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Book Review: My Stroke of Insight

Updated on November 26, 2014

The Book by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

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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.

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

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    • Babu Mohan profile image

      Mohan Babu 3 years ago from Chennai, India

      It is always inspirational to know someone who has fought successfully against all odds.

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @Babu Mohan: I agree, she is a role model for me.

    • TerriCarr profile image

      TerriCarr 3 years ago

      I heard about Jill-Bolte Taylor from a TED Talk. Quite an amazing experience. I am so glad she is able and eager to share her story with the world. Love the quote you chose above. I have a copy of this book. It's on my reading list ;-) Maybe I will add a review too!

    • Kim Milai profile image
      Author

      Kim Milai 3 years ago

      @TerriCarr: It was an easy read, I especially liked how descriptive she was while writing about the actual stroke. I thought she did a great job putting into words how it feels floating in and out of comprehension. I would look forward to another review if you do it. Let me know! :)

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