TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘“Prisoner Without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury” “Prisoner Without Bars”’

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!


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.)

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“Another Fork in the Road” . . . Brain Injury Radio Network Interview with Melissa Cronin, Author of “Invisible Bruise” in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering From Traumatic Brain Injuries”



Melissa Cronin was strolling through the Santa Monica Farmer’s Market when an elderly man lost control of his car and barreled into the crowd. That changed her life forever. Now Melissa lives with an ‘invisible bruise.’ But Melissa picked up the pieces and is embarking on a new life. Hear how she copes and thrives after her Traumatic Brain Injury.

Come One! Come ALL!

(NOTE: New Day, Sunday – Same Time)

What:        Interview with Melissa Cronin, Author of “Invisible Bruise” in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: Recovering From Traumatic Brain Injuries”

Why:        Hear Melissa’s perspective of living with Traumatic Brain Injury

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, November 16, 2014

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 US


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.)

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio Interview with Dr. David Figurski Prisoner without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio

Interview with Dr. David Figurski

Prisoner without Bars: Conquering Traumatic Brain Injury


You’ve heard David’s story from my point of view. Yesterday David shared his perspective of living with traumatic brain injury. He spoke about how his life has greatly changed for better…and for worse.


David Figurski 3wks before Traumatic Brain Injury

We learned about David’s life as a child and his educational career, which he began as a Kindergarten dropout. He told of the years that led up to our marriage and also about his life as a Professor of Microbiology at Columbia University, both before and after his TBI. We found out how he is coping with this new life thrust upon him…and upon us. The show ends with me brushing tears from my cheeks as David talks about the heroic acts of caregivers and my role in his recovery.

12 D&D I Donna O'Donnell Figurski  & David Figurski Dancing 13 copy

David & Donna Figurski Starlight Dance Studio 8yrs after Traumatic Brain Injury

If you missed the show, don’t fret. You can always listen to the archived show. I’ve included the link below.

Please SHARE!

I hope you’ll tune in to my show, “Another Fork in the Road,” which airs the 1st and 3rd Sunday evenings of every month. The show starts at 5:00p Pacific Time and runs for 90 minutes. On the fifth Sunday in a month, Julie Kintz, Host of “Quantum Leap,” and I team up to cohost a show called “Another Quantum Leap in the Road.”


See you “On the Air!”

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio Oops, Glitch Apology

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio

“Prisoner Without Bars” (segment 2) (Oops – aborted show)


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1I’m sorry! Извините! Lo siento! Desculpe! סליחה! Mille Excuses! λυπάμαι! Scusami! Entschuldigung! ごめんなさい! jag är ledsen!

Like I said, “I’m sorry!

Yesterday I was excited to air my second show on “Another Fork in the Road.” I did all my “HOMEFUN” (as I always called it with my 1st and 3rd grade students). My notes were ready at my side. I logged into the studio, opened the chat room, checked my mic, and waited for the countdown. “Your show will start in 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 second. You are on the Air.” I waited still for the prerecorded introduction music and ad to run down. I waited for the dead space, which indicates that I am indeed live. That is my time to start talking – and I did for a brief second or two – until I realized that a male voice was still talking. I soon realized that a prerecorded show was playing. How that happened – I do not know. (But as my son said to me after the show, “Well, looks like you ran into another fork in the road!”) There seem to be a lot of them, but they just add interest to your life, and you move on.

Anyway, I left the studio to troubleshoot the problem behind the scenes in the tech part of the show, but there was nothing to be done. The prerecorded show was irreversible. And so I apologize to all those who came to find a “dark” studio.

As my son also said, “I bet your next show will be extra good.” And it will. But PLEASE NOTE THE CHANGE OF DAY AND THE NEW DATES. Because of scheduling conflicts, my show is moving to the 1st and 3rd Sundays of every month. It will still air at 5:00 pm Pacific time. The show I had planned to do yesterday (segment 2 of David’s and my story) will now be at 5:00 PDT on Sunday, September 7. The final part (segment 3) will be on Sunday, September 21. On my next show (Sunday, October 5), David will be my guest to give his perspective.

Whenever there is a fifth Sunday in a month, I will co-host the show with Julie Sharp Kintz, who is another host on Brain Injury Radio. Julie’s show, “Quantum Leap,” airs opposite mine on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. So every Sunday, there will always be live entertainment from 5:00 pm to 6:30 pm by Julie or me or both. (Julie and I plan to co-host the show on Sunday, August 31.)

I hope you will be listening every Sunday at 5:00 Pacific time.

See you “On the Air!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)


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