105 Ways to Give a Book

My Stroke of Insight

When my mother had a stroke, I turned to books as my usual source of comfort. Or, better put, comfort in information. Mostly it was a frustrating experience, as strokes are so individualized that I didn’t find much that felt helpful to our situation. The best source came from a memoir of a stroke written by a brain scientist, My Stroke of Insight, by Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

One morning this neuroanatomist got the ultimate brain study experience — seeing a stroke from the inside. She details the progress of the stroke as various parts of her brain shut down, and then takes the reader through her own journey to recovery. This is an amazing book for several reasons. First, it is an inspiration to stroke survivors to see the complete recovery of someone who had a massive stroke. Second, it helps stroke survivors and their families cope with the often-present question of “Why didn’t she call 911?” (Answer: The stroke knocked out that logical approach.) Third, it details assistance to recovery in a readable and personal way, while also offering a handy list of recommendations at the end of the book.

And fourth — and in many ways most important to the book and to the author — it shows us the beauty and divine spirit of our right brain. What the author found was that as the entire left hemisphere of her brain was shutting down from the ruptured artery, she was experiencing the world through her right brain and was astonished by the immense joy and peace she found there. In fact, at a point she would rather have given up on this life and let go, but for a found purpose to share with the world that this sense of spiritual oneness is within us.

If you want a preview of the book, and her intense experience, watch the video of her presentation. It will certainly make you think.

Nonfiction Monday is hosted today at In Need of Chocolate.

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Suzanne Casamento said...

Wow. What you wrote about her right brain experiencing immense joy after the left brain shut down defnitely makes me think.

Gail Gauthier said...

Pam--We are not dealing with anything so suddenly life changing as a stroke just now, just general decline and cognitive ups and downs with one elder and another who is a recent widow living alone. All my adult life I've headed to the library whenever I've had problems. I've found our parents, though, not all that interested in hearing about the information I pick up for them. I end up collecting a lot of material that I can do nothing with.

So my reading since last fall, when we also had a parent dying, has tended toward escapism. I find series with alternative fantasy or historical worlds and read one volume after another as fast as I can get them. I reach for a book and think, Get me outta here.

I definitely feel for what you're going through.