The author was only twenty seven when she collapsed during a karaoke performance in a bar, due to a ruptered aneurysm. Most people don’t survive this but she did- and woke up in the hospital afterwards with aphasia. The stroke had affected her use of language- she could no longer find words easily, had difficulty understanding what people said to her, and initially it took hours for her to write a few sentences or read just one page in a book. All this happening to a student who loved reading and was a theater performer, must have been devastating. You’d think. But strangely, she describes feeling an immense sense of calm and quietness inside, during the first period of recovery. Because she could not easily call up words, her very throught process and memory was affected, she simply could not think about certain things. She had no great sense of loss, because she couldn’t remember clearly what she’d lost. She knew people around her were dear and familiar, but had no sense of history with them- family vacations, inside jokes, past arguments- all just gone from her mind. So not only was her functionality in daily life affected, but also her relationships. The memoir is about her gradual recovery of language, her thoughts on how language use (and lack of it) shaped her thoughts and outlook on life, and how things went with the people around her- family support, friends she felt she didn’t quite know anymore, her boyfriend. Not really knowing the person she used to be, trying to become the person she was now. And all the things she learned about brain function and aneurysms in her quest to understand what had happened from her. Her surprise and insights when she finally met other survivors with aphasia, how different all their experiences were. I really enjoyed this book and now have a few more to add to my list, that she mentioned in the text.
Similar read: Do No Harm by Henry Marsh
Borrowed from the public library.