Meet Angie

Angie Collins-Burke is the co-author of Just Pick Up the Peg: A Nurse’s Journey Back from Stroke. Just Pick Up the Peg are the words that Angie commanded her hand to do during occupational therapy—a small phrase whose repetition yielded significant and life-changing results. Her memoir inspires us all to appreciate what we have in life, thrive through difficulty, and make the most of our challenges and opportunities.

Here, Angie shares a look into her life with us.

You mention in the book that you are very stubborn. How did your stubbornness support you and help you in your recovery?

Attempting to adapt after my stroke, and begin to rebuild my life, is by far the most difficult challenge I have ever faced. There were many times I wanted to give up. There were many times I said, “I just can’t do this.” But my stubborn streak refused to allow me to stop fighting. I had to prove it to myself that I could do this. I refused to let the stroke beat me.

Please explain how your memory was impacted by your stroke.

People often say, “I have a bad memory too.” But it’s so much more than that.

Learning new tasks is extremely challenging, as I have to be shown numerous times before I can complete them. Reading is difficult as I can’t remember what I’ve just read.

I struggle to watch a television show, because I am unable to follow the plot as I can’t remember the characters or what’s already happened. I have to be told the same information repeatedly before I can remember it, and even that’s no guarantee. I rely on notes and reminders on my phone to function. Memories and information that occurred pre-stroke are fairly easy for me to access, it’s getting new information into my brain that is the main issue.

Do you have a mantra or motto?

If you tell me I can’t do something, I’ll do it twice and take pictures.

What do you hope readers get from reading your book?

I hope readers:

  • Gain an honest, realistic, and open insight into the reality of strokes from my own perspective and the perspective of other stroke survivors.
  • Experience an emotional, informed, and entertaining connection to my journey.
  • Identify helpful life lessons and strategies that they can implement into their own lives.
  • Recognize how important great supporters and champions are to recovery.
  • Gain an understanding as health care professionals about how they can best help their clients.
  • Learn to be kinder and more tolerant of those they meet when they don’t fully know what difficulties a person is experiencing at the time.
  • Gain a better understanding of agoraphobia, sensory overload, aphasia, depression, and neuro-fatigue as these are conditions that affect many more people than just Stroke Survivors.
  • Are inspired, hopeful, and motivated after reading the book.
  • Learn to believe in themselves, believe in their inner strength, and see how a never-give-up attitude can help us all face the many obstacles that life sends us.

To contact Angie, please click here. You can also stay connected with her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter!


Read More ...

Just Pick Up the Peg: Chapter 1 Excerpt

The awards ceremony begins, and everyone returns to their seats. I prepare backstage and we’re signalled toward the ramp at the appropriate times. We go in our groups, but this time it doesn’t matter what order we line up in. My category is almost at the end. I’m on the ramp for the last time. My feet throb with pain from spending the day in six-inch heels. My muscles ache from flexing. I’m exhausted, but grateful I not only stepped on stage, but didn’t fall or forget any of my poses. The announcer calls out names and numbers of all the winners in the various categories, and the crowd cheers. The stage manager directs us onto the stage. It’s packed with competitors, some holding trophies.

“Now to present the trophies in the Masters Figure Category,” he says. “In third place we have…,” and he reads out a winner’s number and name. A woman walks to the centre of the stage beaming and is presented with her trophy.

“In second place we have contestant number 199, Angie Burke.” The crowd cheers. I remain motionless. I must have heard him wrong. There’s no way. I feel a hand on my back and hear one of my teammates saying, “Go. That’s you.” I walk to the centre of the stage in complete disbelief and shock. An official approaches me and places a beautiful trophy in my hands.

This trophy is the culmination of four years of determination and dedication. Quite an accomplishment, considering on September 23, 2013, at age forty-six, I suffered a large stroke. I was left with epilepsy, had no use of my left side, had no vision on my left side, experienced seizures, and significant cognitive deficits. This book chronicles my journey back.

Read More ...