Survivors SPEAK OUT! Pamela Ann Taylor
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
Pamela Ann Taylor
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
Mansfield, Ohio, USA Teach621@aol.com
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
4. How did your brain injury occur?
I have been in three accidents in my life. The last one was a rollover.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I had some issues with balance and vision after the second accident, but more recently it has become far worse. This is due to the rollover-accident.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I was transported to a Trauma Center in an ambulance, where they found I had a concussion. I was released and told to go home. They had done some tests, but, because they had given me pain meds, they thought that I was throwing up due to the meds and not the concussion. I was throwing up in the wheelchair all of the way to the car, but they still sent me home.
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?
I have had occupational, physical, and speech therapies.
How long were you in rehab?
My first round of physical therapy lasted a few months and helped somewhat with back pain, neck pain, and headaches. I am now in rehab again. I have been going for about four months, and I’m still working with an Occupational Therapist and Physical Therapist. Speech therapy did not last as long. I found these places myself through searching and asking my doctor for referrals. A general doctor in my area seemed not to know of TBI (traumatic brain injury) treatments much at all. Be a self-advocate if you can.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have issues with vision, balance, perception, and personality. I’m more aggressive – things escalate more easily. My eyes are like that of a 6-month-old baby – not coordinated.
10. How has your life changed?
I cannot work and cannot drive. I have no income (as the disability stuff is still in process), and I don’t know when I will get an income. I do not go to crowded places or shop for long in fluorescent lighting. I have lost connection with some friends, as I cannot get to them to visit now, etc.
Is it better?
I am home more.
Is it worse?
I get bored, and at times I’m lonely. I wish I could go out to lunch or drive to a friend’s house.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss feeling like I make a difference in the world. I used to travel and do missions work, but now, without an income and a way to get myself to the locations to serve, it is a real challenge to help others. It is forcing me to focus more on myself.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I do enjoy the solace in that I cannot tolerate noise, etc. much anymore. I am finding ways to write like I used to, and I am finding more time to pray, which I do like.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
People don’t understand – I don’t look sick.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
I’ve been helped by prayer and focusing on those who love me unconditionally. Baby steps forward bring joy as well.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
The house is more organized and cleaner (LOL). I have made a new friend through needing a driver to take me to therapy sessions. She is a real gem.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
My social life is near nil. I can’t get to the places I used to go to.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I do most things for myself, but the financial burden is all on my husband. I would rather it be 50:50 like it used to be.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope to be able to travel again. I am beginning to work on my physical healing, including walking more, etc. I have put on weight and need to get back in shape. I also see myself being with my grandchildren more. I hope to be able to drive to local places and get out more with them and others I care about. I am beginning to blog, and I’m hoping that takes off and helps others. Perhaps I will publish another book one day. (I had a book coming out when the accident happened under a pen name – Phoebe Siylor; the book – Molding Sharon.)
19. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time to learn, but which you wished you had known earlier? If so, please state what it is to potentially help other survivors with your specific kind of brain injury.
I would tell you to be an advocate for yourself or your loved one. Seek out what you need. It does not seem as if those in the medical field know what to do. I should have stayed at the hospital and not gone home. Also, I should have been told about therapy and not had to find it on my own. Seek, and you will find some answers. It is a process, and it takes time. Be patient, and keep moving forward.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Find a therapist who knows how to help you. If he or she does not seem to be the right fit, move on. When people comment things, like how long do you expect me to support you in the system, remember that you paid into that system, and it is your right to get help if you need it. Don’t let them kick you down – rise up and be strong. It is hard, but you can do it. Pray – connect with a church and with God – He will always love you unconditionally. I fall back on Him a LOT.
You can learn more about Pamela Ann Taylor on her blog. Pamela Ann Taylor Blog.
If you would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please go to TBI SPEAK OUT! Survivors Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.
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