TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Lupus’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Lisa Dryer

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Lisa Dryer

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

11 Lisa Dryer Survivor 1 060115 281536_2048711670666_4659924_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Lisa Robin Dryer

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

Scottsdale, Arizona, USA     lisadryer@cox.net

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

At birth

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was born twelve weeks too early. The NICU (neonatal intensive care unit) nurse who was in charge of me was also taking care of another baby, whom she deemed sicker. Our emergency calls often had false alarms. In this case, the nurse only had to tap me on the foot so that I would start breathing again. But, I went into cardiac arrest, and I lost oxygen to my brain. It was this incident that caused my TBI (traumatic brain injury). As a child, I never knew it as such, but instead as a “learning disability.” When I was seven, we found out that I was having a seizure a minute, which also most assuredly inhibited my learning. I’ve always had motor-skill and spatial relationship issues as well. In college, I realized something else was wrong. In 2004, it grew worse. I was searching for a diagnosis, but I was degraded and shoulder-shrugged for years.05 Lisa Dryer Survivor 5 060115 1238881_10200476055050272_1657456156_n

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

Last year, a friend, Hanna, dragged me to a hospital. At the time, we were both living on the East Coast. We were nannying between acting jobs and reveling in the history of the Potomac River. It was just a fun spa weekend for two best friends. But, half of my body failed to function. I was stubborn and tried to walk it out. I had a complete distrust of doctors at this point, but Hanna dragged me to the Emergency Room. They thought I might be having a stroke. My symptoms on the CAT scan (computerized axial tomography; also called a “CT” scan for “computerized tomography”) showed an abnormal brain. When they told me that, I laughed and said, “I know that already! Tell me something I don’t know.” So, they sent me to Washington, D.C., for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and faster than you can say “MS,” it was said!

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

I don’t believe I had any treatments, but they certainly did some interesting testing on me!

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

No. However, I have since been concussed several times.

19 Lisa Dryer Survivor 7 060115 10154056_10202572349343208_1951490992_n8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

I have done inpatient rehab now twice, and I am currently doing outpatient rehab for the second time. I like to take pictures at rehab, so you can see some of my rehab and hospital journeys on my Facebook and Instagram accounts. I do physical, occupational, and speech therapies, and I’m supposed to be doing shoulder therapies.

How long were you in rehab?

Each visit was a month long, and I’ve had about three.

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

I have several issues: balance, sight, auditory, emotional, tactile, and sensory. I also have a problem with perception.

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

This is a very hard question for me. I am the kind of person who likes to roll with the punches that life brings me. Right now, I think this must be where I am supposed to be and what I am supposed to be doing. I have met so many wonderful people who are really grateful that I am in their lives – being just the way that I am and wholly accepting me. That is a really beautiful thing. I really love that I can write about positivity in the face of adversity, that I have such a great response, and that I see that so many other beautiful communities are forming.

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

I miss my dog, and I miss my trailer. I miss acting.

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

I have to say I really like my friends – both online and those who have come out to meet me. I have a special place in my heart for them. I met my current boyfriend online. We started talking more in one of my groups. He asked if he could send me flowers. He then sent me cards. Then he flew from Cleveland, Ohio, to Arizona to take me on a date! I think the rest will be romance history in the TBI community!

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?08 Lisa Dryer Survivor 8 060115 10527549_10205510907245319_3908859801295010883_n

My back spasticity

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

Learning to put a smile on and taking some deep belly-breaths have helped me.

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

Living with my mother again at 33 has been interesting. We have a very strong bond, but we are almost too close. We clash more than a bit. But, we have a lot of laughter and smiles too.

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

I really don’t have a social life anymore.

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

My mother is my main caregiver. Until last year, I was sometimes a primary caregiver as a live-in nanny for children with disabilities. It was a job I loved. I also worked as a teacher at the Head Start program for the Los Angeles Unified School District and for needy children in other school districts.

1150365_10201334798525285_296956465_n18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

As John Lennon said, I’d like to be happy.

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.

I have three recommendations:

  1. Try to continually be finding the beautiful around you.
  2. Find your center, and try to stay calm.
  3. If things seem off, they usually are. Talk to someone.

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

No matter what you think, know that you are a powerful, beautiful person and that you can bring so much joy to this world. I have seen so many people in pain who just needed a smile, a word of kindness, or a hand-squeeze. No one in life is that different – we all need love. People also need education. Don’t be afraid to raise your voice and tell your story. And, remember that you are beautiful.

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

(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.

(Photos compliments of Lisa.)

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“Another Fork in the Road” . . . Brain Injury Radio Network . . . Interview: Lisa Dryer


Lisa Dryer Survivor of Brain Injury, MS – Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Epilepsy, and Sjögren’s syndrome

Meet Lisa Dryer

putthis_on_calendar_clip_artIt took Lisa Dryer nearly three decades to put a label on what she knew was wrong all her life. As a child, Lisa, endured learning difficulties and experienced many seizures. She didn’t realize then that they were probably caused by the cardiac arrest and the lack of oxygen to her brain as a premature infant in the Neonatal Care Unit.

When recently Lisa had a computerized tomography (CT) scan that showed an abnormal brain, she laughed and said, “I know that already! Tell me something I don’t know!”

Lisa approaches her life with these thoughts. “Find the beautiful around you and stay calm.”

Come One! Come ALL! 

What:        Interview with Lisa Dryer, BI Survivor

Why:        Lisa will share her story of living with Brain Injury, MS – Multiple Sclerosis, Lupus, Epilepsy, and Sjögren’s syndrome and how she keeps a happy face.

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network11 Lisa Dryer Survivor 1 060115 281536_2048711670666_4659924_n

When:       Sunday, June  7th, 2015

Time:         5:30p PT (6:30p MT, 7:30p CT, and 8:30p ET) 90 minute show

How:         Click: Brain Injury Radio Network

Call In:    424-243-9540

Call In:     855-473-3711 toll free in USA

Call In:    202-559-7907 free outside USA


If you miss the show, but would like to still hear the interview, you can access the archive on On Demand listening. The archived show will be available after the show both on the Brain Injury Radio Network site and on my blog in “On the Air.”

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photo compliments of Lisa Dryer.)

Brain Injury Resources . . . . . . Fatigue and The Spoon Theory

Fatigue and The Spoon Theory

Brain th-2Every brain injury is different. Yet, the survivor interviews on this blog have shown that fatigue is a common effect of a brain injury. Once the survivor was energetic – able to do many things. Now the survivor is often tired or worried about getting tired.

Have you ever tried to explain chronic fatigue to someone healthy? Usually he or she doesn’t get it. Christine Miserandino, who has Lupus – a chronic disease, invented The Spoon Theory to show her healthy friend why she is so concerned with the energy cost of doing anything. Christine’s Spoon Theory 309_1_is a simple way to show the difference between being healthy and energetic and being worried about fatigue by having a chronic condition – like Lupus or a brain injury. In The Spoon Theory, Christine writes, “I explained that some days were worse than others; some days I have more spoons then most. But I can never make it go away, and I can’t forget about it. I always have to think about it.”

Christine’s Spoon Theory can be found HERE.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)



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