Survivors SPEAK OUT! Karina Seda
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
I live in Orlando, Florida, USA. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
My brain injury was in 2008 when I was 15 years old.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
After surgery, my intracranial pressure rose and caused a hemorrhagic stroke. (An artery popped.)
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
Regarding the stroke, everything happened in the hospital, so the nurses were the ones who identified it. But if we go a few years back, my journey began when I was 12 years old and was diagnosed with an aneurysm.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was rushed back to the operating room, and they used the defibrillator twice to bring me back. They also opened my cranium again to stop the bleeding.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
Yes. I was in a coma for two weeks.
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 took in-patient rehab for one month and out-patient rehab (occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and health guidance) for around four years – until my insurance reached its limits.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I had lost all movements of the left side of my body, including speech, and my eyes were stuck facing a single direction.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
Everything changed, including career, eating habits, social activities, and desires. However, everything changed for the better: I am living with a purpose, married with my soul mate, and helping others to be the best version of themselves.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss my social life and my friends.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I enjoy being able to see life at a young age with a completely different point of view. I like living with gratitude, admiration, compassion, and wisdom.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I don’t like the headaches.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I realized that everything happened with a purpose.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I’ve been affected by seeing how my situation changed the people around me and by how they treated me.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Yes. In the past, if anyone called up to do something or to go somewhere, I could easily say “Yes.” It was hard to adjust to a life where I could not. Also, I try to do everything myself, but it is a bit hard whenever people try to help when I really don’t need it.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
At the beginning, my mother was my caregiver. But now, I am my own caregiver. Yes, it takes a lot of passion, patience, and dedication to help some who, at the time, cannot help themselves.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope to keep living in the best version of myself and to be living my purpose. And I expect to keep working on my recovery. I also want to be helping others in a transformational way so they also can do the same.
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.
It was very frustrating to be living in suffering for a long period of time by myself. Having the right support, accountability, and system can be a tremendous help in working towards recovery.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Never give up! It is never too late to reintegrate into life in a healthy way and work towards recovery.
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