Wednesday, July 20, 2011

One Stroky’s Journey: A Good Read

On my July 9, 2011, postOne Stroky’s Journey: Assumptions Equal Vacation Surprises,” Carole, a visitor to my blog, left the comment that her sister-in-law had had a serious stroke just three weeks earlier. Carole left no way for me to contact her, so I am directing this post to her and to anyone who has a loved one who is a stroke survivor and who has yet to completely recover, or to individuals who one day may be stroke survivors which, according to my personal experience, could be anyone.

I admit that I have spent little time researching my condition. I just haven’t seemed to be able to methodically go down that path. My efforts have been sporadic and brief.

The one book I read cover to cover was My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor, a 37-year-old Harvard-trained scientist who specialized in the anatomy of the brain and who experienced a massive stroke in 1996. 

Her experience of that calm, peaceful place she entered periodically in her early stages was similar to my experience. But her recovery of her motor functions returned much quicker than mine have. Unlike me, though, she lost her language, memory and all abilities related to mathematical functions.

Her recovery took eight years, which in itself strengthens my hope. This book has excellent suggestions for what to expect and how those who care about a stroke survivor can help, rather than unintentionally add to their loved one’s frustrating or painful experiences. And that goes for those who are occasional visitors as well as those who are active partners in care and recovery.

Taylor’s book reads like a novel, even with some technical information about the brain’s anatomy. She boiled the scientific explanations down to basics and served them in well-seasoned bites small enough to digest with a little chewing. Most of the book, however, is devoted to her experience: her moment-by-moment awareness of what was happening in her brain and body as blood flowed over her brain cells in a toxic flood, her experiences in the hospital environment, and her recovery.

She takes the reader on the excruciating trip with her as she lost functions and struggled to call for help then endures the hospital experience. She, along with her mother, are heroic figures in this real-life story. I must admit, I love happy endings and this book has that kind of ending.

My Stroke of Insight is available on Amazon and with other online merchants, but I found my hardback copy in a bin of $5 sale books at Wal-Mart.

My other research: I have in the past few days been looking at stroke rehab videos on YouTube.

Husband Walter and I spend several hours each day doing such exercises, not counting outpatient rehab. It is a lot easier to understand how to do an exercise my therapist assigned as “homework” or to refresh my memory of an exercise by looking at a video, even if the video is in Chinese, as opposed to trying to decipher line drawings, photos or written instructions handed out at rehab,

Hooray for YouTube!


  1. The book sounds deep and heart rending, it must be very good. I don't think there are very many books out there for stroke survivors. But I am betting that you will be writing one in the not too distant future, you are my hero!!! Strokes run in my family, and I have been on blood pressure pills ever since I was extremely young.

  2. Ginny, I amglad you are taking steps to regulate that bood pressure!

  3. I have a friend who survived (and thrived afterwards) an aneurism in the brain. She told me about this book. I also watched Jill Bolte Taylor recount her experience in a video a few years back. It is quite fascinating. I'm sure it can be found on YouTube.

  4. and don't forget your own book - or whatever way you continue to tell your own story.

  5. Since there are those of us who are maybe one breath away from a similar experience or know of someone who has taken that breath, this would be a great read.
    I'm with Marcia, hope you are working on your own book. There is a need.

  6. thanks for sharing this and your stroke journey with us. the youtube is a great idea. and i am thinking it will have others things to, like exercises for arthritis, i will check it out.

  7. Wow, I can relate to the loss of memory. Really tough. I got back to work and could not remember what I had been doing. Finaly got it straight with the help of co-workers. It takes time. patience, persistence, and a burning desire. I also got help from my higher power. Dianne

  8. Thanks for the tip about the book. We never know when we may need it. Ed's had high blood pressure for years, and is on meds for it.

    I always say "Is there anything that you can't find on Youtube?" I never dreamed they had rehab videos.

  9. The book sounds like required reading for all of us, stroke or no stroke.
    I'm so glad you have Walter there to be your mainstay through this.
    As others have said, keep writing. There's a book in there too.

  10. The book is indeed a good read, but a bit frightening in its intensity. Your stories are gentler and just as inspiring, so keep up the sharing. Every Blessing