TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘MVA’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . Charles Ross, Jr.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Charles Ross, Jr.

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Ross, Charles Survivor

Charles Ross, Jr. – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Charles Ross, Jr.

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

Pittsburg, Missouri, USA     buds5101@gmail.com

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

My TBI (traumatic brain injury) happened on November 15, 1985. I was 18 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a head-on car crash on a narrow, two-lane highway on a rainy and foggy day. I swerved around a truck that was stopped in the road. The truck left the scene.

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

A witness came to the car and forced the door open. I had thrown up on impact. Until help arrived, he held my head up to keep me from choking.

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

I had the paddles put on me before I got on the helicopter to fly to a large hospital. I also had a tracheotomy.

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

I was in a coma for fifty 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 physical, occupational, and speech therapies as an inpatient for nine months after I came out of the coma. I continued physical therapy as an outpatient for seven years after the accident. My mom then took over. She was a physical therapist aide in a nursing home at the time of the accident. She also did occupational therapy with me too.

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

I was in a wheelchair for one and a half years. I can now walk with a single cane. That level did not immediately come after the wheelchair. It occurred after seven summers of surgeries on my legs. I walked with two canes for many years. I also have epilepsy. That diagnosis took a grand mal seizure five years after the accident. I had thousands of petite mal seizures prior to my grand mal seizure. Only then did the neurologist say that the “spells,” as I called them then, were petite mal seizures. I take multiple medicines to control them. It took twenty-two years to find the right mixture to control them. Balance and memory are also great problems today – thirty years later. My sense of balance is gone. I fall frequently, even using a cane. My short-term and long-term memories were damaged. The short-term memory was destroyed. It took years of training to get back what I have. Long-term memory – I don’t recognize it as affecting me so badly. I just don’t think of it. I take two medicines that they give to Alzheimer’s patients. I am hoping they help me. I don’t know yet if they do.

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

I struggled to get two Associate Degrees over seven years. I struggled more in the workforce for fourteen years. Most of the time, I had no insurance. The meds I needed for the seizures came out-of-pocket. So my credit rating tanked, and a bankruptcy followed. I filed for disability insurance after losing my last job. I was making the most money ever, but I still had no benefits. On the last job, I grossed more money in a week and a half than I make in a month now.

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

I miss a sense of being normal – being able to go out and do anything at almost any time. My only restriction was money.

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

I enjoy knowing the people I have met as a result of the injury – the countless doctors and nurses who took care of me and other individuals who also have had head injuries. I never would have met them, or even thought of meeting them, had I not had a head injury.

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

I dislike not having my “normal” life.

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

I never had the attitude where I just wanted to give up on life, even though it could be depressing at times.

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

Yes. I think I experienced jealousy from a brother because I got more attention afterward. I’ve had many different relationships, but all have ended up failing. The lack of money was the usual excuse. Most relationships were started over the web.

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

I don’t go out very much. Right now, I’m living with my mom. (My dad just passed.) As a 48-year-old male, I don’t regret living with my mom. It’s just not normal.

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

I am able to take care of myself, including my meds and my bills. I cooked when I was not with my mom.

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

I want to get a place of my own again.

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.

Charles Ross, Jr. - Brain Injury Survivor

Charles Ross, Jr. – Brain Injury Survivor

My advice: Do not turn down any kind of help that’s offered – do not be too proud.

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

You should take pride in being a survivor. Most people, if faced with the challenges you have, could not do it. You have already accomplished the hardest thing, which was to survive.

 

 

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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On the Air: . . . . . . . . . . . . “Another Fork in the Road” Guests: Joel (caregiver) and Bart (survivor) Goldstein . . . . . . . . . . Topic: Father and Son Tackle Brain Injury

On the Air: “Another Fork in the Road”

Guests: Joel (caregiver) and Bart (survivor) Goldstein

Topic: Father and Son Tackle Brain Injury

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

images-1What better day than Father’s Day to meet, father and son, Joel and Bart Goldstein! Joel has been fighting and advocating for his son, Bart, ever since Bart was in a motor vehicle accident when he was sixteen-years-old. That accident caused Bart’s brain injury.

14 Joel Goldstein Speaker's photo

Joel Goldstein – caregiver & author of “No Stone Unturned”

 

Joel is the author of “No Stone Unturned: A Father’s Memoir of His Son’s Encounter with Traumatic Brain Injury.” Both Joel and Bart shared their ups and downs as they continue to traverse the maze of brain injury.

Bart Goldstein 2

Bart Goldstein – brain injury survivor

Both father and son offered some good information about Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy (HBOT), Omega-3 vitamins, cranial sacral therapy, and Reiki, an Eastern practice used for healing.

03 Joel and Bart Newspaper

 

You can learn more about Joel and Bart on Facebook at NS Unturned and at brainline.org. Read his article, “When the Dust Finally Settles: Strategies for the Long-Term Caregiver.”

11 Cover Photo No Stone Unturned

“No Stone Unturned” by Joel Goldstein

 

See you “On the Air!”

On the Air: “Another Fork in the Road”

Guests: Joel (caregiver) and Bart (survivor) Goldstein

Topic: Father and Son Tackle Brain Injury

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of guests.)

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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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jeremy Dorr

 

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jeremy Dorr

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

042315 Dorr, Jeremy

Jeremy Dorr – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Jeremy Dorr

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

Lynchburg, Virginia, USA

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

September 15, 2013. I was 25.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Car accident

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

My brain injury was first noticed by the doctors at the hospital.

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

I had a tracheotomy.

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

I was in a medically induced coma for one and a half weeks.

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 outpatient rehab at the Sheppard Center for six weeks.

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

I have a problem with control of my emotions. Others say that I am slower than before.

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

I worked at UPS, and I drove a Bobcat. I lost both jobs as result of the traumatic brain injury (TBI).

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

I miss the friends and working. (My “hobby” was working.)

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

Helping others.

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

I dislike the loss of my prior life. I also dislike the effects that my TBI has had on my daughter.

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

I learned to look for the positive in all situations and to stay positive.

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

Dorr, Jeremy

Jeremy Dorr – Brain Injury Survivor

Yes. I pay attention to my family more. My brain injury has brought me closer to them.

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

Yes. I rarely hear from the friends I had before – if I hear from them at all.

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

I am my own caregiver. Yes, I do understand what it takes to be a caregiver.

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

My plan is to help TBI survivors after they come home and are getting their lives back together. I want them to know that they are not alone.

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.

Be positive, no matter what. Positive brings more positive. Remember, you’re still here, so you can help make the change also. Believe in yourself.

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

The outlook on life has changed, but with change, great things can come. Let go of the hatred of what happened and embrace the “new” you. You are awesome! Don’t respond to negativity. Believe in yourself.

(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.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

 

As I say after each post:

Feel free to leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow Me Via eMail” on the right sidebar of your screen.anim0014-1_e0-1

If you like my blog, click the “Like” button under this post.

If you REALLY 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. That works for me too!

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jenn Von Hatten

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jenn Von Hatten

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Von Hatten, Jenn Survivor & Hanna 121315

Jenn Von Hatten – survivor and daughter, Hanna

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

Jenn Von Hatten

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

Trenton, Nova Scotia, Canada     jlvonhatten@gmail.com

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

My brain injury happened on Valentine’s Day 2011. I was 35 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

My brain injury resulted from a motor vehicle accident caused by freezing rain.

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

The paramedics found me clinically dead at the scene. The doctors wanted to airlift me to the Queen Elizabeth II (QEII) Health Sciences Centre in Halifax, which is the biggest hospital in Nova Scotia. But the freezing rain affected the rotors on the helicopter, so I had to be taken by road ambulance.

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

The pressure in my brain needed to be monitored to see if I needed surgery. I also lacerated my liver. Fortunately, I did not need surgery for either. I also fractured a rib and three vertebrae.

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

I was in a coma for seven weeks. First, I was in a coma from the accident. Then I was in a medically induced coma because of my fractured rib and vertebrae. I managed to develop pneumonia, and I had a tracheotomy.

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 transferred to the Rehab Centre in Halifax around Easter 2011, and I was discharged in July 2011. Besides being a patient at the Rehab Centre, I’ve had to go to physiotherapy and occupational therapy. My spastic muscles affected my speech, so I also went to speech therapy.

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

Von Hatten, Jenn survivor Son Liam 121315

Jenn Von Hatten – survivor and son, Liam

My balance has been severely affected. I used to be in a wheelchair, due to fractured vertebrae. I’ve since “graduated” to a walker, a quad cane, and a mini-quad cane. I’m a Fall Risk, and I get the Disability Pension.

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

I have joint custody of my seven-year-old daughter, Hanna. I am no longer able to work as a nurse. My life has definitely changed, but I can’t say if it is better or worse. All I can say with certainty is that my life is DIFFERENT.

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

I miss being able to work as a nurse the most. As much as I would like to a work as a nurse, I know I would NOT be safe – mentally, in terms of remembering if I gave a client medication or treatments, or physically.

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

I enjoy my time with Hanna. It is her time, as I don’t work anymore. I now have a cat, Spunkster, which I got from the local SPCA. When Hanna’s not with me, I hang out with Spunkster.

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

I had graduated as a nurse only seven months before my traumatic brain injury (TBI). I had wanted to be a nurse for over fifteen years. At least I can say I turned that dream into reality! I sometimes miss being able to drive. My rehabilitation doctor says I still cannot drive, as my reflexes are not up to snuff. However, I can say that my driver’s license has NOT been revoked!

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

Becoming a nurse was my dream. I finally realized that, just because I am no longer able to work as a nurse, I STILL AM A NURSE! Being a nurse is STILL a part of me.

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

My youngest daughter’s father threw me out, as he said he was not happy. I remind myself that not many relationships survive a TBI.

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

I don’t really have a social life, except maybe for going grocery shopping. I go by cab, so I interact with the cab divers, who are husband and wife. They own the cab company, and they are now good friends of mine. I prefer to interact with people in small groups.

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

Von Hatten, Jenn survivor daughters Emma and Hanna 121315

Jenn Von Hatten – survivor and daughters Emma and Hanna

I am my own caregiver now. Yes, I do understand what it takes to be a caregiver, as I used to be one. When I was in school to become a nurse, I worked as a CCA (Certified Care Assistant). A CCA can also be called PCA (Personal Care Assistant) or PCW (Personal Care Worker).

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

My plan is to be helping others who are TBI survivors or caregivers. I can provide info and support.

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.

Understand that a person does not need to be working (and therefore getting paid) to be fulfilling whatever he or she was meant to be. Find other ways – perhaps volunteering.

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

Figure out what you like doing and makes you happy. If you can’t remember, that’s OK – find out. (It’s what I wish I knew back in the beginning when I was first dealing with this.) Find out what you like and makes you happy RIGHT NOW! Everybody, brain injury or not, is constantly evolving.

 

(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.

(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! Sandra Williams

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Sandra Williams

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

12200687_895719387130278_18176772_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Sandra Williams

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

Athol, Idaho, USA

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

My injury was on May 28th, 2012, at 10:00 am. I was 38.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

A drunk driver crossed the center lane as we were turning a corner in our Ford F250 Power Stroke. We were pulling a 26-foot travel trailer. There was a cliff on the other side of us. We should have gone over the cliff, but instead we crossed all lanes of traffic and ended up in a ditch. We should have jackknifed, but we didn’t. The truck that hit us also went through the length of our travel trailer. He ended up in the lane opposite to the one he was traveling in and facing in the opposite direction. We all should have died. The details of the accident are many. It sounds like a made-for-TV movie. We are all alive, but we’re not OK.

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

I first learned of my son’s brain injury when I took him to a neurologist. His primary care physician wanted a follow-up because my son was sleeping so much and his balance was off a bit. We made him rest all summer. When he went back to school, he went from an A-B student to one who got Ds and Fs. I was really focused on my son, but the neurologist diagnosed me too. The diagnosis shocked my primary care provider and me. I didn’t really believe her until I lost my job as a Special Education teacher.

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

I lost consciousness. I was taken to the Emergency Room. I don’t remember babbling to the sky, but that is what my kids said. They told me this several weeks after the accident. They didn’t know I didn’t know. That’s when my husband knew something wasn’t right. But he thought I would get over it. We all rested that summer. I seemed to be doing well – no headaches, etc. – until I went back to work.

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

No

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 have been to two ten-day sessions of speech therapy, vestibular therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and exposure therapy. I also attended Carrick Brain Injury Center, a multidisciplinary brain rehab center.

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

I am still struggling to work. My memory is still affected to the point of frustration for my family members. I struggle with headaches, dizziness, and confusion when people speak to me. I have given up being a youth group-leader. I tried to go back to work, but, due to the fact that educational systems do not accommodate, I cannot work as a teacher – not even online. I really want to run and work out like I used to, but I don’t. That is the biggest change. I never used to drink coffee or alcohol. I don’t abuse either, but now I drink both. I never used to eat chips or anything unhealthy, but I eat those things now. I used to garden, but now I don’t. I do want to return to the way it was with those things, but it is hard while I’m keeping up with my kids and their needs since the accident.

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

I think my life is worse, but can get better. It is worse because I can’t work in a job where I can get full-time benefits. My health care needs have increased, and my income has decreased. I am trying to help my husband start a new business in construction. He is being patient with me, but it is not easy. Our kids are different, and we really struggled with their behavior until we went to Carrick Brain Injury Center. We still struggle with one kiddo, but I think it is a grief process that he is going through.

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

I miss running. (I ran a half marathon and was training for a full marathon when we were hit.) I miss having the energy to do anything I wanted. I miss remembering everything. I miss being able to find a job whenever I wanted. (I have been working since I was eight. I started working for my dad and got my first out-of-family job at the age of fourteen. I paid for the first four years of college by working, and I sent myself to Europe – some people in my church helped me to play basketball internationally.)

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

Nothing really. I wish I could say something different. But, my life is so limited from what it once was, and I look so normal. People expect me “to do better,” “to not give up,” or “to stop making excuses.”

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

I dislike that I cannot be independent and that people expect more from me than I can do. If a person had a broken leg, that person would receive accommodations until it healed. Accommodations are not given when one has an invisible traumatic brain injury (TBI). It doesn’t work that way. But I will not give up.

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

I was actually helped by the fact that I can’t work no matter how hard I try. Working came easily to me, just like sports. Now, working and sports are the hardest things for me to do. I will keep trying though. I can’t do them now, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be able to do them forever. I won’t give up. I will do them someday.

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

Yes, immensely. My kids get really frustrated with me, and so does my husband. I used to be unorganized and forget things, but now it is ten times worse. I really have to rely on notebooks and repeat myself several times. That is what is so frustrating for my family. They also don’t understand my need for rest or my light-sensitivity to the TV. There are many things to list, but I will keep it short!

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

I don’t visit with anyone anymore. I used to go to bible studies, but they scare me now. (I am afraid I will say the wrong thing.) I can’t go see my mom because I can’t drive that long at one time (it takes two days for me to get there), and it’s just too long to be gone. Plus, I have a huge family, which is hard to be around. My sisters don’t understand my brain injury. I just stay away. It’s better for all of us.

17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?12202566_895719670463583_794991146_n

Me. I am my own caregiver. My husband tries, but he is focused on the business. I submit insurance claims and speak to the doctors. I am even filing claims with Disability Rights of Idaho, so I know I can be organized and I can do something!

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

I plan to be working in construction until I put myself through college again to finish my counseling degree and/or get a certification in TBI so I can educate teachers about it. There is the need for special education to have a different evaluation process. I also plan to use online settings to sell lessons that target students with TBI in the secondary school classroom.

19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.

I wish I knew more about Disability Rights of Idaho and more about the complaint process for educators. (Parents are at such a loss!) The biggest tip I can give other survivors is not to listen to negative comments or to employers who tell you that you can’t do the job. Listen to your heart and your soul. Fight for yourself and others. It will keep you going.

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

Never, ever give up! If you can’t realize your dream one way, find another way to do it. It may take you longer, but do it. Henry Winkler (the Fonz) applied to sixty-eight different colleges before one accepted him. He was not diagnosed with dyslexia until his son was. He never gave up. We can’t either!

(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.

(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.

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Interview with Ann Boriskie – Teach Believe Inspire Award recipient

Interview with Ann Boriskie – Teach Believe Inspire Award recipient

by

Stephen Smith

(presented by Donna O’Donnell Figurski)

Ann Boriskie 1 Survivor 062915A traumatic brain injury survivor, wife and mother of three, Ann Boriskie has redefined each of these roles as she progressed physically and spiritually since her car accident. Along the way she also founded the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association, which offers hope, support and education to brain injury survivors and their families.

Ann’s commitment to helping brain injury survivors has garnered her the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation Quality of Life Grant in 2013 and again this year in 2015. The Brain Injury Law Center is honored to recognize such a champion for traumatic brain injury survivors.

Ann, Teach Believe Inspire Award recipient, recently took the time to answer some questions from the Brain Injury Law Center.

Q: It wasn’t until a year after your auto accident that you found out you had sustained a traumatic brain injury. Had you suspected that your brain had been injured, or was it a shock to hear that was the case?

A: I had no idea that I had a brain injury. Not one doctor had said anything at all about my brain. I was told by one neurologist that I had “post-concussive syndrome.” That doctor acted like it would go away — go home and lead your life. He really never explained that my brain may be affected.

I truly thought that the wreck made me crazy. That’s why I had changed and could no longer do so many things that I could do previously.

Q: As you recovered from your accident, did you have physical and mental goals that motivated you through your rehabilitation?

A: I really did not think of my life after the car wreck in terms of goals, since I didn’t realize I had a problem. I knew I had multiple parts of my body that were injured and that hurt — and that I had to go see numerous doctors. I knew all of the “things” I could no longer do — but did not understand that these were linked to an injury to my brain.

I was a mother of three children (youngest fifth grade; oldest in the eleventh grade). I really had no choice but to try to continue my “normal” life. I was happily married. So my goals were to continue taking care of my husband and three children — cooking, cleaning, doing errands, grocery shopping, etc. (Of course, I had to modify how I now accomplished all of this.)

Physical: I have worked out since my early twenties. Thus I continued to do my weight lifting and treadmill walking as I had previously. I didn’t really know what I should or should not be doing. My current doctors tell me that had I not continued all of my workouts, I might be in a wheelchair today. I pushed through my pain and continued to keep my body’s core strong, even though my neck and back were both injured.

Q: How did counseling help your healing process? What kinds of people helped you?Ann Boriskie Survivor 4 Award 0629151394302_10202076860104199_1450531656_n

A: Doctors truly gave me my life back — both physically and mentally.

My psychiatrist (a doctor of physical medicine and rehabilitation) was the one to determine physically what problems that I had and how they all were interrelated (since I had 10 parts of my body injured in my car wreck). She tailored my medicine to help me live as normal of a life as possible.

I found several neuropsychiatrists who helped me better understand the different facets of brain injury, and helped teach me “compensatory strategies” to live my life somewhat normal.

The neuropsychiatrist and counselors explained that so many of my symptoms and changed behaviors were absolutely common with an injury to the brain.

It was so much better for me to realize that I had a brain injury — instead of labeling myself “crazy.”

I joined support groups where I could converse with others in my situation, again helping me understand that my symptoms were just like theirs — and normal for an injury to the brain.

Q: How did the accident change how you identify yourself as a person and as a mother and wife?

A: Previously I was extremely driven in my work and competitive. The job often came before my family. The person I was, was defined a lot by my work.

After my car wreck I couldn’t work — I tried numerous times. Thus I had to figure out who this “new me” was. I struggled with this for years. It took me wholly accepting the “new me” and my realization that I was still a very valuable person in life to become the helping person that I am today.

As a mother and wife, I became much more accessible to my family and their own problems and needs. I put them first. They taught me my value with each of them.

The master plan for my life was to give up a big chunk of who I was as a person to raise two doctors (a neonatologist and an internal medicine hospitalist) and one RN nurse. Because of my own struggles, my 3 children are devoting their own lives to help others.

What advice do you have for TBI survivors who become depressed about their new life?

  • “Push the envelope” — remember I CAN — don’t ever let others tell you all you can’t or should not do.
  • Identify all of the things that you now have and can do — do not focus on what you can’t do.
  • Help others. By helping others you will help yourself, and see yourself having self worth.

Ann Boriskie Group Survivor 062915Q: You founded the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association. How did you realize the importance of visiting people who have suffered TBI?

A: My association does not just help TBI survivors. They also help all non-traumatic brain injury survivors (such as stroke, aneurysm, tumors, abscesses, bleeds, AVM, cancer, etc.). It’s so important for the world to understand that all of these causes make up a brain injury — and all are not TBIs.

I initially heard about the American Stroke Association’s Peer Visitor Program, which has been in existence for over 40 years. They only serve stroke patients in the inpatient rehab units of hospitals.

I thought that if the American Stroke Association was successfully helping stroke patients that I could help traumatic brain injury survivors as well as ALL of the non-traumatic brain injuries which exist, not just stroke.

I loved the idea of helping other people like myself. I had no one there to help me — I had no information on what a brain injury even means — I felt so very alone, isolated.

I also saw the need to talk to the patient and/or family from the very beginning of the brain injury event — to give them information immediately to help them understand.

Thus my program begins in the ICU unit and step-down units, the inpatient rehab units, then the day or outpatient program of the hospital. A person’s journey through their brain injury changes the questions they have and the type of information that they need.

Q: It’s easy to see that a person who has suffered a TBI needs help, therapy and education. How important is it to talk to the families and caregivers of the survivor?

A: Extremely important: “Knowledge is Power.” The more a survivor understands about their own brain injury, the easier time they will have of accepting the injury. When the family reads about and understands why their loved one has changed and why they are different, why they are exhibiting a large range of behaviors — then the family can better help and deal with their loved one.

With acceptance that they did indeed injure their brain, which changed their brain and changed the person they were, a survivor along with the family can move forward and actually work toward improvement.Ann Boriskie Survivor 2 062915

Without this knowledge, the survivor often hates himself/herself. The survivor will become suicidal, more emotional, reclusive, and not wanting to get better. The family without an understanding and acceptance often shuns their own loved one, often leaving them or deserting them emotionally or physically.

That is why my Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association’s program hands out a variety of packets of information full of book lists, website lists, resources, CDC information, newspaper and magazine articles, survivor and caregiver stories, etc.

Q: If someone wants to volunteer with the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association, do they need to have first-hand experience with TBI?

A: To be a Brain Injury Peer Visitor they have to be a survivor of a stroke or some form of brain injury, or the caregiver of a brain injured survivor. (Otherwise a person cannot relate in a personal way — as a person “who has been there and done that.”)

thQ: What did it mean to the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association to receive the Quality of Life grant from the Christopher & Dana Reeve Foundation both in 2013 and again this year?

A: It is a huge honor to receive the Quality of Life grants. I so respect all that Christopher Reeve and his wife Dana did to help others during their life-time. They represented the true selfless love and help that I so respect and hope to emulate.

Reading Christopher Reeve’s two books inspired me to get better and to actually do something with my life. I thought that if a man in a wheelchair who can do so little could help so many other disabled individuals, then I could get better and help brain injured survivors.

Reeve became the face of those that are disabled. He taught that a disability can be the beginning of your life — not the end.

The grants also assured the printing of the information then the continuation of providing a Packet of Information to every brain injured and often paralyzed survivor and their caregiver who are Peer Visited by the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association.

Q: What goals do you have for the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association going forward?

A:

  • To continue to serve all of the hospitals and their various units and all of the rehabilitation facilities where we currently have our Brain Injury Peer Visitor Program.
  • To continue to grow the program by establishing our program at more new hospitals and facilities.
  • To train more new volunteer survivors and/or caregivers in order to serve more individuals.
  • To help educate as many brain injury survivors and their families and loved ones.
  • To educate the public across the United States and throughout the world about all forms of brain injury through our website at braininjurypeervisitor.org.
  • To create a true understanding of what the word “brain injury” means — to make it a household word that is understood and accepted.
  • To help create a tolerance and loving understanding for a person with a brain injury.
  • To help develop a least one Brain Injury Peer Visitor Program in every state.

This interview by Stephen Smith was posted in Teach Believe Inspire Award on June 2, 2015. Stephen founded the Brain Injury Law Center to help brain injured victims, survivors and their families.

Ann Boriskie Survivor 3 062915To learn more about Ann Boriskie and her work with brain injury, please visit the following sites.

Video of Ann Boriskie and the Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association

Ann Boriskie’s blog – The Brain Fairy

The Brain Injury Peer Visitor Association

The Brain Injury Law Association

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

As I say after each post:

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury William Jarvis

 SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – William Jarvis

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

 

faces

I acquired a severe TBI (traumatic brain injury) from a car collision in 2000. It put me into a coma. I was in hospitals one and a half years. As with most survivors, there were challenges when I went home. I continued to have problems walking and with cognitiveJarvis, William 2 Survivor 050215 functions. It has been a long road, but life is good. I speak about how to improve after a TBI, I write inspirational books, and I engage with life as much as possible. I must pace myself because, after fifteen years, fatigue is still an issue. The good news is that, if a survivor never gives up setting goals for improvement, there is hope. I recently moved to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, USA, and enjoy helping other survivors through a TBI support-group, doing community activities, and giving presentations on “Improvement Through Motivation.” My web site is http://billjarvis.org/.Jarvis, William Survivor 1 050215

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.

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