TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘short-term memory’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Katey Ratz

Survivors  SPEAK OUT!  Katey Ratz

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

10887811_768025126566372_1831835211_n1. What is your name? (last name optional)

Katey Ratz

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

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA     KateyKat626@yahoo.com

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

I had my first traumatic brain injury (TBI) in 2002 at age 22 and my second TBI in 2007 at age 28 (if I remember correctly).

4. How did your brain injury occur?

My first TBI occurred because I was getting electroconvulsive shock therapy. During my fifth treatment, I had a fifteen-minute seizure. I lost a lot of short-term memory. I have great long-term memory. My second TBI occurred when I thought I had epilepsy. I went to a neurologist. They did an EEG (electroencephalogram). They discovered left temporal lobe epilepsy and an aneurysm.

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

My fifteen-minute seizure happened January 21, 2002 – the day before my mom’s 50th birthday. As far as the second, I’m not sure.

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

I’m not sure about my treatment for the emergency during electroconvulsive therapy. With the aneurysm, they removed a portion of my brain on the left side. Because they had to go through my skull, I now have a dent on my head.

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

I don’t think so.

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 don’t think I officially did rehab. I am in a kind of rehab now. I go to the Milwaukee Center for Independence. It is for people with a brain injury. I go there three days a week. They have two groups a day and different groups every day.

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

I have a LOT of short-term memory loss. Like, I would call my mom and have a good conversation, hang up, and call her right back – forgetting that I had just spoken to her. And, my personality has been affected. I’m short-tempered – both with myself and with others.

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

My life is both better and worse. I definitely don’t have the life I wanted. I have to rely on other people, which I hate. But, I am so lucky to be alive. My life is better because I am able to ask for help. I know I need it. Also, I am determined. And, my creative gift is outstanding. It’s my greatest strength. My life is worse because I can’t get the education I wanted. I cannot be a nurse or an occupational therapist. I wanted to be a labor and delivery nurse or a pediatric/adolescent occupational therapist specializing in psych.

11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?10872431_768025869899631_857990768_n

I miss that I had so many friends. I was very outgoing. I still am somewhat outgoing – I will talk to strangers in coffee shops. But, now my friendship is way down. I get emails, but like I call once a week, if that.

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

My creativity is strengthened. My poetry is awesome. I combine sonnets with acrostics, and away I go. Right now, I have over 1,250 fourteen-letter phrases for the acrostic part. I have them all in ABC order. I can go to a coffee shop for four hours and write several poems. It keeps me out of trouble. I listen to the church message and “take notes” by listening for a fourteen-letter phrase. Today it was “The Great Reward.”

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

I miss the old Katey. I hate relying on others. I hate not being able to live on my own.

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

Knowing that I am not alone has helped me accept my brain injuries. There are different levels of TBI. I mean, looking at me, you wouldn’t think I have a TBI. There are probably many more out there like me. I just have to accept that and know I am not alone.

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

I live in an apartment where there are caretakers, although they aren’t doing that great of a job. The caretakers are supposed to cook and help me clean, but they aren’t. They give me my allowance – I get my laundry money and $10 twice a week. As for relationships, my family is great. I love them so much! As for friends, I have a few, but only a couple really understand.

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

My social life has changed. I go out, but I can’t be the old Katey. I can’t go to new places because I am afraid of getting lost. I have gotten lost a few times and had to call people for support. I want to join a bible study group, but I haven’t because of my fear of getting lost!

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

Like I said before, I live in an apartment where there are caretakers. There are a couple of them who pass out meds. At times, it frustrates me. They lay my meds out on a table at like 4 pm for bedtime, but I will forget to take them at bedtime. They need to give better care.

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

I would so love to be back in school. If I only had all my brain! I would love to have a job helping people. I would love to be happily married and have kids.

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 had an aneurysm. Yes, part of my brain is missing. But, I am still here and deserve to be. I deserve the help I need. And, I will gladly give back any help I can!

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

TBIs do take time. At times, there are great days. They may not last, but that does not equal failure. That is the TBI. The “T” in TBI stands for “traumatic” – but we still survived!Katey Ratz Survivor 061015

 

Thank you, Katey, 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 Katey.)

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! Luke R. Hostetler

SPEAK OUT! – Luke R. Hostetler

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Use This Hostetler, Luke

Luke R. Hostetler

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

Luke R. Hostetler

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

Woodburn, Indiana, USA     Lrhostetler@gmail.com

3. When did you have your TBI? At what age?

September 10, 2010     Age 26

4. How did your TBI occur?

I fell down stairs.

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

Friends looked for me when they realized I was absent from the party for too long. The doctors diagnosed the TBI!

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

I had a tracheotomy, and a feeding tube was inserted. My jaw was wired shut. 😦

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

I think I was, but I don’t think it was for an extended period of time.

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 had rehab (occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech therapy – maybe others), both as an inpatient and an outpatient. Rehab was maybe two years?

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

My right optic nerve is damaged. I have a problem with short-term memory. 😦

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

I’ve met many new people, so that’s a very good thing!

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

I miss my occupation and driving!

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

A new friend whom I met because of my TBI. 🙂

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

My short-term-memory is junk. 😦

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

My new friend. She also has a TBI!

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

Home life: At 30 years old, I still live with my mom, and I depend on others for most everyday activities.

Relationships: I’ve made countless new friends. That’s ALL GOOD. 🙂

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

I am much more of a social being.

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

My Loving Mother, Vicki Rose Hostetler, is my caregiver. I know and understand it’s hard work, and I appreciate that!

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

I hope to be able to live independently. I’d like to have had found the love of my life!

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 TBI survivors with your specific kind of TBI.

Patience is a virtue!

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

Live your life in stride. Good things come to those who wait. God has a perfect plan. 🙂

Hostetler with Muskie 10639383_10204875651152455_5899253425922197294_n

Luke R. Hostetler & Muskie

 

Thank you, Luke, 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.)

(Photos compliments of Luke.)

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.

 

SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger . . . . . . George Visger (former NFL SF 49er)

SPEAK OUT! Guest Blogger George Visger (former NFL SF 49er)

Short, Choppy Steps

 

Boy Blogger thAnyone who has ever spent time on the gridiron will know what those words mean. But their meaning holds truth far beyond the playing field and can be applied to everything we do in life.

In football, the object of the game is to win. But to win, you must score. To score, you need to punch the ball across the goal line.

But what if the goal line is 99 yards away?

Short, choppy steps will get you there – not long strides and an occasional 50-yard run.

In football, everything starts with a good stance. You need balance. Just like in life. You need to get yourself into position to succeed before you can succeed. A bad stance, and you’re beat before the ball’s snapped. When playing defense, if you have too much weight on your right foot, you’ll never be able step with that foot, and the offensive linemen will easily be able to cut you off if the play is going that way. If you have too much weight forward, like you have during a passing situation, you can never react quickly enough if they call a run to the inside.

A good stance is a balanced stance. Try it.

No, I mean try it. Everyone who can, stand up.

Stand up tall – feet, shoulder-width apart, and toes, even. Move your dominant foot back about 10-12 inches so your right toes (if right-handed) are even with the instep of your left foot. Now push your chest out and your butt back. Slowly squat down until your elbows touch your knees. Once your elbows make contact, lean forward a bit and place your hand on the ground with your thumb directly under your nose.

That’s a balanced stance. You can easily move in any direction from that position.

#74 NFL San Francisco 49er, George Visger @ 1981

#74 NFL San Francisco 49er, George Visger @ 1981

On offense, if you don’t score, you can’t win. To score, you have to move the ball. If the offensive lineman fires out with a long stride – like you would do when sprinting, it’s very easy for the defensive player to knock him on his butt. Holding your head up and looking 90 yards down the field at the goal line is a great way to get your cranium removed. Considering the cranium is a fairly important organ, it’s best you hang on to it. You need to keep your butt down, your face up, and your neck bowed and to take short, choppy steps.

Try it.

A long stride with your head up is a narrow stride. Any pressure from the side will knock you on your butt. To maintain the most strength, you want short, choppy steps. Fire out, and keep your butt down and your face up. Stick your face into the numbers, and, with your butt under you, drive with short (12-16 inch) strides. That’s where you get your power. Not a long, narrow, unbalanced stride with your neck craned up and your head looking downfield. Focus on the short, choppy steps.

If a football team got only 4 yards every play on offense – no more, no less, they would never lose.

Think about it.

Only 4 yards a play, and you would NEVER LOSE!

George Visger #74  4th row from bottom, 2nd from right  @ 1981

George Visger #74
4th row from bottom, 2nd from right
@ 1981

That’s a first down every 3 plays. You would score every time you had the ball. NO ONE could stop you.

Every one has a cross to bear. Some crosses are much heavier than others. I have met people on my journey, who have silently carried crosses I could never even lift. Yet they pack them – everyone.

And never complain.

If we looked downfield every day – gazing at where we want to be in life and thinking about what we have to deal with to get there, we’d never score. You need to keep that goal line in the back of your mind every day of your life – every play, but to get there, you need to focus on each step. One day at a time. One step at a time.

A single short, choppy step each day wins games.

Set a short-term goal each day, and focus on that.

In 1986, at the age of 28, I returned to school to complete my Biology degree, after an Orange Bowl, a Super Bowl, three emergency VP (ventriculoperitoneal) shunt brain surgeries, and several gran mal seizures. I needed four semesters of Chemistry (Chem 1A, Chem 1B, Organic Chem, and Bio Chem), two semesters of Physics, two semesters of Pre-Calculus, and other fun classes to complete my degree in Biological Conservation and to attain my second dream in life – to be a wildlife biologist. (My first dream was to be the greatest NFL player of all time.) At the time, I was working construction during the day, earning a Class B General Contractors license in the evenings, and bouncing at bars at night to survive. (No, all NFL players are not millionaires. I was a 6th-round pick in 1980 and signed for $35,000.)

After I returned to school in 1986, I survived five additional emergency brain surgeries during a 9-month period in ‘86-’87, while taking Organic Chem, Physics, and other classes. I was in Organic Chem three times when my shunt blew out. I had emergency brain surgery, and I dropped out of school. After the first, I came back and took the class again. Another shunt blow out and another brain surgery, and I dropped out of school again. Happened a third time. This time, I was determined not to drop out. Brain surgery on Saturday, and I left the hospital on Sunday, 23 hours later. I was sitting in Organic on Monday when I had a >50-minute gran mal seizure. I was hospitalized for a week. It seemed I had developed an infection in my shunt on that one. They sent me home with a PICC line (peripherally inserted central catheter) in my arm, with a pump taped to my bicep, and with a tube that ran directly into my heart to deliver antibiotics. I packed that around for 10 days and had to drop out of school again.

I came back the next semester, but by then I had developed dyslexia and major short-term memory issues from my surgeries and gran mal seizure meds. (I’ve been on Dilantin, Depacote, Phenobarbital, Kepra, Zonegran, and now Lamictil.) After discovering through my own investigations that each one causes short-term memory problems, I had my doctors change the meds because I didn’t like the side effects. I had to write on my notebook where I parked my truck each day, or I would spend an hour or two walking up and down each row of cars in each parking lot on each side of Sacramento State University looking for my truck.

I came back the next semester so frustrated I met with my counselor, Mr. Sterling Ebel, a man who had as much influence on my life as anyone other than my father. Mr. Ebel was a man who quietly gave me information on how best to achieve my goals and connected with me as a person and a man. He was a man who wore the same tiny tie clasp every day I knew him. It had two words:

“TRY GOD.”

“Sterling, I can’t keep doing this crap. I can’t even remember where I parked my truck, much less Organic Chemistry. I just want a degree. I don’t care what it’s in. Just find me a degree. I need to get on with my life,” I ranted one day, as I barged into his office without an appointment, ready to quit.

“You’re 12 units from a Social Science degree,” he calmly replied after studying my transcript and telling his receptionist to hold his next appointment.

“OK, I’m a Social Science major,” I said.

That semester I took 6 units towards my Social Science degree, and passed both classes. The next semester, just 6 units shy of a BA in Social Science, I decided I’d give Organic Chem one more shot. I’d never quit on anything in my life, and words of my father, Big Jack Visger, the greatest man I’ve ever known, rang in my ears:

“Shoot your best shot.”

If I didn’t make it through Organic on this one, God didn’t mean for me to be a biologist. I was shooting the last round in my chamber.

On the fourth try, I powered through Organic – a “Short, Choppy Step.”

Physics 1B – Short, Choppy Step

Pre-Calculus – Short, Choppy Step

Bio Chem – Short, Choppy Step

In 1990, at the ripe old age of 32, with 172 units completed, gran mal seizures, and eight VP shunt brain surgeries under my belt, I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Conservation. Graduating made playing in the NFL look like child’s play.Visger, George

Another Short, Choppy Step.

And I continue to take short, choppy steps each day.

 

Thank you, George.

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

 

 

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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.

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