Personal Stories [with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)]

Personal Stories [with Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)]


[ Music ]>>Interviewer: The Brain Injury
Guide and Resources is a tool for professionals,
community members and family to understand Traumatic
Brain Injury, as well as how to promote better living for
those who live with a TBI. In this interview we will
talk with Andrea Buening, a TBI survivor and member of the Missouri Head
Injury Advisory Council, to learn how TBI
changed her life. And Andrea, thank you very
much for being with us. We appreciate it.>>Andrea Buening:
Thank you for having me.>>Interviewer: First
of all Andrea, how did you sustain your
Traumatic Brain Injury?>>Andrea Buening: I was
driving back to my home on a really simple two-lane
road that had no shoulders and a truck was passing on
a hill, and I took the ditch on my side of the road,
and he took the ditch with me and hit me head-on.>>Interviewer: And what sort
of injuries did you sustain?>>Andrea Buening: I have
a Traumatic Brain Injury and I have a massive mandibular
fracture with 17 screws, and I was in a coma for seven
weeks and I have no memory of anything probably
for about three months.>>Interviewer: And your
son was in the car too.>>Andrea Buening: Yes, he was.>>Interviewer: And what
injuries did he sustain?>>Andrea Buening: He
had a massive amount of orthopedic injuries
to his hip. He didn’t end up with a brain
injury, but he was trapped in the car for two hours.>>Interviewer: And then you
spent a considerable amount of time in the hospital,
didn’t you?>>Andrea Buening: Yes, I did. I spent four months in-patient,
and then seven-and-a-half months in an out-patient
program that was there at the hospital campus. But I started out
at KU Medical Center and I was there for three weeks.>>Interviewer: And
tell us about the kind of therapy you received
during that time.>>Andrea Buening: I had
recreational therapy. I had occupational therapy, speech therapy and
physical therapy.>>Interviewer: And you were
telling me earlier, Andrea, that you were able to get
access to some of this treatment that you needed because
you had a strong advocate.>>Andrea Buening: Yes, I did. My mother and my family members
were extremely strong advocates for me. If they had, If my mother
had not been an advocate for me early on when I was
at the hospital in Kansas, I would have ended
up in a nursing home. But my mother found the Missouri
Head Center in the phone book, and she spoke with them
and they agreed to take me. And the rest is history. She’s been a wonderful
advocate for me.>>Interviewer: Is
that something that I’m sure you highly
recommend for families who are dealing with
this sort of situation, that they be strong advocates?>>Andrea Buening: Extremely so. And the more they learn
about brain injury, the better that their
survivor is going to do as far as accessing services
and accessing help. And if in any possible way
they can get in touch with them and The Independent Living
Center, then they should.>>Interviewer: I’m sure
this was a long haul. You had to be very patient,
I’m sure, in your recovery.>>Andrea Buening: Well,
probably the first, well, the first two years I
was probably in a fog. While I was in the hospital
I definitely was in a fog because I just went
along with the program. I had people say well, you’re
so courageous, you’re so strong, you know, you’re this. And I’m like, I just did
what they told me to do. You know, I felt like
that they were the ones with the education, and
they knew better than I did. And if they told me to do
something, I didn’t argue about doing it necessarily. Not all the time anyway.>>Interviewer: Were
you encouraged by the progress that
you were making? Could you sense that you
were making progress?>>Andrea Buening: I had no
clue about what I was doing or why I was doing it or part. I mean I knew that I
was in a wheelchair. I knew that I couldn’t walk. I knew that I couldn’t
remember things. And I also knew that
I couldn’t leave. But I really did not have any
awareness of what was going on around me as far as
other people’s thoughts and if I was making
progress or not. I really did not know.>>Interviewer: Well, today you’re obviously
functioning very well. Can you tell us about how the
Traumatic Brain Injury has affected your life?>>Andrea Buening: Well, okay. I had, I’ve had three
neuropsychological evaluations, and the first one was done very
soon after my injury and I was, it did not come out well at all. My second one was done while
I was going through Voc Rehab when I was still
at the hospital. But the last one was done
a year-and-a-half ago, and it was requested by the
Disability Support Services at the university that
was I was involved in. And at that time the
neuropsychologist told me something that was,
gave me a lot of hope and gave me a lot
of encouragement. He told me that IQ has nothing
to do with functional outcome. And he would not even tell
me what my results were from the testing
until he had told me that I was functioning far above what they expected
me to function. So that really made
me feel good.>>Interviewer: What sorts of
things are easy for you now or difficult for you to do?>>Andrea Buening: Organization
is a constant thing that I have to work on all the time. I live by a schedule and
my life is by a schedule. I have to know where
I’m going exactly, and I have to know how long it’s
going to take me to get there. I have to use a GPS that speaks
to me rather than reading a map because I obviously
can’t do that. And multitasking is difficult, as it is for most people
with brain injuries. Speaking can sometimes
be difficult. If I start, if I get
nervous or if I get stressed in any way I’ll start stuttering
and I won’t remember words. Or I’ll say red when
I mean blue. Or I’ll, they call that
word finding problems. And I get really
exhausted easily and I, if I get too much
going on at once, I have a tendency to overload. And it’s kind of like, you
know how circuitry, you know, in a home will overload
and it flips the breakers? Well, that’s me.>>Interviewer: And your work on the Missouri Head
Injury Advisory Council, Andrea, tell us about that. Why do you think
that’s important?>>Andrea Buening: People with
brain injuries need an advocate. Throughout the state they
need an advocate, they, their families, for one,
because they need them. The families usually are able
to make decisions for them that they can’t make
for themselves. An advocate at the state
level is very important, because people with brain
injuries don’t have enough services available to them. And many times the normal
population does not understand what a person with a brain
injury needs and what a person with a brain injury wants., and they have a hard time
communicating those things. And an advocate at the state
level is extremely important, because we can make more
of a difference there than we can oneonone .>>Interviewer: What
advice would you have for others facing a TBI
and their family members?>>Andrea Buening:
Learn everything you can about what’s available. Learn everything you can
about brain injury in general. The one thing I did for
myself was when I got out of the hospital and I was
at home, I spent a lot of time on the internet just reading, just reading information
about brain injuries. I learned a lot about
myself that way.>>Interviewer: All
right, Andrea. Thank you so much for sharing
your story with us today. Thank you for watching
this interview on How a TBI Affects a Life, service of the Brain
Injury Guide and Resources. [ Music ]

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