TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘recumbent trike’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

SPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Itty-Bitty GIant Steps for BlogSPEAK OUT! Itty-Bitty Giant Steps will provide a venue for brain-injury survivors and caregivers to shout out their accomplishments of the week.

If you have an Itty-Bitty Giant Step and you would like to share it, just send an email to me at neelyf@aol.com.

If you are on Facebook, you can simply send a Private Message to me. It need only be a sentence or two. I’ll gather the accomplishments and post them with your name on my blog approximately once a week. (If you do not want your lastname to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

I hope we have millions of Itty-Bitty Giant Steps.

Here is this week’s Itty-Bitty GIANT Steps



Penny Byler (survivor) … So, today, I took off my leg brace and climbed the side of a small cliff. Yes, I MADE IT ON MY OWN! It was fun. I’m glad I did it. My leg, on the other hand, is refusing to listen to me now. It doesn’t want to support ANY of my weight. Oh well. Maybe tomorrow.


Dave Figurski (survivor) … My trike has changed my life! Cat Brubaker, who rode alongside Dan Zimmerman on a 5,390-mile cross-country trek, introduced me to the Catrike 700, which both she and Dan have. Cat and Donna encouraged me, and I bought the same model in April 2015. I ride three days a week, fifteen miles each ride. The recumbent trike is perfect for me because I have a balance problem. When I ride, I feel perfectly normal. (The day I did my first ride was the first time in ten years that I was outside alone!) I recently passed 2500 miles.

David on Recumbent Trike

I have much farther to go before I equal the mileage done by Dan and Cat on their cross-country ride. But, I’m having fun, and I don’t intend to stop.



Ric Johnson – Brain Injury Survivor

Ric Johnson (survivor) … I spent twelve hours (in two days) in my back and front yards to aerate both, and then I spread compost on both. I’m not going to count all the holes my shovel and I dug, but there must be more than 200. Hard work, but I did it!




Alex Manning (survivor) … I got a little emotional today. At the end of April 2015, a skateboarding accident left me in a coma that permanently changed my life. Health professionals thought I might not survive through the night.


Alex Manning – Brain Injury Survivor

Despite my coma only lasting a day, I didn’t remember anything for three weeks, and I forgot mostly everything from my prior 23 years. In the hospital, I accepted that I might not return to living independently. Returning to independence was such a struggle; I never thought I’d be capable of something like this. I’m staying by myself in Sydney this week. I know a grand total of three people in this country, and they’re far away! They’re located in Melbourne and outside of Brisbane. Independence doesn’t get much more independent than this. TBI (traumatic brain injury) is not the end. It’s just a new beginning!

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

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Trike Treks – David Figurski

Trike Treks – David Figurski



Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David Figurski 2004 Pre-Brain Injury

David Figurski – pre-brain injury

My husband, David, bought a Catrike 700 in April 2015.  He rides three days each week, 15 miles each day. David loves his trike. Despite not being able to walk outside unassisted because of a balance problem, he feels “normal” when he rides. He has found that people have a lot of curiosity about the trike. People have stopped him to ask questions. One woman talked to him from her car when they were at a Stop sign.

David is excited because he just broke 2,500 miles. But he still has a ways to go before he equals the 5,390 miles ridden by Dan Zimmerman and Catherine Brubaker on their cross-country trek.

David’s cumulative mileage as of 10/13/16               2,580 mi

Miles to reach 5,390* miles                                          2,810 mi


David’s cumulative mileage as of 09/04/117               3,727 mi

Miles to reach 5,390* miles                                          1,663 mi

*done by both Dan Zimmerman and Catherine Brubaker on their cross-country ride

Figurski, David Trike

David Figurski – post-brain injury on his Catrike 700

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Another Fork in the Road Reasonable, Responsible, & Realistic Resolutions

“Another Fork in the Road”

Fork in the Road copyThis category is an extension of my radio show, “Another Fork in the Road,” which airs at 5:30 pm (Pacific Time) on the 1st and 3rd Sundays of each month on the Brain Injury Radio Network. (See the “On The Air Show Menu” category for a list – with links – of all my shows, which are archived and thus always available.)

On the 1st Sunday of each month, I host a panel of brain injury survivors, caregivers, and/or professionals in the field. On these shows, my panelists and I examine topics pertaining to brain injury.

On the 3rd Sunday of each month, I host guests – brain-injury survivors, caregivers, or professionals in the field.

Since I spend countless hours in preparation for each show, I decided to share the knowledge that I gather with my readers.


Reasonable, Responsible, & Realistic Resolutions


Donna O’Donnell Figurski


blank list of resolutions on blackboard

New Year’s Day has passed. A new year is always a time of renewal – a time to look back on the past year and make positive commitments for the upcoming year. As humans, we seem to strive to improve, to make life better. The new year is a good time to correct old mistakes and to look to the future and make new plans.

I think this topic is appropriate now, as we look back on the past two months to determine if we are honoring our New Year’s resolutions. Did we, in fact, make reasonable, responsible, and realistic resolutions?

 It feels like the whirlwind of the holidays happened eons ago, and yet it’s just been two months. If you are like most of the population, you probably made resolutions on New Year’s Day – promises to yourselves that you would do something in your life to better it. In the days after the New Year’s celebration, you will see more people in the gym or running through the streets – maybe decked out in new running clothes to increase their motivation. You might hear folks talking about the new diet they are going to try to lose those unwanted pounds. Some folks vow to stop smoking or drinking, or at least they intend to cut down. Folks promise to take more time for family or friends, save money, travel more. new-years-resolutionsThe list goes on and on. Usually these resolutions are good intentions for the year that last maybe a week or two – perhaps even a month – but for whatever reason or reasons – time, lack of interest or motivation – many of these good intentions fall by the wayside.

Each new year, I usually make the resolution to exercise more. I start off okay, but not long after New Year’s Day is past, the motivation walking_girlstarts to wane. Lack of time, or more like “inability to properly manage time,” is a big factor for me. I seem to be always too busy with tons of projects, most of them involving writing. I work daily on my blog. I spend hours preparing my radio show. I’m writing articles for publication, and, of course, I have to write a lot of query letters to agents and publishers as I try to sell my book, “Prisoners Without Bars: A Caregiver’s Story.” It seems that the only things that ever get any exercise are my brain … and my fingers as they fly over the keyboard. Uh, did I say “fly”? I meant more like “stumble.” Most of my projects have deadlines – if not actual ones, then at least self-imposed ones. So, due to my over-commitments, this year I chose not to make any resolutions that I know I will not keep. Not keeping my resolutions only makes me feel like a failure, and that is not productive. I bet a lot of people fall into this category.

Folks with a brain injury are continually working to improve their lives, and New Year’s resolutions may seem even more important. Brain-injured people are used to taking small steps, but the temptation for New Year’s resolutions may be to try to do too much.

I’m going to discuss how to keep interest up and to make it possible to reach the goal of a reasonable, responsible, and realistic resolution.


Don’t have a goal you will never want to do. That’s a recipe for disaster. Is your resolution such a chore that you can easily find any excuse to NOT do it? If you’d rather clean toilets than complete your resolution, then perhaps you should reassess your resolution. toilet1I can pretty much guarantee that you will not be successful and that lack of success is certainly going to instill feelings of failure. I think a big part of being successful in keeping a resolution is to give the goal some thought first.


If you want to get more sleep and go to bed earlier, then set an alarm for 30 minutes before your desired bedtime so you can start your sleep in bedbedtime preparations. If you want to always remember where your keys are, put a hook on the wall and ALWAYS hang your keys there. You will never have to search your home again for keys. Following a routine makes life easier. That goes for anything. Also, use available tools (calendar, Post-It notes, smart phone, etc.) to help you keep organized.


By keeping a record of your accomplishments, you are setting yourself up for success. You could keep a record in a journal-like notebook. journalSimply write the date at the top of the page, and write what you accomplished that day (e.g., Sit-ups – 5 minutes; Meditated – 10 minutes). You could also simply use a calendar dedicated just to your resolution and write your activity under each day that you do it. If you are computer savvy, you could keep a spreadsheet. Place the days in the left column; list the activities across the top. Then just put a checkmark in the box corresponding to day and activity. That would be the way I would do it.

I like to see my progress. It motivates me. I enjoy seeing how well I am doing – or NOT doing, so that I can readjust and improve. It may work for you too.


Your success will not happen overnight. It will take time. You may even become lax at times, but don’t worry. The record keeping that we spoke of above will help to get you back on track.

Before his brain injury in 2005, my husband, David, used to do a half hour of his version of Tai Chi every morning. He’d run twenty miles each week, and he’d regularly lift small weights to strengthen weight_lifting_13his arms. He was fit and healthy. He exercised not only for his health, but also to leave the stress of his laboratory behind. David’s disabilities are all physical, including severely compromised balance, which makes him unable to run. He regrets this, but he has turned his attention to the treadmill – with its handrails – for exercise. He has also recently acquired a recumbent trike, which allows him to pedal away on his own with no danger of falling. None of this was possible when David first arrived home from the hospital. He was confined to wheelchair and bed. He could not even stand unassisted. It was a slow process – one that he has worked on over the past eleven years, but with small steps and small increments of exercise, he is gaining his strength and his independence.

So, no matter what your goal is, BE PATIENT. Reach for the stars, but remember, it will take time.


If you choose a goal that you find is not appropriate – it’s too hard, it’s too easy, or you are not enjoying it – QUIT IT!


It’s your life, and you can make the choices. Because you are a brain-injury survivor, I am sure there are many goals you would like to accomplish. Make new resolutions. (It doesn’t have to be a new year.) And, mix it up.

If you are not seeing the progress you want – for whatever reason, choose something else to work on. You can always come back and try again later. That’s why I encourage you to make reasonable and realistic resolutions. You want success to be imminent.

Once David tried a form of therapy on the recommendation of a friend who insisted that it helped her greatly, and, in fact, it did help her. David tried it for quite a long time and dedicated himself to it, but found it tedious and boring. He soon quit and set his sights on something more enjoyable that was not going to make him miserable. That’s where the flexibility comes in. Do what works for you.


I mentioned earlier to “mix it up.” That’s not a bad idea for anyone. If boredom sets in, your chance of success will fall greatly. You won’t reach your proposed goal, and you will become disenchanted with the activity. The feelings of failure are right behind. So, don’t put yourself in that position. Make a new resolution, and try something different. It can be something different that is still familiar, or it can be something so different that you have never done it before.David on Recumbent Trike

I want to go back to the story of David’s recumbent trike. In his adult life, he never rode a bicycle. As I mentioned, his preferred method of exercise was to run. When that was no longer a viable exercise mode, he turned to a recumbent trike. That has changed his post-brain-injury life. Before the trike, David was unable to leave the house alone. Now he can leave whenever he wants to. He is able to go to the garage, get on his trike, ride for several hours, and return. (The only thing he cannot do is get off the trike anywhere else because his balance issues do not allow him to walk freely outdoors.) So, try something you have never done before. Maybe you always wanted to draw or paint. Do it.


You may want to exercise with a buddy. Exercise can be much easier with a friend. I much prefer walking and talking or treading water in the deep end of a pool and talking or rotating through the machines in the gym and talking. Are you seeing a pattern here? I find exercising with a friend much more enjoyable than exercising alone. No matter what your goal is, if you can do it with someone else, it makes the exercise easier. It also adds an element of accountability. If you have made plans with a friend, you are more likely to meet your goal.swimming

For most survivors with brain injury, life has drastically changed. The kinds of resolutions that you may have made before your brain injury are now more than likely impossible to attain. But, that doesn’t mean that you can’t set goals that you can successfully achieve. The gym may be out of the question, but you can set aside some moments at home for leg lifts, small weights, push-ups, stepping-in-place, etc. You can do anything to keep your body fit.

Each brain injury is different. The disabilities that accompany each brain injury are wide and varied. For some folks, the injury entails only cognitive/learning disabilities or emotional issues. For others, the brain injury might include physical disabilities.

So basically, you want to assess what you can do to improve your life while not being miserable. You want to make resolutions that can fit into your lifestyle. You don’t want to set your goals so high that they cannot be achieved. But, if you set your goals too high, change them. Make your resolutions reasonable, responsible, and realistic. Most of all, make them FUN.



Click here to listen to my show:

“Responsible Resolutions” on “Another Fork in the Road,” on the Brain Injury Radio Network.”

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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 intact it with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Michael Lee Savage

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Michael Lee Savage

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Michael Lee Savage Survivor 0623141. What is your name? (last name optional)

Michael Lee Savage

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

Spokane, Washington, USA

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

I was 43.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

It started with double vision on February 26, 2003. I went to Urgent Care, and they immediately took me for an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scan, which showed a bleed in my brainstem called a cavernous hemangioma (a type of blood vessel malformation, where a collection of dilated blood vessels form a tumor). They sent me home to watch it. It bled three short weeks later. They wanted to operate, as the bleed had presented itself outwardly. My neurologist said I could wait. It didn’t bleed again until January 25, 2009, almost six years later. I was sent to Seattle, Washington, to have the surgery.

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

The morning I went to Urgent Care.

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

I had a CT (computed tomography) scan and an MRI scan.

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 was in the ICU (intensive care unit) for twenty-one days and in an acute care center for another four weeks. I then had inpatient rehab for three weeks.

How long were you in rehab?

Three weeks

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

I couldn’t walk, talk, see, or swallow for over four months. Nystagmus (rapid involuntary movements of the eyes) and secondary dystonia (a disorder characterized by involuntary muscle contractions) came on while I was in rehab.

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

My brain injury took away all of my independence, like driving and walking unassisted. I have a feeding tube. My speech is slurred. The right side of my face droops, and my entire left side below the neck is numb.

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

Both independence and friendship have run away.

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

I have regained my joy of cycling.Michael Lee Savage Survivor 062315

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

I dislike not being able to see or to walk without loosing my balance. Lockjaw prohibits me from eating my favorite foods. Also, my voice is gone.

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

Physical therapists and riding my bike with my “guide-bride,” Patty, have helped me. They constantly stay on me to improve my quality of life, and they challenge me when I want to quit.

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

Yes. I am not able to contribute to daily rituals. Most of my relationships have suffered, including my romantic relationship with my wife.

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

Yes. It is hard to eat with others. Most of my friends can’t deal with my appearance and my stressed voice.

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

My wife is my main caregiver. Yes, I do understand how difficult it is, and it is very hard, considering our age and how much I still can’t do without her.

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

I hope to enjoy life more than I am now. I hope to be living life as normally as I can.

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.

Keep fighting to move – do the exercises, no matter how silly they may seem. They all have a purpose, and there are some that I wish I would have done and stuck with.

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

Never quit moving. Never give up hope. I immediately got a trike so I could feel human again. And now, six years later, I’m walking around town with a cane. I’m walking on flat surfaces without any cane. Fight for your independence. It’ll be the biggest battle you’ve ever faced, but eventually you’ll inspire others. They will say, “If you can do it, I can too.”

Thank you, Lee, 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 Michael Lee Savage.)

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.

Trike Treks

April 9, 2015 to June 6, 2015

040915 David 1st Ride Catrike 700


Cumulative mileage for David                          616.2 mi



Cumulative mileage for Donna                         79.9 mi

Combined miles for Donna and David           696.1 mi

Miles to reach 5390* miles                             4693.9 mi

*done by both Catherine Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman in their cross-country rides

Cat TrikeZimmerman, Dan

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

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio Another Fork in the Road: Catherine and Dan’s Reflections – Triking Across America

On the Air: Brain Injury Radio Interview with

Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman

Another Fork in the Road:

Catherine and Dan’s Reflections – Triking Across America

images-1IMPORTANT NOTE: Because of technical difficulties, the show cuts out at the 6:37-minute marking and returns at the 10:30-minute marking. When the air is dead, drag the cursor to 10:30 and happy listening.

It was a pleasure to spend the evening with Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman on my show, “Another Fork in the Road.” They are my heroes! It was such fun to dig into the depths of their feelings to learn what it meant to them toCat & Dan at the FInish Line 112914 travel across America for 5 months on recumbent trikes -a total of 5,300 miles.

If you missed the show, don’t fret. You can always listen to the archived show.

You can get to the interview by clicking the link at the bottom of this page. (Wait a few seconds for the audio to start.) Because of technical difficulties, the show cuts out at the 6:37-minute marking and returns at the 10:30-minute marking. When the air is dead, drag the cursor to 10:30 and start listening.

Cat Brubaker Crossing America – diagonally

Dan Pedaling to Maragaritaville

Dan Zimmerman Pedaling to Margaritaville


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.”

REMEMBER: Read above for directions for the technical difficulties.

See you “On the Air!”

Another Fork in the Road: Catherine and Dan’s Reflections – Triking Across America

Click here for a list of all “Another Fork in the Road” shows on the Brain Injury Radio Network.

“Another Fork in the Road” . . . Brain Injury Radio Network Catherine (Cat) Brubaker’s and Dan Zimmerman’s Reflections – Triking Across America



It took Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman 5 months and 5,300 miles to cross the USA (diagonally) on recumbent trikes. Blowouts, tumbles, and close encounters with bears and wild turkeys still left plenty of time to meet folks at the heart of our country. It also left time to get lost in one’s own mind. Cat and Dan rode to raise awareness for TBI and for Stroke, but I wonder what awareness they discovered within themselves along their journey. And, I mean to find out. 🙂


                Come One! Come ALL!

What:        Interview with Catherine (Cat) Brubaker and Dan Zimmerman.

Why:        Cat and Dan will look inward and share their innermost thoughts.

Dan Zimmerman & Cat Brubaker

Dan Zimmerman & Cat Brubaker

Where:     Brain Injury Radio Network

When:       Sunday, December 21, 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.)

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