Survivors SPEAK OUT! Christine Durant
Donna O’Donnell Figurski
1. What is your name? (last name optional)
2. Where do you live? (city and/or state and/or country) Email (optional)
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
I was 21.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I did when I was 13.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
7. Were you in a coma? If so, how long?
8. Did you do rehab?
What kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient or outpatient and occupational and/or physical and/or speech and/or other)? How long were you in rehab?
I went to inpatient rehab for a week or so.
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have balance and visual memory issues and some difficulty with visual identification. I had a LARGE personality change that included explosive issues and lack of impulse control. I also had double vision.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
The medical neglect caused excruciating neurological pain, but it stopped with my first brain surgery. I was a diagnostic educator. My issues made me better at what I did because I finished my undergraduate work like this and did all four of my graduate degrees with strategies I developed for myself. I believe I am better off.
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
My ability to see things differently than most folks
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
Lack of energy and visual memory issues
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
Meeting my wife and having a 25-year relationship … all post TBI
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
I am more sensitive to other people’s moods now. I can become what they are feeling.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
Everyone who was my friend at that point is not a friend now. However, I chose better after my recent brain surgery because they all helped us through it.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
I don’t really have a caregiver. I have a “care-partner.” We had an accident together twenty years ago. Someone was late for lunch and went over the yellow line – into us head-on. We help each other as life necessitates.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I would like to travel on the money from the accident while we still can. In ten years, I will be retirement age!
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.
Know that you will adjust to your new personality. Find life-giving, happy people to get you there. I went home to my mother at 21. She was always an angry woman. I didn’t realize what a toll that was taking on me until I met my sweet, wonderful, happy wife.
20. What advice would you offer to other brain-injury survivors? Do you have any other comments that you would like to add?
Give it time. Don’t be hard on yourself. Find a passion that you are able to do within the confines of your new body. My wife has a broken foot from the accident that can’t be fixed. She used to paint theatrical scenery for Broadway. She can’t do that from a wheelchair. So, she discovered she has a passion for pottery.
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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