TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Melinda Murphy’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury

Brain Injury is Not Discriminating.

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It 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.

Michael Flusche (survivor)

I am who I am – a survivor of brain injury. Some say I am acting or I am forgetful, impulsive, weird, lame, FLushche, Michael Survivor 031015crazy, etc. I get lost easily. I have short attention at times.Flusche, Michael Survivor 030515 I run into things, stumble, spill food, trip, and do other stupid stuff, but I like me this way. I hope you can too.

 

Melinda Murphy (survivor)

Murphy, Melinda 1I am just over four years post injury. I was a home health nurse in my Murphy, Melinda 2autistic client’s home when it happened. I fell down the basement steps. Wood and concrete are not a good mix. Because it was a work injury, I was caught up in the workers’ comp system, and I was not treated for several months. Only then did I find out that I had a basilar skull fracture. Only 5% of those who suffer from them survive. I did! I’m still progressing. Don’t give up.

Ginger Pickering (caregiver of her son, Bob)

On July 1, 2014, my youngest son, Bob, who is eight, and I were in a car accident. He suffered a severe TBI and other injuries. He had a sucker in his mouth when we hit, and the air bag pushed it into his Pickering, Ginger & Son 1throat. He went a very long time without oxygen, which contributed to the severiPickering, Ginger Son 2ty of the TBI. Our lives changed in that moment, and they will never be the same. He was flown three hours to the primary children’s hospital in Salt Lake City, Utah, and put into a medically induced coma for fourteen days. We were told that, if he survived, we would have to place him into a home. He had no gag reflex, no responses – nothing. I was devastated and in shock. For three months, Bob was in a medical rehab hospital, where he received outstanding care and intense therapy daily. I can’t say enough about his progress. It’s an absolute miracle! We are just so grateful. It’s a struggle, but we’re doing whatever we need to do.

(Clip art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

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

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

 

 

SPEAK 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.

Bart Boughner (survivor)…For me, these past ten days were hard, but I held my head up and I did what is best for me and my kids. I allowed outside people to talk with my doctors. My kids are more than willing to help me with just my being honest. I showed them all my meds and explained every one of them. I stayed true to myself, and things turned out well! It’s never a good thing to hide things from people. I always stay an open book to anyone who wants or needs to know.

Bob Calvert (survivor)…I have had five surgeries since my last trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. I keep hoping that there won’t be any more surgeries. But, it looks like I have no choice for a hernia, and the first of two foot-surgeries did not go well. Next week, my doctor is asking Medicare to approve a wheelchair so I can get out of my apartment. Sometimes it gets to me, but what keeps me going is when I keep hearing story after story of what our military men and women and veterans have gone through as a result of their service to our country and what many of them go through every day. That keeps me sitting at this computer as long as I can every day and keeping our talk show (www.talkingwithheroes.com/about) and our mission going.

Michael Coss (survivor)…I am now starting to walk indoors without a cane – 9 years post injury. “Everything is possible when you believe.”

Penelope DeYoung (caregiver)…My husband had finished 13 days of HBOT (hyperbaric oxygen therapy), when, on Tuesday, October 28th, at 3:00 in the morning, I woke up to the bed’s shaking to find him having a grand mal seizure (the second one in five weeks and only the third in two and a half years). He was blessed in more ways than one. First, he had it in the night, so he was already lying down and on his side. I also kept my cool as I called 9-1-1. My husband has made a giant step forward because the doctor dropped a seizure medication that we now know was causing “brain fog.” He upped the dosage of another anti-seizure drug that was making my husband sick when it was started this past summer, but now his body has adjusted to it, and he is tolerating it very well. The higher dose of the “better” anti-seizure drug and the HBOT together have made Jim much more aware. He has shown initiation and motivation. We went to a spaghetti dinner in our hometown last night. People were awed by how much difference they noticed in his awareness. He knew many more people than I did. It was great to see so many people come up to him and say, “It is so good to see you.” Jim’s response to them was, “It is so good to be seen!” I love the progress he has made cognitively! Thanks for letting me share!

Jamie Fairies (survivor)…Hi, Donna. I saw your post on the wall of the group I created – Supporting ABI (Acquired Brain Injury). I thought that perhaps creating that group in 2007 to promote the awareness of brain injury and the Peer Mentor Support Program for those affected by brain injury would be considered an Itty-Bitty Giant Step. I am a survivor of multiple brain injuries.

Melanie Leatherman (survivor)…An Itty-Bitty Giant Step is something small that’s a big deal for us, right? I’m 4 years post. Every year, I’ve tried to go back to my old profession as a stylist, but it never worked out. Friday I tried again, and I could! Awesome feeling. I think it’s a big accomplishment for me. I can pretty much do everything now that I was told I couldn’t. I live alone with my 13-year-old and cook, wash her clothes, and make her lunches for school – things that most mothers don’t realize how big of a deal that is.

Barbara Zirilli-Lonergan (caregiver)…Today is day 40 for my dad. He’s still in the early stages of his recovery. He’s currently in a vegetative state, and he occasionally responds to commands. I am just thankful for today. Love to all of you.

John E. May (survivor)…I have an incredible giant step. I’m still breathing and unnaturally happy!

Grant Mealy (caregiver)…I’m reminded again not to be so hard on my partner, who has PML (progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy). He is not what he used to be, and he never will be again. He did not go through a bad illness to irritate me. I will forgive myself for yelling and move foreword. We are lucky to have each other.

Melinda Murphy (survivor)…One of my secrets that very few people knew was that I lost the ability to tie my shoes after my accident because I was unable to tie a bow. Well today, for the first time in over three and a half years, I did it. I have been crying for an hour. It’s the little things as well as the big that are so very important in that whole “independence thing.” God is so good to me.

Marti Lynch Owens (caregiver)…Gene’s Itty-Bitty Giant Step was last night (November 8th). (His accident was September 25th.) His trach has been removed. He said, “Home, Marti,” and I replied, “Not yet.” He asked, “Why?” and I tried to explain. He was angry, but I didn’t care – I was so happy to hear him speak. He always has emotions. After I left, the hospital called. He got himself out of bed. He was sitting on floor and pulled out his feeding tube, but he is fine – Thank God!

Shana Storms (survivor)…My Itty-Bitty Giant Step is that I went back to school. I got my BS degree. Now on to my MS.

Sunshine Struble (caregiver)…GIANT! January 6th will mark two years for my beautiful boy. He has not slept in his room since the incident – at first because his body was incapable of doing stairs, then because he was so fearful of being away from Mom and Dad. Tonight he is sleeping in his newly designed (in his way) room. I am so proud. It brings tears to my eyes.

Sandra Williams (survivor)…I can exercise without shaking. My shaking wasn’t from fatigue. When I began any form of a stretch and held, my legs would shake, even at the beginning. It’s not the same as shaking when your muscles are tired.

Sandra Williams (caregiver)…My son asked for his own 504 meeting and accommodations at work. (Section 504 is a federal law that protects students with disabilities from being discriminated against.) He said, “I need you to fight for me, Mom. The school isn’t listening.” It’s the first time he has admitted he needs help!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

 

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

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

SPEAK 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.

Tim Short…After four years, I started back in physical therapy to work on my balance. My condition was from a 42-foot fall from a roof on October 24, 2009. The fall led to a two-month coma, a shattered left wrist, a broken pelvis, and vision problems. I had two eye operations on my optical nerves to change a 45-degree world to one that was almost normal. After 4 ½ years, I was able to drive again. Now I volunteer at Mercy Hospital and get to help the TBI/MS/stroke people at the start of their journey. And the best part of my own long journey is now knowing Jesus is my personal savior. When I came off that roof, I knew him by words only. Now he lives in me. Though I often fail daily…I strive to do things that are pleasing to him.

DemItra Manna Dema…I can lose my temper without going into a full-blown seizure within two days or feeling a very serious migraine coming on. I still do have migraines, but they’re not as severe.

Cheri Hicks…My Itty-Bitty Giant Step is that every time I go to therapy night, I take the stairs up instead of taking the elevator. (I take the elevator to go down when I leave.) I figured it’s good practice and a good feeling of accomplishment.

Carmen Gaarder Kumm…I am visiting my parents, who live 10 hours from my house, for the second time this month. So far, I haven’t had any meltdowns. That’s my Itty-Bitty Giant Step.

Melinda Murphy…Okay, so for the very first time, I did all my own coupons and my grocery list without my wonderful mentor. I still managed to save 45%. I’m no Mandy yet, but I’m getting there. Love that my therapist is working with me to help me learn grocery shopping and meal planning and just being a huge blessing in this area. I love learning how to accomplish things on my own again and how to do them right. I love taking that load off of those who have become my caregivers as much as possible. (Love you, Manders!) And I love saving money. Win, win, win!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for Blog

SPEAK 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.

Melinda Murphy…I made it to church last week for the first time in two years, and I managed to stay through the whole service. I still had a decent day. Oh my!

Catherine (Cat) Brubaker…I stood up for myself by establishing boundaries. I made sure someone talked to me with respect. This is a big step for me because my self-esteem has been in the toilet for a long time – after being humiliated in my assault in 2010, which gave me my first TBI.

Jenny Marie…I can drive now if I use a GPS so I don’t get lost.

Judy Feeley…I was proud of myself today. My head hurt, and I am not good with crowds. Despite these issues, I went to a funeral and stayed through it.

Ellie K. Payton (caregiver)…This week Claus Nowell hit his 6-month mark and stood using the parallel bars. He also began weaning off the trach.

Michael Anthony Boccio…Hey People!! Michael and Rachel down here in HOT Florida, and we are trying to keep things cool. Rachy is nearly done with her studies at Liberty University, and me – well, even through the pains, I keep pushing on to that finish line. (Rachel is 12 years out from her TBI, and me – well, I’m 35 years post-TBI, and life keeps getting more interesting every day!!)

Cheri Richardson Hicks…Okay, my Itty-Bitty Giant Step is that with two very small children in tow, I made a three-hour trip to visit my in-laws. It was much easier than I’d expected. We had a really relaxing and enjoyable trip. It was due time because it has been over a year since we’ve gone to visit them. Well worth the drive!

Tracy McDonald (caregiver)…I am happy to say that my son has asked his neurologist to wean him off The DURAGESIC® (fentanyl transdermal system) CII patch. He has been on it for over two years for pain – not only from his TBI, but also for the pains he suffers from injuries. He has gone without the patch for five days now, and he is toughing it out with the horrific withdrawal associated with the pain patch. This is a challenge for anyone with pain of this magnitude. The plan is custom – scheduled doses with a different medication that has little or no withdrawal or addiction problems. I wanted to share something positive today, as many times I get on here to tell of my woes or of the struggles of my son. I am glad to celebrate a positive thing. We really celebrate each and every move forward for our TBI survivor. It is a great thing for all of us. All positive developments are precious for TBI survivors – no matter how small or minor they may seem to “outsiders.”

YOU did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

 

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.

Cheri Richardson Hicks…My Itty-Bitty Giant Step is that I ventured away from outpatient therapy into a new program called Quest. It is a program that gets people back to work and back into the community. I really feel like this is what I need to get me to where I need to be, so it couldn’t have

Melinda's 100 piece puzzle

Melinda’s 100 piece puzzle

Melinda Murphy…Here is one for your Itty-Bitty Giant Steps. I used to be able to do 5000-piece puzzles in 2 or 3 days. I have not done any at all since the accident, until now. Four days, 2 tables, and only 100 pieces – but I did one, and I am thrilled (even if a piece was missing)!

Carmen Gaarder Kumm…Here is my Itty-Bitty Giant Step. I worked 4 1/5 hours today. I took three kids to town (20 minutes away), completed what needed to be done (I only forgot one thing, but my daughter will do that for me in the morning, as she is going anyway), picked up supper (knowing that I wouldn’t have much time once we got home), finished a Facebook page for our church, helped a bit with Vacation Bible School, picked green beans in the garden, and packed for the weekend away. I’m in bed before 10:00, and I don’t feel I overdid it…feeling good actually.

Donna O’Donnell Figurski (caregiver)…This week we have friends from Germany visiting us. They wanted to go to the Grand Canyon, which is about 4 hours from my home – too far for a day trip. Though David would have liked to go, he knew it would be too difficult for him, and he had seen it a few times before. He chose to remain home.

Caboose - haunted by ghost

Caboose – haunted by ghost

That’s where my dilemma came in. David is 9+ years out from his TBI and still deals with many issues, including balance deficits, and I have never left him alone at night. Though he is completely

able to stay at home during the day, I always worry about the night. David convinced me he would be just fine, and after much discussion and a ton of angst, I agreed to go with our friends to the canyon. I insisted that David and I be in constant cell-phone contact.

So off we went to Williams, Arizona, where I slept in a little red caboose, which is supposedly haunted. The ghost may or may not have made an appearance. The jury is still out on that one.

But the jury is in on my trip to the Grand Canyon and on David’s staying overnight by himself. He did it! I did it!

WE did it!

Congratulations to all contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Melinda Murphy

SPEAK OUT! – Melinda Murphy

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Melinda Murphy with TBI

Melinda Murphy with TBI

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

Melinda Murphy

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

Middletown, Ohio, USA

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

February 9, 2011 I was 40 years old.

4. How did your TBI occur?

I fell down a flight of steps into a basement.

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

Immediately, although the TBI was not diagnosed for quite some time.

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

None

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

No

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient or Out-patient and Occupational, Physical, Speech, Other)?

I have had all of the above, and I am still in therapy. I have had some fantastic therapists over the years, and I just have to say that they are the key in so many ways. I don’t know where I would be without them.

How long were you in rehab?

They did in-home rehab and therapy with me for about 5 months, if memory serves me. I do not remember most of those first months, though, so I could be lying to ya :).

9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your TBI?

I have horrible balance. I live with headaches constantly. My vision and hearing have both been affected to the point that I can no longer go out in public on my own because of the amount of stuff coming in, so to speak. I miss my church and independence. I have short-term memory loss. I lost organizational skills and basic life functions, like just being able to make simple decisions. I lost a lot of other skills, like math and English. I have trouble speaking; I lose words before they hit my mouth. Many times my brain gets over-tired and just quits working at all. I can’t explain it. I can’t drive. I could go on, but…LOL.

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

Both – honestly! No one being truthful would tell you there is nothing that he or she wouldn’t give back. It’s hard, and it stinks a big chunk of the time. Learning to live again and differently is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, and I didn’t live the easiest life, so…. Learning how strong I am, though, and learning to receive (which is not something I was used to and I think not many of us are used to) is a tremendous thing. Learning of people and the spirit and nature of them – that is a very rich gift I have been given through this. Learning to be okay with not being okay – that is again a huge thing that has bettered my life. So, I think that – as sad as it is at times and as hard as it is (and it is) – it is also a blessing.

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

Almost everything – I miss being able to drive; I miss my independence; I miss hot meals because most days I cannot cook for fear I will forget to turn off the oven; I miss my job and clients; I miss my social life; I miss being able to keep my house clean (balance issues keep me from up and down and forward and back motions); I MISS MY CHURCH!

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

I enjoy the quiet. Everything is quiet in my world now, out of necessity. It’s very nice. Quiet is better than you think it is – I had forgotten how nice. I think most of us have. I like things that I have learned from having a TBI and the people whom I have met because of it. I like the growth that I see in me because of my TBI.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Almost everything

Melinda Murphy - after fall

Melinda Murphy – after fall

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time, only time. People can tell you what they want, and they can try and say anything, but until your brain is ready, well hang it up. It’s been three and a half years, and I have just accepted it this year. When you are ready, it will happen. I will say this about acceptance. People say that once you accept it, you will be fine and everything will be easier. In the end, that is correct and true, but let me tell you, acceptance itself is hard. It is the toughest thing in the world to acknowledge that you – the person you are now – are broken and that that is okay. Getting there and getting through it takes time and patience from yourself and your caregiver.

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

Yes. I touched on my home life earlier – it is difficult to live with a TBI. Memory, balance, and sensory issues affect me far more than people could know, and my home very often suffers. I often feel like I am a burden on my family and on those relationships. When you are dependent, the structure of the relationship is changed.

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

Yes. All of my relationships changed – I am dependent now. That is a hard place to be. It stands in the way of traditional friendships. (At least, it feels that way on this end.) When you need, people tend to view you differently. We all have those friends, don’t we? I had them before my accident and still do, but those friends were different from all my other friends and from my social circle. I can’t complain now because I used to do it. I was no more aware of doing it then than are so many who are unaware of my situation now. I can say that I am blessed beyond measure to have a handful that do not fit into that mold and are there for me. God is good all the time because without them I would be in a home.

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

I am. I live alone and do the very best I can. I had to move in with my family just after the accident because of seizures and not being able to even stand up or sit down on my own. I was 100%-dependent then, but I moved back on my own as soon as I was able.

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

I would love to be fully functional. By that, I mean holding a job (any job) – just feeling productive and serving – and doing things more independently. (I have a servant’s heart and desire nothing more than to be helping others in any way the good Lord leads.)

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.
You’re okay just the way you are.

It took me forever and a day to accept that, and, frankly, I am still getting there. I know those words probably mean no more than anyone else’s, but I pray they touch someone. I always had a perfect picture of what healthy looked like in my mind, and I was working so hard to get there until one day, I realized that I was already there. I don’t need to walk up those steps upright like my neighbor. If I get up all the steps with my tail in the air and bear-crawling like a two-year-old, but I make it to the top, well by Jove, I can climb a flight of stairs – can’t I? It matters not the way you get there, only that you do. The fact that you do is what makes you as healthy and whole as that beefcake next to ya. Find a way.

20. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
My faith has held me so strong from day 1 of this. Without it, I’m not sure I would have survived. My God is greater than my broken brain and all the problems and mess that come with it – make no mistake.

Murphy, Melinda

Melinda Murphy

Advice? I am finding that there are tools everywhere for me. Some work and some don’t, but never, ever stop looking. I still find therapies and little things that can greatly improve things in my world all the time. If there is even the slightest bit of hope that something can bring a touch of independence or relief, then you need to jump with both feet. Stop thinking, all you caregivers. Just try, try, try. You never know what will work. The more you get out there into the world of TBI, the more you find. Never stop looking; never stop trying.

 

Thank you, Melinda, 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.)

(Photos compliments of Melinda.)

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.

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