Sunday, April 27, 2014

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor

Jill Bolte Taylor is a brain scientist and has a deep connection to determining why brains act the way they do for the mentally ill. She wakes up one morning not feeling too well, with a big headache, and tries to go about her day normally. Her ability to function quickly deteriorates and she realizes she is having a stroke. While her body is telling her to rest, her brain is telling her to get help as soon as possible. But getting to the phone and determining which number to dial is an incredible strain. The blood on her brain is affecting the left hemisphere, where things like phone numbers are stored. She eventually calls to work (very surprising that it was easier for her to figure this out than 911) and gets help.

When she arrives at the hospital it is confirmed that she has had a stroke and she must undergo extensive surgery to fix and remove a clot. The path to recovery is extensive but the whole journey gives Taylor a chance to reflect on how amazing our brains are and what they can overcome.

The descriptions of what it feels like when you lose function in part of your left brain is amazing. We all know that we are solid human beings, but apparently this is partially an understanding from the left hemisphere of our brain. Taylor thought she was a fluid being, at once with the universe, for a long time before her left hemisphere was brought back to normal functionality. I can't imagine what it would be like to think that. The right hemisphere seems much kinder than the left, which is more calculating. I very much wondered throughout the book what Taylor would have been like if the right hemisphere had experienced the bleed rather than the right.

This is a very interesting look in to before, during, and after a stroke. The last couple of chapters I could have done without as they were a bit repetitive and I felt them rather preachy, but I would still recommend this book.

First Line: "Every brain as a story to tell and this is mine."


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