TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Lynn Sandoval’

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Lynn Sandoval

Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Lynn Sandoval

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski


Lynn Sandoval - Caregiver

Lynn Sandoval – Caregiver

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

Lynn Sandoval

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

Brady, Texas, 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 husband. He was 39 years old when he had the brain injury. He was in an automobile accident. His car was hit twice, once head-on. The first car hit my husband’s car at ~95 mph. This hit spun my husband’s car around, and a second car, following the first car, hit my husband’s car in the rear at ~85 mph. My husband’s car was spun back around and finally came to a rest in the middle of the road.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor?

I began care the day after my husband’s accident – when I was able to get to the hospital where he had been flown.

Were you the main caregiver?

In the beginning, my husband had hospital care in addition to mine.

Are you now?

I have been my husband’s only caregiver since he came home from the hospital.

How old were you when you began care?

I was 52.

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


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

Yes, I was employed. I have been able to utilize FMLA (Family and Medical Leave Act) and sick leave. I have continued working whenever I am able to.

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

I have not had any help at home caring for my husband.

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

My support began in the hospital, and it continues to this day.

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

My husband was in a coma the first few days. While he was in a coma, I stayed by his bedside and talked to him. I touched him on the areas that weren’t bandaged to let him know I was there.

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)?

My husband had physical, speech, and occupational therapies in the hospital. They continued when we got home, once I got him set up for evaluations.

How long was the rehab?

k20116138My husband is still in physical therapy, and he recently started occupational therapy again. (He had “graduated” from occupational therapy about a year ago, but his neurologist requested that he do it again.)

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

I was there with my husband during the beginning therapies, but after some time, he went to the therapies alone. Now we work together on exercises at home.

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

Now my husband is able to do things for himself, but I still have to get his medications together for him every day because he doesn’t remember if he’s taken them or not.diabetes_medications

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

Since I’ve become a caregiver, I have discovered that people will withdraw from situations because they don’t understand TBI (traumatic brain injury). It has its ups and downs, but we are now seeing more positive steps and are hopeful for the future. I have found that I am more depressed and feel alone because I am more involved with making sure everything is OK for my husband, but I am learning to take time for me.

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

Life before my husband’s TBI was a lot less stressful – being able to leave the house and not worry if he is OK. Now I keep my phone with me continuously so that, if he needs something, he can call and I’ll be there for him.

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

I am grateful that I still have my husband with me.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I dislike the frustration and confusion that my husband feels when he is trying to remember something and he can’t.

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

Yes – support-groups and reading – and more reading – on anything and everything I can find about TBI and about what can and can’t be beneficial – not only for him, but for us and our relationship.

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

Yes. I find I am hyper-aware of anything and everything my husband does in an effort to keep him safe. The relationships with his family and friends have become nonexistent. It hurts my husband so much to feel that no one cares about him.

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

Yes. We don’t go out much anymore because my husband doesn’t like being in large, noisy crowds and because it is difficult for him to stand or walk for extended periods of time.

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

My husband’s plans are to hopefully get approved for disability insurance and then to return to his job (that they are holding for him) part-time so that he can financially contribute to our family. My plans, if we are able to get some additional income instead of just mine (which has been our income for almost the last two years), would be to find a job to use my Master’s Degree. I just completed my degree program this past year in psychology. I’d like to work with other traumatic-brain-injury survivors and help advocate for them. Here in our small town, nothing is available.

Lynn Sandoval - Caregiver

Lynn Sandoval – Caregiver

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 say that, despite the difficulties in being a caregiver, caregiving can be rewarding – when together you see the progress your survivor is making because of his or her drive and determination and because of the support and love that you give him or her. It is tiring, it can be frustrating, and you may feel like screaming – these are all normal responses. The key is to remember to take a moment, to try to take care of yourself (this is the hardest thing), and to believe in each other.


(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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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps


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 donnaodonnellfigurski@gmail.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.

Debra Cody (survivor)…I am so grateful to have my husband Phil by my side. I know that his life has been forever holding_hands_1changed by my injury and that he could walk away and have a much easier life, but he chooses to stay. I thank God for giving Phil the love in his heart and the strength of character to continue to hold my hand every day!

Karie Jacobson Collins (caregiver)…It has been a busy weekend here. On Friday night, we attended the service-awards banquet for my hubby’s work. He received an award for 25 years of service. Award 515wwJCwmXLWhile we were there, he repeatedly told me to be quiet – loudly. It was a bit embarrassing. Fortunately, we sat with people whom we are close to, and they helped to smooth things over. It still hurt, though. Then today, we went to a local event, called “The Crystal Classic,” with our daughters and grandsons. Then we washed his truck and vacuumed it out. (It has been unseasonably warm here, so he has been wanting to do that for a week now.) Then we went to dinner with our youngest daughter and her family before going to watch our oldest grandson ride mini-broncs in a rodeo. As we were leaving the restaurant after dinner, my husband apologized for being rude to me the night before. I almost passed out! This is the first acknowledgement of his bad behavior. Miracles never cease! It may never happen again, but I will take it for today. It was a great day.

Erica Renee Gilliam-Chiles (caregiver)…Today I saw my husband run. Fourteen months ago, he couldn’t move his left side. Being an active duty Marine, he had as one of his top goals to be able to run again, and he did!

15278739Kayla Bradberry Knight (caregiver)…Last year on February 13, my husband, Wyatt, took me out for a Valentine’s Day dinner. He and the kids gave me cards that morning. I was on cloud nine. Who would have thought that five days later my husband would be fighting for his life and our families would be turned upside down? God has taught me many lessons this year. Most of all, I’ve learned that earthly possessions mean nothing. Sure, they make one happy for a while. But no gift, flower bouquet, or box of chocolates could take the place of what I have today. My husband is still here! Oh, how happy it makes me to be able to say that! He may not realize that it’s even Valentine’s Day. Nor will he walk through the door with a gift, BUT I still get to hug him. The kids and I still get to tell him how much we love him. That, my friends, is irreplaceable. Don’t just sign that sweet card or have those beautiful flowers delivered. Show that person how much he or she means…not just today, but every day!

Sophia Hill Kusderci (caregiver)…My husband knows that I’m sad a lot living isolated in Germany. This past week, he said to me, “I try to talk to you. It’s why I ask you, ‘What are you doing?’ and ‘What are you reading?’ ” It was such a surreal moment that he “got it,” and I realized he’s trying very hard to make me happy. It’s nearly fourteen months, and I’m thankful for where we are right now. It’s not perfect, but it’s so far from where we were last year. It seems so small in real life, but for me, it is huge.cartoon-love-u-187615

Shelley Lawrence (caregiver)…My husband and I were in a shop today, and we walked past a huge Valentine’s Day stand. He stopped, looked at it, turned to me, and said, “I’d forgotten, but do you know that I love you so very much anyway?” I just grinned and said, “Yes!” How simply AWESOME is that!

Darcy Clarkson Leslie (caregiver)…Valentine’s Day – another gift-giving holiday with my brain-injured husband. I’m getting to hate this day because either he forgets or gives me a gift that his former wife would have liked. Last year at Christmas, he picked out a very large and bulky bracelet and watch set that was full of rhinestones. “You need a heart_&_key_2watch because you’re a nurse,” he said. I don’t do big. I don’t do bling. I am not a nurse. Today he gave me a necklace – a heart with a small key. “Now you really have the key to my heart,” he said. He picked this out himself. This is the first sign that my husband is really starting to get to know me again, and that is the best gift of all! Thanks for listening.

Lynn Sandoval (caregiver)…Today was a great Valentine’s Day for us! I had run to the gas station to get gas to mow the lawn, and I left my husband at home with his sister. When I returned home, I went into the kitchen and there was my husband – walking all by himself without his walker! It was the first time. thHe hadn’t realized that he did it at first. He just turned to walk over and try the chili that his sister had just made. When he got to the sink, he realized what he had done. He started walking back the other way, and that’s when I walked in. I began crying, and he walked over and hugged me. It was amazing!!! Best Valentine gift I’ve ever gotten!


YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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