TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘motor vehicle accident’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . Carole Starr

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Carole Starr

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Carole Starr Survivor Speaker

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor – Author of “To Root and to Rise”

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

Carole Starr

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

Maine, USA

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

I had my brain injury on July 6, 1999. I was 32 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a car accident. My vehicle was broadsided on the driver’s side by someone going about 50 mph.

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

My brain injury was diagnosed about six weeks after my accident. It was the physical therapist I saw for the whiplash who realized that I also had a brain injury. It became apparent to me when I tried to return to my regular life and struggled with tasks that used to be easy.

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

After my accident, I was transported by ambulance to the emergency room. They diagnosed me with severe whiplash and other soft tissue injury. The signs of the brain injury were there, but they were missed.

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

I was not in a 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 didn’t receive any brain injury rehab until nearly a year after my injury. That was the worst year of my life, as I tried and failed numerous times to return to my old life. A physiatrist referred me to outpatient brain injury rehab. I’ve had physical, occupational, speech, and recreation therapies and counseling. I’ve also found help from alternative therapies, including cranial osteopathy, neuro-optometry, and homeopathy. I received rehab therapies on and off for several years. I still see several medical professionals, and I continue to make slow progress, even after more than eighteen years.

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

tired-womanI am plagued by extreme mental fatigue, sound and light sensitivities, balance issues, memory loss, visual midline shift, and difficulties with decision-making and problem-solving.

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

My life changed dramatically after my brain injury. I had to give up my teaching career and my classical music hobby. I struggled to manage everyday-life tasks. I felt dependent on family and friends. For many years, I grieved the loss of my old life. I hated the new me. It was a long process to work through that grief and start to build a new life. I try really hard not to judge whether my life is better or worse. It’s just different. That helps me with the acceptance process.

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

I miss performing as a musician. I miss being able to go a whole day without needing to rest. I miss being able to trust my brain to do what I want it to.

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

Brain injury gave me the passion for a cause that was missing in my old life. This has become my life’s work. I like being able to use my experience to help other brain injury survivors. I do that through my book (To Root & To Rise: Accepting Brain Injury), my keynotes at brain injury conferences, and the volunteer group I lead (Brain Injury Voices).

Carole Starr & Book To Root and to Rise

Carole Starr – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I dislike having to rest every day and missing out on activities I’d like to do. I never know when too much sound, light, motion, talking, or thinking is going to overwhelm my brain and require hours or days of rest to recover from.

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

For a long time, I didn’t think I could ever accept my brain injury. It was a long process. Some things that helped me were support-groups, reading books by other survivors, counseling, journaling, crafts, learning to laugh at myself, finding silver linings, and focusing on what I’m thankful for.

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

For a long time, I felt like I was a burden – the one who always needed help. I had to learn to accept help from my family and friends and not resist their advice. I can now manage taking care of my home, but everything requires strategies. 67-Help_me

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

My life is much smaller. My daily activities are short and quiet. If I want to do something bigger, I know that the price will be days on the couch recovering my mental energy.

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

I’ve been able to live on my own. Family, friends, and medical professionals have helped me learn strategies to take care of myself.

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

kids-hand-writing-clip-art-hand_with_pencil_5CI plan to continue writing and speaking about brain injury. I want to use my experience to make a difference. I’ve spoken at brain injury conferences and events in six states so far. I’d like to speak in all fifty! I’d also like to help other survivors create education/advocacy groups like Brain Injury Voices in other states.

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.

Find an activity that the new you can enjoy and do successfully. Start small, find success and build on it. Over time, small successes can grow into large achievements and lead you in directions you never imagined.

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

Find ways to connect with other survivors – either through an in-person support-group or online. Interacting with others who “get it” is invaluable.

 

Know that progress doesn’t stop after the first year or two after brain injury. Our brains are always healing. We may never be able to return to our old lives, but we can continue to grow into this new one.

Please feel free to contact me, either through StarrSpeakerAuthor.com or BrainInjuryVoices.org.

Brain Injury Voices Logo

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Christine Durant

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Christine Durant

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

28722393_1570405716328305_1310268133_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Christine Durant

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

Connecticut, USA

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

I was 21.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Medical neglect

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

I did when I was 13.

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Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Brain surgery

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

No coma

8. Did you do rehab?

Yes

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 went to inpatient rehab for a week or so.

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Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I have balance and visual memory issues and some difficulty with visual identification. I had a LARGE personality change that included explosive issues and lack of impulse control. I also had double vision.

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

The medical neglect caused excruciating neurological pain, but it stopped with my first brain surgery. I was a diagnostic educator. My issues made me better at what I dith-2d because I finished my undergraduate work like this and did all four of my graduate degrees with strategies I developed for myself. I believe I am better off.

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

Energy

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

My ability to see things differently than most folks

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

Lack of energy and visual memory issues

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

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Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor and partner.

Meeting my wife and having a 25-year relationship … all post TBI

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

I am more sensitive to other people’s moods now. I can become what they are feeling.

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

Everyone who was my friend at that point is not a friend now. However, I chose better after my recent brain surgery because they all helped us through it.

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

I don’t really have a caregiver. I have a “care-partner.” We had an accident together twenty years ago. Someone was late for lunch and went over the yellow line – into us head-on. We help each other as life necessitates.

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

I would like to travel on the money from the accident while we still can. In ten years, I will be retirement age!Travel

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.

Know that you will adjust to your new personality. Find life-giving, happy people to get you there. I went home to my mother at 21. She was always an angry woman. I didn’t realize what a toll that was taking on me until I met my sweet, wonderful, happy wife.

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Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor & partner

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

Give it time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Find a passion that you are able to do within the confines of your new body. My wife has a broken foot from the accident that can’t be fixed. She used to paint theatrical scenery for Broadway. She can’t do that from a wheelchair. So, she discovered she has a passion for pottery.

 

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It 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.

 

Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)

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Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

When I was 16, I went through a windshield. Before that, I was the lead in every musical and captain of the dance team. My whole life changed in an instant. I ripped my liver in half; broke my leg, nose, ribs, and arm; suffered some minor flesh wounds; etc. But, nothing could compare to or prepare me for the TBI (traumatic brain injury) I also suffered.

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Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

I woke up a different person. My personality was completely different than the one I had before. I was having rage fits for no reason. The next two years would come with some new-found crippling anxiety and depression. I had no balance, and my memory was awful. (Still kinda is … Do not trust me with your keys, people!) I was confined to a wheelchair for about a year. I felt nothing but hopeless.

It seemed like I had lost everybody. The people who did stick around, I treated terribly. I was wallowing in my own self-pity … and I wanted to die. I felt like I would never live up to the person I had been. I didn’t think I would ever be able to go to college or find love. I thought suicide was the best solution. I planned my death, and I looked forward to it every day.

Then one day, I saw a dear friend of mine, who also had a TBI. Later, news broke that she had killed herself. My world changed that day. I started living for Hannah. I saw the potential she had, and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t going to let a stupid TBI take both of us down.

LaughingI started really trying at physical therapy. Instead of hating myself for my memory, my anxiety, my insomnia, and my depression, I learned to laugh at it. I stopped hating people because they didn’t understand, and I realized they were lucky they didn’t. I went to college, and I failed. So, I tried again, and I failed. I tried again, and I found joy and love in working hard in school. I passed a whole year. I proved every doctor, friend, and family-member wrong – they said I was too damaged. But, I did it!I Did It!

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Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

I took the jump and married the love of my life. I stopped putting my TBI first and started putting my happiness first. Today, I still have problems – headaches every day, anxiety, depression, insomnia, exhaustion … you name it! But, I push through and find myself every day.

It’s been a hard five years, but I wouldn’t change them. I’ve learned to be glad this happened to me – it’s made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. I commend everyone going through this – it’s hard! But, you can do anything. I truly believe that.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Pattie Welek Hall . . . . . . . . (caregiver for her son)

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Pattie Welek Hall  (caregiver for her son)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pattie Welek-Hall 3

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver for son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

 

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

Pattie Welek Hall

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

Summerville, South Carolina, USA     pattie@pattiewelekhall.com

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you?

He’s my son.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury?

19 years old

What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Motorcycle accident

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

MotorcycleOctober 6, 2002

Were you the main caregiver?

Yes

Are you now?

We live in different states now, but I’d have to say that emotionally I am his main caregiver.

How old were you when you began care?

56

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

I was in the process of finalizing a divorce and also raising my other two children, Annie (freshman in college) and Bo (junior in college).

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury?

th

Yes – at Barnes & Noble in Charlotte, North Carolina

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. Mid-October, I was scheduled to step into new position – Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble in Huntersville, North Carolina. The manager held my position until I was able to return.

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

When Casey returned home, he went to outpatient care in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that time, his dad’s insurance paid for a driver to take and pick him up from rehab so I could return to work. Casey remained in rehab until April 2003.

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

For the first eleven days after my son’s accident, I slept on the floor in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at the Medical University of South Carolina, and then I moved to Marriott Courtyard for the remaining days of his six-week stay.

A Mother's Dance

“A Mother’s Dance’ by Pattie Welek Hall

9Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Twice.

If so, what did you do during that time?

I prayed out loud to him; I talked to him; I relayed how his day unfolded (Guess who visited; I recounted what they said) . . . and I told him stories.

10. Did your survivor have rehab?

Yes

If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)?

Outpatient—speech, occupational, and physical

How long was the rehab? kc8oAg59i

Five months

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

At work

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

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

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

I miss my boy’s easy-going nature.

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

Pattie Welek Hall

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver of son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

That my son is alive

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

That my son has frontal lobe damage which affects those he loves

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

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

Relationships are up and down – mostly due to frontal lobe damage.

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

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

I hope that my son’s life is filled with love, laughter, and peace.

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

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . Christine Durant (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Christine Durant (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It 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.

 

Christine Durant (survivor)

Christine Durant Survivor 040817

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

I had brain surgery in 1983, during the second semester of my senior year of college. As a result, I came home with no degree. I was forced into a full-time job by my mother in addition to going to school full time. I received my first graduate degree a year later, adapting for differences all by myself. I had a great 30-year career and finished three more graduate degrees while working full time.

However, a car accident 20 years ago derailed my career. I couldn’t work because of pain-management issues. But that worked out. car-accident-clipartApparently, the neurosurgeon hadn’t put things back together in an appropriate manner. So, I needed another brain surgery. It would have been hard to do if I were working full time. My wife and my friends saw me through it.

In April, I celebrated my “Sweet 16” – sixteen months post-op and seizure-free! My wife and I also celebrated 25 years in May. We travel a lot on the accident money. Life is good.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Pamela Ann Taylor

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Pamela Ann Taylor

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pamela Ann Taylor Survivor 092417

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Pamela Ann Taylor

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

Mansfield, Ohio, USA     Teach621@aol.com

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

Age 55

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I have been in three accidents in my life. The last one was a rollover.

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

I had some issues with balance and vision after the second accident, but more recently it has become far worse. This is due to the rollover-accident.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?0016

I was transported to a Trauma Center in an ambulance, where they found I had a concussion. I was released and told to go home. They had done some tests, but, because they had given me pain meds, they thought that I was throwing up due to the meds and not the concussion. I was throwing up in the wheelchair all of the way to the car, but they still sent me home.

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

N/A

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)?

I have had occupational, physical, and speech therapies.

How long were you in rehab?

My first round of physical therapy lasted a few months and helped somewhat with back pain, neck pain, and headaches. I am now in rehab again. I have been going for about four months, and I’m still working with an Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapist. Speech therapy did not last as long. I found these places myself through searching and asking my doctor for referrals. A general doctor in my area seemed not to know of TBI (traumatic brain injury) treatments much at all. Be a self-advocate if you can.

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

I have issues with vision, balance, perception, and personality. I’m more aggressive – things escalate more easily. My eyes are like that of a 6-month-old baby – not coordinated.

10. How has your life changed?

I cannot work and cannot drive. I have no income (as the disability stuff is still in process), and I don’t know when I will get an income. I do not go to crowded places or shop for long in fluorescent lighting. I have lost connection with some friends, as I cannot get to them to visit now, etc.

Is it better?

I am home more.

Is it worse?

I get bored, and at times I’m lonely. I wish I could go out to lunch or drive to a friend’s house.

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

I miss feeling like I make a difference in the world. I used to travel and do missions work, but now, without an income and a way to get myself to the locations to serve, it is a real challenge to help others. It is forcing me to focus more on myself.

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?no-noise-1

I do enjoy the solace in that I cannot tolerate noise, etc. much anymore. I am finding ways to write like I used to, and I am finding more time to pray, which I do like.

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

People don’t understand – I don’t look sick.

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

I’ve been helped by prayer and focusing on those who love me unconditionally. Baby steps forward bring joy as well.

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

The house is more organized and cleaner (LOL). I have made a new friend through needing a driver to take me to therapy sessions. She is a real gem.

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

My social life is near nil. I can’t get to the places I used to go to.

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

I do most things for myself, but the financial burden is all on my husband. I would rather it be 50:50 like it used to be.

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

I hope to be able to travel again. I am beginning to work on my physical healing, including walking more, etc. I have put on weight and need to get back in shape. I also see myself being with my grandchildren more. I hope to be able to drive to local places and get out more with them and others I care about. I am beginning to blog, and I’m hoping that takes off and helps others. Perhaps I will publish another book one day. (I had a book coming out when the accident happened under a pen name – Phoebe Siylor; the book – Molding Sharon.)

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.

Pamela Ann Taylor & dog

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

I would tell you to be an advocate for yourself or your loved one. Seek out what you need. It does not seem as if those in the medical field know what to do. I should have stayed at the hospital and not gone home. Also, I should have been told about therapy and not had to find it on my own. Seek, and you will find some answers. It is a process, and it takes time. Be patient, and keep moving forward.

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

Find a therapist who knows how to help you. If he or she does not seem to be the right fit, move on. When people comment things, like how long do you expect me to support you in the system, remember that you paid into that system, and it is your right to get help if you need it. Don’t let them kick you down – rise up and be strong. It is hard, but you can do it. Pray – connect with a church and with God – He will always love you unconditionally. I fall back on Him a LOT.

 

HUGZ

You can learn more about Pamela Ann Taylor on her blog. Pamela Ann Taylor Blog.

 

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

As I say after each post: Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Commentanim0014-1_e0-1 below this post.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! … Jo Dalton

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Jo Dalton

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Jo Dalton – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jo Dalton

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

Switzerland

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

Age 28

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Traffic accident – head-on collision at 50 mph

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

My car was smashed up, and it was obvious that I was injured. My husband was driving his car behind me and was terrified that I was dead.

medical-helicopter6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?

I was helicoptered to the Emergency Room. I became very agitated, and it took three men to get me into the helicopter.

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

Yes. Around 45 minutes

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 was released from the hospital after five weeks: three weeks in one hospital and two weeks in another. I remember very little of it. My physical therapy was five weeks with a couple of “islands of memory.” I had some neuropsychology, although I don’t remember it. At the second hospital, I believe I had some physiotherapy. At two months post TBI (traumatic brain injury), I saw the treating-neurologist from the first hospital. That doctor said that I “could go back to work and forget all about it”! The treating-doctor from the second hospital saw me as an outpatient, and she was not happy. She organized six neuropsychology appointments for me. That was the only rehab I had.

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

Initially, I had phobias about closed doors and the dark. My balance was a little out. I was told by one psychiatrist that my personality caused depression and insomnia; by another, that if I was tired, I would sleep. I found it incredibly hard to teach – I had forgotten everything I learned in college and in five years of teaching. I felt I had lost my identity. I was assessed by a neuropsychologist recently. I was told that I am slow to respond, that I have aphasia, that I get tired very quickly, and that I don’t deal well with stress.

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

I was an ambitious, full-time, Primary School teacher. I loved my job, and I was studying for a Master’s Degree in Education to achieve promotion. Because of my brain injury, it was impossible to continue either. I was confident and outgoing. I was enjoying living in a new country (I’m English, and I wanted some experience abroad). My life has changed entirely, but not all for the bad. I appreciate the small things in life (for example, fresh air, my dogs, reading (though it’s harder now to concentrate), clean bedding, and the beauty of nature (quite easy to appreciate here in Switzerland!). I also appreciate my friends and see the importance of supporting other people.

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

I miss quite a lot really! I miss the ambition and energy that I had, the love of my job, and my independence.

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

I enjoy getting outside with my dogs, exercising, and being involved in forums to help TBI survivors.

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

I dislike the fact that I am slow; that I have insomnia and depression, for which I’ve been taking benzodiazepines and antidepressants on and off for the last sixteen years; and the inability to have children unaided – my periods stopped and have only restarted since I stopped work. I’ve miscarried five times – presumably due to stress. I wanted to have two children, but I am lucky to have the one daughter whom I do have.

clock-clip-art-4ib4bm5ig14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Time! To me, it’s the biggest healer. Time passing has put things into perspective and allowed me to accept that I cannot have my life back as it was. But, there are other things I can do. I am currently in the process of making a claim for help from the state, and if I receive an allowance, I would like to work with just one dyslexic student.

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

Thankfully, I am extremely lucky to have a supportive husband and family. I found out who my true friends are, and I am lucky that they have been so much help. The ones who weren’t were clearly not really friends.

Jo Dalton - Brain Injury Survivor

Jo Dalton – Brain Injury Survivor

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

For the first five or six years after the accident, I didn’t really have a social life – talking to more than one person was impossible. I became tired very quickly and had to leave, straight away. I was not keen to have too much noise around me. I spent quite a lot of time watching films in my apartment, as I was not keen on going out during the day. I live in a French-speaking area and lost a lot of confidence with language. In the last two years, I’ve rediscovered the need for a social life. I go out a couple of times a month, easier since I stopped work after a seizure in September 2015.

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

My husband is my main caregiver. We are both currently coming to terms with what this has meant for both of us at different stages in my recovery. He is now seeing a psychologist to give him some direction and help.

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

I would like to be doing dyslexia tutoring on a small scale, raising awareness of TBI by talking in schools, and perhaps doing some voluntary work.

18. 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.

As a survivor, you need to educate yourself, accept that recovery is a long, long haul, and find online support. We are talking years of recovery. And, hard as it is to hear, it is very unlikely that you will get back to how you were. On the other hand, the strength you gain from dealing with life after a brain injury is enormous and empowering. I would also say that you shouldn’t accept what every doctor tells you. Very few “get” brain injury, and you must not allow anyone to make you feel that it’s your fault in some way.

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

See my answer above. Also, know that [time] + [acceptance] = [ease in life]. Oh, and don’t push yourself too far, too fast. It doesn’t produce good results, as I’ve discovered!

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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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