Book review, my first and probably last

Sometimes, when I have taught classes with an inspirational component, I have recommended books that excited me but never touched anyone else in the class. I suspect the recommendation to read My Stroke of Insight may have been one of those. It is a memoir, but of a highly complex event requiring a lot of sophisticated, technical information. Although the technical part is well written, there is also a fair amount of self-help and spiritual stuff, only loosely connected to the real topic of the book.

Since I have been warned about strokes many times, I found the description of having a stroke and the rehab process to be useful, When I had my heart problems last year I first suspected I was having small strokes. And I have often wondered about the rehab process, which Taylor criticizes.

In 1980 my father had Guillain Barre syndrome. After seven weeks on a ventilator he began to recover and was sent to a rehab facility where they treated him like a stroke patient. The prevailing belief at that time and probably into the present, was that stroke patients had to be continually prodded and motivated to do things. Taylor questions the prodding and the methods of motivating. In effect she says each person should be individually evaluated and treated for their own needs, not by an overall generalized protocol.

Guillain Barre is not a brain disease but rather a disease of the peripheral nervous system. I was told at the time that patients needed only to recover and heal the damaged parts of the nervous system. There was no other treatment. Therapy at the rehab center was devastating for my father. He never trusted doctors and hospitals and was always a little paranoid. Unable to perform as expected he decided the rehab staff was antisemitic and was out to get him. He checked himself out of the hospital, although still unable to walk, and went home to my mother's care. Both were in their 70s at the time. Taylor was fortunate: her mother cared for her and managed her rehab fully cognizant of her needs.

All of this, except for an overdose of adjectives, was the good part of the book. What bothered me were later chapters dealing with right brain-left brain issues and how to connect with the inner peace of our right brain. I could see the publisher leaning on her to make the book a little longer (it's only 183 pages), add some self-help stuff–that always sells.

2 thoughts on “Book review, my first and probably last

  1. The syndrome which hit your father is a harsh one. Perhaps sleep is the best for that but reprogramming the brain is best for stroke. I had a stroke in 89 that took my hand eye coordination and my short term memory. I found ways to work around this….perhaps sideways, but no one knew I had a stroke until just before I graduated from college at 50. Sideways still does me good. šŸ™‚

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