TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder)’

SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger . . . David A. Grant . . . . . . . . . . . . . You Gave Me the Life I Was Destined to Have

You Gave Me the Life I Was Destined to Have

by

David A. Grant

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Boy Blogger thI’ve been thinking about you again and wondering how life has been treating you.

Last night, Sarah and I were at the high school. We went to watch fireworks.

Like we do most every year, we set up our blanket, then walked the oval track for a couple of laps. It’s a great place to people-watch.

The bleachers caught my eye as I looked up to one of the top rows – to where I was sitting when I saw you graduate.

David A. Grant - Brain Injury Survivor & Author

David A. Grant – Brain Injury Survivor & Author

You had no idea I was there at your graduation. How could you?

Except for the day we met shortly after the accident, we’ve not seen each other.

One of our own kids graduated the same day that you did. It was just another of those “chance meetings” that have too often come to pass.

I never expected to hear your name on the loudspeaker that graduation day.

Nor did I know how deeply my PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) ran as I fell into my seat, unable to even stand for the rest of the ceremony.

A while back, I wrote that if I had the chance, I might just thank you for changing the very course of my life.

Today, I would most likely not thank you.

fireworks-animatedBut I need to be very clear, I am not angry, nor do I hold any resentment. To hold bitterness in my heart is to allow myself to be run over again and again – every day that I breathe.

Life is just too short.

Sometimes things just happen.

Sometimes newly-licensed teenage drivers run over cyclists. We both know that better than most.

It’s a safe bet to say that you did not plan your day by saying, “By today’s end, I’ll have T-boned a local cyclist.”onbicycle

It’s weird and hard to put into words – even for a guy like me, but I am living the life I was destined to live.

You just played a small, rather impactful part.

Kind of like a long line of falling dominoes, you knocked over the first domino when you struck me that cold November day back in 2010.

And from there, that line of dominoes has continued to fall. It’s circled the globe a few times … and, one-by-one, the dominoes fall.Dominoes

While I can’t thank you for hitting me that fated day, I can now see that it was unavoidable. It was destined to happen.

Over the years, I have come to realize that I have lost my life. I spend a lot of time living for others.

A few years ago, I was able to find you on Facebook. You were in college then.

Lest we forget, you were only sixteen when we first met.

You looked like a typical college kid – happy, clean cut, smiling … ready to embrace your future and all the promise that it holds.

I looked for you again today. Not in a creepy kind of way – more so, just to see how you are.

After a few minutes, I gave up. You were nowhere to be found.

I suppose that’s best.

You most likely don’t wonder about “that guy” that you hit while you were still a kid, but occasionally he thinks about you.

I have no need to forgive you as I never condemned you. Funny how that works.

If Fate saw our paths cross again, I would most likely not let you know who I was. No greater good would be served by it.

But here, in the faux anonymity that comes with today’s world, I wish you well … and I wish you happiness.

Peace.

About David A. Grant

David A. Grant 2 101115

David A. Grant – Brain Injury Survivor & Author

David A. Grant is a freelance writer, keynote speaker and traumatic brain injury survivor based out of southern New Hampshire. He is the author of “Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury,” a book that chronicles in exquisite detail the first year-and-a-half of his new life as a brain injury survivor. His newest title, “Slices of Life after Traumatic Brain Injury,” was released in 2015.

David is also a contributing author to “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries.” As a survivor of a cycling accident in 2010, he shares his experience and hope though advocacy work including a public speaking as well as his weekly brain injury blog.

David is a regular contributing writer to Brainline.org, a PBS sponsored website. He is also a BIANH board member as well as a columnist in HEADWAY, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s periodic newsletter.

David is the founder of TBI Hope and Inspiration, a Facebook community with over 15,000 members including survivors, family members, caregivers as well as members of the medical and professional community as well as the publisher of “TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine.”

 

Thank you, David A. Grant.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of David A. Grant.)

 

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Brain Injury Resources . . . . . . “Their War Came Home” . . . . . . . (a documentary on the Effect of PTSD on Veterans and Their Families and Friends)

“Their War Came Home” – a Free (YouTube) Documentary on the Effect of PTSD

on Veterans and Their Families and Friends

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Marilyn-Lash

Marilyn Lash, MSW, president of Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc.

 

Marilyn Lash, MSW, president of a 20-year-old company dedicated to brain injury, Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc., has been very interested in brain injury and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) in children, adults, and veterans. She was very involved in the production of (and appears in) the newly released documentary “Their War Came Home.” Marilyn told me about it and sent me the link. My husband and I immediately watched it. This documentary is a “must see.”

Their-War-Came-Home-Postcard-768x544

“Their War Came Home” A documentary by veterans for veterans

My husband and I watched gut-wrenching interviews of veterans describing the horrors of what PTSD did to them and to their families and friends. The documentary highlights the lack of awareness by the public and the major deficiencies of the military’s dealing with this huge problem. We witness veterans speaking candidly about suicide; outbursts, rage, and other emotional problems; drug abuse; alcoholism; homelessness; the problems of hypervigilance and isolation; and the effects it has on their loved ones. There is a heartfelt interview with a woman who is the spouse of a Navy SEAL with PTSD. Her words may resonate on many levels with some of you caregivers. Her comments on “living grief” are particularly touching. How does one lose the original version of one’s survivor and learn to love the one who took his or her place?

War ExplosionThe documentary ends on a hopeful note. The veterans who gave the interviews are learning to cope with their PTSD, often with great difficulty. There are volunteer organizations that help, and the film ends by showing several hotlines to call.Male Soldier

I highly recommend this documentary. It’s only 50 minutes long and is freely available on YouTube. You can also find it at Lash’s Blog on Brain Injury. It’s a must see!

 

(Photos compliments of Lash & Associates Publishing/Training, Inc.)

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

 

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . Paige Matis (caregiver for her boyfriend, Bryan Carpenter)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Paige Matis (caregiver for her boyfriend, Bryan Carpenter)

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.

 

Bryan Carpenter 1

Bryan Carpenter – Survivor & Marine

In honor of this recent Memorial Day, I want tell you about my Marine and my hero – and my better half, Bryan.

Bryan enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in 2004. He went to fight for our country in the war in Iraq in 2006. Luckily, that year he survived not one, but two IEDs (improvised explosive devices often used as roadside bombs).

In the second incident, Bryan was the driver of the Humvee he was in. He suffered the worst injuries of the four Marines involved in the explosion. Bryan was knocked unconscious from the impact of the bomb. In the field, a military doctor did an emergency tracheotomy, but he nicked Bryan’s artery. Bryan also had a shattered pelvis, which cut his abdomen and caused him to bleed internally. Bryan only had moments to live. He underwent a transfusion with six units of blood. Nobody thought Bryan would make it out of his medically induced coma.

Bryan Carpenter 5 Survivor

Bryan Carpenter – Survivor

Two and a half weeks later, Bryan woke up. He was told by doctors that his dream of serving in the military as his lifelong career was over. The chances of Bryan’s ever walking “normally” again were close to zero. He was also told that he would suffer from this explosion for the rest of his life. Bryan said his dreams literally shattered right before his eyes.

Bryan never gave up. He was determined to beat the odds the doctors gave him. So far, he has done his best to achieve that goal. I know he still struggles every day with his PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), his traumatic brain injury, and the pain from his physical injuries. But, he still pushes forward. Bryan learned to walk again on his own. He has dedicated his life to physical therapy, and he never misses a day at the gym. After the incident, Bryan was a 120-pound man and was barely able to stand on his own two feet. He is currently walking independently, and he weighs 230 pounds (all healthy body mass and muscle).

Bryan Carpenter 2

Bryan Carpenter – Survivor

Bryan strives every day to help others. He has been an inspirational speaker, speaking to school-shooting victims, middle-school students, open events, etc. He is a gym trainer and an MMA (Mixed Martial Arts) coach. He was a bouncer at night clubs; he went to the Fire Academy; he threw out the ceremonial Opening Pitch in 2012 for the Cleveland Indians; he was even the Grand Marshall in his hometown parade. I know Bryan tries to accomplish everything he puts his mind to, especially when he knows that it will benefit someone. He is trying his hardest to help people achieve their goals after suffering pain like the pain he has gone through. Although he may struggle with the effects of his injuries from the explosion, he never lets them limit him.

Bryan Carpenter 3

Bryan Carpenter – Survivor

Bryan has put all his focus and attention into his new dream and reality – his book. He wrote the book not only as therapy, but also to inspire others that the unbelievable is always possible. In his book, Bryan talks about his dream to be in the military – from when he enlisted and went through boot camp to being deployed and injured. He has written about his recovery and the inspirational things he has done with his life as of now.

Holidays, like Memorial Day, remind me of what Bryan has overcome. Thankfully, and miraculously, he has beaten death. He has gone on to beat the odds. He wrote a book on his recovery to continue to serve and better his country.

 

Bryan Carpenter 4

Bryan Carpenter – Survivor

Many people have paid the ultimate price in the military. Those men and women will never be forgotten. … I am very thankful to have the chance to hug my Miracle a little tighter and a little longer on Memorial Day.

 

To learn more about Bryan Carpenter, please visit his website, Battle After Iraq.

You can also see Bryan’s book about his recovery. “Never Ending Battle After Iraq: A Marine’s Road to Recovery.”

 

Thank you to Paige Matis for sharing this story about her boyfriend, Bryan.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” Panel: Living and Coping with PTSD

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road”

Panel: Lisa Dryer and Julie Kintz

Living and Coping with PTSD

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

images-1

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a condition that many people experience who are involved in traumatic events, such as physical or sexual assaults, traffic accidents, or any life-threatening traumas. PTSD is also often experienced by those who may witness a traumatic event. For Folks living with brain injury are often affected with PTSD.  PTSD is also common among troops returning from war with what was once called battle-fatigue or shell-shock.

 

Julie Kintz Survivor Panel 070515

Julie Kintz – Survivor

Dryer, Lisa Survivor

Lisa Dryer – Survivor

My panel, Lisa Dryer and Julie Kintz, both who live and cope with PTSD, joined me to discuss this topic. We hope to shed some light on what PTSD is and how survivors can cope with it. They each offer suggestions that work for them.

 

Several Facebook friends contributed comments and their thoughts about their experiences with PTSD. I want to thank Beth, Melissa, Sherrie, Firefighter JD (John Doe anonymous), Katey, Tara, JD2 (John Doe 2 anonymous), Jen, Alan, and Judi for their courage in sharing some very personal stories.

See you “On the Air!”

On The Air: Brain Injury Radio “Another Fork in the Road” Living and Coping with PTSD

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger David A. Grant . . . . . . . . . . . . . “Warning: Graphic Content

Warning: Graphic Content

 by

David A. Grant

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Boy Blogger thI found myself doing something that I don’t usually do. This morning, I just stared at my keyboard and waited. Most of the time, putting virtual pen to paper is easy. On a good day, I can pour out a thousand words in under an hour.

Not today.

One of the most unexpected by-products of this new life is my PTSD (post traumatic-stress disorder). Since time out of mind, I’ve heard the term PTSD. But like so many, perhaps even you, I mistakenly associated it exclusively with veterans, with those that had seen the unimaginable.

Never did I expect to be walking daily with this newfound friend. Some things you just can’t see coming – like a speeding car driven by a sixteen-year-old driver. Its onset was abrupt. It was unrelenting. It was unexpected.

And it’s more than a bit insidious.

Early on, as my physical injuries began to heal, like a dark flower blooming under a full moon, my PTSD began to blossom. Professional help did little to stem the terror tide.

The nightmares remain the worst part. For a couple of years after my accident, “bad PTSD nights” came anywhere from ten to twenty nights a

month. When I say “bad,” I mean bad. These aren’t your “Boogeyman-under-the-bed” kind of dreams.

Grant, David and Sarah 111715

David & Sarah Grant

Not even close.

Over the years, I have had most every sort of Stephen King horror inflicted upon me after dark. From being burned alive to drowning after drowning, from severed limbs to vivid dream pain that feels more real than reality, it’s been a real shit storm. My apologies if profanity offends, but better a four-letter word than a vivid description of life after dark.

The sound of an ambulance passing by our home drove me to tears for the better part of a couple of years – stopping me dead in my tracks if happenstance found me working in our yard.

Crowds? No more. Action-packed movies? Maybe for you, but not for us. Sudden or abrupt noises? You’ll find my shoes on the floor and me long gone.

Time does have a way of offering clarity. Today I know that I live with a textbook case of PTSD. Like other challenges I face, it’s invisible. Meeting me today for the first time, you’d never know. “Hey, I see that you live with PTSD,” said no one – ever.

As time passed, Sarah and I developed compensatory strategies to help. It is good for us both.

Known by few is a condition called “Secondary PTSD.” Those close to a trauma survivor, though not physically hurt, carry their own deep and painful scars. Sarah has a pretty classic case of secondary PTSD.

Circumstance, rather than virtue of any kind, has reshaped our lives. Our

12248573_10206516855973739_1693909187_o

the Grant’s Sanctuary

lives together today are smaller, but none less rewarding. We shun most crowds, but do not live reclusively. We spend a lot of time outdoors – crowded music festivals replaced by nature walks. Our yard has been transformed into a sanctuary with waterfalls, birdfeeders and flowers abounding. It’s now a sacred place for us – a place where we both continue to heal.

Life today is more enriching than before. I still startle easily. I cry less often at the sounds of a siren wailing. And we are both cautious about what we allow ourselves to be exposed to.

Eiffel Tower

Eiffel Tower Paris, France

The events that have unfolded in Paris over the last few days are heartbreaking. It’s at times like these that the rubber meets the PTSD road. I need to be careful of getting sucked in to wanting to know too much detail, balancing it with the very human need to know what is happening in the world at large. I watch “just enough” TV to know what’s happening. I read “just enough” of the news online – very often going no further than the headlines.

Just this morning, as I read the USA Today news on my tablet, a content block caught my eye: WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT. Suffice to say, I passed that one right by, knowing that honoring my condition is good for me and good for those around me. I am praying for those who are part of the horror. Blasts mean that there are now new members of the TBI club. Hundreds, if not thousands – perhaps an entire nation – will now live with PTSD. My heart weeps for them.

But even with the most dutiful of diligence, I am reminded that I am forever bound to PTSD.

Last Thursday night was our weekly Date Night. Our cinematic choice this past week was the Peanuts Movie. We’ve seen just about every animated flick released in the last few years. It was a smile-filled night out. Just dinner and a movie. Just us two. Hand-holding and quiet whispers – just the way we like it.

At 10:00 PM, I leaned over, gave Sarah her good night kiss and fell quickly asleep. Though I no longer dread bedtime, I live in the reality that any night can be a bad night.

Grant, David and Sarah 2 111715

David & Sarah Grant

At 11:30 PM, Sarah woke me up as I lay next to her crying out in pain, my feet sinking into molten dream lava, being burned off my torso as I looked down in abject horror. I could smell my own flesh burning. Unable to move, I screamed in mortal terror.

“C’mon David, wake up. Wake up, David,” she called out – again coaxing me back to the relative safety of awakeness. We’ve danced this midnight two-step hundreds of times.

And so the rhythm of our new life goes – enjoying those sacred moments between the tougher times, and hunkering down to ride out the occasional PTSD storms.

In the bigger scheme of things, fate could have been much more harsh. I could have died that day – leaving Sarah to walk through the recent five-year anniversary of the day alone, her memory of me beginning to fade.

But we have each other. And in having each other, we have all we need.

 

About David A. Grant

David A. Grant 2 101115

David A. Grant

David A. Grant is a freelance writer, keynote speaker and traumatic brain injury survivor based out of southern New Hampshire. He is the author of “Metamorphosis, Surviving Brain Injury,” a book that chronicles in exquisite detail the first year-and-a-half of his new life as a brain injury survivor. His newest title, “Slices of Life after Traumatic Brain Injury,” was released in 2015.

David is also a contributing author to “Chicken Soup for the Soul, Recovering from Traumatic Brain Injuries.” As a survivor of a cycling accident in 2010, he shares his experience and hope though advocacy work including a public speaking as well as his weekly brain injury blog.

David is a regular contributing writer to Brainline.org, a PBS sponsored website. He is also a BIANH board member as well as a columnist in HEADWAY, the Brain Injury Association of New Hampshire’s periodic newsletter.

David is the founder of TBI Hope and Inspiration, a Facebook community with over 15,000 members including survivors, family members, caregivers as well as members of the medical and professional community as well as the publisher of “TBI Hope and Inspiration Magazine.”

Thank you, David A. Grant.

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of David A. Grant)

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.

 

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Brazyl Ward

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Brazyl Ward

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 Brain Injury is NOT Discriminating!

(submitted by Brazyl’s mother and caregiver, Tiffany Ward)

  bigstock-cartoon-face-vector-people-25671746-e1348136261718Hello everyone! I want to share with you the story of my daughter, Brazyl, who is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) survivor. Brazyl was struck by a hit-and-run driver on Halloween night 2013, while we were crossing the street after a Trick-or-Treat event at our nearby church. The driver was going 100 mph. Brazyl Ward 1 060215He was never caught. Brazyl was in a coma for two months. She had to have a piece of her skull removed to save her life. Almost two years later, Brazyl is still fighting and still healing. Brazyl Ward 2 060215 10995616_1017057208304496_985199258378217371_nI had to quit my job to take care of my six-year-old fulltime. I was fighting my own depression, anxiety, and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) due to witnessing my daughter being hit. I decided to write a book about our family’s struggle and testimony. Brazyl Ward 3 060215Brazyl was only given a 10% chance of survival, but she fought hard and made it! Brazyl Ward Pre TBI  0602151459273_10202437998854496_1528207085_nI’m so proud of my baby girl!

To learn more about Brazyl and her family, go to Tiffany Ward’s website, Tragedy to Testimony: A Family’s Fight to Cope. Brazyl Ward Book Cover  0602151908358_1036095399751774_1138776938944540928_nThis is also the title of the book Tiffany wrote to tell Brazyl’s story.

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.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Susan Shacka

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Susan Shacka

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Shacka, Susan1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Susan Shacka

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

Sioux City, Iowa, USA

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

I acquired a brain injury in 2009 at age 51.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

My brain injury occurred after the removal of a lap-band procedure that caused complications. I couldn’t keep anything down – not even food or water.

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

My stomach felt numb for a few days after the removal. I couldn’t eat for two months, and I lost 80 pounds in that period. I was so weak. The first angel in my life was Suzanne. We just met.

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

Within fourteen days, I couldn’t walk. I went to the hospital via ambulance, not knowing that I would never come home; lose my apartment, car, and cat of ten years; and lose a lot memories and collectibles. I had double vision within two weeks of the lap-band removal. Prior to removing the band, my potassium was so low that I had to take it straight (three times a day in the hospital – Ugh!). They immediately ordered a CT (computerized tomography) scan, a spinal tap, Xrays, etc. First, I was given cortisone shots and IVs because I was dehydrated. I requested “Ensure” to bump up my vitamin levels, but it made my blood sugar high. Then they realized the cortisone was making it high, so they stopped. Just to let everyone know, I never went back to that surgeon or that hospital ever again. I was treated at another hospital. I was all alone and scared. All the tests were done during the first week. Doctor after doctor came, and they still didn’t know what the cause was. They thought it might have been Multiple Sclerosis at some point. I was given IVIg (intravenous immunoglobulin), and I had insurance people and neurologists coming in and out. The head neurologist – bless Dr. Shen! – found out that I had Guillain-Barré syndrome (named after two French doctors). It is both a neurological and an autoimmune disease. One can be paralyzed, which I was from waist down. (That numbness on my waist and the tripping were clues.) Dr. Shen immediately ordered eight hours a day of IVIg to neutralize the antibodies attacking my system.

7.Were you in a coma? If so, how long?Shacka, Susan Survivor 053015

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 was in rehab for eight months. While in the hospital, I had to do baby steps and learn how to sit, move, and touch hands with the occupational therapist. It was hard, as I had to take Benadryl during each session to help with symptoms. The medication worked so well that it sometimes knocked me out. The ultimate indignity occurred before I left the hospital. It is clear in my mind to this day. I had to use the sliding-board to get into the wheelchair. Eventually I went to an acute rehab facility. I am still getting occupational and physical therapies twice a week through a government program called PACE (Programs for All-inclusive Care for the Elderly). Everything is paid for through them: a bath aide who cleans while I shower, meals at home, occupational and physical therapies, my learning how to write, glasses, etc.

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

My personality toward my family has changed – I just want to be part of them. I use my “Cadillac” a lot – my walker! But, I risk my safety when I walk the dog. I have residuals from Guillain-Barré syndrome – neuropathy pain and pins and needles in my hands. I have a special type of shoes, as I don’t have flexibility in my feet. And, I have use of only my left hand. After being a secretary for top doctors, a marketing director, vice presidents, etc., I now type with one finger. To top things off, and there is no connection, I acquired another neurological/autoimmune disease (ataxia) in 2013. There are over 60 types. I guess I have Cerebellum Ataxia. This is a movement disorder similar to Parkinson’s Disease. (It’s Michael J. Fox who will help find a cure!) I knew something else was wrong – I was dropping things, I had a problem with balance, I was slurring my words, and my fine-motor skills deteriorated. By this time, I had moved back to my hometown, where my aunt and cousins live. But, it turned out they rejected me – it was hurtful knowing that something was wrong with me. The local contact at Brain Alliance knew I needed to see neurophysicist. I was diagnosed with PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder). My neurologist did blood test after blood test (over 15 vials one time). He wasn’t about to give up. Luckily, my neurologist knows the neurophysicist, and they conferred about me. I did have to go in for emergency IVIg treatments for my ataxia. My anti-GAD (glutamic acid decarboxylase, an enzyme) antibody titer (a marker for cerebellar ataxia) was high. It was over 250; normal is 0.10.

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

I moved closer to my sister and her brother-in-law, which helps so much. I am going to church and meeting new people. I changed my Medical Power of Attorney to someone who gets me and my problems; goes to my church; understands about depression and, more importantly, disability, as her husband had a stroke. Bless both!

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

I miss driving and working.

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

I would still be living in California.

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

I’m homebound a lot!

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

I spend time at MPOA once a month and do bible study. I live in a place with older people (80s), but I want to spend more time with people my age. I am 57.

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

I find it hard to meet people.

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

Meeting people is difficult, as it costs money for the handicap bus.

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

I have a bath aide twice a week – no other caregiver. My family says they’ll take me grocery shopping.

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

I hope to pay off my bills and move to another place.

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.

Get involved; find a church. For me, getting a pet has been wonderful for my mood. Medication has been important. Don’t be embarrassed about seeing a counselor. It has helped me so much.

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

Understand that it’s not your fault. For me, I did the lap-band upon the suggestion of a doctor. I also did it because I didn’t want to be like my mother, who was extremely overweight. I eventually lost 150 pounds – half of me!

You can still find your passion. I am administrator for my disease support-group on Facebook, called “Ataxians Helping Other Ataxians,” which in about eight months has over 860 members. This is my passion. I still have the need to help people. I was in the local newspaper and on TV and radio. Now I am working on a petition to get a spokesperson. It is listed “Spokesperson needed….” Please vote!

Bless you all for reading this! Love each other more. Say it more, as life is short!

 

Susan Shacka Survivor 053015Thank you, Susan, 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 Susan.)

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

Everything and nothing. GM1123 😊

Bienvenue. I’m thinking this is the spot where I am to write a witty, flowery personal section that pulls you in......I got nuthin’

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