Hugs to all of our BEST friends and supporters!
Looking for a healthy and delicious recipe to try this summer? BEST Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel, has some family favorites that serve as go-to recipes all year round. Check out these great eats below!
Have a favorite healthy recipe that you’d like to share? Tell us about it!
4 Large portobello mushrooms
4 cloves fresh garlic (minced)
2 green onions (minced including green tops)
3 tablespoons salted butter
(1) Clean mushrooms and remove stems, reserve for other use. Place caps on a plate with the gills up.
(2) In a small bowl, combine melted butter, onion, garlic. Pour mixture evenly over the mushroom caps and let stand for 30 minutes
(3) Grill over hot grill for 10 minutes. Serve immediately.
Sprinkle with Parmesan Cheese and garnish with chopped parsley. These are wonderful served with a spinach salad or on a bun as a burger with whatever sides you like. Note: the cheese is optional.
1 can black beans
1/4 cup quinoa
1/2 cup water
1/2 cup bread crumbs (we like Panko Flakes)
2 tablespoons minced onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons olive oil
(1) Bring the quinoa and water to a boil in a saucepan. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the quinoa is tender and the
water has been absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.
(2) Roughly mash the black beans with a fork leaving some whole black beans in a paste-like mixture.
(3) Mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, onion, garlic, cumin, salt, hot pepper sauce, and egg into the black beans using your hands.
(4) Form the black bean mixture into 5 patties.
(5) Heat the olive oil in a large skillet.
(6) Cook the patties in the hot oil until heated through, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
This recipe is adapted from AllRecipes.com and is fantastic on a bun with cheddar cheese. Serve with whatever sides you like.
You might remember that last time, I described a regional TBI conference I attended, and that after hearing others describe their life’s experiences and challenges, I came to some realizations.This article is about three of those realizations. But before I tell you about them, let me give you some background.
I’ve written about the stroke I experienced in November of 2016. It was a major stroke, a very serious one (although I must confess I’ve never heard of a funny stroke). I apparently was in a coma for a while, and spent a month in the hospital in the acute care section. But I didn’t feel like I was stuck in there; rather, I felt like everybody else was stuck in there with me. I’ve always been kind of contrary like that.
I started planning my recovery while I was confined to that bed. I knew I was going to get much better; I HAD to get much better, because the alternative was never something I was ever able or willing to entertain, even for a minute.
Based on the severity of my stroke, the doctors seemed to believe that my outlook when I was discharged was on the dismal side. But I never believed that, or bought into it. They told my sister that I would need 24-hour-a-day round the clock care, that I’d need to have someone around when I went to the bathroom or the shower, that I’d need a walker; those kinds of things. None of them reflected the reality I chose for myself.
Although I still have quite a way to go, the way I chose seems to have me on the mend quicker than many of the medical professionals anticipated. But I had a seizure a year after my stroke; I wrote about it here in this space, and the new heavy-duty medication I have to take.
Still with me? Good, because now I can finally get around to telling you about the realizations I had after that TBI conference.
After hearing speakers talking about having to put their world back together, having to relearn how to walk, talk, or even how to make toast, it occurred to me that I didn’t have to go through any of that. No, my challenge wasn’t in relearning how to do basic things; my challenge was in finding my place in the world with my brand-new traumatic brain injury. The world hadn’t changed; I had changed. No matter how much I work, I am never going to be the same man I was before my stroke.
That man is gone forever.
How liberating that thought was! Instead of dreading my new journey or pitying myself that I don’t have the stamina that I did before, issues with my balance, the strength in my legs and arms and other physical problems, as well as problems with focus and short term memory; those problems will get better over time.
I am absolutely positive of that.
While I go about reinventing myself, I realize that I have total control over what to carry over into my new life and what to leave behind in the old one. Reinventing Isaac Peterson is a work in progress, and soon the upgrade–Isaac Peterson 2.0 will be let loose on the world.
(Actually, I’m not sure about the numbering on that, since the first time I was Isaac Peterson III. Maybe the new guy who looks like me would be Isaac Peterson IV. For now, though, I think I’ll stick with Isaac 2.0, who will no doubt be better than the prototype and a better upgrade than Microsoft ever put out.)
My brain seems to have made it through the stroke pretty much, as well as my verbal skills–how cool is THAT? That’s a major link to the old guy, and since we share the same basic experiences, I can look back and avoid the mistakes he made, and make better, smarter choices this time. I can cultivate new skills and interests and work on eliminating some old character flaws with my new perspective on things.
The second realization is about the seizure I had last fall. It seems to me now that it may not have been just a seizure. Looking back, I can see some changes in me after the experience. Since then, I have moments of what seem to be brilliant clarity, and I often find myself thinking in a way I never did before the stroke. And my intuition seems to have been bumped up a notch in ways that are beyond my ability to express in words.
It seems that, in a real kind of way, that seizure was actually my brain rebooting itself and realigning itself. I mentioned this to my primary care doctor, and he didn’t think it sounded as weird as it felt saying it. I hope I can figure out one day exactly what happened, because honestly, it feels kind of cool sometimes.
And now for the last realization; sometimes when I tell this to someone, they look at me as if I had just announced that I had been sent here from the future to save mankind. But here it is: I’m glad I had a stroke. I’m lucky it happened.
For one thing, I found what kind of stuff I’m made of, and it looks like I’m made of some pretty tough stuff. There are people who don’t survive a stroke of the type and severity of the one I had. And among those who do survive, there are those who didn’t get to bring their full mental and language faculties with them, and others who have much more difficulty with their motor skills.
My stroke forced me to change my outlook in ways I mentioned above. I don’t view my future in bleak or depressing terms, and I don’t feel sorry for myself. I’ve certainly never pitied myself. My life is going in a direction I never foresaw when I was the old me.
I now have opportunities I never would have foreseen for myself. I’m already doing things I never imagined a year ago, and I know that next year I will be doing things I haven’t thought of yet, and pursuing opportunities that are still to come.
But before I go, let me make it clear that even though I feel lucky I had a stroke (or at least lucky to live through one), I sure don’t want to have another one. That much luck, I think, is more than enough for one lifetime.
But I feel absolutely convinced of one thing for sure: As I’ve said, my future will not be written for me; it will be written by me. My legs aren’t strong enough yet for me to run again, but my spirit and my will sure are. I’ve got another chance at this, and it’s entirely up to me what I do with it.
I’ll certainly be writing about the upcoming projects and opportunities I mentioned, as they happen. I hope you will all be here to witness the roll-out of Isaac 2.0. He is really going to be something awesome and worth the wait.
Isaac Peterson grew up on an Air Force base near Cheyenne, Wyoming. After graduating from the University of Wyoming, he embarked on a career as an award-winning investigative journalist and as a semi-professional musician in the Twin Cities, the place he called home on and off for 35 years. He also doesn’t mind it at all if someone offers to pick up his restaurant tab. Peterson also welcomes reader comments. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) is honored to know the finest explorers, who have, through the written word, helped us explore the world around us and learn new things.
Many thanks to our fantastic BEST guest bloggers and writing contributors, past and present, for sharing their stories, passions, resources and more in the space. We so appreciate their excitement, positive energy and willingness to share their important words.
The following list are the names of our superhero contributors. Click on each name to see a catalog of their work and learn more about them.
You’ll be glad you did!
Interested in being a contributor? Click here to learn more and how to get started.
(the late) Michael Fitzgerald
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) Instagram page is about to be taken over!
For the week of July 23rd through July 27th, BEST teen volunteer, Erin Thompson, will take the reins as Instagram moderator, content creator and BEST ambassador on the BEST Instagram page.
Thompson, a Washington State high school student and artist, will be creating original works of art that will focus on self-care and self-care strategies. Her artwork will be posted each day on the BEST Instagram page during the scheduled week. BEST Instagram followers and supporters are welcomed and encouraged to stop by and give Erin a cyber hello and check out the artwork.
Speaking of artwork, Thompson has shared her artistic creations and message with BEST previously. Thompson’s past BEST projects include a special online original art installation about what family members and caregivers of brain injury survivors experience. Thompson had unique insight into these experiences as she is a family member of a brain injury survivor.
She also created an original art series of self-care tips for the holiday season for the BEST blog and social media.
Self-care practices have been a passion for Thompson for some time and she loves sharing what she has learned about taking care of oneself.
“Self-care helps you understand your mental health and what your body really needs,” says Thompson.
Thompson is looking forward to meeting BEST friends, fans and followers next week on Instagram. She’s a big fan herself of this particular social media platform.
“Out of all social media, it’s a more positive space,” shares Thompson.
(Editor’s Note: BEST is delighted to introduce you to our newest guest blogger, Kirsten Short! Her biography and link to her blog are noted at the end of this article. Enjoy! K.T.)
The greatest power on earth is the magnificent power that we all possess… the power of the human brain! – Charles Xavier, X-Men
The year was 2007. I was in my third year of college and was working as a barista at Starbucks. On a whim, I applied for an entry-level position at a credit union (better hours, better pay and no more cranky — don’t talk to me until I have my morning coffee — coffee drinkers). When I walked into my meeting, I recognized my interviewer as one of my Starbucks customers (let’s call her Barb). When asked what my strengths were, I said that I had a good memory and proceeded to tell them that Barb enjoys double tall sugar-free vanilla, nonfat, no-foam lattes. They hired me on the spot and for a higher paying position. Even though I was 10 years younger than my coworkers were and I was taking a full college course load at the time, I excelled in this new role. What was my secret? I had a superpower: my memory.
I never had to take notes, make to-do-lists or keep a calendar. After I read something, the information was stored in my mind’s Rolladex and I could pull out that file and read it, practically word for word, whenever I wanted. Not only did I maintain an A-average in high school and college, but it took little effort for me to consistently rank in the top of my academic peer group. Consequently, I had multiple job offers when I graduated with my business degree in 2010, and I accepted a position at one of the largest accounting firms in the country. I received my CPA designation in 2013 and had a six-figure salary at the end of 2016. My memory was my gift and I felt unstoppable.
Spoiler Alert: I was stoppable, and like every good superhero story, I found out about my kryptonite the hard way. My mild traumatic brain injury (or concussion) occurred on February 19, 2017. I fell, hit my head on the way down, and knocked myself out. My post-concussion syndrome (PCS) diagnosis came shortly afterwards when my symptoms did not improve.
My definition of PCS: the worst hangover you have ever experienced mixed with some awful emotional and cognitive problems. The following image paints a respectable picture of most of the symptoms that I dealt with (and still deal with) on a daily basis:
I could barely function most days; it did not take long for me to lose my independence, my career and my financial stability. My relationships were tested and friendships lost. Oh, and my memory was gone; the files and my Rolladex were destroyed in the fall. I wanted to give up. I wanted to die.
About ten months after my accident, I decided that I needed to pick myself up and start living again. It hit me one morning that I may never fully recover or be able to return to my job as a CPA, and instead of wishing life away, I needed to find a way to enjoy it again. I stopped wallowing in self-pity, and began practicing mindfulness, gratitude and being present. Slowly, by changing my perspective and my mindset, I started to appreciate all of the wonderful (ordinary) things that I took for granted pre-concussion. I embraced the setbacks and the pain and found happiness again. Batman famously said, Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall. I believe this wholeheartedly. I know that for everything that I have lost, I have gained something new whether that be resilience, insight, wisdom, a new skill or a greater purpose.
Yes! You heard me correctly — I found a greater purpose. (You did not think my superhero origin story* ended with my concussion, did you?).
Unfortunately, I did not have a pleasurable experience dealing with the health care system. I spent the first 48 hours post-injury pushing through my symptoms instead of giving my brain the crucial rest it needed. Why? The emergency room doctors did not initially diagnose me with a concussion. When I received the concussion diagnosis three days later, I was told to rest my brain and stay in a dark room for six weeks. I know now that this was the wrong approach to concussion management and that I should have been gradually incorporating activity into my days. Unfortunately, this injury mismanagement may have led to my delayed recovery. The terrible part, though, is that what happened to me is not an anomaly. I have witnessed how costly, lonely and frustrating it can be for survivors and their families to navigate the health care system. I cannot change my own experience, but I can work tirelessly to improve how we prevent, diagnosis, and treat brain injuries going forward.
I might not have super strength or speed, the ability to fly or read minds, or even a photographic memory, but I have passion, a story and a voice. It is because of my injury, not despite of it, that I am now able to advocate for and with brain injury survivors. This is my mission should I choose to accept it (I know that is not a superhero reference, but the quote just really worked here).
And just in case you were wondering, I would take having a purpose over a great memory any day.
Doctor Stephen Strange was onto something when he said, The greatest gift we can receive is to have the chance, just once in our lives, to make a difference.
I am a brain injury survivor and advocate. What’s your superpower?
*What is a superhero origin story? It is how a superhero becomes a superhero; it is how they come to use their power to fight for the greater good. Most— if not all — of our favorite heroes had to overcome adversity or tragedy. Batman’s parents and Spider-man’s uncle were killed inspiring them to seek justice and fight evil, Superman was from a different planet and sent to earth alone as a child. The X-Men were mutants that were terrorized for being different, etc.
Kirsten Short was born and raised in Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada. She has a Bachelor of Business Administration from British Columbia Institute of Technology and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Professional Accountants of British Columbia. From 2010 to early 2017, Kirsten worked in accounting firms where her client base consisted of small and medium-sized owner operated businesses, private companies, co-operatives, not-for-profit organizations and large public entities. Accordingly, she has a wide breadth of tax, advisory and assurance experience.
Unfortunately, Kirsten has been on medical leave since she suffered a concussion in February of 2017. However, she manages to stay positive despite her post-concussion symptoms, chronic migraines and visual snow. When not working on her rehabilitation, Kirsten takes full advantage of her ‘good’ hours by advocating for brain injury survivors and their families; this is a new passion of hers. She also enjoys yoga, reading, writing and taking her Boston Terrier, Charli, on walks. You can read more about her story on her blog: Concussions and Lawn Chairs.