Stroke of Insight: Review

I recently read Stroke of Insight by Dr. Jill Bolte-Taylor. Cath recommended it to me right after my stroke, and it took me a long time to be emotionally ready to read Jill’s stroke experience without darkly replying my own.

In the first part of the book, Jill tells of her pre-stroke life and goes over some of the basic science behind the brain, cognition, and stroke.

The middle portion focuses on her experiences from the moment she realizes she’s having a stroke, through her time in the hospital, recovering for her surgery, and beyond.

She closes the books with several chapters that go over what she learned from her stroke: neurologically, emotionally, and spiritually. She also include a couple helpful appendices about assessment questions to ask patients suffering from a stroke and a list of what she needed the most during her recovery.

I’ll admit to skipping a couple of the first few chapters dealing with brain anatomy & function (only because I am familiar with those topics), and I did lose some interest at the end as she delved more into the spiritual side of things. But, I did find the book to be very interesting overall, and found her knowledge of her experience thought provoking, which made me reflect on my own experiences.

I also think her list of things she needed during recovery is great, and anyone with a loved-one who has suffered a stroke should read it (I wish my family and friends had seen that list). The suggestions that resonated with me the most were:

  • Honour the healing power of sleep (this was lost on many of the nurses and other hospital staff)
  • Protect my energy, especially keeping visits brief (and only with people who will bring in positive energy)
  • Stimulate my brain when I have any energy to learn
  • Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can do things
  • Speak to me directly, not about me to others (VERY common!)
  • Trust that my brain can continue to learn
  • Celebrate my little successes
  • I may want you to think I understand more than I really do
  • Focus on what I CAN do rather than what I cannot (again, very common with hospital staff)
  • Love me for who I am today. Don’t hold me to being the person I was before
  • Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress

I give this book a 4/5 because I (obviously) related to her story on so many levels and it forced me to re-think my own experiences. Thank you, Dr. Jill Taylor, for sharing your story!


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