TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Survivng Traumatic Brain Injury’

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Jim Ledgewood

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Jim Ledgewood

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Jim Ledgewood 1

 

 

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

Jim Ledgewood

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

Phoenix, Arizona, USA

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

January 27, 2006      Age 27

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was shot with a 9 mm on the left side of my face.14 Jim Ledgewood 071518 f0282624

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

I did not realize I had a brain injury until seven years after being shot. My company brought to my attention that something was off.

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

I had multiple surgeries. They had to put twenty-five coils around my carotid artery to stop the bleeding around my brain.

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

I believe they induced a coma in me. Not sure, though.

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 inpatient rehab (cognitive, physical, and speech therapies) at St. Joseph’s Hospital/Barrow Neurological Institute and at Mesa General Hospital; outpatient rehab (cognitive, physical, occupational, and speech therapies), for one week at Mesa General and for one week at Chandler Regional Medical Center.

18 Jim Ledgewood 071518 f293356169. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury(e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?

The frontal and temporal lobes were damaged, so all the things that those two parts of the brain control were affected in a negative way.

Donna’s note: The cerebral cortex can be divided into four sections, which are known as lobes: frontal, parietal, occipital, and temporal.

Following a frontal lobe injury, an individual’s abilities to make good choices and recognize consequences are often impaired. Damage can cause increased irritability, which may include a change in mood and an inability to regulate behavior, such as anticipation, goal selection, planning, initiation, sequencing, detecting errors, and initiating novel responses.

The temporal lobe is located behind the ears and extends to both sides of the brain. It is involved in hearing and holds the primary auditory cortex, which receives sensory information from the ears. Secondary areas process the information into speech and words. Left temporal damage can disturb recognition of words and impair memory for verbal material.

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

There are certain things that I was able to do before my TBI (traumatic brain injury) that I cannot do now. This has affected all aspects of my life.

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

I miss the control I had over my life.Control

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

I like helping others and being able to share my story. I take pleasure in doing something that only 5% of 5% of the population is able to do.

13. What do you like least about your brain injury?Jim Ledgewood 2

Everything

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

Learning and understanding my TBI and what it is doing have helped.

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

I have to move at a different pace than others. A lot of people around me have a hard time because they don’t know or understand why I do what I do or why I express myself the way I do. Once people learn that I have a TBI, the part of my brain that was injured, and what that part of the brain controls, they get more comfortable. But, I believe they are still not 100% comfortable.

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

I was not in a relationship before my injury. I have found it hard to get into a relationship since my injury.

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

I am my own caregiver.

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

I hope to have that relationship/family that I thought I would have by now. I don’t try to look that far into the future.

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.

6iyo54M5TI would say that you should learn as much as you can about your TBI. That way you know that problem. Then you can try to come up with solutions to better your life.

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

It is not what happens – it is what you do about it that defines the person you are.

N-E-V-E-R  G-I-V-E  U-P!

 

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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 last name to be posted, please tell me in your email or Private Message.)

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

Tripp, Manda Survivor 31775961_10155126581401650_8092491080345321472_o

 

woman-in-wheelchairManda Tripp (survivor) … Two years ago, I came home in a wheelchair.  Today, I’m walking downstairs without holding on to anything! (It’s the little things … )

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to Manda!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributor.)

As I say after each post:anim0014-1_e0-1

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.

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Past Blast . . . . . . . . . . . . . Survivors SPEAK OUT! . . Lauren

SPEAK OUT! – Lauren

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

(originally published April 13, 2014)

 

Lauren - about 4 days post TBI surgery

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

Lauren

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

Belfast, Northern Ireland

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

September 2012. I was 35

4. How did your TBI occur?

Playing roller derby

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

It was very sudden, I felt something wasn’t right in my head, then my vision went and I collapsed.

6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have? (e.g., surgery, tracheotomy, G-peg)

Ambulance to Accident and Emergency.
A CT scan, then a craniotomy

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

4 days. It was medically induced because I kept wanting to wake up!

8. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., In-patient and/or Out-patient; Occupational, Physical, Speech, and/or Other)? How long were you in rehab?

No rehab to speak of, Out-patient appointments with Neuro every few months. I’m now discharged.

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

Initially I had palsy of the left eye. Most of my problems have been psychological. I also had fatigue for a long time. (It’s still here but not as strong.)

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

How do you put this into words? My life has changed in many ways, I was very independent. Now I rely on my partner a lot, mainly due to anxiety and depression.

There are things that are better – the ability to let small things slide is easy. I have an appreciation of life. I know what I DONT want anymore. My BS detector is much improved.

The bad – feeling scared for no reason. Crying a lot

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

My independence

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

The slower pace; the ability to filter stressful people

13. What do you like least about your TBI?

Anxiety anxiety anxiety

14. Has anything helped you to accept your TBI?

Time, patience, writing, lots of reading and meeting other survivors

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

It has made us a lot closer. It’s not an easy ride. It can get rough, but we’ve learnt to communicate in a much more meaningful and honest way.

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

Yes, I’ve become more isolated. My social circle reduced a lot post-injury. That hurt at first, but I’ve accepted it now. More contact with others would be nice though.

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

My partner, he’s great. He’s put up with so much. I have an idea of what he’s been through, but I’ll never truly understand how it feels. It is difficult and tiring.

18. What are your future plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing 10 years from now?

I hope to study again. I want to complete a Psychology or counselling course so I can help others. I want to be out in the world again, and most of all I hope to have my joy back.

19. What advice would you offer to other TBI survivors?

It’s hard but it will pass
What you feel is normal
Be kind to yourself, and you will also need plenty of patience!

20. Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?

Good luck to all TBI/ABI survivors. Remember you are never alone.

Lauren celebrating her birthday about 16 months post-TBI

 

Thank you, Lauren, for taking part in this interview. I hope that your experience will offer some hope, comfort, and inspiration to my readers.

 

If you would like to be a part of this project, please go to TBI Survivor Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Photos compliments of Lauren.)

 

(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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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Gabee Snarr Wilcox (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.

 

Gabee Snarr Wilcox (survivor)

20179690_1363437513691794_1356961170_n

Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

When I was 16, I went through a windshield. Before that, I was the lead in every musical and captain of the dance team. My whole life changed in an instant. I ripped my liver in half; broke my leg, nose, ribs, and arm; suffered some minor flesh wounds; etc. But, nothing could compare to or prepare me for the TBI (traumatic brain injury) I also suffered.

20206238_1363437833691762_1002246323_n

Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

I woke up a different person. My personality was completely different than the one I had before. I was having rage fits for no reason. The next two years would come with some new-found crippling anxiety and depression. I had no balance, and my memory was awful. (Still kinda is … Do not trust me with your keys, people!) I was confined to a wheelchair for about a year. I felt nothing but hopeless.

It seemed like I had lost everybody. The people who did stick around, I treated terribly. I was wallowing in my own self-pity … and I wanted to die. I felt like I would never live up to the person I had been. I didn’t think I would ever be able to go to college or find love. I thought suicide was the best solution. I planned my death, and I looked forward to it every day.

Then one day, I saw a dear friend of mine, who also had a TBI. Later, news broke that she had killed herself. My world changed that day. I started living for Hannah. I saw the potential she had, and I wanted to show her that I wasn’t going to let a stupid TBI take both of us down.

LaughingI started really trying at physical therapy. Instead of hating myself for my memory, my anxiety, my insomnia, and my depression, I learned to laugh at it. I stopped hating people because they didn’t understand, and I realized they were lucky they didn’t. I went to college, and I failed. So, I tried again, and I failed. I tried again, and I found joy and love in working hard in school. I passed a whole year. I proved every doctor, friend, and family-member wrong – they said I was too damaged. But, I did it!I Did It!

20187595_1363437727025106_436353193_n

Gabee Snarr Wilcox – brain injury survivor

I took the jump and married the love of my life. I stopped putting my TBI first and started putting my happiness first. Today, I still have problems – headaches every day, anxiety, depression, insomnia, exhaustion … you name it! But, I push through and find myself every day.

It’s been a hard five years, but I wouldn’t change them. I’ve learned to be glad this happened to me – it’s made me stronger than I ever thought I could be. I commend everyone going through this – it’s hard! But, you can do anything. I truly believe that.

 

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Pattie Welek Hall . . . . . . . . (caregiver for her son)

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Pattie Welek Hall  (caregiver for her son)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Pattie Welek-Hall 3

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver for son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

 

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

Pattie Welek Hall

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

Summerville, South Carolina, USA     pattie@pattiewelekhall.com

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you?

He’s my son.

How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury?

19 years old

What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

Motorcycle accident

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? 

MotorcycleOctober 6, 2002

Were you the main caregiver?

Yes

Are you now?

We live in different states now, but I’d have to say that emotionally I am his main caregiver.

How old were you when you began care?

56

5. Were you caring for anyone else at that time (e.g., children, parents, etc.)?

I was in the process of finalizing a divorce and also raising my other two children, Annie (freshman in college) and Bo (junior in college).

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury?

th

Yes – at Barnes & Noble in Charlotte, North Carolina

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. Mid-October, I was scheduled to step into new position – Community Relations Manager at Barnes & Noble in Huntersville, North Carolina. The manager held my position until I was able to return.

7. Did you have any help?

Yes

If so, what kind and for how long?

When Casey returned home, he went to outpatient care in Charlotte, North Carolina. At that time, his dad’s insurance paid for a driver to take and pick him up from rehab so I could return to work. Casey remained in rehab until April 2003.

8. When did your support of the survivor begin (e.g., immediately – in the hospital; when the survivor returned home; etc.)?

For the first eleven days after my son’s accident, I slept on the floor in the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) at the Medical University of South Carolina, and then I moved to Marriott Courtyard for the remaining days of his six-week stay.

A Mother's Dance

“A Mother’s Dance’ by Pattie Welek Hall

9Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Twice.

If so, what did you do during that time?

I prayed out loud to him; I talked to him; I relayed how his day unfolded (Guess who visited; I recounted what they said) . . . and I told him stories.

10. Did your survivor have rehab?

Yes

If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)?

Outpatient—speech, occupational, and physical

How long was the rehab? kc8oAg59i

Five months

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

At work

11. What problems or disabilities of your brain-injury survivor required your care, if any?

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver? Is it better? Is it worse?

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

I miss my boy’s easy-going nature.

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

Pattie Welek Hall

Pattie Welek Hall (caregiver of son) Author of “A Mother’s Dance”

That my son is alive

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

That my son has frontal lobe damage which affects those he loves

16. Has anything helped you to accept your survivor’s brain injury?

17. Has your survivor’s injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?

Relationships are up and down – mostly due to frontal lobe damage.

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

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

I hope that my son’s life is filled with love, laughter, and peace.

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

 

(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! Geo Gosling

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Geo Gosling

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Geo Gosing 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Geo Gosling

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

St. Helena, California, USA     goose3@wildblue.net

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

In 1995 at the age of 25

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I was riding my bicycle 40-45 mph down a steep hill. (That’s pretty fast on a bicycle.) It was dusk, and I didn’t have a bike-light. A car going in the opposite direction was at the bottom of the hill, didn’t see me, and turned left onto a street. I hit her. In auto accidents, this would be referred to as a “T-bone.” So, while on my bicycle, I “T-boned” a car at about 40 mph.bike

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

Pretty soon thereafter

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

I was transported by ambulance to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa. (It should be noted that my crash occurred only a few hundred feet from the St. Helena Hospital and Health Center, but the ambulance was routed to Napa – about 25 min. south of where I was – because “The Queen” is much better prepared for head trauma.) I had a tracheotomy, and my right shoulder was pretty smashed. I fractured two neck vertebrae, so I had a broken neck. Some ribs were broken also. That all pales in comparison to the TBI (traumatic brain injury), however.

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

I was technically never in a coma, but I was unconscious for either six or eight days – I don’t remember which. (Funny story – I think: I was technically never in a coma because I would respond to outside stimuli. The doctor demonstrated this by talking loud at me or yelling or saying bad things or something, and I would just lie there in bed give him the finger. I just lay there and flipped him off. I later found out the doctors thought this to be rather amusing.)

Geo Gosling 1

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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 had both inpatient and outpatient therapy. Both in- and outpatient therapy consisted of occupational therapy, physical therapy, speech therapy, and “thought” therapy. (I had to see a psychologist because I was rather … ah … depressed. I called it “thought therapy.”) I was in rehab for years. In fact, I still go to massage therapy because my muscles don’t seem to relax too well anymore. Speech therapy helped, but not much because, as a result of my TBI, I have dysarthria, which is basically paralyzed facial muscles. As a result, I have trouble speaking clearly, and I sound a wee-bit tipsy most of the time.

How long were you in rehab?

Years. I still go to massage therapy twice a month.

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I’m in constant pain. The part of my brain that is responsible for, or connected to, the gums on the left side of my mouth is injured or damaged or whatever. Anyhow, my brain thinks my gums on the left side of my mouth are telling it that they hurt because something is wrong. Well, something is wrong, but not with my gums. It’s my brain that is confused. My brain “thinks” my gums hurt. So, I just think my gums hurt, but they don’t. (Don’t think about that too long, or you will need to see a shrink.) I don’t like people anymore. I’m pissed off all the time. I haven’t had a date in 20+ years. That could also be why I’m pissed off and don’t like people. I can go from being “happy as a clam” to extremely furious in about ten nanoseconds. (I was never like that before.) My balance is terrible – I fall over very easily. (I couldn’t run to save my life – assuming I wanted to save it. I can’t even walk fast.) I have arthritis in my neck – hurts like hell. My lower back hurts often.

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

Is this a trick question?

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

I miss a career I enjoyed, laughing, hope, feeling good, living, friends.

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

Is this another trick question?

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

Let’s see … where to begin? I dislike my speech. I hate the constant pain. I’m unhappy with having no friends, no job, little money, and no hope. That about covers it.

dT76zBKac14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?

Passage of time, but nothing really helped. I just realized shit happens, and you have to deal with it.

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

I live alone and always will. I can’t really deal with people anymore. I don’t trust anyone, the reason being that my psychologist lied to me. As a result, I ended up in the mental ward of St. Helena Hospital and Health Center for two nights and three days. I also had a therapist call the police after I had done what SHE SAID I SHOULD DO!

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

I used to have somewhat of a social life, but now, the only person I do anything with is my mom. That’s a tad depressing.

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

I don’t really have one now.

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

I have no future plans. I will probably be doing the exact same thing ten years from now – nothing.

Geo Gosling 3

Geo Gosling – Brain Injury Survivor

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.

Just deal with it the best you can.

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

Do as much stuff for yourself as you can. Doing “everyday living” stuff is the best therapy. If you can walk, walk as much as you can.

Check out these books by Geo Gosling.

 TBI Hell by Geo Gosling 4      TBI Purgatory by Geo Gosling 5

 

 

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.

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.

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