TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘motorcycle accident’

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Shane Coco & Gary Rankin

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury  Shane Coco & Gary Rankin

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718

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.

Coco, Shane Survivor 080415Shane Coco (survivor)
It is a good day to be alive – a good day to be grateful. I think that somewhere, deep inside, my gratitude helps keep me alive. I’ve suffered and felt like dying. I looked at my situation and saw I have no friends. My gratitude may have kept me alive. I can drive; I have a job; I have a family who loves me; I have a dog; and I have fellow associates who told me today they love working with me. I can walk, talk, and drive!

I remember when I couldn’t talk right and when I couldn’t walk. I thought that if I could walk, everything else would be a breeze. Well, it wasn’t. I had other obstacles. Then driving was my next huge thing. I thought that, when I learned how to drive, all the ladies and friends would come to me. I would have it made, man. Well, I can drive, but I’m kind of still working on the “ladies and friends” thing. Then I needed a job. I’ve got a job now. How grateful was I then – and still am!
It certainly is a good day to be grateful. It’s a good day to be alive. This injury may have happened to me for me to see all that I have – not to moan and groan about what I wish I had.Shane Coco 2

A while ago, I took yoga, but I quit because I did something embarrassing during the session. (Use your imagination, and you probably got it right.) The instructor always used to say to the group, “Simply be.” This really helped me relax. But nowadays, I may be thinking differently. I want to move forward. I don’t want to stop or move backwards. Progress. I want to become. I want to transform. I like to say, “Simply become.” Get stronger. Get wiser. Don’t waste time. I don’t have to be perfect. I just can’t stay in the same spot for too long. I’ve got to keep on moving. It works for me. “Simply become.”

Gary Rankin (survivor)

10276317_10152345727842604_1934167730_nOn October 27, 2001, I took my friend’s motorcycle for a joyride. It was as if I were there speeding away, and then it was as if my eyes were closed all the way. So to speak, I never came back that day. I arose like a phoenix on the eighteenth day. Later I was told that I had been in a coma. I fractured my lower vertebrae and had a closed-head injury that led to a traumatic brain injury. I had to relearn to walk and to use the left side of my body. (I tied my right arm to my body to force me to use my left.) My autonomic system is broken and two years of memory of anything from before the accident has been deleted. I don’t remember 9/11 happening. I’m just going to say that it’s weird not remembering a major event in our history. I feel like an alien.Rankin, Gary Survivor 080415

Western medicine wrote me off. My walking again was not on the table. I kept telling the doctors they were wrong. My mom read me Emeral’s New New Orleans cookbook while I was in a coma. My dad looked down at me and said, “You beat this, and I’ll help you become anything you want.” OK, game on.

Rankin, Gary Survivor 11328938_10153306807537604_1330621617_n Rankin, Gary Survivor 11263812_10153306807512604_40752643_nI was enrolled into culinary school before I walked out of the hospital. I earned three culinary degrees from the Florida Culinary Institute. I have been traveling around the country as a chef, pastry-chef, and baker for the past nine years. I had my debut appearance on the Food Network. I crushed everything Western medicine put in front of me. I did it without their drugs and their help, and I did it on my time-line. I left the hospital eighteen days after I woke up. I have not seen a doctor since I left the hospital in 2001.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(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.

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Pamela Sveum & Sherri Diehl Ward

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury  Pamela Sveum & Sherri Diehl Ward

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718

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.

Svenum, Pamela Caregiver to son, Robby 080315Pamela Sveum (mother and caregiver for her son, Robby)

Seventeen years ago, my son, Robby, (then age 15) suffered a traumatic brain injury from an accidental gunshot wound to the head with a .357. He was moving his boss’ gun from the seat Robby Sveum 1of the truck to the dashboard when the gun went off. He was given a 0% chance of survival. Medically speaking, Robby should not have survived. Medically speaking, everything pointed to zero at the very best. Robby’s survival and recovery are nothing less than a miracle! Robby Sveum 4The picture on left is Robby dancing at his best friend’s wedding a few years ago. He was the best man. The one on the right is Robby getting his dog, Holly, about five years ago. May 27, 2015, is the date on which I acknowledge feeling very blessed – very thankful for Robby’s presence in our lives and his continuing progress. I feel a bit of sadness for the things we lost along the way – there were casualties. My message: Keep the faith, never give up hope, and always be willing to continue to be surprised with what life has in store for you. With Robby, life is always full of surprises.

Sherri Diehl Ward (caregiver)

Ward, Sheri Diehl Caregiver 080315Our story in a nutshell: My husband, Bill, was in a near-fatal motorcycle accident on July 11, 2009. He was thrown from his bike and lay in a ravine in the woods – about twenty feet from the road. When Bill wrecked and was thrown, the bike stayed upright and continued down the road about 300 feet. The police got to the scene and saw the bike with minimal damage. They assumed that the rider dumped it and left. Bill lay in the woods until a police officer found him. The police were actually ready to leave the scene, when Officer Hurd from the Winslow Township Police Department saw something in the road and went to see if it was part of the accident scene. When he approached, he heard Bill’s moans coming from the woods. At that point, everyone sprung into action, so to speak, as Bill’s time was quickly running out. The helicopter was called in. En route to the hospital, Bill actually coded. He was gone for four minutes. Ward, Sheri Diehl CAregiver 080315 2When Bill arrived at the hospital, I was not far behind him, as I had been notified by my brother-in-law, a police officer from our town. (Once the police ran the plates on the bike and realized who the victim was, they contacted my brother-in-law first, as they knew him.) He picked me up, and we quickly made our way to the hospital, not knowing if Bill was dead or alive at that point.

When I first saw Bill, he was completely unrecognizable. He had broken every bone in his face, broken his jaw in three places, fractured his neck, broken eight ribs, and, worst of all (the reason I am writing this), received a traumatic brain injury. It was very touch and go for weeks. Bill spent three of them in a coma. He had to have complete facial reconstructive surgery, and he had his jaw wired for twelve weeks. Bill came home about a month and a half after the accident, complete with a peg tube (a tube inserted through the abdomen that delivers nutrition directly to the stomach) and a trach (tracheotomy – an opening surgically created through the neck into the trachea to allow direct access to a breathing tube).

Ward, Sherri Diehl Husband with BI 080315Although Bill healed physically, I don’t think he will ever be fixable emotionally and mentally. We now struggle daily with bouts of amnesia, sporadic memory loss, cognitive impairment, confusion, disorientation, paranoid delusions, hallucinations, nightmares, flashbacks, and early signs of dementia, among many other things. Bill’s severe and drastic mood swings and rage are a part of daily living as well. We try to make the best of the situation at hand, and I am forever grateful to still have him here, but living with a TBI survivor is not a life I would have chosen – for obvious reasons. I can only hope that one day we will all have peace.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(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 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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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Hayley Nichols

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Hayley Nichols

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Hayley Nichols Survivor 0727151. What is your name? (last name optional)

Hayley Nichols

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

I live in Valparaiso, Indiana, USA. My accident occurred in Lafayette, Indiana.

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

I had a traumatic brain injury (TBI) on November 16, 2014. I am 23 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Some background: I went home to Lafayette, Indiana, for my brother’s birthday dinner with my family on November 16. My brother does motocross as a hobby, and I had never been on a dirt bike before. So, that day I went for my first ride. We made it down the road, and then we wrecked. An eyewitness of our accident said that we were not speeding at all, but the bike started to teeter back and forth. My brother was able to dodge a mailbox. The bike then hit a drainpipe head in a ditch. The eyewitness said that the force propelled my brother and me ten to fifteen feet into the air. We were so high that we were in the tree branches before we landed on the ground.

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

As a result of our possible head traumas, my brother and I were rushed to two different hospitals. My mom told me that it was horrible to have us separated but that one hospital wouldn’t be able to handle us if we both needed emergency surgery for head trauma.

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

I did not have any emergency surgery the day of the accident. I did have surgery to repair my nose. I hit my face so hard that my nose was completely flattened.

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

I was not in a coma, but my mom told me I could only respond by moaning whenever a doctor or nurse performed a sternum rub. My mom told me that, after a few days went by, I was able to wiggle my toes and fingers. I was in the Intensive Care Unit for almost a week.

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 did rehab as an inpatient for about four weeks. I had occupational, physical, and speech therapies Monday through Friday. Once released from rehab, I had to continue therapy as an outpatient.

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

When we had our accident, I landed on the left side of my body, so my left knee is always painful. I am able to walk on my own, and I am even driving. But, I only drive down the road – I haven’t been on the interstate yet. When I was first released from rehab, I had trouble with depth perception. I still have trouble with balance. One of the biggest problems that have resulted from my TBI would be dealing with personality changes. (I become upset easily. I could be crying my eyes out over something someone said to me, then five minutes later, be completely happy.)

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

My life has changed tremendously. A good thing that has resulted from the accident is that my family is much closer. The worst thing that has happened to me is that my entire memory of my life has been erased. I am now able to remember things if someone triggers the memory by a song or by giving pieces of the event. It is honestly scary not to recognize people whom I have known my whole life and who have known me. It is frustrating not to recognize people from school. I hate not remembering things that have occurred in my own life. The only way for me to learn about my life is through pictures. Sometimes, I feel like a stranger in my own life.

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

I miss being able to run outside. I love to do activities outside – like playing kickball with my family or walking my dog. I also used to be a cheerleader and a ballroom dancer. I don’t see myself being able to do those things anytime soon.

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

I appreciate life. I do not allow little things to bother me or make me upset. I pay attention to the tone I use when I say things and to the words I choose. I have had people in a joking manner say, “Your accident was months ago. Isn’t that memory-excuse getting old?” They say it in a joking way, and, in the context of the situation, it was not a direct attack. But, it was hurtful. My TBI is a silent disorder, just like PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), Alzheimer’s, depression, and so many others. I never want to offend anyone, so I have learned to be compassionate of anyone with any disorder.

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

Memory loss is the worst outcome of my TBI. Some days, I look through pictures and feel like I’m looking at a stranger – and the girl in the picture is me. It’s an odd feeling to have everyone around you know more about you than you do.

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

Honestly, what works for me is to have a positive attitude and to be able to rise above the negative things people say. I am also helped by reading blogs online to learn how other TBI survivors live everyday life. My family has been my motivation to keep going.

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

I live with my boyfriend, Travis, now that my family has allowed me to return to Valparaiso. He is my primary caregiver. He does everything for me. He is my whole world. He drives me to my doctors’ appointments, to therapy, and to school, and he even helps me with my homework. I would not be able to go back to school or even try to get back to a normal life without him. My mother and I are very close, and my accident brought us even closer. She helps me calm down when I get upset and frustrated. She is a great listener, even when I call to tell her the same story for the third time in the same day. My mother is a hospice nurse. Her background and experience working with patients who need her to do everything have helped her to help me. My mother has a positive attitude, even when I say I can’t do something. She says, “Not yet, but you can do….” She will then list all the things that I have learned to do again.

16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?Screenshot_2015-04-29-22-30-34-1-1

My friends are wonderful. But, I would love for them not to be so protective of me nor to change plans because they think that I can’t do something. I want to try and be normal like them. If I can’t do it, I just think, “I know they mean well. I think they need more time to get used to it all.”

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

My main caregiver is my boyfriend. I live with him, so he helps me get to school and to doctors’ appointments. Travis is my everything. He has made possible going back to living my old life. My mom is also my caregiver. She helps me with all of my doctors’ appointments and life-decisions. She and Travis work as a team to help me.

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

My future plans began with graduating in May from Purdue North Central with a bachelor’s degree in Biology. Ten years from now, I plan to attend veterinary school.

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.

Don’t become overwhelmed with your current state. Don’t be afraid of the future. No doctor has all the answers, so don’t become discouraged if he or she can’t understand your TBI. No TBI is the same. Have faith.

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

Talk to those around you. Education about TBI to those who don’t understand will help spread the knowledge. Also, not being afraid to explain your TBI will help those around you understand and help you.

(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 Hayley Nichols.)

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 “Maria King”

 SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Maria King

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

facesOn a beautiful day, I went on a bike ride with some friends near San Francisco. The plan was to climb Mt. Tamalpais and even ride to gems like the Alpine Dam.

I loved cycling, but it wasn’t my life. I was a recent college graduate devoted and dedicated to working as a teacher in my hometown. I planned on going home to finish lesson-planning and grading after my morning bike ride. graphics-cycling-473021

I didn’t expect to crash while descending to the Alpine Dam – lacerating my kidney, getting a brain hematoma, and breaking my wrist. The crash also resulted in severe brain trauma – something that I and many of my friends don’t have enough awareness of. I don’t remember anything at all injury-clipart-kid-head-injury-sketch18385136from the downhill section that changed my life to most things that occurred to me and around me the following month. My senses of time, identity, personality, values, education, and motivation all temporarily left. The doctors in the ICU (intensive care unit) weren’t sure if I’d survive. All I can remember from the experience is being alive, but not feeling like myself.

When I finally went home from the hospital, I had a natural high from rediscovering life and surviving, despite all the “what ifs.” As I began to feel more like myself, I started feeling angry, disappointed, and guilty in regards to myself and the accident. It isn’t easy living with all these uncertainties, since I somewhat had a “plan” for my life. But, I survived, and I’m going to continue fighting the good fight.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(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 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.

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Lesley Ann Graham

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Lesley Ann Graham (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

 

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718April 14th was the ten-year anniversary of the accident that should have killed me. It’s a miracle that I’m still alive and doing as well as I am. I had a base-of-skull fracture and bilateral frontal lobe damage. I was in a coma for three days. I had four brain operations. The doctors didn’t think that I would have anything like a “normal” life. I showed them. (Ha ha!) I went back to university, Graham, Lesley Ann Survivor2  061115got my degree, and worked part-time. (I will never be able to work full-time.) I then moved into my own flat. I got married, and we have an eight-month-old son. I hope my story can help others and make people realize that there is life after a brain injury. I believe it’s by the grace of God that we are all alive anLesley Ann Graham Survivor 061115d in this group.

Disclaimer: Any views and opinions of the Contributor are purely his/her own.

(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 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! Lessia Malloy

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Lessia Malloy

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Lessia Malloy - Survivor

Lessia Malloy – Survivor – Pre-Brain Injury

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

Lessia Malloy

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

Doyline, Louisiana, USA

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

Age 51

4. How did your TBI occur?

My TBI resulted from a motorcycle accident. I wasn’t wearing a helmet.

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

I don’t know. I was knocked unconscious upon impact.

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

I had a tracheotomy. I was given CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation). Then I had surgery to remove my skull plate.

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

Yes. I was in a coma thirty days.

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 had thirty days of rehab – both in- and outpatient.

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

I have short-term memory issues.

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

I’m no longer totally independent.

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

I miss being independent and working.

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

I have less stress, since I don’t take on more than I can handle.

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I dislike that my TBI makes me second-guess myself.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I came to accept my TBI because I had to rebuild my life in every way.

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

My TBI put an end to an already rocky marriage. But, I came out a winner on that.

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

My injury has made me very wary of people. I’m not as outgoing, and I watch and listen more.

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

My husband helps me.

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

Maybe I’ll be working in something that fulfills me.

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.

Don’t push it. Let yourself heal. Accept what you went through. Then tackle the world. Learning stuff all over again is good for the soul in so many ways. Have fun.

Lessia Malloy - Survivor

Lessia Malloy – Survivor – Post-Brain Injury

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

Take it one day at a time. Do what you can with what you have. Work with that and build on it.

 

Thank you, Lessia, 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 Lessia.)

 

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Gill Evans

SPEAK OUT! – Gill Evans

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Evans, Gill Caregiver with Flamingoes

Gill Evans – Caregiver for her Husband

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

Gill Evans

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

Birmingham, England     gce46@hotmail.co.uk

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 TBI survivor is my husband. He had his TBI in 1984 at age 23. The TBI was originally due to a motorcycle accident, but he has been reinjured three times since then, the last being 11 years ago. He has had one work-related injury and two motorcycle-related head injuries.

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 was 22 and in full-time work. He was living with his mom. We decided to split up due to his being violent, but we continued seeing each other as friends. We got back together when I was 40 and he was 41. We married 2 years later. I have looked after him since because the last injury left him unable to work.

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

When we got back together, I had two teenage boys.

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

I work full-time, but I have 13-hour shifts, so I’m home 4 days each week. I no longer work night shifts, as he struggles with the change that causes.

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

No

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

My husband finally accepted help three weeks ago. When he had his TBI 30 years ago, there was nothing in place for him. He got speech therapy, and that was it.

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?

He got speech therapy at home.

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

He required constant prompting of his memory and calming down due to temper. He had a broken leg, so he was wheelchair-bound for a couple of weeks until he was able to have crutches.

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

I’m not really sure that I can answer this. My response probably wouldn’t make sense, as it would be “better than what, and worse than what?”

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

I miss my independence – not having to worry about my husband when I’m out or not having to walk on eggshells because he’s in a bad mood. But, as much as I miss my independence, I regret that over the last couple of years he has stopped going out unless he has to. So, I go everywhere on my own. Sometimes I wish I didn’t have to.

Evans, Gill Caregiver IMG_1130

Gill Evans

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

On reflection, not a lot

15. What do you like least about TBI?

I dislike that my husband’s last injury took him away from me and that he is like a stranger sometimes. He can forget who I am, and he will talk to me like I’m his ex-wife.

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

I’m helped by the fact that I have loved my husband since I was 17 years old. (So, I have known him with the TBI most of my life.)

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

When we married, I had two teenage sons living at home, and this became really difficult. There were lots of arguments. After two years of our fighting, my sons decided it was better if they moved out. I have spent the last eight years trying to rebuild my relationship with them, and thankfully we are much closer. Also they, to an extent, get on with my husband.

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

Not really. My husband doesn’t go out much, and I go out with my sons or with colleagues from work. The one rule I have when I am out is that, unless it’s an emergency, he is only allowed to phone me once and the rest has to be text messages. Also he is not to bombard me with texts if I don’t reply.

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

I’m hoping to be retired (or at least to be coming up to retirement) and spending some quality time with my family.

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

Evans, Gill Caregiver IMG_1129

Gill Evans – Caregiver for her Husband

Have boundaries, boundaries, and boundaries – to protect your own sanity. Remember to keep time for yourself. Don’t tolerate violence. It’s okay for you to get mad occasionally, but walk away. You won’t win a fight (verbal) with him or her. Grow a thick skin – he or she doesn’t always mean what is said. If you take everything personally, you won’t survive. Remember most of all, regardless of the effects of the TBI, your partner is still in there, so don’t give up hope of ever seeing him or her again – even if it’s only for a fraction of a second that he or she shines through. That’s why at the end of the day you are still there.

 

Thank you, Gill, 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 Gill.)

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

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