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Here’s what happened.
BEST recently began the journey in Eastern Washington as an organizer and participant in the Inland Northwest Brain Injury Symposium held at Eastern Washington University in Spokane, Washington on April 19-20, 2018. This unique learning environment brought together medical and health professionals, brain injury survivors, caregivers and other community supporters for important conversations, awareness and education.
BEST Executive Director. Gloria Kraegel, appreciated the experience.
“Having a symposium like this in Eastern Washington is a great opportunity to share information and experiences with professionals, legislators, educators, and the community at large. The theme, Education, Awareness, and Connection, was right on target.”
Kraegel continues, “I liked the fact that the mix of presenters and panels were diverse and covered a lot of the things we are concerned about; caregiving, employment, identity, services, and legislation.”
BEST’s Executive Director, Gloria Kraegel, had the opportunity to attend and participate in the 17th Annual Saying It Out Loud Conference that was held on April 23, 2018 in Tacoma, Washington. Hosted by the Department of Social and Health Services’ (DSHS) Behavioral Health Administration’s (BHA) Division of Behavioral Health and Recovery (DBHR), the conference educates how to better serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning plus communities. This year’s theme, Beyond the Binary, focused on behavioral health and included workshop sessions that ranged from identity to identifying challenges in accessing care.
For Kraegel, she was nothing short of impressed by this special day of learning, caring and sharing.
“I was impressed with the available resources and especially the fact that this is the 17th annual Say It Out Loud Conference sponsored by DSHS. This says a lot about how Washington State strives to support its diverse populations and meet the needs of our varied communities.”
BEST thanks the organizers of both of these events for the special and memorable experiences.
We believe there are real-life superheroes among us and we want to know about it!
The Brain Energy Support Team (BEST) has monthly program to honor, recognize and celebrate the superheroes of the brain injury community. Check out the details by clicking HERE and nominate your superhero today!
But in this space, I get to step up and be the lead singer sometimes.
You know what it’s like: some days you can feel like you can take on the world and handle the worst it can throw at you. Other days, just getting out of bed takes a heroic effort.
The last few days, for me, it’s taken all I have just to stay awake for very long. And even when I can stay awake, it’s often for not more than three hours or so. Let’s see if I can stay awake long enough to dash off a few words here.
I’ve been going through one of those times we all go through, that I feel like I’ve lost ground, that for every positive step forward, I’ve lost ten steps. It’s frustrating; sometimes I feel sharp and on top of things. Other times I feel that if brain-eating zombies attacked, I wouldn’t have anything to worry about. I get that feeling sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing, when I catch myself repeating something I had just written.
And I get that feeling sometimes when I’m in the middle of writing, when I catch myself repeating…oh, wait.
I’ve had many days where I’ve been able to feel genuinely happy about my overall rate of recovery. Things like the overwhelmingly positive comments and reinforcement I get from people like you are certainly a big help and an important aid in my recovery. And my doctors–I’ve been lucky to have supportive and caring doctors, who tell me I’m on the right track and encourage me to continue what I’m doing. They tell me to keep my attitude going, and that my stubbornness and resolve will see me through this. They all seem very happy with my mental state, and sometimes I am too.
But you know that feeling you get sometimes when you enter a room and can’t remember what you came in for? I get that kind of feeling, but stretched out over hours at a time, like I came to this planet for some reason but can’t remember whatever for. I’ve felt like that a lot lately. And on those days, it’s easy to forget about all the progress I’ve made and feel like I’m back to square one.
I also have ups and downs with the neuromuscular aftereffects from my stroke. The dizziness, lack of balance, weakness, lack of coordination, lack of stamina; all these things are kind of better on some days and worse on others. I still find it impossible to run or even to walk and carry myself with the grace and poise that I always had before. On the best of days, I still walk like one of the walking dead. I don’t even want to try to describe how I move on the bad days.
But having setbacks is part of the deal when you have a traumatic brain injury, just as it is in so much of life. I constantly need to remind myself that I’ll have peaks and valleys and plateaus, and times that make me feel like I’m not making any progress at all. All I can do when I feel like I’ve fallen is to get back up, brush the dust off my jeans and keep going. There’s a saying about how it’s not how many times you get knocked down that matters, it’s how many times you get back up, and I believe that.
I don’t think I would do myself any favors if I wallow in self-pity or beat myself up over every little setback. The down days don’t matter in the long run, but the up days do. I can, and need to, give myself credit for my overall progress–to carry on and maintain the upward trajectory I’ve established and not focus on the negative. My recovery hasn’t been on a straight line, but I can’t let that get to me. I can’t let myself believe that every time I don’t hit the mark means that I’ve failed. I can only fail if I give up and don’t try. If my overall trajectory is in the up direction, I think I should be happy about that.
I should take it to heart when people around me tell me how noticeable my progress has been and resolve to keep doing the things I’ve done that made them notice. I need to keep those things in mind and in focus, since they help give me the strength and courage to carry on. I know from constant feedback from all quarters that when I feel like I’m stuck and feel like a complete doofus that the people around me are not seeing me that way–they have let me know they think they are seeing the opposite. Some of the greatest compliments I’ve received were when I’ve felt I was at my lowest.
I can embrace my strengths and acknowledge my weaknesses and learn either to live with them or work to overcome them. No one said this life thing was going to be easy, and brain injury survivors know how hard it really can be. But life being difficult doesn’t mean we can’t ultimately be among life’s winners.
Another thing I can do is remember all the stuff I’ve told you about the power of our minds and keep trying to be an example of it. It really works, but in a long-term kind of way and usually not overnight. I just need to be patient and not let myself get sidetracked or lose sight of my goals.
I like to visualize myself achieving goal and to use positive and active imagery (visualizing myself accomplishing things). My overall goals? They are simple and straightforward: sticking to my prescription schedule; maintaining a good diet and an exercise routine; and having the strength of will and the audacity to dare to keep trying to push the envelope.
What I go through is tough, but I’m tougher than my current problems. I will rule them and not let them rule me.
After all, each one of us has the main thing necessary to have a traumatic brain injury in the first place–a brain. I intend to get all the mileage out of mine that I can and move upward and onward.
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.
Did you know it’s National Volunteer Week, a week dedicated to honoring and celebrating the contributions of volunteers throughout the nation?
At BEST, we appreciate, honor and celebrate our BEST volunteers this week and every week for all of their help and support.
Since 2008, volunteer teams of extraordinary BEST superheroes have come to together to change the face of brain injury forever. Through empowerment, hard work, and mutual support, together, we’ve turned brain injury into brain energy.
Thank you, superheroes, for all that you’ve done to offer a hand up to fellow superheroes throughout the brain injury community and beyond.
YOU are making the difference today and tomorrow.