My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey

At the age of 37, Taylor has a hemorrhagic stroke caused by arteriovenous malformation (AVM). Luckily, she’s able to call a colleague (she’s forgotten 9-1-1) who hears her grunting sounds and understands she needs help. He arrives and she hands him her doctor’s business card, which he calls to get instructions about where to take her. She becomes essentially an infant, having to relearn speech and walking and emotional responses. In her previous non-stroke life, she’s a brain scientist working at Harvard, traveling the country as the Singing Scientist to try to increase brain donations for study. Eight years after the stroke, she feels finally back to “normal” although she’s a completely different person, having had her brain rewired. Fascinating chapter as she describes what’s happening to her as she has the stroke, losing her ego and becoming “one with the universe”, not feeling like she has to be the person she previously was. Looking at objects and not realizing what they are, as her brain becomes soaked in blood from the hemorrhage. Her appendix gives a list of things she needed most during recovery, like people to realize she was wounded, not stupid, have patience, protect her energy (no TV, radio or nervous visitors), cheer her on and expect full recovery even if it takes 20 years, focus on what she can do rather than bemoan what she cannot, create a healing team to visualize success of various tasks.