TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘SPEAK OUT!’

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Guest Blogger: Erin Lieben

Inspiring Other Survivors

by

Erin Lieben

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Girl Blogger cartoon_picture_of_girl_writingIt’s okay to lose hope sometimes. We will never be the same as before. You’ll get used to the “new you,” and you’ll be a tough, beautiful, brave individual who knows what it’s like to feel hopeless. And, that is what makes it all worth it – because you can give hope to others.

bigstock_hope_2576413Tell other survivors that it’s okay to be the “new you” and to not necessarily meet the status quo or the goals they were striving for before their brain injury. Tell them to just make a new game-plan and to be exceedingly thankful for the little things they previously took for granted.

23804465_1469432809758930_2026712132_n

Erin Lieben – Brain Injury Survivor

When I present my story to others, my goal is for them to feel inspired. I don’t want pity, and I don’t want to bring others down. I’ve been given a gift, and I’ve worked like hell to be able to pass that on to others. There is always hope.

Cherish each passing moment as if it’s your last – because you know that it very well could be. It might sound crazy, but, when I’m at my lowest, that’s the time when I can lift others up. And, it lifts my spirit as well! My heart is with you all.

 

Thank you, Erin Lieben.

 

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

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of Erin Lieben.)

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . Christine Durant (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Christine Durant (survivor)

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.

 

Christine Durant (survivor)

Christine Durant Survivor 040817

Christine Durant – Brain Injury Survivor

I had brain surgery in 1983, during the second semester of my senior year of college. As a result, I came home with no degree. I was forced into a full-time job by my mother in addition to going to school full time. I received my first graduate degree a year later, adapting for differences all by myself. I had a great 30-year career and finished three more graduate degrees while working full time.

However, a car accident 20 years ago derailed my career. I couldn’t work because of pain-management issues. But that worked out. car-accident-clipartApparently, the neurosurgeon hadn’t put things back together in an appropriate manner. So, I needed another brain surgery. It would have been hard to do if I were working full time. My wife and my friends saw me through it.

In April, I celebrated my “Sweet 16” – sixteen months post-op and seizure-free! My wife and I also celebrated 25 years in May. We travel a lot on the accident money. Life is good.

 

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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SPEAK OUT! NewsBit . . . . . . Respected Broadcaster Bob Costas: Football “Destroys People’s Brains”

Respected Broadcaster Bob Costas: Football “Destroys People’s Brains”

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Bob Costas Sportcaster 2017

Bob Costas – Sportscaster

Emmy Award-winning and respected sports broadcaster Bob Costas, speaking as part of a panel at a symposium at the University of Maryland, stated that there are irreversible “cracks in the foundation” of the “juggernaut” and “cash machine” of American football that will eventually lead to a decrease in football’s stature.

He cited the work of Dr. Bennet Omalu, who found a degenerative brain disease in the brain of a deceased former Hall-of-Fame player of American football. He described the disease and named it chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). (Dr. Omalu’s story and the negative reaction of the National Football League are depicted in the movie “Concussion.” Will Smith plays Dr. Bennet Omalu.)

Dr. Bennet Omalu & Actor, Will Smith at opening of “Concussion”

The research at Boston University has shown that CTE is not uncommon in the autopsied brains of former players of American football. Their recent publication in the Journal of the American Medical Association has shown that CTE can be detected in the brains of not only professional football players, but also in the brains of college and high school players.

Costas said “The reality is that this game destroys people’s brains.” Concern is growing. Some players have retired early. Participation in youth tackle football leagues is declining, as parents struggle with the rapidly emerging and compelling evidence. Costas also said “… if I had an athletically gifted 12- or 13-year-old son, I would not let him play football.” Costas’ comments were supported Football Playerby those of ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser, who said that football is going the way of boxing. (Full story – listen to Costas and Kornheiser in the second video – minutes 24:03-29:50.)

 

(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.

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Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Barb George

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Barb George

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Barb George 1

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

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

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

Hoquiam, Washington, USA

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

2004, and again in 2005     Age 45

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was head-butted by my daughter’s horse. The second accident – we think I fainted. I was again in the hospital.

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

We don’t know how long I was “out,” as I was alone at the fence line. But, my husband realized there was a real problem when I did not recall all the work we had done on the property (fences built, pond in, etc.). He put me to bed, but I remained out of it, so he called an ambulance.

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

I had no surgery, but I was in the hospital for four days.

7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?Image result for Cartoon Horse Head Clip Art

No

8. Did you do rehab?

I had nearly no professional rehab. We lived in a very rural location, and I was unable to get to things. (My husband was working out of country for much of the first three years.) So, I was on my own.

I did create some of my own rehab. With reading, I got help from computer-friends, who were willing to put things into LARGE, ALL CAP type. My farm chores helped with many balance and stability issues.

What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? I did have a small time of physical therapy. That helped with balance.

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

a.) My vision was reduced from perfect to nearly nothing. I could not read anything with lower case letters or anything with under a 16-20 pt font.

b.) My stability and balance were horrible. I used shovels to maintain my balance in the fields, and I used the walls and furniture in the house.Woma Head Pain

c.) Head-pain was tremendous.

d.) I experienced various moods.

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

I had just launched my company in a new location, but I had to close my business. My relationships suffered. It was rough.

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

Stamina. I live an “every other day” sort of life. I do not sleep well, so that is difficult.

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

I have had four more grandkids since my accident. (I had 2.) I have gained two sons-in law. I am grateful to be alive.

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

I miss not having the ability to plan for anything. Life is a crap-shoot. I never know what will be possible.

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

Organization. Honesty with self and others. Creating a support-group around myself. (I facilitate the only support-group on the Washington coastline from Canada to Oregon.) Learning!

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

My brain injury has strained many family dynamics. It is hard. My husband is not very available emotionally – that is just the way he is. One child sees me as a “whiner.” The other sees me as open and honest. Two kids have been pretty distant.

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

I was never a party person, but I did like to go out in the evening hours. Now I cannot. Well, rarely. I cannot cope with loud restaurants or movies.

2 Gray's Harbor Barb George

17. Who is your main caregiver?

I am very self-reliant. My husband would say he is my caregiver since he is the only other person here. He does the paperwork (for which I am grateful). Other than that, I am on my own.

Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?

Yes. I would give anything to share more of the responsibilities.

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

I would love to develop my skills enough to peer-mentor and advocate at a higher level. I would love to have an actual paying job at some point. I would like to continue to be self-sufficient as much as possible and to do some traveling. I plan to continue to be an involved grandmother and friend.

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.

The truth – that I really didn’t need to jump back in to life so quickly.

3 Barb George 3

Barb George – Brain Injury Survivor

I wish they would have sat my husband down and explained to him that this was a BIG deal. He didn’t get it.

The word “aphasia” was huge for me! No one could explain to me why my words were so garbled. When I learned that word, it was like “Well, it has a name, so it must be a thing.”

Communicating with other survivors helped me. I had a couple of HEROES in my corner. They gave me bits of wisdom and friendship that carry me through today – twelve years later. I am grateful to them.

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

Give yourself TIME. I see people every single day making comments such as “I am six months out. When will I be 100%?” or “When will my spouse be normal again – it has been four months?” Obviously, their doctors have neglected to tell them that TIME is a gift. That makes me angry. Yes, everyone is different, but no one, after an intense hit, is perfect in a couple of months (IMHO). By pushing (or being pushed by others), there are higher chances that other injuries will occur, and healing goes back to zero or further!

Find unique ways to simplify your life. And change it up. We gave up our mountain-dream-home-in-the-country for a smaller space in a small town. But, it is close to everything. I have less than half the home to care for. If I am unable to drive, I can catch a bus. I can walk to many things. People thought we were crazy – but being rural is a lot of work. Life was never perfect before the accident. It isn’t perfect now. But, life is worthwhile.

 

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.

(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 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! NewsBit . . . . . . High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries

High School Football Game Forfeited After Nine Head Injuries

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

football-teamA high school football team from Moncton, New Brunswick, Canada, forfeited its game after nine players left the game with possible head injuries. The coach took the precaution of having all players checked at the hospital. Before going to hospital, four players had already displayed symptoms of having a serious concussion (nausea, vomiting), and they still showed symptoms two days later when the article was written.

Illegal hits were not the problem, but the violence of football became even more obvious when the forfeiting team was clearly outmatched by its opponent.  The score was 35-0 about halfway through the game.

football13It is now known that players of US and Canadian football have a high risk of developing a brain injury, and the problem is particularly serious for youth, with their still-developing brains.  Concussions are the most obvious brain injury, but the multiple subconcussive hits common in US and Canadian football can also lead to brain damage, which may not become apparent for several years.  A highly-cited research paper in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that the degenerative brain disease CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) was found in a low but significant fraction (21%) of players who only played football through high school. CTE was more commonly found (>90%) in the autopsied brains of players who played professionally or only through college. Even with a possible bias in the brains studied, the findings are alarming. As a result of the new knowledge, some players are retiring early (1,2), and parents are becoming concerned. (1. Full story and 2. my radio interview of Cyndy Feasel, Mary Seau, and Debra Pyka, all of whom lost a loved one to football)

onair

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

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it (intact) with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Jenni Palczynski (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Jenni Palczynski (survivor)

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.

 

Jenni Palczynski (survivor)

Jenni Palczyinski 2

Jenni Palczynski – Brain Injury Survivor

Before my stroke, I was a medical malpractice litigation defense paralegal, which I loved. After my stroke, my doctor was nice enough to “prescribe” my pets – a dog and a cat – as “therapy animals.” However, because of my living arrangements, I could not keep them with me for two years, and they had to go into foster care until I was able to get a place of my own. My dog was placed with a family-friend, and my cat took up residence at an animal clinic owned by a close friend of my cousin. They stayed in foster care for two years. During that time, my cat developed fatty-liver disease. Before Christmas two years ago, we thought we were going to have to put him down. But, like his mama, he is a fighter! Because of his being placed where he was, the vet there caught the disease early, and we were able to save him. He is back to being 100% healthy. But during the time he was sick, on the advice of the vet, I would spend several days a week visiting him. He improved so much more when I was there with him.

After all that time, I got to know the vet and the staff at the clinic so well that I started volunteering time – going in and visiting other clinic animals. The animals were placed there and were looking for homes, or the animals were sick, or they had been boarded there by their parents. We soon realized that, by having me around talking to them and loving them as my own, they would also improve.

So, rather than doing a job that I had learned to love over the years, I now volunteer at the clinic tending to their animals. I have gotten to see them get better, and I have even seen some get adopted into permanent homes. If you asked me while I was growing up what I wanted to do,

Jenni Palczyinski

Jenni Palczynski – Brain Injury Survivor

I said it was to become a veterinarian because of my love of animals. Now I have found that my purpose is to give love to those animals, to see them move on to the next chapter in their life, like I am. Other than to see my kids grow up, my new purpose in life is to give love and care to animals in need. It is definitely very rewarding, and it has given me new life-long friends in the process. I also have finally moved into my own apartment, where my dog and cat are spoiled rotten, but they give me all the unconditional love I could ever want or need. It has taken me five years, but I love my volunteer-work in addition to my still being a single-mom to my youngest son (age 16), who is now also back living with me. Life is good.dog_cat_dancing

 

 

(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.

Feel free to follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the upper right sidebar.

If you like my blog, share it intact with your friends. It’s easy! Click the “Share” buttons below.

If you don’t like my blog, “Share” it intact with your enemies. I don’t care!

Feel free to “Like” my post.

Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . . Pamela Ann Taylor

Survivors SPEAK OUT!   Pamela Ann Taylor

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pamela Ann Taylor Survivor 092417

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

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?

Age 55

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?0016

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?

N/A

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?no-noise-1

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.

Pamela Ann Taylor & dog

Pamela Ann Taylor – Brain Injury Survivor

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.

 

HUGZ

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.

(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 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.

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