• Survivor or Caregiver

TBI One Love Survivor Lisa Walraven

Hello, my name is Lisa.

I have a TBI x2 (traumatic brain injury). I am a SURVIVOR! This is my story:

I was injured last February 16, 2014. I was at work in an Alzheimer's lock unit a resident used my head as a basketball on a door. Was rushed to Pekin ER and released saying all was fine. I had a softball Knott on the back of my head couldn't walk straight, overly dizzy, blurred vision and couldn’t grip the doctor’s hands. But I was fine as he sent me home with Vicodin. So I went home. 4 days later I blacked out at home to wake up many days later at OSF not knowing what happened, where I was, I Woke up not remembering nothing, not that I had been Married, had 3 small kids nothing. I woke up asking for my parents as if I was a young kid. I was eventually released and able to go home. Where I had many issues, I couldn't walk alone, couldn't bath myself, could feed or cook for myself, studdered non stop and when over tired you couldn't even understand all I was saying, head pain out of this world, blurred vision, ringing in my ears, numbness on my entire right side.  

I had to have a caregiver for myself and my 3 children. Nothing like being 37 and can't make it to a toilet so you have an accident or if you got to go a no one’s home your crawling like an infant praying you make it. I wanted to give up then, I use to pray I'd go to sleep and never wake up. To me that was the lowest of lows someone could get to. No family in Illinois would step up and help me and yes they knew. I had to find rides to my many many appointments.  Had many months of PT, speech cognitive therapy, occupational therapy. Lost my home I had been in for almost 10 yrs.  Lost my first on my own brand new 2014 car literally 2 months old. Was homeless for several months. Kids went to their dad's. Was doing a lot better so we all (drs and I) thought end of September. Was able to work some saved every penny I made to get a home and my kids back.

 Then BAM Dizzy spells came back hard core. On my birthday this year 1-28-2015 I went to get the barbage can got dizzy lost my footing and fell face first on the concrete. Knocked me out for 5min or so. Again causing my Second TBI and more damages. The migraines that never end, shooting pains so severe morphine doesn't even touch it, pressure in my head as if it will explode from inside out always, my feet and hands going numb when ever they want, blacking out, falling non stop, forgetting all I'm doing while I'm doing it. Also getting lost driving 2 blocks and not knowing how I ended up where I was. The embarrassing studders are back severely. I've lost 3 jobs from having to miss so much work from trying to conceal my side affects. Finally, I said enough is enough and called all my Drs. I was finally deemed disabled end of January. I am back going to PT, and speech cognitive therapy 2x a week. Unless you have a TBI you honestly have no clue what we go through.

  My best analogy of me is I went from working with Alzheimer's patients to becoming an Alzheimer's patient in so many ways were the same yet different diagnosis.  One being lost in your own mind, not being able to fit all the pieces together. Forgetting so much yet remembering bits and pieces. Changing from one person to another yet the old me is still in here. It's hard to look into a mirror and not know who is staring back at you. It's hard many days to do much of anything. Many nights you don't sleep. For me to watch a Movie I have to sleep after from over exerting my brain. It literally tires me out. Most of us live by sticky notes and alarms on our phones. Those items help us keep our independence. I do not drive if I am the slightest bit dizzy. I am not allowed to drive at night my brain gets too confused with the lights coming at me. I drive to my drs and home.

My children are rarely in the car with me anymore.  I share this with you in the hopes you see I may look as most TBI SURVIVORS do but we are all FAR from it. No TBI is the same. Yet we all have similar side affects we will have for the rest of our lives. Brain injury is silent; Brain Injury's are lifelong. We take 3 steps forward and many back. It is a lifetime fight.

We all ask for acceptance, understanding, support and love. I will keep fighting my TBI, I will keep fighting to keep my family together. I get frustrated, I get angry, but I will NEVER GIVE UP!

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