TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘MVA’

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Lisabeth Mackall

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! – Lisabeth Mackall

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Lisabeth Mackall Caregiver 06112151. What is your name? (last name optional)

Lisabeth Mackall

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

Cottage Grove, Minnesota, USA  info@lisabethmackall.com

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

My husband, Frank, was 39 when he had his car crash and suffered his TBI. He was a police officer responding to a call for assistance for another officer, and he lost control of his car on black ice and crashed.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

Frank’s accident was on January 2, 2012. I brought him home on March 27, 84 days after he went to the hospital. He required Lisabeth Mackall Caregiver 06121524-hour supervision due to his cognition and safety needs. They suggested to take him to a rehab center, but I decided that it was time for him to come home.

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

At that time, we had three children – ages 6, 9, and 15. We now have a fourth child – my husband’s half-brother’s child whom we took custody of one and a half years ago.

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

I was employed full-time. I was working as Rehab Director for nine buildings here in Minnesota. I worked the shift opposite to Frank’s, so we had very little time together. When he was allowed to come home from the hospital, I quit my job. I attempted to go back about a year after he was injured and had to quit. I just recently (November) went back to work full-time, but we had to hire a nanny for the morning to help get the kids to school after I leave for work.

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

I had no help with Frank, although my mom did move in with us immediately after the crash and stayed for four months. We did not allow caregivers into the house since Frank was a police officer – we had family and friend support.

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

Our support started the minute Frank was injured and continued for about two years. If we needed help now, we could call on law enforcement, but it is not in my nature to ask for help.

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

Frank was in a true coma (minimally responsive) for about two weeks. He started to respond with a thumbs-up sign and by fighting against his restraint. He continued to improve from there. I spent that time talking with Frank, and talking with the cops and visitors as well. We were usually swamped with visitors, so I did not get a lot of time without people there. But, when I did speak with Frank, I told him over and over what had happened and that he was safe.

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 your survivor was getting therapy?

Frank was in the hospital for 84 days. Once he left the medical unit and went to rehab, he was in for the full time until he was discharged. He then started outpatient rehab three times a week. That continued for a month. Frank had all three disciplines, although he was eventually weaned off occupational therapy. He continued to have physical therapy and speech therapy on and off for a long time. Right now, Frank can still go back to speech therapy if he wants, but he is taking a break. I would attend some of his sessions, but I tried to stay out of the speech therapy sessions. (They were too hard for me to watch, since I am a speech therapist, and I knew Frank thought the sessions were irritating.)

Lisabeth and Frank

Lisabeth and Frank

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

Frank has a hard time learning new things about technology. He has a problem with short-term memory. He also has a very short fuse, so kids arguing or chaos in the house is very difficult for him. We do finances together. Otherwise, he manages his own schedule about 75% of the time. I manage most of the other aspects of the house and the kids, with help from Frank if I leave lists and tasks.

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

Life is different. I have to work very hard to be a wife and not a caregiver. Caregiving is easier and not sad. When I step into the wife role on some days, it is heartbreaking to know what we have lost.

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

I miss having a highly intelligent partner in life who would debate with me and who is solid in his understanding of the world around him.

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

Frank and I have more time together. Our family is more important now that we know how precious life is and how fast it can change.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I dislike Frank’s irritability and his lack of trust in the decisions that are made.

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

Being a speech therapist has given me a huge advantage with this recovery, although sometimes I wish I didn’t know so much.

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

Frank’s brain injury has changed many things. In fact, we are moving. Our wood floors bother him when the dog walks across it. Frank also needs to have more space for himself, so we are trying to find a bigger house for all of us.

18. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?Lisabeth Mackall Book 061215

We have very little social life at this point. Most of our friends from before the accident have drifted away. The people we are closest with are those we met after the crash. We have busy kid schedules, and with Frank’s fatigue, it is often just easier to hang out at home.

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

We have a child with behavior struggles. That doesn’t mix well with a TBI. Puberty and life-changes are going to be challenging. My goal is to hold our family together by thinking ahead, finding the right space for all of us, and consciously talking about the problems that we have together as a family.

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

We are all in the same ocean, but in separate sinking ships. We can help one another stay afloat if we ask for help. I truly feel that trying to navigate this world without help is too hard. Even knowing what I know about brain injuries as a professional, I was in no way prepared to deal with things that I live through each day. No one is. We all just have to find a way to make the best decisions we can for ourselves and for our loved ones. That doesn’t mean that we all stay together as a family – sometimes families break apart. That is the devastating part of this journey. A brain injury can destroy a family. Sometimes there is no choice but to separate a survivor from the family due to the injury. Being a therapist, my goal is to help people navigate the world as best as they can and to hopefully keep the family together.

Learn more about Lisabeth Mackall:

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” with Lisabeth Mackall, Caregiver, Therapist, Author

Lisabeth Mackall Website

27 Miles: The Tank’s Journey Home

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

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Tony Giglio

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Tony Giglio

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

 

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718I suffered my traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a near-fatal car accident back in 2004. I live in the eastern Pennsylvania region. I have come a long way throughout the course of my recovery. (I’ve always been in healthy-athletic shape; I played sports up until my second year of college in Florida; I had a few serious relationships in the past; I graduated high school, Prep school, and college on time; I picked up driving fast again, etc.) Giglio, Tony

I still find myself facing the following challenges: balancing money in the best way every so often and seeking romance relationships with women. I’m a truly caring gentleman, and I live independently – in my own apartment. In the coming years, I’m looking to get married, while living a great life. I have recovered well, but I have also made mistakes in the past where I lost certain friends. But, the fact is that I learn and always move forward in a positive direction. I’m always happy and carefree. I learn better from my mistakes, even with my having a brain injury, than do non-brain-injured people.

Giglio, Tony 2Disclaimer: 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 Barrett Sturgill

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Barrett Sturgill

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

(submitted by Barrett’s mother and caregiver, Amanda Sturgill)

 bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718We were in a motor vehicle accident on April 13, 2012. It caused Barrett to have an aneurysm and a brain hemorrhage from contrecoup (a contusion resulting from the brain contacting the skull on the sideBarrett Sturgill Survivor 0610115 opposite from where impact occurs). He was only five years old at the time.

He immediately had a frontotemporoparietal craniotomy (the frontal, temporal, and parietal bones were removed from the skull). He suffered epidural and subdural hematomas. (Both allowed the buildup of blood to impinge on the brain.) Barrett was then flown to a children’s hospital. He was in critical condition and was in the intensive care unit until May 1.

Barrett Sturgill 3 Survivor 060115On April 26, he was given a G-tube (gastric feeding tube, which allows nutrients to be introduced directly into the stomach) and trach (a small tube inserted in the trachea to keep the airway open). Barrett Sturgill 2 Survivor 060115Barrett remained in a coma until May 1. Then he only opened his eyes. We went to Cardinal Hill Rehab on May 4 and stayed there until June 30. On June 14, the trach was removed. He remained nonverbal until June 22. At that time, he also began to eat small amounts. On August 6, the feeding tube was removed.

In October, he started walking with assistance. Barrett Sturgill Survivor 060115 And his SisterNow three years later, Barrett walks, runs, talks, and eats. He has muscle weakness in his right side – he uses his leg better than his arm. Barrett is in a regular first grade with his sister, and he only goes to Special Ed for two hours – for spelling and math. He loves video games.

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 Jenn Von Hatten

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Jenn Von Hatten

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718On Valentine’s Day 2011, I went to work only for a meeting. (I was a nurse at a long-term mental health facility.) Freezing rain struck during the meeting. The treacherous road condition was responsible for my car’s being T-boned at highway speed. That’s how I acquired my traumatic brain injury. The paramedics found me “clinically dead.” Obviously, I was alive. The pressure on my brain was monitored to see if I needed to have surgery. Also my liver was lacerated. Fortunately I did not need surgery for either. I was put into a medically induced coma because, in addition to my brain injury, I fractured a rib and three vertebrae. I was in a coma for over seven weeks. I managed to develop pneumonia and had to have a tracheotomy. I was discharged on July 14th. I Jenn Von Hatten Emma, & Hannasurvived to see my oldest children graduate from high school. Emma graduated in June 2013, and Liam, in 2014.

Spastic muscles affected my speeJenn Von Hatten & Liamch, so I went to physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy. My balance was severely affected. I used to be in a wheelchair, due to the fractured vertebrae. I since “graduated” to a walker, then to a quad cane, and eventually to a mini quad cane. Now I’m a fall risk. My life has definitely changed. I am no longer able to work as a nurse. I cannot say if my life is better or worse. All I can say with certainty is that my life is different.  I enjoy my time with Hanna, my 7-year-old daughter and youngest child. (I have joint custody. I remind myself that not many relationships survive a TBI.) I now have a cat, Spunkster, which I got from the local SPCA. When Hanna’s not with me, I hang out with Spunkster. I miss most my being able to work as a nurse. But as much as I would like to a work as a nurse, I know I would not be safe – physically (because I am a fall risk) as well as mentally Jenn Von Hatten & Hanna(in terms of remembering if I gave a client his or her medication or treatments). I had graduated as a nurse only seven months before my 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 driver’s license has not been revoked, but my rehabilitation doctor says I still cannot drive, as my reflexes are not up to snuff. My plan is to help others that are TBI survivors or caregivers. I can provide info and support.

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 Comment” 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 Dale Christianson

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Dale Christianson

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 – one view at a time.

Dale Christianson (survivor) Christianson, Dale 1 050815Thirty years ago, my family was hit by a carload of drunken teens. My life slowly fell apart after that. I nearly gave up. For a long time, I thought that the guy who hit my car was the lucky one. He died in the accident, along with my stepdaughter. The only compensation that I got was $7,000. I have had a hard time holding a job or maintaining a relationship since then. My most successful relationship just ended. My fiancée of five years just gave up on me. She said it was too hard to live with me. My sisters and other family members won’t talk to me. They treat me like I don’t exist, or they wish that I didn’t. I am at another breach in my relationships, and I don’t have a job. I have anxiety and panic attacks. I take Paxil, and it helps tremendously. I understand that I’m difficult, but I haven’t given up on myself.

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 Comment” 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.

“Another Fork in the Road” . . . Brain Injury Radio Network . . . Interview: Lisabeth Mackall

You Are Invited

Lisabeth Mackall: Caregiver, Therapist, Author

putthis_on_calendar_clip_art

When Lisabeth Mackall opened her front door at 2:30am on January 2, 2012, it changed her life forever. She learned that her husband, Police Officer Frank Mackall, had been in a serious motor vehicle accident while on duty, and had been airlifted to a hospital. When Lisabeth opened her front door, she unknowingly entered the world of brain injury. She had to follow “Another Fork in the Road.” Lisabeth will share how she and her family picked up the remnants, pieced them together with patience, persistence, and love, and forged a new life.

Come One! Come ALL! 

What:        Interview with Lisabeth Mackall, caregiver to spouse, Frank Mackall

Why:        Lisabeth will take us on a harrowing journey of how her husband got a brain injury and how her family is coping with this new “normal.”Mackall, Lisabeth with Book

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, May  3rd, 2015

Time:         5:00p PT (6:00p MT, 7:00p CT, and 8:00p ET) 90 minute show

How:         Click: Brain Injury Radio Network

Call In:    424-243-9540

Call In:     855-473-3711 toll free in USA

Call In:    202-559-7907 free outside USA

or SKYPE

If you miss the show, but would like to still hear the interview, you can access the archive on On Demand listening. The archived show will be available after the show both on the Brain Injury Radio Network site and on my blog in “On the Air.”

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photo compliments of Lisabeth Mackall.)

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Kristin Russo

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Kristin Russo

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Russo, Kristin December 2014 After

Kristin Russo – Post-TBI Dec. 2014

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

Kristin Russo

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

Annandale, Virginia, USA

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

July 22, 2013 – I was 28.

4. How did your TBI occur?

My TBI was caused by a collision with a tractor-trailer. Read about it. “Kristin Russo accident.”

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

It was realized about 2-3 days into my stay in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit).

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

I have no memory of the accident, the month in the hospital, and even the first 5-6 months at home under 24-hour care.

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

Yes. My coma was induced.

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 occupational, physical, speech, and recreational therapies for a month as an inpatient. I had therapy as an outpatient until May 2014 when all but physical therapy ended. I’m still in physical therapy for physical injuries.

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

I have moderate to severe diminished visual memory, mild to moderate decreased attention span, diminished executive function, and mildly diminished speech and language function. Those are the significant findings as per my neurological addendum. It was also noted that I am likely to have significant permanent neurocognitive dysfunction due to the TBI. This problem with the physical brain injury is further complicated due the fact that I have significant PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). I have a college degree, yet I had to learn how to do things as simple as double-digit subtraction. My entire education has been wiped away. Since I graduated with honors, it was easy to get accepted to Liberty University. But, I can’t retain information anymore, so I’m not sure if I’m going to go back to try and learn everything all over again. My neurologist has diagnosed me with ADD (attention deficit disorder) due to the TBI. I’m not allowed to use anything hot without supervision, etc.

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

Some things are better because I now have an excuse for being directionally challenged or for when I mess up (haha). 😉 Things are worse because I am dependent and I HATE IT! (I am an independent girl.) I was such an intelligent woman. I was still paying off my degree when the accident happened. Not being able to use ANY of the knowledge really made me unhappy. Not being able to work has been horrible because that is all I have ever known. I have been working since the day I turned 14. (My first day of work was on my 14th birthday). I worked at the same place until I graduated high school and went to college. I hate that I can no longer drive. I miss being able to do what I want to do when I want to do it. 😦 I live about eighty miles from where I grew up, so it’s not often that someone comes to visit me. The accident caused me to lose my family because my own father was stealing my pain pills for his sick addiction. I’ve lost some of my friends because I’m a totally different person personality-wise. I’m 100% honest, and I have dedicated my life to Jesus Christ. The girl in the accident died. She wasn’t the best wife. (I’d give more details, but those things are better kept between husband and wife. 😉 ) But, that’s why my accident happened, and I know it. God was showing me what was in front of me, and the same, for my husband. God was bringing us closer together, and that’s exactly what my accident did. So, that’s what I do like about the TBI. Another thing that I like about the TBI is that I don’t remember the accident or being in the hospital or even the 5-6 months after it. I also don’t remember my surgeries up to July. I remember the ones on Black Friday and December 1st. But, yeah, the girl I was before was a girl who drank a lot and went to clubs and acted like she was a single 21-year-old female. Since I’m not her anymore, I’ve lost a couple friends who were just like that girl. I don’t need those girls anyway!

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

I miss being able to drink alcohol sometimes – at least to drink socially. I miss being able to drive. I miss being able to do what I want when I want. I miss working. What I do now is to constantly go to appointments – it’s nuts! I am still in physical therapy – several months post accident. I just got yet another MRI scan (magnetic resonance imaging). I had surgery number eight on January 27th. I began speech therapy in January since insurance started paying again. I miss sleeping like a normal person. I miss being skinny. (I was a size 2 when I was married on July 7th, 2011, and I’m not that size anymore.) I hate being on so many damn medications. I loathe people’s not understanding invisible disabilities. I also have CRPS (complex regional pain syndrome) that was caused by the accident. It’s a chronic pain disease that has no cure.

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

I enjoy the fact that the Trauma Survivors Network Next Steps program taught me to find the positive in everything, so I do. When my legs hurt, I remind myself that I shouldn’t have any, so I thank God for letting me keep my legs! When I have my chronic headaches, I thank God for not making the swelling be so bad that I need to have surgery!

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

I don’t like that I sleep every other day sometimes. I dislike the chronic headaches and the fact that a headache is invisible. I don’t like having memory issues and being confused so often.

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

God

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

My husband gets rather upset when I forget that I’m not supposed to use a curling iron, and I fail to remember to turn it off. I no longer speak to my parents – my father makes fun of my TBI and acts like I’m making it up. (A*^#@~! ! I guess that’s what drugs do to ya.)

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

I don’t really have a social life anymore. Things are so much louder now. People annoy me more. 😦 I have NO filter. I just want to be home with my husband or alone with my dogs. I haven’t watched TV since the accident.

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

My husband is my main caregiver.

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

I’ll be running a photography business. 🙂 And, I better be a mommy to more than just my fur babies!

Russo, Kristin Before Accident

Kristin Russo Pre-TBI

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.

I urge people to try to make a positive out of everything. Depression is so ugly. I wish that I never hit that stage. Having a positive attitude has helped me SOOO much.

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

I give back now by volunteering at the hospital where I did my outpatient therapy. I got one of my dogs certified as a therapy dog, and we visit patients. I also visit patients in the trauma unit. My visits help others, and they also help me!

 

Thank you, Kristin, 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 Kristin.)

As I say after each post:

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

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the lower right corner of your screen.

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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