Survivors SPEAK OUT! Meghan Beaudry
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)
Houston, Texas, USA email@example.com
3. On what date did you have your brain injury? At what age?
In 2009, I developed lupus, an autoimmune disease, that turned into brain inflammation. I was twenty-two. Five years later, in 2014, I had another severe brain inflammation flare in which I forgot both how to walk and much of my past.
4. How did your brain injury occur?
Lupus is an autoimmune disease.
5. When did you (or someone) first realize you had a problem?
I first realized something was wrong when I began to struggle in grad school.
6. What kind of emergency treatment, if any, did you have?
I had a difficult time getting diagnosed, so I did not receive treatment the first year I was sick. I saw seven doctors before I was diagnosed with lupus.
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?
9. What problems or disabilities, if any, resulted from your brain injury (e.g., balance, perception, personality, etc.)?
I have some short-term and long-term memory loss. While I don’t have noticeable balance problems, I have a poor sense of balance for someone my age.
10. How has your life changed? Is it better? Is it worse?
My life has changed in many ways since I’ve survived brain inflammation. In some ways, it has improved. I’m more fearless and confident. Because living with brain injury and lupus takes up so much energy, I have little energy for negative thoughts and people who might hold me back
11. What do you miss the most from your pre-brain-injury life?
I miss being able to memorize information quickly and with little effort.
12. What do you enjoy most in your post-brain-injury life?
I never would have started writing if I hadn’t developed a brain injury. It’s been an honor to be able to share my experience so that others with brain injuries can feel less alone.
13. What do you like least about your brain injury?
I dislike the fatigue that comes with lupus, as well as worrying that I will have a memory slip when speaking, presenting, or performing.
14. Has anything helped you to accept your brain injury?
What has helped me let go of my grief is understanding that, while living with brain injury is not a choice, grief is. I’d rather only live with one chronic condition than with two.
15. Has your injury affected your home life and relationships and, if so, how?
It took a while for my family to accept that my abilities and needs were different after my diagnosis. My second episode of brain inflammation led to my divorce because my husband was emotionally unable to handle it.
16. Has your social life been altered or changed and, if so, how?
I’ve been lucky to know friends who understand my limitations, especially because of the fatigue I experience daily. In many ways, brain inflammation has deepened many of my existing friendships.
17. Who is your main caregiver? Do you understand what it takes to be a caregiver?
When I was very sick and bedridden with the second brain inflammation flare, my mother-in-law moved into my house to take care of me. Her selflessness and positive energy were huge factors in my recovery.
18. What are your plans? What do you expect/hope to be doing ten years from now?
I hope to have published a memoir about my experience.
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.
I use my phone to help me remember everything. There are so many apps to help you keep track of 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?
Always remember that the lowest point in your injury/life is not the point at which you will stay forever.
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