TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Speech’

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio Julie Kintz Substitutes for Donna O’Donnell Figurski

On the Air – Brain Injury Radio

Julie Kintz sits in for Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Mark Ittleman, MS CCC-SLP, speech & language pathologist


Due to a prior engagement, I was unable to host my show, Another Fork in the Road on the Brain Injury Radio Network on October 19, 2014. Fortunately for me and all my listeners, Julie Kintz of Quantum Leap stepped into her host shoes and interviewed a very interesting guest. Mark Ittleman, a speech and language pathologist, spoke of the many difficulties brain-injured survivors encounter after their injury. I will be back on November 2nd with Dr. David Figurski, (my spouse) who will give his perspective of his life as he conquers traumatic brain injury.

Mark explained his philosophy of therapy (it should be doable, interesting, and enjoyable), his methods (analysis, repetition, and modeling), and his strong desire to involve the caregiver (by his or her presence in the sessions, by learning from him, and by his writing simple-to-understand books – he’s working on one now). Mark cautioned survivors to get more than one prognosis because a prognosis is only a doctor’s opinion and because survivors are often more capable than people realize. Mark understands the power of the ability to communicate and suggested that survivors – even years after their trauma – can benefit from having a speech therapist.

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

Please SHARE!

I hope you’ll tune in to my show, Another Fork in the Road, which airs the 1st and 3rd Sunday evenings of every month. The show starts at 5:00p Pacific Time and runs for 90 minutes. On the 2nd and 4th Sundays at 5:00p Pacific Time, Julie Kintz hosts Quantum Leap. When there is a fifth Sunday in a month, Julie and I will team up to cohost a show called Another Quantum Leap in the Road.

See you “On the Air!”

(Click the link below to listen to the show.)

Julie Kintz interviews Mark Ittleman M.S. CCC/SLP. Mark will address speech difficulties after brain injury in both children and adults.  

Survivors SPEAK OUT! David Villarreal

SPEAK OUT! – David Villarreal


Donna O’Donnell Figurski

David Villarreal

David Villarreal

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

David Villarreal

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

Temple, Texas, USA

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

1st and 2nd – 2012 (age 50), 3rd – 2013 (age 51), and 4th – 2014 (age 52)

4. How did your TBI occur?

I’m not sure…I really don’t remember.

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

It was realized when I hit the floor and did the best I could do to call for help.

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

A coworker called 9-1-1. I was rushed to the Emergency Room and given some kind of med that broke up the clot (note: possibly tissue plasminogen activator, tPA) and saved my life.

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)? How long were you in rehab?

Yes. I had physical therapy and occupational therapy for 6 months.

It wasn’t until my 3rd stroke that I finally got help. It was from the Central Texas VA (Veteran’s Administration) in Temple, Texas. They have made everything possible for me. I credit all my progress to them.

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

Wow…I have problems with my speech, vision, balance, strength, and control of my bodily functions. I could not eat or drink. I still do not have use of my right side. I am right-handed, so that is a problem. I have to learn to do everything again with my left hand.

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

Oh my goodness! My life has changed so much. I was a studio musician before all of this happened. I’ve heard many of the CDs that I am on. I went from playing several instruments to not being able to play any. That led to some very, very deep depression.

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

My musician life

12. What do you enjoy most in your post-TBI life?Villarreal, David Handcycle

That I now race a handcycle

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

That I get tired too fast

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

I got up one day and remembered I was a Marine. I decided to do what Marines do best, and that is save others. So now, I ride this handcycle with the one hand that works to let other stroke survivors know we can still have a good, normal life.

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

Well, after my first stroke, my wife of 10 months filed for divorce three days after I had it. I met my current wife a year later – after my 3rd stroke. She was my therapist. We got married about a month ago.

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

For the longest time, I would not leave my home. I didn’t want anyone to see me like this. Now I go out more often, but I’m not really at ease with it.

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

I have been taking care of myself from the start. Now I am having a very hard time allowing my wife to do anything for me. She wants to help me so badly, but I have a hard time letting go.

18. What are your future plans?

I really don’t know.

    What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?

I hope to be helping stroke survivors.

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.

Ok, it happened (the stroke). Get over it…Cry…Get mad…OK, now that is out of the way…Get to work, and work harder than you have ever worked. It will be worth it if you can do it. Life is so good when you get through it all.

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

DON’T GIVE UP. YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU WANT TO DO. Don’t let anyone tell you different. I have been told I am supposed to be dead…I am supposed to be paralyzed from my neck down. BY THE GRACE OF GOD I AM NOT!!!!!!!!

David Villarreal - 1st of 4 strokes (Not expected to survive) He DID!

David Villarreal – 1st of 4 strokes (Not expected to survive.) He DID!


Thank you, David, 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 David.)

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.

Tag Cloud

Fat Cow Co

New Age Blogger

The Care Factor

Loving someone with a Traumatic Brain Injury

Brain Injury Blog With Free TBI Information

Brain Injury Blog and Helpful Articles

Montclair Write Group

Writing Support Group

Brain Injury Support Group of Duluth-Extension

Brain Injury Information and SUPPORT

Women Worldwide Network

Women around the world share their incredible stories

Brain Aneurysm Global Insight

Brain Aneurysm, cerebral hemorrhaging, hemorrhage stroke

Motivational Coping & Healing

Rising Above the Hardships


Creative Nonfiction, Memoir, and the Brain

Wrath of Violets

A retrospective documentary of my most inner thoughts: A success in the making

Karen DeBonis

Memoir and creative nonfiction

Surviving TBI

Learning how to survive with spouse's TBI

BQB Publishing

Tomorrow's Best Sellers Today

Knit Neutrality

Knit (Verb) | 'nit : to join together

Ten Thousand Days

The long and winding journey after loss

Wordcrafter9's Blog

Just another WordPress.com weblog

%d bloggers like this: