Thursday, June 16, 2011

Insight Insights (or lack thereof)

Partially because I was reading it just as I learned that Rutherford Robinia* had likely had a stroke in utero, my personal response to April STIR's My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor was muddled. Despite, or perhaps because of, this, the e-mail discussion of the book was some of the best we've had. Thanks to Jenny, Irene and Prairie Quilter for openly sharing thoughts.

A quick re-cap: Jill Bolte Taylor was a research neuroanatomist in her 30s when she has a massive stroke. After eight years she considered herself fully recovered and wrote My Stroke of Insight, a memoir of the experience, a call for compassionate assistance for stroke victims, a piece of inspirational self-help on using the right-side of the brain, a few chapters on brain anatomy and a testament to the wonder and the plasticity of the human brain. The book is short and covers a lot of ground in few pages.

I think the STIR readers unanimously thought the writing was uneven and fit some of the purposes better than others, but most of our comments were about wanting more: more about JBT's personal life, more about the intermediate steps in the recovery process, and more answers to things that Bolte Taylor couldn't possible answer ("if post-stroke enlightenment is comparable to meditative-religious enlightenment [and JBT is fairly convincing that it is], is it really possible to achieve just by desire, rather than major trauma or years of practice?" "would the brain of a stroke-sufferer in her 70s really be as plastic?") which suggests that JBT succeeded.

My Stroke of Insight is highly recommended for anyone who thinks they might become a caregiver for someone following a stroke (and, like many books about motherhood with newborns, I imagine that this book is better to have read before one needs it. If I were a frustrated care-giver, I could see MSoI being inspirational or exceedingly frustrating ['easy for her to say that the brain can completely recover. . .']) and fellow-biologists who know nothing about the human brain and generally recommended overall. If you do read it, I'd happily share more of the thoughts of the STIR readers with you.

In the meantime, take care of your brains.

*At the super-duper sonogram yesterday we learned that RuthRob has completely normal cranial anatomy and had the doctor been seeing me for the first time, would have sent me on my way with an ordinary "looks fine" report. RuthRob is also 5.5 pounds, so of nicely average size (57th percentile).

Stained glass brain by JBT, image found on her website,


Beth said...

Sorry I didn't read the stroke book. I wasn't in the mood to read about it last month.

Glad to hear RR is doing well.

Sparkling Squirrel said...

Beth, speaking of things to read at different times, make sure you have read Operating Instructions by Annie Lamott and MotherShock before your child arrives externally.

Mr. Guapo said...

Go RR!