TBI – Survivors, Caregivers, Family, and Friends

Posts tagged ‘Traumatic Brain Injury Caregiver’

TBI Tales . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Knitting through the Honeymoon

Knitting through the Honeymoon

by Liza Spears

presented

by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

bride-and-groom-clipart-14I’ve been married for almost seven months. Since my wedding, I’ve knit twenty-five hats, five sweaters, three scarves, and one blanket.

I started my first “married life” knitting project on the third day of my honeymoon. It was a ribbed seed stitch hat in my wedding colors–deep reds and purples. I pretended that it was for my husband, even though I knew there was way no he’d wear such a feminine pattern.Liza Spears Wedding Photo

I started the hat over more times than I can count. I didn’t start over because of any mistakes–I hadn’t dropped a stitch or miscounted any rows. The pattern wasn’t complex. I just knew each time I finished that it wasn’t quite right. Every time I got to the last row of the hat, I’d finish as instructed–threading the yarn through the remaining stitches and pulling it tight. Instead of weaving in the ends, though, I’d just completely undo the whole thing and start from the beginning.

I knew how to knit before I got married, but I never trusted myself to do anythingclipart-knitting-DP2n1R-clipart more complex than a simple hat, knit in the round, just knit, purl, knit, purl. I’m happy to say that out of the twenty-five hats I’ve knit since my wedding day, not a single one is that old favorite of mine. Before the wedding, I avoided new patterns because I avoided counting as much as possible. How could an activity be fun if it involved math?

Liza Spears 062418

Liza Spears – Knitter Extraordinaire

It was that third day of my honeymoon and that brand-new hat pattern that taught me how much I needed to count stitches. I learned that if I was counting stitches, I wasn’t counting other things, like the number of the days my husband had been in the ICU (intensive care unit) or the number of nurses that cried when they saw me. If I focused on the 44 stitches I had to cast on to a pair of size 11 needles, I might not notice that his ICP (intracranial pressure) levels* kept creeping up. The number 44 isn’t so scary when it’s just the number of stitches in a row, but when it’s the number flashing on your husband’s monitor next to “ICP” as one of his nurses ushers you out and three doctors rush in, it is scary.

I wasn’t supposed to have time to knit on my honeymoon. I was supposed to be rappelling down waterfalls in the Azores and soaking in thermal baths, but you can’t do that when you wake up in the middle of your wedding night to the sound of your husband falling down the stairs. Going to the bathroom should be easy. It shouldn’t end with your husband lying in pool of his own blood. The first time you use the phrase “my husband” shouldn’t be when calling 911, and as much as you love your bridesmaid, she isn’t the person you should be sharing your bed with. I wasn’t supposed to spend the third day of my honeymoon in the waiting room of the ICU sobbing with my mom, not understanding why my husband wasn’t awake, and what it meant that his nurse had kicked me out.

In the waiting room, I just focused on the ribbing of the hat. Knit 3. Purl 2. Repeat. I was already switching to larger needles to begin the rest of the hat when my husband’s nurse came out and told me I should say goodnight. The pressures in my husband’s brain were just too high for any extra stimulation, even if I just sat next him counting my knits and purls.

The hospital called me at 4 am the next morning to tell me that they were rushing my husband in for an emergency decompressive craniotomy. They could no longer control the rising pressure in his brain with medication alone, so they removed half of his skull.

I realized I’d have to adjust my hat pattern if it was going to fit my husband’s new head, so I started over, knitting and counting the stitches until he woke up.

*Intracranial pressure levels between 7 and 15 are normal. Levels above 20 are dangerous and indicate brain swelling.

To read more posts by Liza Spears, click on Knit Neutrality.

(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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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Theresa Friedle . . . . . . . (caregiver for her husband, Scott)

Caregivers SPEAK OUT!

Theresa Friedle (caregiver for her husband, Scott)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Theresa Friedle & Husband Scott IMG_20161112_102405896.jpg

 

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

Theresa Friedle

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

Tomahawk, Wisconsin, USA     theresaj4man@gmail.com

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

The survivor is my husband, Scott. At the time of the accident, Scott and I were engaged. We were married on June 3, 2017.

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

The accident happened two days before Scott’s 47th birthday.

What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

We were both working as truck drivers. Scott was picking up a load of plywood, which needed to be tarped. Something happened when he was on top of the load spreading out the tarp, and he fell anywhere from thirteen to nineteen feet (depending on if he was standing upright). He landed on his head on a concrete floor.

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

Scott’s injury happened on October 27, 2016. It took me ten and a half hours to get to him. I’ve been at his side ever since then.

Were you the main caregiver?

At first, the doctors and nurses were Scott’s caregivers. When he was discharged from rehab on December 22, I became his main caregiver.

Are you now?

Yes

How old were you when you began care?

I was 46 years old.

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

At home, I had a young adult daughter, who was expecting her first child, as well as my younger two children (older teenagers).

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

Yes. I was working for the same company as my (now) husband. I had a permit for a commercial driver’s license.truck4

If so, were you able to continue working?

No. However, I was told about a program through my state called “Family Care.” I now get paid to take care of my husband.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

I learned a great deal from the doctors, nurses, and therapists who worked with Scott. I asked a LOT of questions. However, once Scott came home, other than my family pitching in with the chores – no. It’s my job.

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

Immediately – while Scott was in the neuro intensive care unit.

Scott’s family lives quite a ways away, so, to facilitate keeping them informed of his progress, I started a Facebook page about him. It turned out to be a wonderful support system.

9. Was your survivor in a coma?

Yes. Scott was in a medically induced coma. He had a craniotomy (to allow his brain room to swell), he was intubated, and he had two ports (one for meds and the other for nutrition).

If so, what did you do during that time?

I stayed by Scott’s side – talked to him and sang to him. I prayed. I kept his family informed, etc.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? Theresa Friedle & Husband Scott IMG_20170705_220110

Yes. Scott was transported to an inpatient rehab facility closer to home. They provided him with occupational, speech, and physical therapies.

How long was the rehab?

We were there for twenty-two days. Scott continues to see speech and physical therapists twice a week.

Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

I stayed with Scott in the rehab center.

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

When Scott was first home, he needed help with almost everything! He was still in a wheelchair, and he needed assistance toileting, dressing, bathing, and more. He now walks with a cane, needs occasional help toileting, can dress himself, can help cook meals, does simple crafts, etc. He can’t drive, so I also transport him to and from wherever he needs to go.

12. How has your life changed since you became a caregiver?

Our lives have changed dramatically. Everything we do revolves around Scott’s needs, doctor appointments, and outpatient physical and speech therapy appointments. We can no longer attend church services, and we cannot go anywhere where there will be loud, noisy crowds.

Is it better?

In some aspects, yes! I get to be home with my children, and I get to see my grandson more.ITheresa Friedle & Husband Scott & Grandkids MG_20170714_083217

Is it worse?

Yes. Scott is limited as to the things we can do, and we cannot drive a semi right now – if ever.

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

I miss going to church and driving a semi. The semi meant super-long days and hard work strapping and tarping loads. Driving it was often scary with how some people drive around us. But, it was something I’ve wanted to do since I was a teenager!

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

I love that I’m able to be home with my family! I love that I get to take care of Scott, who remains a super-loving wonderful man!

14. What do you like least about brain injury?

Scott’s constantly in pain.

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

AliveWhat has helped me most is being super-grateful that Scott’s ALIVE! I feel that, even if Scott stays how he is now, we still have a great deal to be thankful for.

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

Of course it has! Every aspect of our life has changed. We had to move our bedroom to the dining room because Scott cannot climb up and down the fifteen stairs to the upper level. Our laundry room is currently being remodeled so that Scott will have a shower. Now, I have to give him sponge baths in the kitchen. My children are happier because we’re home most of the time now. Through the Facebook page I created, I was able to develop a relationship with Scott’s family. They are so warm, loving, and welcoming.

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

We seldom eat at restaurants anymore. The busyness of them overwhelms Scott. We can’t go to church for the same reason. Social events are out. Friends can only stay for an hour or so, otherwise Scott’s exhausted. At this point, most of my social life is through Facebook. Honestly, we’re NOT dwelling on that!

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

We’ve discussed a few options, but none that is viable at this point. Until we know how permanent various parts of Scott’s injuries are, we really cannot plan much of anything. We make tentative plans for a week or two at a time, knowing that we can only do them IF Scott is having a good day that day.

19. What advice would you offer other caregivers of brain-injury survivors?

Caregiver Tips -clipart-blackboard-helpful-tips-detailed-illustration-heplful-text-43676517This is a SUPER-hard job, as our emotions are involved!

Be gentle with yourself and super-patient with the PERSON you are caring for.

Join support-groups, even if you can’t physically attend a group. (I have found several through Facebook by entering “TBI support groups.” TBI=traumatic brain injury.)

Make sure you get the rest you need.

The hardest for me? ASK for help when you need it!

Celebrate each step forward. Little steps are STILL STEPS!

It’s going to be a very long road. Educate yourself about TBI.

Get involved with the therapists – you will get a better sense of what your loved one can and can’t do. (This helped me tremendously with selecting activities for Scott. I wanted to give him something that he CAN do – so he has a sense of ACCOMPLISHMENT. I praise his efforts, regardless of his success. I don’t live with Scott’s pain – but I can see how HARD various tasks are for him to do. When Scott is frustrated that he can’t do something that he used to do easily – Scott’s usually upset about household chores, etc. – I remind him that there is a HUGE difference between CAN’T and WON’T!)

Take notes when you go to various doctors. I have found that their records are often INCORRECT.

Life is very, very different than what we had envisioned, but “different” does NOT need to equate with “bad.”

Attitude is EVERYTHING!

It’s OK to cry.

It’s OK if all the chores aren’t completed every day. Your best IS good enough. Know that your best fluctuates every day – sometimes several times a day. One day you will be able to get everything that you want to do done! Woohoo! Another day, your best is simply getting out of bed!

YOU ARE NOT ALONE! 

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

Sometimes reading the answers to these questions sparks more questions. I would be happy to explain further.

 

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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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Caregivers SPEAK OUT! . . . Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

Caregivers  SPEAK OUT!  Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

(caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff)

presented by

Donna O’Donnell Figurski

 

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff

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

Sheria Westhoff-Eubanks

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

Hendersonville, Tennessee, USA

3. What is the brain-injury survivor’s relationship to you? How old was the survivor when he/she had the brain injury? What caused your survivor’s brain injury?

The brain-injury survivor is my oldest son, Jason. He was 30 years old. He was attacked from behind.

4. On what date did you begin care for your brain-injury survivor? Were you the main caregiver? Are you now? How old were you when you began care?

On Sunday, March 11, 2012, I began to care for my son in a new way. Yes, with my husband and my ex-husband. Now we are his support. I was 51years old when my son was injured.

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

No, we were not. Jason’s youngest sibling was in his first year of college.

6. Were you employed at the time of your survivor’s brain injury? If so, were you able to continue working?

Sheria Westhoff Eubanks – Caregiver for son, Jason Westhoff with Darryl Eubanks

My husband and I were both employed at the time. We both took a leave-of-absence and temporarily relocated to Illinois.

7. Did you have any help? If so, what kind and for how long?

We were so incredibly blessed with help and support from family, friends, church members, strangers, and the wonderful doctors and staff of St. Francis Hospital. There was housing for the families of patients and transportation to and from the hospital. I think we used it for almost three months. When it was time for my son’s discharge from rehab, a good friend of my son provided us with a home to stay in – rent free. We resided there for five months. Friends and family donated money, food, gift cards, and groceries. Some spent nights with Jason, so that my husband and I could both sleep. Youth Build provided my son with money for clothing. He had lost so much weight.

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

Jason Westhoff – Survivor of Brain Injury

Our support of Jason started immediately. He’s our child. We needed to be with him, and he needed us with him. He lived in Illinois, and my husband and I live in Tennessee.

9. Was your survivor in a coma? If so, what did you do during that time?

Jason was not in a coma when we arrived in Illinois, but in a few hours, he was. (A coma was induced for medical reasons.) While Jason was in the coma, we talked to him, touched him, loved on him, and played music. My husband read the Bible to him, and we prayed, cried, and believed God would heal him.

10. Did your survivor have rehab? If so, what kind of rehab (i.e., inpatient and/or outpatient and occupational, physical, speech, and/or other)? How long was the rehab? Where were you when your survivor was getting therapy?

Yes, Jason had inpatient and outpatient therapies. He had speech, physical, and occupational therapies. I think he had four weeks of inpatient therapies and about twelve weeks of outpatient therapies. We remained with him every step of the way – mainly my husband or I and his youngest sister.

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

Jason needed our care for everything but feeding himself and bathing. However, my husband had to be near the bathroom due to Jason’s issues with mobility and stability.

Jason Westhoff – Brain Injury Survivor with Parents, Sheria & Darryl Eubanks

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

Since I’ve been a caregiver, I treasure life more. I’ve experienced a lot of anxiety. I’ve had to learn my new Jason. I really can’t characterize life as “better” or “worse.” It’s just our new normal.

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

It’s not what I miss for me. It’s what I miss for my son. I miss his stamina – both physically and mentally.

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

I enjoy Jason’s heart for people, his heart to help.

15. What do you like least about brain injury?

I don’t like the constant restarts.

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

Yes. The Fathers and Sisters at St. Francis helped me remain focused on one moment at a time. This is what it is!

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

Yes, it has. We talk to Jason a lot more. We’ve had good times and bad times. I believe that our family is stronger post injury. I don’t take tomorrow for granted.

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

Initially my social life was altered, but not now.

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

Ten years from now, I will be retired and hiking in Arizona.

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

I would strongly advise other caregivers of brain-injury survivors to get connected with a support-group. You must take care of yourself to be able to support and care for your loved one. Take people up on their offers of help.

 

(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! Caregiver 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.

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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.

As I say after each post:

Please leave a comment by clicking the blue words “Leave a Comment” below this post.anim0014-1_e0-1

Please follow my blog. Click on “Follow” on the top right sidebar. (It’s nice to know there are readers out there.)

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! . . . . . . . . . . . . . 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.

Donna O'Donnell Figurski

Donna O’Donnell Figurski – author, caregiver, teacher, actor

 

 

Donna O’Donnell Figurski (caregiver) … I’m excited that BrainLine, a major brain-injury organization, accepted my article! It was the first time I published with them. The article, titled “Life Goes On: Finding a Purpose After Brain Injury,” was published on their site Monday.350x350_The_Best_Traumatic_Brain_Injury_Blogs_of_2016_BrainLine

 

 

 

Jennifer Lynn (survivor) … I am legally blind in my right eye due to a relapse post-TBI (traumatic brain injury). Nevertheless, I successfully drove to and from a concert about twenty-five miles away. Originally, a friend was going to drive us, but she found she couldn’t go. I really wanted to see Mandisa for her “Overcomer” song. Mandisa

(It could be the theme song for survivors.) I was able to convince my mom to come with me. race-car-driver-clipart-driving-clip-art1Originally, she was going to drive us back when it became dark. However, when we left the venue, I said I could drive – and I did! All the huzzahs!

 

 

YOU did it!

Congratulations to contributors!

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

(Photos compliments of contributors.)

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.

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.

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SPEAK OUT! . . . . . . . . . . . . . Faces of Brain Injury . . . . . . . . . Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

SPEAK OUT! Faces of Brain Injury – Carol Starke-Pyle

(caregiver of her son, Thomas)

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.

Carol Starke-Pyle (caregiver of her son, Thomas)

carol-starke-pyle-1

Carolyn Starke-Pyle – Caregiver for Brain Injury Survivor

 

This is my son’s story. Thomas was 43. He trained/rode horses for a living. He was very athletic, vivacious, funny, etc. He came to visit me one Sunday, and, as the day wore on, he became more and more delusional. I called an ambulance. My son knew his name, knew where he was, and walked to the ambulance. I followed to the Emergency Room. I was able to see Thomas twenty minutes later, as he was waiting in the cubicle. He could not talk – he babbled incoherently. He could not sit up or walk. He didn’t know me. He was admitted and was given many tests: a CT (computerized tomography) scan, an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging), and a spinal tap. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) was called in. It was concluded that Thomas had brain damage. After two weeks, Thomas was transferred to a neurological center. He didn’t know how to swallow, he knew NO ONE, he was in a huge crib, and he was in diapers. More the-brain-hispinal taps and more MRIs. I was told his frontal lobe looked as if a bag of M&Ms had been tossed into it. Infectious/viral disease had been ruled out. It was determined that, due to numerous concussions from falls off horses, his brain had suffered too much damage – which was IRREVERSIBLE! I collapsed when his doctor said, “The Thomas you knew a month ago is no longer with us.” He continued to tell me that my vibrant son would need a nursing home for the rest of his life.

I went onto Facebook and shared my anguish and pleaded for prayers. A prayer chain encircled the globe. Meanwhile, I attended TBI (traumatic brain injury) seminars and met with social workers and more doctors to find a special nursing home for Thomas. Two months later, on my visit, his nurse grinned and said she had a surprise. Thomas was standing up! The next week, he was walking, then talking (he made little sense, but … !), then recognizing us, and then eating by himself. As I was a teacher, I chose to stick up all sorts of stimuli – photos of family, friends, pets, and horses. horse_adoptable_bay_animated_by_hikari_yumi-d5hrf17Thomas slowly improved (contrary to the opinions of ALL specialists). After four months, with short-term memory loss and some loss of intelligence, Thomas was released. I asked his doctor to explain. He looked at me and quietly said, “It is a miracle!”

My son is back to work with horses, has absolutely NO memory of the hospital, has a touch believe-clip-art-at-clker-com-vector-clip-art-online-royalty-free-qep8hi-clipartof short-term memory loss, and is as bright as he always was. BELIEVE IN MIRACLES! I am praying for YOU ALL!

 

(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! Caregiver Interview Questionnaire for a copy of the questions and the release form.

(Clip Art compliments of Bing.)

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