TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Survivng Traumatic Brain Injury’

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.)

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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.

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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.

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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.”

**********

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!

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . Ina M. Dutkiewicz (survivor)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Ina M. Dutkiewicz (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.

Ina M. Dutkiewicz (survivor)

Dutkiewicz, Ina M. Survivor 2 041316

Ina M. Dutkiewicz- Brain Injury Survivor

I had a near-fatal car accident on my way to work on February 3, 2010. I was immediately put into a coma from the violent crash, and I stayed in that coma for over four weeks. My pelvis was broken on both sides from my seat belt. When I woke up, I was classified as “not weight bearing” (wheelchair-bound). I slowly moved to a walker, and then to a cane. Now I can navigate without the cane if the weather is nice and not snowy or icy. I had to learn to walk again (I still have gait problems), as well as relearn to swallow and eat. (They started me out with ice cream! 🙂 ) I also had to do disability driving lessons before I could drive again.

It has been a long, scary road these past seven years. I was not willing to give up on myself, and I gave my all and then some to my recovery. I am hoping to someday return to work part-time.

Thank you Ina M. Dutkiewicz for sharing your story.

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(Photos compliments of contributor.)

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TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Caregivers, We Appreciate You

Caregiver’s We Appreciate You

by

Penny Byler

byler-penny-survivor

Penny Byler – Brain Injury Survivor

For the caregivers and families of us survivors, I know there is so much you can never understand about what we live with every day. But, please know that all you do is noticed and appreciated. Sometimes, we just don’t have the words to let you know that we understand that, on the day our life as we knew it completely ended, you also lost someone.

caregiver-supports-clipart-1Most of you never had the chance to mourn the loss of the loved one you knew because you were too busy helping this “new” person fit in where your dreams for your loved one left off. Although we don’t always show it, your kindness, love, support, and acceptance are noticed and appreciated. Thank you for never giving up on us. You help us know we can continue. We may not have the words to use when we need them, but you will see it in our eyes, by a touch of the hand, or when we smile.

You are a very important part of our recovery. You are noticed. You are appreciated.

 

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! Mark Moore

Survivors SPEAK OUT!  Mark Moore

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

moore-author-photo

Mark Moore – Bran Injury Survivor & Author

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

Mark Moore

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

McLean, Virginia, USA     mark@mbmoorefoundation.org

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

2007   At age 46

4. How did your brain injury occur?

I had two strokes.

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

I was coaching my son’s baseball practice, and I began to lose my balance.

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

I had a craniectomy (brain surgery in which a piece of the skull is removed, but, unlike a craniotomy, is not returned to its original location) to relieve the pressure on my brain.

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

Yes. I was in a coma for four weeks.

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, occupational therapy, and speech therapy as an inpatient for two weeks and then as an outpatient for two months.

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

Initially I had significant diminished use of my left side and loss of peripheral vision in my left eye. I couldn’t walk or speak.

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

Having a stroke was the worst day AND the best day of my life. It was the worst day because it was scary and it was one of the first times I realized that I had no control over the outcome. It was scary for my wife and my family. When I found out that I had basically been “asleep” for nearly six weeks, I was scared all over again. I had to face the fact that I might not walk, talk, or think like Mark Moore ever again. In fact, I had to recognize that the “old” me might actually be gone. At that moment, it felt like the worst thing I could imagine.

Mark & Brenda Moore with Obamas.jpg

Mark & Brenda Moore with President & Mrs. Obama

As I struggled with those concerns though, I remembered my mother’s words – words I had forgotten, words she had spoken to me during her own health crisis. She said, “Mark, God will never give you more than you are able to handle.” Those words impacted me and turned me around. I was slowly able to stop thinking just of myself. I started thinking about God and what He could do and would do with my life now. He could pick up the pieces of this broken version of me and heal me – create in me the person he meant for me to be. That thought began to work in me, and though I knew it wouldn’t be easy, I also knew that, with God’s help, I could let go of the old Mark and become a new man.

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

Riding rollercoastersroller-coaster-thought-of-the-day-jewels-art-creation-clip-art

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

I enjoy my relationship to God.

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

I dislike the constant scanning to drive

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

Having a stroke meant I had to learn to surrender. I had to face the fact that my abilities as a “fix-it guy” were not going to come to the rescue. I had to do something that was hard for me to do. I had to be willing to give up my illusions of who Mark Moore was and hold on for dear life to who God is. That’s surrender! That’s where everything you thought you knew comes to a halt and God finally has enough of your attention to help you become what He planned all along.

When I first looked at what was going to be required of me in the recovery process, I did not want to do it. I thought it would simply be easier if God just shut me down, packed me up, and sent me back to His house. But, He didn’t do that! He kept me in the hospital for several weeks and then sent me back to my house. He showed me that recovery meant I had to totally trust Him and my wife, Brenda, and the therapists, who would bring me back to good health.

mark-moore-brain-injury-survivor-dc-marathon

Mark Moore – Brain Injury Survivor – 5K Race

Starting therapy looks daunting. It is daunting, and it’s even frightening! Everything in me resented that I had to be there and that I had to learn all over again things I’d known all my life. If you’re facing therapy and recovery now, all I can tell you is to do what you’re told to do. Make the effort. Try harder than you’ve ever tried in your life, and lean on the people who love you. Open your heart and mind to all that can still be possible for you. That’s what surrender requires. That’s what trusting God is all about. You’ll be in recovery for a long time (maybe the rest of your life), but you’ll be in good hands in the process.

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

One day (May 12, 2007), I had a stroke, which was followed by another one. I was fine one minute and fighting for my life the next. In the process of recovering from those strokes, I discovered something I had not fully realized before. God had a plan for my life. He had a purpose for me, and I was not on the path He preferred. In one day, my life changed, and my purpose changed with it. To be honest, when I discovered God wanted something more from me, I was relieved. Clearly, there was more I could do, and it didn’t always revolve around the work I had carved out for myself. I was relieved to know that I could step back from the life I designed and be far more comfortable in the one He designed.

basketball-clipart17My friends were amazed when I did not show any interest in simply going back to work. They thought it was strange that I did not want to play basketball, a game I had loved playing all my life. What I did want to do was to please God. What energized my spirit and resonated with my soul was to do the things God wanted – to fulfill His purposes in me.

What a difference a day makes! What joy it is to my heart that God was with me through the strokes and is with me now to guide me into being the Mark Moore He always knew I could be. What a joy it is to live more intentionally and more fully awake to the places He would have me go.

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

Not really

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

I don’t have or need a caregiver.

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

When God had my attention as I lay in a hospital bed, He asked me a new question. Whose job is it to help others? Whose job is it to make a difference? Whose job is it to spread the gospel? The answer was the same in every case. It was MY job! God had blessed my work and made it possible for me to bless others. He took me out of the race in which I’d driven laps for twenty years and said, “I have something new for you. I want you to slow down and hear what I have to say.” I stopped then and listened.

God didn’t “give me a stroke.” He used the stroke to give me a new purpose. He used the situation to help me hear His voice more clearly and to understand the job He had in mind. Whose job is it … to do good, to help others, to lend a hand? It’s mine, and it’s yours! Let’s use whatever resources we have been blessed with to help those around us. It will fulfill our life-purpose like nothing else can do.

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.

It was interesting to me after my stroke experience to discover that I did not want to be “naked” in front of my family – in front of the people who knew me the best. Like Adam and Eve, I wanted to hide so they would not discover my fear and sense my weakness.

As I looked back at my initial reactions to my strokes, I realized we can’t hide from the people who know us well and love us any more than we can hide from God.

mark-brenda-moore

Mark & Brenda Moore

My wife did not want me to hide from her. She was ready to help me – ready to stand beside me and offer me her strength. My friends were like that too. Caregivers and hospital personnel were set to help me, but I had to be willing to be “naked.” I had to be willing to let them see my weaknesses and my vulnerability. I was not the person I had been; I needed their strength.

Another thing that was extremely helpful during my stroke recovery was that I began to regularly put on my headphones to listen to gospel music. The effort to re-establish my fine-motor skills was sometimes grueling, and I wasn’t always sure I could do it. Gospel music comforted me and helped me get through the ordeal. It reminded me over and over again of what Jesus did to give me life, to lift me up, and to restore my soul. It also reminded me that there was nothing I was going through that Jesus did not experience. He paid the price so that I could be restored eternally, spiritually, and physically to this day.

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

One thing I tell everybody is that you can’t recover from a stroke or any debilitating illness without the help of your family, your friends, and your faith. It can take days, weeks, or months to see any real change in the things you are able to do physically. That means that mentally and emotionally you have to lean on the things that boost your morale and make a difference in your attitude. When it comes to the kind of help your family, friends, and faith can give in your recovery, it all depends on YOU!

I say it depends on you because you are the only one who can let others in to help make a difference. Your spouse can come to your aid every day and cheer you on and encourage you, but it won’t do any good unless you’re willing to receive it. I can admit that there were times when I didn’t really let my wife, Brenda, in. I was scared, and I didn’t want her to know it. I didn’t want to have to tell her that I didn’t think I could do what it took to recover. She had known me as a guy who was a go-getter – someone who rose to the occasion to get things done. After the stroke, though, I didn’t always believe that I had that same courage.

Friends stood beside me as well and helped me get the message that a lot of people cared and were rooting for me. They wanted me to get better and to become the old Mark again.

 

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

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

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My name is Michelle Munt and this is my story about surviving a brain injury and what I continue to learn about it. This is for other survivors and their loved ones, but also to raise awareness of what can happen to those in an accident. This invisible injury too often goes undiagnosed and it can be difficult to find information about it. I will talk about things that have helped me as I continue to recover and invite others to see if it works for them too.

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