Welcome to my blog Recovery Thyme. October 2, 2010, I was a senior in high school, excited about my decision to apply to culinary school. Sometimes, just like cooking, the recipe doesn’t quite work out the way you thought it would. That night I was the passenger in a car, when a truck T-boned my door at 72mph. My injuries were so severe, I literally had to start my life all over again from scratch. We never heard of Traumatic Brain Injury and after the doctors saved my life they couldn’t give us a recipe to follow for recovery because every brain is different and every brain heals differently.
My family and I have been working very hard with lots of therapists to regain the everyday functions we all take for granted. In addition to physical, occupational and speech therapy, my mom created Cooking Therapy. We used my love for cooking and dream to become a chef to motivate our mantra “Never Give Up and Never Give In.” When I get frustrated that I can’t do something I used to be able to do easily, she reminds me; just imagine if the best chef’s gave up? What if they added an ingredient that didn’t taste right? What if every dish was burned? They’d never learn how to perfect the taste or timing of a dish to deliver the perfect entrée.
The most common question a chef is asked is, “Where do you start?” Funny thing is, that’s what my mom and I are asked from people learning about Brain Injury recovery. There are a lot of challenges learning to cook; and after my injury, re-learning how to eat, walk and talk again. Recovery Thyme will not only be a blog to share culinary recipes, but also resources and techniques we’ve used to help me recover. One of the hardest daily challenges I have to deal with is my memory loss. This is also the hardest part for me to explain. I get really frustrated when I can’t remember something. I can only remember key points of my life, not everyday; which is annoying. So, mom is going to be my sous chef to help write this blog.
My inspiration for Recovery Thyme comes from many places. First and foremost, I’m inspired by my grandmother, Dedema. She was a great home cook because she had a lot of children; eight to be exact! She had to learn how to cook for picky eaters and shop on a budget. Dedema also inspired me for personal reasons. She had cancer when I was in middle school. She was very brave and never let it show how scary it was for her. She used to say, “It’s not the challenge you face, but how you face the challenge.” I think of my grandmother never giving up, no matter what challenges she faced. That’s why I won’t give up on my dream to become a chef.
I love to watch TV cooking shows like Master Chef with Gordon Ramsay and Top Chef with Tom Colicchio. I think I can relate to the pressure of the elimination or quickfire challenges every time I have to be tested for extended therapy coverage with my health insurance. It’s been exciting to meet local chefs too. My first teachers, Chef Young and Chef Dietrich, began my culinary education at my technical high school. As I’ve gotten stronger and can get out more, my mom and I have taken cooking lessons from local chefs. Chef Dave Allen, from Tavern on Camac in Philadelphia, came to my house and taught me how to cook homemade pasta, and I inspired him to learn how to make his first Chicken Marsala. Another inspiring experience was meeting Chef Christina Wilson, the winner of Season 10 of Hell’s Kitchen. She was fun to meet and easy to talk to. She and I not only share our hometown of Philadelphia, but a love of cooking every day.
I hope Recovery Thyme will nurture your health, happiness, and your appetite! Please feel free to ask me for advice, help inspire you to find a recipe, or even how we overcome personal challenges.
Sooooo, “what’s for dinner?”