I want to drown my thoughts away. It is very easy just to give up at times.

Jason Westhoff Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

My parents have been my main caregivers, my mother in particular for emotional support, which is where it has been needed most. It took me 2-3 years to start to comprehend the stress involved in being a caregiver, until I really tried to manage Jayla (my daughter) by myself for an extended period of time.

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

My plans as of this moment are just trying to get my medications set and lowering my mental-fatigue issues. My focus is primarily on understanding my new mind and body so I then have the ability to make the proper adjustments. I love it here in Arizona! By the time I do my radio interview with Donna, I will have been in Arizona for fourteen months. I am currently looking forward to doing more work in the brain-injury community.

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.

Listen! Listen! Listen! I am one of the worst listeners. I have proved this point time and time again. I would suggest to swallow your pride and let people help you.Ear_clip_art-1

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

My best advice to give to any survivor is to never stop growing. Don’t become content with your situation. We can always improve!

 

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

(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 with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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

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