Denise was very fortunate that her stroke was mild and that she decided to seek medical attention for her vague, fleeting symptoms. It took about 6 months to fully regain the strength in the weakened side of her body and she is on blood thinning medication for the rest of her life. It’s been three years since her stroke and Denise is doing well. She practices yoga, watches her diet and takes her medication. Denise wants to stress the importance of recognizing the signs of stroke and the urgency for immediate medical attention.
In My Stroke of Insight the author takes the reader on an amazing and hair-raising journey through her stroke, recovery and self-discovery. In December of 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor, an accomplished Harvard trained neuroscientist, awoke to a day she would never forget. It’s actually incredible considering her circumstances that she can recall this day at all. At the age of 37 the brain scientist, researcher and teacher got a lesson of her own. She found herself having a stroke. Over the course of four hours Taylor was in a discombobulated state, flitted between lucid thoughts and mental blankness. She managed to challenge her increasing deficits from the brain bleed and call a colleague for help. In this short period Talbot was aware that she was losing her ability to walk, talk, read, write or recall memories or thoughts for her future. Talbot was living only in the moment and noticed the quietness and a sense of peace in her existence. There was an absence of what she calls “brain chatter.” She had a general feeling of well-being. Her brain was in a state of bliss! You might ask how is this? Well, Taylor had experienced a rare stroke in the left hemisphere due to a congenital malformation of blood vessels in her brain. The stroke on the left side gave way to her right side so it could take precedence.
“Your left mind might be rushing, thinking, deliberating, and analyzing, but your right mind is very mellow.”
The two lobes of our brain have different personalities so when Dr. Taylor “stepped to the right“, as she puts it, she found inner peace. This peaceful existence was interrupted only by the pain from her increasing headache which brought her back to her grave situation. If you want to know more about Dr. Taylor’s recovery and revelations then you should read the book. I will mention that after years of rehabilitation which included surgery, it took Talbot eight years to fully recover from her stroke. Compared to most stroke victims, Talbot knows she isn’t the norm. Dr. Taylor mentions that she had the advantage to understand how to repair, retrain and recover her brain. She is in the invaluable position to teach from the knowledge gained in her field and from her personal experience. Taylor is grateful for the opportunity to explain what happened to her brain and the insights she has gained!
“Wow, how many scientists have the opportunity to study their own brain and mental deterioration from the inside out?”
“As a neuroanatomist, I must say that I learned as much about my brain and how it functions during that stroke, as I had in all my years of academia.”
If you wish to see a webcast of Jill Taylor’s presentation then check it out on Oprah.com.
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor created a mnemonic device to help people remember the most important signs of stroke. She suggests we commit these to memory and share them with everyone you know. Remember, stroke is a medical emergency: Dial 911
Warning Signs of Stroke
American Stroke Foundation
Heart and Stroke Foundation