TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘occupational therapy’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . . James Thomas (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury James Thomas  (survivor)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718It can happen to anyone, anytime, . . . and anywhere.

The Brain Trauma Foundation states that there are 5.3 million people in the United States living with some form of brain injury.

On “Faces of Brain Injury,” you will meet survivors living with brain injury. I hope that their stories will help you to understand the serious implications and complications of brain injury.

The stories on SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury are published with the permission of the survivor or designated caregiver.

If you would like your story to be published, please send a short account and two photos to me at neelyf@aol.com. I’d love to publish your story and raise awareness for Brain Injury.

Thomas, James survivor 111115James Thomas  (survivor)…I’m a traumatic-brain-injury (TBI) success story. I had three brain surgeries to remove three blood clots in my head. After the third surgery, I fell into a coma for three days. When I woke up, I lost the ability to walk and talk, and I wasn’t able to take care of myself. I had to learn every life-skill again, including how to write. I had to wear a diaper for seven months.

I was in the hospital for a month. When I was released, I went to one of best rehab centers in the state of New Jersey. There I had occupational, physical, and speech therapies twice a week. I was able to go home after three months, and my ex-girlfriend nursed me back to good health. I improved 150% in two years. I work now as a teacher assistant with Special Needs students.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jen Swartz

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jen Swartz

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

 

jen swartz Survivor1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Jen Swartz

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

Castleton, New York, USA     Passionate4Christ29@yahoo.com

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

My brain injury happened on June 8, 2000. I was 18.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was in a car accident. I was following a close friend to her boyfriend’s house. My car was T-boned by another car going 55-60 mph. My small car, a 1987 Toyota Corolla, was thrown across the street. Jen (the person I was following) said that my body was hanging out the door. She thought I was dead because there was blood coming out of my mouth. (To top it off, I also have congenital scoliosis and had to have a major operation when I was nine years old – a bone fusion in my neck to prevent the curve from progressing further. I had to wear a halo to restrict neck movement so the bone fusion could heal.)

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

I think it was probably when I was in a coma that people realized that I would have some cognitive problems.

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

I required a tracheotomy and a food tube. Also, my head was shaved for a reason. At the beginning, my brain was swelling, but, praise the Lord, the swelling went down. So, it was not necessary to take a piece of my skull off to allow room for the swelling.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for six 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)?

Yes. I did inpatient rehabilitation at Sunnyview Rehabilitation Hospital. This included speech, occupational, physical, and recreational therapies.

How long were you in rehab?Jen Swartz Survivor

I was in rehabilitation for seven months.

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

I have memory issues for certain! I have problems with concentration, focusing, emotions, and balance.

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

My life is MUCH better! I don’t remember eighteen years of my life, but from what I am told, I was very unhappy. Now I have God. He is my purpose! I am also blessed to say that I am engaged to an incredible man, who has an acquired brain injury (ABI). It is so great! We have known each other for three years, and we see eye-to-eye on practically everything.

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

Absolutely nothing!

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

I like that I don’t take anything for granted and that I am content with the way things are. God blessed me with a second chance at living, so I am trying to make the most out of everything in life.

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

I dislike the anxiety issues, the memory problems (which seem to happen quite frequently), and the migraines.

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

Yes! I was helped by Living Resources, where I participated in a group for people with traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). I was also helped by the Cognitive Group, which consisted of survivors working on different goals/strategies for different areas of life. The belief is that each individual can improve his or her life after a TBI. The group is run by neuropsychologists and counselors.

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

Yes. My mother and sister are very distant mentally from me, since they don’t seem to have the desire to want to accept the change that this injury made. I feel it may be caused by a little pride with them, considering the fact that I believe that I was quite an intelligent woman before my injury. Before my accident, I was accepted into Ithaca College, since I wanted to delve into the medical field in some way. My mother and sister do not work well with the cognitive change in me that the injury has caused, such as my not desiring to be with large groups of people or my forgetting things.

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

I believe my life has changed immensely. I used to have many, many friends and loved to be in large groups of people. Now, however, I don’t enjoy being in large crowds or in large groups of people. I get overwhelmed. I enjoy spending much more alone-time now, as well. I have even been taught how to crochet. I love doing crochet, especially when the winter months roll in.

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

I haven’t needed a caregiver, but I understand what it takes to be a caregiver, since I have had staff work with me on and off throughout the years.

Jen Swartz 218. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

My future plans consist of buying a home with my fiancé through the Section 8 program. My fiancé will be my husband on May 27, 2017. I plan to continue working with Living Resources in the years to come, and my fiancé does as well.

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.

My helpful hint is to be patient. Remember: Slow and steady wins the race! Slow progress is key to amazing growth. Also, be open-minded to hearing from staff-members assisting to help you. If you listen to any suggestions, which may guide you to improve, you are being very wise in opening up your mind for possible progress.

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

Keep at it! Don’t give up! Also, you will grow if you listen to what “staff” suggest you do in order to improve! You can and will do it!
(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.

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . . . Kristina Hopkins

Caregivers SPEAK OUT! – Kristina Hopkins

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Kristina Hopkins - Caregiver Tom Hopkins- TBI Survivor

Kristina Hopkins – Caregiver
Tom Hopkins- TBI Survivor

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

Kristina Hopkins

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

Blum, Texas, USA

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 survivor, Tom, is my husband. He was 25 years old when he got a moderate to severe TBI.

Tom was on his last of four deployments to Iraq. His camp came under attack, and the building he was working in shook because it was hit. He got hit in the head, we believe, and they found him on the floor. He has damage to the occipital and frontal lobes of his brain. His autonomic and limbic systems were also damaged. Those are the systems that make the body feel and move. Tom does not feel over 60% of his body, and he is losing the use of his legs.

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 began taking care of Tom in early 2008. I am the main and only caregiver. I believe I was 31.

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

I was caring for two daughters, one with Asperger’s Syndrome.

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

I was working, but that changed.

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

I didn’t have any help. Tom does have a TBI service-dog. The dog, Duke, let’s him know every morning whether he will be walking or rolling in his wheelchair.

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

Tom started receiving partial help in 2008, and then he received full-time medical help in 2009.

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?

Tom received physical therapy, memory therapy, and occupational therapy. All therapies were outpatient, except for the physical therapy. For that therapy, the therapists came into our home. Since moving to Texas two and a half years ago, I have taken over all of Tom’s therapy.

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

I assist Tom on all his ADLs (Activities of Daily Living). Tom cannot cook, so I do that. I handle the finances, with Tom’s help. I am the main driver. I am his therapist, whether it is physical or occupational therapy. I handle all appointments, i.e., I’m Tom’s “personal assistant.” (LOL)

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

My life has changed. I cannot say if it’s for the better or for the worse. We have learned to overcome Tom’s injuries and to adapt to them. It’s a lonely life at times, but I would not change my life. I am truly honored to be married to my husband.

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

I miss making plans a month or more into the future. We can’t do that now.

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

EVERY day is different. It can be exciting. Case in point – our Thanksgiving this year.

15. What do you like least about TBI?

I don’t like that people look at Tom as if nothing is wrong. They need to walk a day in his shoes or mine. Then they can decide.

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

I had to accept Tom’s TBI right away. There was no time not to.

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

Yes. We don’t go “out” as much. We cannot make plans for the distant future. We just take one day at a time.

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

What’s a “social life”? (LOL) We do get out now and then, but not often.

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

I cannot answer this question about my plans for ten years from now. I have no clue. We don’t plan that far in advance. In ten years, hopefully our daughters will be in college or in the military or just getting out. As for the two of us, my hope is to be where we are at now – taking it one day at a time.

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

Good question. I guess to answer that question would depend upon whom I am talking with. Not every caregiver is at the same stage. So my advice varies. I guess all I can say now is this: YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

 

Kristina Hopkins - Caregiver

Kristina Hopkins – Caregiver

Thank you, Kristina, 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 Kristina.)

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

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