Book Review: My Stroke of Insight
The Book by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor
How I Learned About This Book
My first exposure to Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor was through her interview on the Oprah show about five years ago. Not only was her story of stroke and recovery compelling to listen to, her description of what the stroke was like from the inside was astounding. Dr. Taylor was a Harvard brain scientist! She had all the anatomical knowledge available to her to become a detailed observer of her stroke process. She was conscious through much of her first few hours of stroke and while recovering was able to remember and document her observations.
Her book A Stroke of Insight takes you on her journey. It's clearly written and balanced. It's balanced in that it shows what she was doing in her life before the stroke, during the stroke (fascinating), the beginning of recovery and where she is now.
Some things she learned about stroke recovery:
- She responded better to therapy when people would address her directly, include her in discussions about her condition and when they left their own stress outside the room. Even though she could not understand words, she was still able to detect feeling and intention. A flustered nurse slamming through the care-taking motions in her room sapped energy from her. Calm talking, a touch and personal interaction (even though the interaction was mainly one sided) made a huge difference in her will to get better.
- A stroke victim needs a primary caretaker (friend, family member) that can devote their life to the recovery. That person for her was her mother. If Taylor had to rely on just institutional therapy (no matter how good) she believes she would not have made it as far.
- Another important thing was sleep and time to repair. In a hospital setting, you are periodically woken at times to have vitals taken. There are constantly things that can interrupt your rest. When Taylor was at home with her Mom, she enjoyed long uninterrupted reparative rest. As things slowly got better, she noticed that being able to 'shut down' when she needed to gave her the energy to try harder when working on her physical and mental therapy activities.
You can tell she is definitely one of my modern time heroes. She equates her temporary loss of the analytical side of her as a gift. She is now a more balanced person and feels the joy of the connectedness of the universe. This view would have otherwise have slipped from her life if she had continued on her single minded academic research path.
An Inspirational Book
Dr. Taylor's TED talk.
Dr. Taylor on Oprah's Lifeclass.
Dr. Taylor's works in conjunction with the Harvard Brain Bank.
"Please take responsibility for the energy you bring into this space." - Jill Bolte Taylor, My Stroke of Insight