TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Kristina Hopkins’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Thomas Hopkins, Jr (Tommy)

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Thomas Hopkins, Jr (Tommy)

presented

by Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Tommy Hopkins, Jr Survivor of Brain Injury

 

 

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

Thomas Hopkins, Jr.

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

Mountain Home, Idaho, USA (originally from Wisconsin)

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

I was 19 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I have had several head traumas that led to my brain injuries. I’ll discuss the main ones. I have two injuries from February 2003. The first was due to a JDAM bomb (Joint Direct Attack Munition – a guidance kit that converts unguided bombs into all-weather precision-guided munitions). The second was from an explosion in a unit I was working with. In 2006, on my 4th tour, I had gotten a hammer to the head. I do not recall this incident at all. My fourth injury was in May 2007. I was still on my 4th tour. Our camp got morning RPG/mortar hits. The shop I was working in had one hit close by that shook the shop. The 40-lb. equipment I was working on fell over and hit me in the back of the head.

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

I started noticing issues after my first injury back in 2003 – daily headaches, ringing in my ears, light sensitivity, plus I would invert numbers.

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

Due to the units I was in, I did not get treatment. I’ll rephrase that – due to the units I was part of, unless you lost a limb, your sight, etc. or your life was in danger, you were not allowed to seek medical treatment.

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

No coma

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 started seeking help once I got out of the army. I started at the VA (medical care at hospitals of the Veterans Administration). It was not the best outcome.

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

I have convergence insufficiency (a condition in which your eyes are unable to work together when looking at nearby objects, creating double or blurred vision),

photophobia, daily headaches that turn into migraines, and constant tinnitus. One doctor said I have damage to the autonomic and limbic systems in my brain. Other doctors have said that I don’t even have a brain injury! (LOL) I have no concept of time; I experience jerks (involuntary muscle movements); I search for words; my speech is slurred; my brain often won’t let me get my words out; and I have a poor memory. I do not feel 60+% of my body, and my lower limbs do not work a lot of the time. “Partial Para” is what they call it. At times, I need to be in a wheelchair.

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

Worse

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

I miss my memory. It used to be photographic.

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

Retirement (LOL) … Driving my wife nuts (LOL) … Um, working my brain in different ways to work on problems and situations that come up in my hobbies

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

I’m not Johnny-on-the-spot anymore. I miss my memory. My body is going to shit.

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

MY WIFE. Even though most of my injury is “invisible,” she showed me that I also have physical scars that I and others can see.

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

Yup. That’s a very long answer.

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

Yup. We lost a lot of friends and family because I was not the same Tommy I was before I was brain-injured in the war.

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

Tommy Hopkins, Jr. Brain Injury Survivor
Caregiver – Kristina Hopkins

MY WIFE! I have a rough idea of some of what she does for me, but I have no clue of what all she does.

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

My “plan” is to maintain what I have and live each day as if it is my last.

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.

Yes. You have to adapt to your new self. That old person is gone. I had to realize I will never be as I once was, BUT I am still able to do most things with adaptation.

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

My advice: Good days come and go. Work with the day you have because you don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

(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 are this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

drivers-license-621806Cory Edmondson (survivor)…Two years ago, I was told that I would never drive again. That didn’t sit too well with me. My mom told me I could accept it or I could continue to work hard and, one more time, prove somebody wrong. I am now one excited dude – I got my license back! Never give up. Always believe in yourself.

washdishesclipsahoyCory Edmondson (survivor)…I’m pretty proud of myself right now. I stood at the sink, washed and wiped the supper dishes, and put away 98% of them. I walked around the kitchen with just one hand on the cupboard. This was a BIG accomplishment for this fella. Never give up! 🙂

Jo Emery & DaughterJo Emery (caregiver)…This week in Australia, it is Brain Injury Awareness Week. For donations, we have BangOnABeanie and BangOnABarbie (“Barbie”=BBQ). I am so very proud of my beautiful twelve-year-old, who organised the BangOns with her local girl-guide unit. She talked about why they were doing them and a little bit about her dad. She also played a memory game with them. She raised about $30, which was really great. I’m a very proud mummy!

Minion Puzzle for Kyle F.Kyle F. (survivor)…This puzzle took me ALL day. It may seem rather easy, with its being only forty-eight pieces and all, but I get distracted extremely easily – a heck of a lot more easily than before my TBI. So…score one for me. Also, this puzzle is as cute as heck with all the minions.

blood_donors_1Kristina Hopkins (caregiver)…I’m about ready to donate blood again. I feel so honored to be able to do this every eight weeks. I’m a universal donor with my O-negative blood type, and it’s a blessing to be able to help so many. I challenge you all to donate if you can and are able.

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Kristina Hopkins

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! – Kristina Hopkins

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Kristina Hopkins - Caregiver Tom Hopkins- TBI Survivor

Kristina Hopkins – Caregiver
Tom Hopkins- TBI Survivor

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

Kristina Hopkins

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

Blum, Texas, USA

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

The survivor, Tom, is my husband. He was 25 years old when he got a moderate to severe TBI.

Tom was on his last of four deployments to Iraq. His camp came under attack, and the building he was working in shook because it was hit. He got hit in the head, we believe, and they found him on the floor. He has damage to the occipital and frontal lobes of his brain. His autonomic and limbic systems were also damaged. Those are the systems that make the body feel and move. Tom does not feel over 60% of his body, and he is losing the use of his legs.

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

I began taking care of Tom in early 2008. I am the main and only caregiver. I believe I was 31.

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

I was caring for two daughters, one with Asperger’s Syndrome.

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

I was working, but that changed.

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

I didn’t have any help. Tom does have a TBI service-dog. The dog, Duke, let’s him know every morning whether he will be walking or rolling in his wheelchair.

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

Tom started receiving partial help in 2008, and then he received full-time medical help in 2009.

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

No

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 this was happening?

Tom received physical therapy, memory therapy, and occupational therapy. All therapies were outpatient, except for the physical therapy. For that therapy, the therapists came into our home. Since moving to Texas two and a half years ago, I have taken over all of Tom’s therapy.

11. What problems or disabilities of your TBI survivor required your care, if any?

I assist Tom on all his ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). Tom cannot cook, so I do that. I handle the finances, with Tom’s help. I am the main driver. I am his therapist, whether it is physical or occupational therapy. I handle all appointments, i.e., I’m Tom’s “personal assistant.” (LOL)

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

My life has changed. I cannot say if it’s for the better or for the worse. We have learned to overcome Tom’s injuries and to adapt to them. It’s a lonely life at times, but I would not change my life. I am truly honored to be married to my husband.

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

I miss making plans a month or more into the future. We can’t do that now.

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

EVERY day is different. It can be exciting. Case in point – our Thanksgiving this year.

15. What do you like least about TBI?

I don’t like that people look at Tom as if nothing is wrong. They need to walk a day in his shoes or mine. Then they can decide.

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

I had to accept Tom’s TBI right away. There was no time not to.

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

Yes. We don’t go “out” as much. We cannot make plans for the distant future. We just take one day at a time.

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

What’s a “social life”? (LOL) We do get out now and then, but not often.

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

I cannot answer this question about my plans for ten years from now. I have no clue. We don’t plan that far in advance. In ten years, hopefully our daughters will be in college or in the military or just getting out. As for the two of us, my hope is to be where we are at now – taking it one day at a time.

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

Good question. I guess to answer that question would depend upon whom I am talking with. Not every caregiver is at the same stage. So my advice varies. I guess all I can say now is this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

Kristina Hopkins - Caregiver

Kristina Hopkins – Caregiver

Thank you, Kristina, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

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

(Photo compliments of Kristina.)

Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the interviewee.

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . Thanksgiving Surprise

Thanksgiving Surprise

by

Kristina Hopkins

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

 

Hopkins, KristinaI love my husband’s TBI. There are days when it frustrates me, but we go with the flow. Then there are days like today when we laugh about it.

My husband sustained his brain injury back in 2007 during his last of four deployments in Iraq. We ALWAYS open up our house around the holidays to the military/veterans and their families so they can have a home-cooked meal and be around other military.

This year was going to be a quiet Thanksgiving for us – just my husband, my father-in-law, and me. Apparently my husband “forgot” to tell me that families have been calling him the past couple of days to verify times. I didn’t know until I got a Facebook message this morning from one of the wives.

I asked him about it. He looked at me with the giant smile that I love so much and said, “Sorry, Babe. No more quiet Thanksgiving.”Thanksgiving-Turkey-Cartoon-Wallpapers

Never in all the years that I have been with my husband have I regretted my life. It does get hard and lonely at times, but it’s all worth it. He has overcome so many obstacles since his injury and is constantly doing so. I’m truly honored to be his wife.

Just thought you all could enjoy a good laugh today. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thank you, Kristina, for sharing your story in TBI Tales. I hope that your experience will offer inspiration to my readers. I know it made me laugh. It made me cry.

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

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