One night I went to bed able-bodied and woke up handicapped. It happened that quickly, as it can to anyone who has a stroke. Some people are totally immobilized, and others recover completely. Jill Bolte Taylor did even better than that.
A neuroanatomist and professor at Indiana University School of Medicine, Taylor, 48, realized one day in 1996 that she was suffering a brain hemorrhage. She felt her faculties slipping away and, as a brain scientist, understood exactly what was happening to her. Over the next decade, she fought to recover her abilities and continue studying the brain through the one she knows best: her own. In 2006 she published her book, A Stroke of Insight, about her experiences and brain science as a field. Through her writings and lectures, she has done perhaps more than anyone else to explain, both to the healthy and the stricken, what a stroke is.
Those of us struggling with the residual effects of stroke certainly don't need to be reminded of what it means when the brain is damaged. Some of us must struggle with the day-by-day frustrations of not being able to mount a flight of stairs, pick up a piece of paper or cross the room to get a magazine. But there is comfort in better grasping what has gone wrong, and enlightenment for those around you when they grasp it too. None of us needs sympathy; what we do need is a helping hand and understanding. Someone like Taylor provides that, helping a terrible blow become far less so.
Clark is a host and producer of numerous TV shows and specials
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