TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Jennifer Stokley’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Jennifer Stokley (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Jennifer Stokley (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Jennifer Stokley – Brain Injury Survivor

Jennifer Stokley (survivor)

On May 10, 2007, I fell out of a second story window of my home to the sidewalk below. I broke nine major bones (including my neck), I ruptured my bladder, I punctured my lung, I went into two cardiac arrests, and I had a severe TBI (traumatic brain injury) that sent me into a three-week coma. And yet I survived! They didn’t think I would. Then they didn’t think I would have any cognitive abilities at all. Then they thought I would be paralyzed from the neck down.

I now live independently on my own. I take care of everything except driving. I walk with a cane only when I leave the house. The rest of the time, I am mobile just fine. It’s been nine years of “Think I can’t? I know I can. Just watch me!” Don’t get me wrong -these have been the hardest years I’ve ever experienced. But, they were totally worth every moment!

Making MemoriesI did lose my pre-TBI long-term memory, but that’s all in the past anyway. I’m not going backward – I’m only going forward. I’m making new memories – I’m not worried about lost memories.


Thank you, Jennifer Stokley, for sharing your story.

(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

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 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 is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Jump for JoyKaren Dickerson (survivor)…OMG! I was crying and jumping up and down (LOL). I passed my college entrance exam! Even better: 93% in English/Writing! Here I come, Baker College of Michigan, to become an Occupational Therapist Assistant. There is hope!Bakers College

Two years ago, after my motor vehicle accident, I couldn’t even process what I was reading, and I had to learn how to write my name again. I’ve worked very hard to get that comprehension back. I had over two years of speech and occupational therapies. Math is still a problem, just like it was twenty-one years ago. But I’m so proud. I didn’t think that I would ever reach this point after my TBI (traumatic brain injury).


writing pencil animated

Ric Johnson (survivor)…Well, it took me two months, but I was able to write an article concerning the importance of support-groups for the recovery and healing of TBI survivors. I have it published in the TBI Hope TBI Hope & INspiration& Inspiration magazine, June 2016 edition.


FamilyElizabeth Leonard Lawrence (survivor)…I am twelve years post TBI from an accident I got while serving in the military. I was told by doctors that I would never have a family, that I would never drive a car, and that I would take multiple pills a day for the rest of my life. Well guess what! I have a wonderful husband of three years, a three-year-old little boy, and I only take one medication now. So overall, I’d say it’s a huge accomplishment in my life!


Jennifer Stokley (survivor)…I had the most amazing day. I actually went out without any fear with a friend who has been coming over for a while to do “talk therapy” with me. She asked me if I wanted to go over to her farm, and I immediately said, “Yes!” Farm

Out the door I went – no cane, just my coffee in hand and a smile on my face. I totally trust this person; I’ve gotten to know her well. In the car we went. Away… to a place I’ve never been to before. A real farm! WOW! We spent hours there. She cleaned out the stalls, while I sat on the grass watching the cows in the field near the pond. It was beautiful.Cow Then she came, and together, while sitting and lying on the grass, we spent the longest time just talking about anything and everything. It was absolutely the best time. I loved every second of it. I didn’t have a moment of anxiety pop up. I can’t wait to do it again. We intend to real soon.



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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jennifer Stokley

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jennifer Stokley



Donna O’Donnell Figurski


Jennifer Stokely Survivor 0526151. What is your name? (last name optional)

Jennifer Stokley

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

Kutztown, Pennsylvania, USA

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

May 10, 2007, was the day of my traumatic brain injury (TBI). I was 42.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I fell out of a second story window of my home to the sidewalk below. I did what I now call my “Amazing, Exotic Jeni Bounce.” I was home alone. Please don’t ask me how the fall occurred. I have no clue, other than I know that back then I was a hard-core alcoholic. My TBI cured me of that completely! No withdrawal. I just never desired alcohol again. Odd, but wonderful!

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

My ex found me on the sidewalk. He thought I had fallen outside (no external injuries, strange). I used to have a seizure disorder back then, so my ex and some friends carried me inside, up the stairs, and put me on the bed. Then I started to have trouble breathing. My ex immediately called 9-1-1. The paramedics arrived, took me back downstairs, across the street at night, and worked on me under a streetlight in a public park. They understood something was terribly wrong then.

The thing I find funny about the whole thing, though, is that the emergency folks cut my clothes off right then and there – for the whole city block to see me naked – under lights! I showed my butt to the city! (LOL) Thank goodness I don’t live there anymore.

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

I had two cardiac arrests during the life-flight to the hospital. I had ruptured my bladder (which they had to stitch back together like a patchwork blanket). I punctured my lung, due to one of my five broken ribs. I had broken my pelvis in three places. I also had broken my neck.

The only things I remember for sure are a breathing tube down my throat, the surgery on my belly to put my bladder back together, and the two times they restarted my heart. The rest is unknown to me. I haven’t asked; they haven’t told. That is my past. I survived. I do not wish to relive the past while I’m so busy living my present and focusing on my future.

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

I was in a full coma for three weeks. My coma was a 3 on the Glasgow Scale. It’s the lowest score before death. (A score of 3 indicates a severe brain injury.) After all my surgeries and the use of all the professional skills to save my life, the surgeon actually came out to my Momma and said, “We’ve done all that we can. Now it’s in God’s hands.” It literally was. One day prior to their disconnecting my life-support, I took my first breath on my own! They were able to take me off of life-support, knowing I was going to survive. To what extent, they still had no clue, but at least I was no longer in a coma on life-support.

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)?

First, I went to inpatient therapy from the Intensive Care Unit for two and a half months. I was taken to a rehab room (by wheelchair with my “fun-catheter” along for the ride) to exercise a bit and then attempt to stand. (They said my standing would never really happen because of my broken neck, but I showed them. I stand just fine now, and when I leave the house, I walk with only a cane.) Later, when I was discharged, I was in outpatient therapy for … I don’t know how long. There, I did physical therapy, speech therapy, and cognitive therapy. (Speech therapy was a hoot. The therapist would hand me things to read out loud. The problem was I couldn’t see! I’m legally blind now. “Come on. Read the medical records already.” LOL Cognitive therapy was just as much fun – pegs in holes I was unable to see. LOL That didn’t last too long.)

How long were you in rehab?

Inpatient, two and a half months; outpatient, more than six months, I think

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

I have a severe anxiety disorder, cerebellar ataxia, aphasia (not much now, but it used to be severe), bladder/bowel control issues, and taste bud issues. I’m legally blind. Memory issues are HUGE. My ability to smell has been affected. I have issues with concentration and making decisions. My personality did a 180 on me, and for that, I am actually grateful. I was not a very nice person prior to my TBI.

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

My life is harder than it was prior, but it is also so much better than it’s ever been. I will gladly take the difficulties to have such a wonderful life. I had no difficulties prior, and I had such a horrible life. Go figure. I gladly take the trade I’ve been handed.

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

I miss the memories. I lost 42 years of my life. All my memories are gone – my childhood, my college, my graduation, everything – poof, gone in a second. When I woke from my coma, I was a stranger even to myself. I was literally reborn. I was no longer “Jennifer.” I was “Jeni,” a child. I didn’t know anyone or anything. I had to be taught how to eat, how to walk, how to talk – like an infant. I was told things about Jennifer, but they were all foreign to me – even to this day. (But I sure don’t miss memories of three ex-hubbies, so I guess it’s cool with me anyway! LOL)

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

I enjoy that I am building my life from scratch. I am building it in a way that brings me joy and peace. I have reconnected with my family, which never would have happened if not for my TBI. That I guess is the best part of this all! I have my Momma and my big sister in my life now, and they never were before. Now they love me, look out for me, and help me just because they want to. I love them with all my heart!

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?Stokley, Jennifer Survivor 112815

I dislike my loss of independence and being legally blind. I will never be able to drive again, and, with my anxiety disorder, I can’t go anywhere without my family’s support anyway. So I can’t just get up and go, even if I feel like it. I have accepted it. But it doesn’t mean I always have to like it.

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

Time and God have helped. Please let me explain a bit. It took me nearly five years to find my way through my “brain fog” to the light of awareness, where I could even look around and understand what the heck is even going on. When I mention “God,” please know I am not a believer of any formal religion of any kind. I sure wouldn’t understand any of it anyway. Sorry. I am fully a spiritual gal. I know God saved my life. I speak and pray directly to him privately. I believe in angels. I also feel that I am a part of all things of this earth, sky, and everything in-between. I do not, have never, and never will step inside any church. That is not something that my heart desires. My connection is full and complete. I need nothing more and nothing less.

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

I had a “love of my life” prior to my TBI. He tried – truly he did – post TBI. He stuck it out for three years, but I myself never emotionally reconnected with him. I do know he loved me. He used to come home from the hospital, walk half way up the stairs, and collapse in tears. He became my full-time caregiver and friend, but emotionally I was unable to love him back. So I personally set him free to find love again, and he has – with a baby on the way. YAY!

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

My social life changed big time, but it improved big time. My social life had been with drunk folks at the bar and such. I never drink at all post TBI. I never miss drinking for some strange reason. So that circle of folks is no longer in my life. At first, my social life consisted of “my dad,” a neighbor who just cared so much that he would spend about an hour every day with me. Sometimes he would take me places. He always made sure I was safe. My social life now consists of wonderful, caring neighbors who accept me knowing my limitations. They help when needed and spend time with me “just because.” My biggest social life consists of my family, who, for 30+ years, really weren’t much of a part of my life at all.

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

I am and have been my main caregiver for six years now. I had no one after my ex-boyfriend/caregiver left. I was completely alone. I do, however, understand in many ways what it takes. Many of my dear friends who I know so well on the Internet are caregivers of survivors. They fill me in totally and honestly. I also help them to maybe know what their loved one is thinking when a reaction occurs, things that may stimulate the survivor, things that the survivor may enjoy, etc.

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

My life will be pretty much what I do now – “pay my life forward” to other survivors and caregivers by helping them – sometimes with info or sometimes with laughter, music, inspiration, joy, etc. I am permanently and totally disabled, so I truly believe that “work” is out of my future. That’s okay with me, truly. I love what I do now, and, as my father used to always say, “If it works, don’t fix 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 survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

Realize it is what it is!

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

Please never rush it. You’ll get there when you’re ready to get there – not a second sooner. It may take years and years, but when YOU are ready, you’ll know it.

Tell folks to get over themselves and their ignorance if they ever say, “Just get over it.” It takes a lifetime!

If you’re unable to do something right now, always say, “I can’t do it AS OF YET!” It leaves room for possibility and hope for your future!


(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.)

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!

Feel free to “Like” my post.


SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Jennifer Stokley Transitioning and Brain Injury

Transitioning Can Work in Odd and Wonderful Ways


Jennifer Stokley


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingWhen I moved into my new home back in September, I was a stranger – scared and so alone. I had neighbors on either side, but they were strangers. Strangers terrify me.

Behind me was a family with three young children and a big floppy dog. I am not sure how it happened. (I forget these things – “TBI Memory” – LOL.) Maybe it was the doggie that made me go out and meet them, but who cares? I went. And, it totally changed my world forever!

Next thing I knew, I was playing with their dog almost every day and sitting on their bench out front to see the kids go off to school every morning so I could say hello and “Have a great day!” I went out again every day to greet them when they came home from school. I became good friends with the mother, who turned out to have been a nurse prior to being a stay-at-home momma.

The mother was very familiar with folks like me – with a TBI. What are the odds of that? She wrote me a beautiful poem about new starts in my life. While reading it to me, she started to cry. She had to regain her composure and begin again. At the end, we were both crying. We ended up hugging. Wow! I was so grateful for her huge heart and her understanding.

Her husband would mow my yard when he did his own and never asked for anything in return. I was amazed and so grateful that they understood I was completely unable. They did it because they cared.Jennifer Stokely 3 Survivor 052615

One day, I joined the kids in a leaf fight in their yard (in my PJs! – LOL), along with the parents’ autistic son – my best buddy, with whom I had a special connection for some reason. He came over, sat down with me, threw leaves into the air with me, and giggled. He even lay down and wanted me to cover him with leaves to his chest (none on is face or neck – sensation issues – I understood) so he could pop out of the leaves like the rest of the kids were doing. His parents’ chins were on the ground, I swear. I don’t think they had ever seen him connect and want to play like this before. Once he popped out and had a leaf in his hair that upset him. I asked him if I could remove it for him. He said yes, so I did, and the playing resumed.

The best part came at the end, though. I thought his parents’ heads were going to explode! I put my hand out and told him, “Give me a high five!” He slapped my hand as hard as he could. I don’t think his parents had ever seen him give physical contact by choice to anyone not family.

His parents got him a new puppy, all his own. One of the kids had let the puppy out by accident. No one knew it was gone. I was outside doing something, and the puppy ran around the other side of my house and straight to me! Yay! I was able to save the puppy, give it some loving, and carry it home – safe and sound.

This family brought me so many blessings by being my neighbors in a new, strange, and scary environment. They just sold their home and have begun moving into their new home. But, the blessings keep coming. My two nephews bought their place, so I will have family living behind me, after having pseudo family living there.

Jennifer Stokely Survivor 052615Miracles work in mysterious ways for sure! I will sure miss that family. But, I am grateful for the wonderful memories they gave me and for being there to help make my transition feel so safe and protected. I wish them well on their new journey.


Thank you, Jennifer Stokely.

You can learn more about Jennifer on the following sites.

SSS (Semi-Support Sisterhood) for TBI Survivors


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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Jennifer Stokley.)


As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the lower right corner of your screen.

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!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

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