TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Survivng Traumatic Brain Injury’

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.)

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . TBI to “Victory” . . . . . . . . . . . . . by Daniel Mollino

TBI to “Victory”

by

Daniel Mollino

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Daniel Mollino – Brain Injury Survivor – Red Bull Athlete

Well, what a year I have had! I watched as all my competitions were abandoned due to blood clots (DVT, deep vein thrombosis: a blood clot that forms in a vein deep in the body), which laid me up for three months. But one race continued to call to me – the Red Bull 400 in Park City. See, I am a cyclist not a runner, but last year I took on the Red Bull 400 in Park City to simply see how I would do, and I completed it. I did no special training outside my usual for cycling. However, the Red Bull 400 in Park City is a whole new world of insanity in racing!

I initially went into this year with the push to try and race all the Red Bull 400s around the globe in a single year. But then medical issues struck.

The Park City race, however, still called for me. My wife wanted to run it. She has never run an event of any kind before, and I needed to get at least one competition in for the year. I was medically cleared a couple of weeks before the race. But I hadn’t done a bit of training of any kind to prepare.

Daniel Mollino -Brain Injury Survivor & Red Bull 400 survivor with spouse, Amby Silex

Nevertheless, I took it on. Now just crossing the starting line is an accomplishment, considering. I honestly hoped I would at least make it to the top somewhat close to the time I had the previous year. Sadly, that did not happen.

I did finish, eventually. My time this year was a little over 39 minutes. (I had to take the steps for the last half.) This is over double the time of last year. Still, I did cross the finish line and have an official time.

We ran and we finished. Last year’s time was much better, but it was a victory nonetheless considering the medical issues I had this year. Onward and upward ….

 

READ MORE about Daniel Mollino and the “Red Bull 400” results here.

 

(Disclaimer: The views or opinions in this post are solely that of the author.)

If you have a story to share and would like to be a part of the SPEAK OUT! project, please submit your TBI Tale to me at neelyf@aol.com. I will publish as many stories as I can.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Jason Holcomb (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury

Jason Holcomb (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.

 

Jason Holcomb (survivor)

Jason Holcomb Survivor

Jason Holcomb – Survivor

In 2005, I was walking a dog (somebody else’s), and a woman’s dog ran out her front door and caused my dog to go nuts. I tripped over the leash and fell backward, and I hit my head on the sidewalk. My brain swelled, I had a craniotomy, and I was in an induced coma for about six weeks. (I don’t remember anything from that day.) I had a trach tube and a feeding tube, and the doctors couldn’t say how I would be if I lived.man Waalking Dog

I went through years of depression and back-pain, which was caused by PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) turning my muscles into knots. My back-pain also caused years of poor sleep. I took antidepressants for a couple years. When I stopped completely, I had what I call “racing-mind syndrome.” My back is finally good, I sleep well, and I pretty much feel everything is back to normal except this racing mind. I figured it would go away after enough time, but it has not.

Professor3I was told medication might help. I would rather avoid medication, but I am so tired of this. It has been years, and it gets worse when I have more stress. I am a college professor, and my job is very stressful at

Jason Holcomb 2

Jason Holcomb – Survivor

times. If anyone has experience with this and knows what medication might help, I would be very grateful for that information.

Cheers to all my fellow brain injury survivors!

 

(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! Taylor Trammell

Survivors SPEAK OUT! Taylor Trammell

presented 

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Taylor Trammell

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

Grand Prairie, Texas, USA     taylor.dot24@gmail.com

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

I had my brain injury on February 14th, 2010, at age 13.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Carbon monoxide poisoning

(Donna’s note: The story of the poisoning of Taylor and her mother, Shelley Taylor, will be published later on this blog under “Faces of Brain Injury.”)

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

The problem was apparent the night we were poisoned.

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

I was put into a hyperbaric chamber.

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

No

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?

No

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

Afterward, I started to sleep poorly or not to sleep any at night. I also suffer from horrible migraines. Sometimes, when I hold on to something, I just drop it. But overall, it’s a mystery because every day could be something different.

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

Now I have sleeping problems, and I get horrible migraines. But, I can’t really say if my life is better or worse. I mean, it’s not fun on some days, but at least I have a life to live.

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

I miss being able to go to a concert or an event and not having to turn away from the stage or to have my boyfriend hold my head in his chest to block the light. I miss being able to talk normally and not forget what I was saying. Most of all, I miss not being able to sleep.

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

I enjoy just living in general. I mean that because it was such a close call to be living. God saved me, so I will live my life to the fullest and not let my TBI (traumatic brain injury) hold me back.

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

Not sleeping and my migraines

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

Yes. I’ve been helped by knowing that God saved me and that He is always right beside me.

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

I’m not sure. Sometimes it’s hard for people to understand my migraines or that I’m grumpy from not sleeping.

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

Yes, it has. I realize that life is short, so I try to do everything I want to do. I have fun. I love music and going to concerts, but that has changed due to the lights.

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

N/A

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

I am graduating in a few weeks with my degree in ASL (American Sign Language) Interpreting. I plan to become an interpreter and to be married next year and start our lives.

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.

No matter what has become the new you, you have to remember that there is a you because God saved you. I had to accept who the new me was and just roll with it. I mean, there wouldn’t be a you if you were not saved. SO, accept it, and learn what you need to do to live your life every day.

Taylor Trammell – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Just remember to be thankful, even in the hardest times. Life isn’t easy, and it never will be. Be strong and be supportive to everyone because you never know what the other person is going through. I know a lot of people in my life who have no idea what I go through every day, so just be strong and remember God is with you.

 

 

Surviving Brain Injury - Stories of Strength & Inspiration

Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength and Inspiration

NOTE 1:

Taylor Trammell and her mother, Shelley Taylor, are contributing authors in “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer. Shelley and Taylor’s story is titled, “Our Story of Poisoning — and of Grace.” It can be found in Chapter 75 on page 299.

NOTE 2:

My story, “Nightmare in the Disability Lane,” can be found in Chapter 29 on page 114 of the same book, “Surviving Brain Injury: Stories of Strength & Inspiration,” edited by Amy Zellmer.

 

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! Barbara Asby

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Barbara Asby

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

Barbara Wilson Asby

Barbara Wilson Asby – TBI Survivor

 

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

Barbara Asby

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

Norfolk, Virginia, USA

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

My brain injury happened over seven years ago. I was 41 years old.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

Pesticide Toxic Exposure

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

Some symptoms occurred during the first couple of days during the exposure. Symptoms gradually got worse after the following two weeks and beyond.

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

hospital5I went to the Emergency Room after a week, because of shortness of breath and cognitive issues. They found an enlarged lymph node in my lung. This finding was followed up by other specialists. I had MRIs (magnetic resonance imaging), an EEG (electroencephalogram), a SPECT (single-photon emission computed tomography) scan (a test that uses a radioactive substance and a special camera to determine how an organ is functioning), and other tests, to name a few.

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

No

7. Did you do rehab? What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)?

Yes. I had occupational, speech, and vestibular therapies.

How long were you in rehab?

My therapy has been on and off from 2010 to the present.

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

I have problems with balance, perception, cognitive abilities, memory, organizational skills, and word retrieval. I am plagued with fatigue, headaches, and partial seizures.tired-woman

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

I am now disabled and unable to work in my former job as an IRS (Internal Revenue Service) agent.  (This injury happened on the job.) My life is better because I realize how important life really is. It’s worse because I realize what I took for granted.

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

I miss the ability to work and have a career. I really miss not having a better memory, more energy, and the organizational and multitasking skills that I once had.

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

I am aware of the beauty that life has to offer. I see the good in life and in people.

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

I dislike the fact that others aren’t willing to educate themselves about TBI (traumatic brain injury) or try to understand what others go through. People lose interest over time – they do not want to hear about your problems or your pain anymore. I think this is the greatest suffering from my TBI.education-clipart-9c4y5zycE-1

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

It’s been over seven years, and I am still trying to accept my brain injury. It still changes – it’s hard to accept when it does not stay stable. Therefore, I can’t accept something when each day is different.

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

Yes. It has ended my marriage.

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

Yes. Due to the balance and sensory issues, my social life has been greatly affected.

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

I am my caregiver.

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

My future plan is to write a memoir. I also want to volunteer to help others who have a brain injury.

18. Are you able to provide a helpful hint that may have taken you a long time HistoryMissionusewhereveriStock_000017322294Smallto 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.

My advice is to look for support-groups and to try to reach out to others. Also, educate yourself with brain injury material.

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

Just reach out to other survivors – we are a big family. We understand – when others do not. TBI survivors – like other survivors – are strong. God kept you on this earth for a reason. Keep your chin up. Look to others for strength, and give others strength when it’s needed. BIG HUGS.

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! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Jennifer Stokley (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury Jennifer Stokley (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.

Jennifer Stokley – Brain Injury Survivor

Jennifer Stokley (survivor)

On May 10, 2007, I fell out of a second story window of my home to the sidewalk below. I broke nine major bones (including my neck), I ruptured my bladder, I punctured my lung, I went into two cardiac arrests, and I had a severe TBI (traumatic brain injury) that sent me into a three-week coma. And yet I survived! They didn’t think I would. Then they didn’t think I would have any cognitive abilities at all. Then they thought I would be paralyzed from the neck down.

I now live independently on my own. I take care of everything except driving. I walk with a cane only when I leave the house. The rest of the time, I am mobile just fine. It’s been nine years of “Think I can’t? I know I can. Just watch me!” Don’t get me wrong -these have been the hardest years I’ve ever experienced. But, they were totally worth every moment!

Making MemoriesI did lose my pre-TBI long-term memory, but that’s all in the past anyway. I’m not going backward – I’m only going forward. I’m making new memories – I’m not worried about lost memories.

 

Thank you, Jennifer Stokley, for sharing your story.

(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! Rodney Smith

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Rodney Smith

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

1 Rodney Smith

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

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

Rodney Smith

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

Ravenswood, West Virginia, USA

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

It happened on May 14, 2008. I was 52.

4. How did your brain injury occur?

It was just another day – Wednesday, May 14th, 2008. Really, it was just another day – in the middle of the week, in the middle of the month, and almost in the middle of the year. It was beautiful weather, a little cool maybe, but a great morning for a quiet ride to work. Little did anyone know it could have been my last

I showered, shaved, and got ready for a day at the office like I had for the last eight years. I got on my motorcycle like I did most days for the last four years. I chose the Yamaha TW200 this day for reasons I will probably never remember. (I actually hope I never do.) I rode to the end of our dirt road and then headed west on Georgia 16. My wife left about the same time or shortly after, but she headed east on Georgia 16.th

About 10 miles down the road, my wife saw a Georgia State Police car speeding west with its blue lights flashing. Immediately, she felt sick in the pit of her stomach. She resisted a strong urge to turn around and follow the trooper. She said to herself that she had no way of knowing where the police car was going, but she felt deep in her heart that she was sure what had happened. The only question was “How bad was it?” My wife kept driving, and less than a mile down the road, a Spalding County sheriff’s car in front of her flipped on its blue lights, pulled a U-turn, and flew past her, going west on 16. The sickness in my wife’s stomach got worse, but once again, she fought the urge to turn around. She didn’t know anything for sure, and cops do that all the time, so she kept driving.

Shortly after, my wife’s cell phone rang. She looked at the number, and it all but confirmed her worst fears. It was from my cell phone, and I never used my phone while I was riding. Since I had left the house less than 20 minutes earlier and since it is at least a 30-minute ride to my office, this couldn’t be good. Still she had hope that maybe I forgot something or just broke down and was calling to let her know. But, as soon as she heard the voice on the other end, she knew. A man’s voice confirmed what she suspected when he asked, “Do you know an older gentleman who rides a motorcycle?” All she could say was “How bad is it? Is he alive?”

He told her I was alive. My wife said she was on her way there, but he told her not to come out 16 because the whole road was blocked. He told her to head for downtown Atlanta because they were life-flighting me there. He didn’t know which hospital yet, but he would call and let her know as soon as he found out.

This all seemed to be happening in slow motion, but the next few hours were a blur. My wife doesn’t remember stopping to turn around, but she found herself headed back to the house to get things she knew she would need – like the phone numbers of family and my office. She was not a person who prayed much, but she took time to ask God to help and keep me alive if He could. My wife did not give much more thought to that prayer, but God apparently did.

The only thing resembling a clear memory between the Sunday before the accident and the first week of August is of a canyon I was looking into. I was about to step in or float in or something when I felt a beautiful and powerful presence surround me and pull me back from the edge. I don’t know how I knew, but I knew it was my wife, Bonnie, pulling me back from wherever I was headed.

I believe with all my heart that that happened when I was in the life-flight helicopter. The medical reports say they had to revive me twice while flying me to Atlanta. I feel that, during that time, God heard my wife’s simple and sincere prayer and sent her spirit to the edge of the Valley of the Shadow of Death to bring me back because He was not finished with me yet. He wasn’t finished with either one of us.

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

I didn’t fully realize anything for about two and a half months. On the second or third day I was in the hospital, my wife, Bonnie, knew something was not right. She told the kids, “He’s not in there.”

2 Rodney Smith ICU

Rodney Smith – Brain Injury Survivor

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

I was treated at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, Georgia. Grady is a very good trauma center. It’s staffed with Emory University doctors. They did a great job with my broken jaw and broken wrist, fixing those with titanium plates and screws. They did a CT (computerized tomography) scan and found some bleeding on the brain. Since I could talk and tell them a birth date (actually, a wrong one), they didn’t refer me for any kind of rehab. Bonnie kept telling them that something was wrong. On the day of my discharge, they had an evaluation done and decided to refer us to a neurologist.

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

Maybe 36 hours

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)?

After working our way around the medical system for two and a half months, we finally got to a neurologist who at least knew she couldn’t effectively evaluate me. We were referred to Shepherd Center in Atlanta. This was the turning point in my recovery. Shepherd Center is one of the top ten rehabilitation hospitals in the country. They specialize in spinal cord and brain injury rehab.

3 Rodney in HospitalHow long were you in rehab?

I spent about three months in the Shepherd Pathways Day Program, which is their outpatient brain injury rehab. I had sessions three times a week in speech therapy, occupational therapy, and physical therapy.

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

I have short-term and working memory problems. I lost most of my ability to multitask. I have problems with balance. Problem-solving takes much longer than it did pre accident. I have issues with dyslexia. I tend to cry more easily.

10. How has your life changed?

Is it better?

My life is better in that I appreciate things more and care more about things that really matter. I care less about things that don’t matter. My attention to detail is better when it comes to the one detail I can focus on (see how my life is worse).

Is it worse?

My life could be considered worse because I can only focus on one thing at a time. Because of this, people around me can’t depend on me the way they used to. But, there’s a flip side to that. When I work on a project, my single-mindedness allows me to focus on what I am doing and be more precise than before the injury. Those days, my mind was often on many things at the same time.

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

I miss being able to solve problems quickly.Decisions

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

I enjoy spending quality time with my wife, Bonnie, and my kids and grandkids. I also enjoy building things and working at my own pace.

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

I don’t like that it is still very difficult to make decisions. It takes me what seems like forever to weigh options and decide on anything. Bonnie makes a game of it, sometimes continuing to give me options. That’s frustrating, but amusing.

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

I accept it because I see that God has a plan, and I’m still part of it.

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

Yes. Bonnie and I are closer now. But, her life is more difficult because she doesn’t know what I will remember and what I won’t, so she has to remember everything just in case.

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

Not really. My social life is not much different, since I was kind of a loner and spent most of my time with family anyway.

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

Bonnie is my main caregiver and my angel. I know it is a very difficult task. I am very thankful every day for what she does.4 Rodney Smith Sideboard

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

I hope to be building furniture and fixing things for many years to come.

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.

One thing Bonnie and I have discovered is that, since my memory can’t be relied upon, I now use my camera phone and take pictures of everything I might need to refer to later.

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

There is hope and purpose after brain injury.

 

Thank you, Rodney for taking part in the SPEAK OUT! project

To learn more about Rodney Smith, visit his website, Hope After Traumatic Brain Injury

Take a few moments and pop over to Lash & Associates Publishing to read Rodney Smith’s article, “Brain Injury Adjustments: Self-Reinvention.”

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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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