Stroke. Brain Damage. Strong words we hear more of these days, with an aging population and engagement in a difficult war with injured soldiers returning to everyday life. Words that call up terrifying images of darkness and loss, for both the injured and their loved ones. Images of diving into the healthcare system like entering a second level of reality, cocooned from the outside world, caught up in the processes of treatment and healing. Once one has stepped into it, a facination takes hold, a seeking for ways to understand the experience. If you have recently gone through such an experience, or know others going through it, two recent compelling first hand accounts can be found in the library collection.
Never Give Up: My Stroke, My Recovery & My Return to the NFL by Tedy Bruschi with Michael Holley would never be called high literature, but it is a sincere heartfelt account of Bruschi’s unusual stroke-he was a healthy linebacker in his 3o’s when he woke up in the middle of the night with numbness in his left arm and leg and a wicked headache. Thinking he had slept on his arm wrong, he stumbled back to bed and tried to fall asleep-even as he continued to feel worse and worse. Feeling even more terrible in the morning he and his wife finally called for help.
Bruschi’s book goes on into details of his football career and relationship with his wife, much like any celebrity bio, the meaningful difference is in the personal voice that comes through in the account of what happened inside his head and heart during the stroke and its aftermath. Amazingly after surgery on the small hole in his heart that had led to his stroke, he has been able to return to professional football, still playing with the formidable New England Patriots. He now works with the American Stroke Association to raise funds and awareness to help other stroke survivors.
As told in In An Instant: A Family’s Journey of Love and Healing by Lee and Bob Woodruff, Woodruff’s brain injury came from an enemy outside, rather than inside his body. While serving as an NBC coorespondent in Iraq he was involved in an attack involving an IED which went off near his head, throwing him into a coma. Heroic measures by army doctors in Iraq and
Germany, and private doctors stateside saved his life, and slowly his brain has begun healing from the trauma.Bob and his wife Lee alternate writing the chapters of this account, illustrating how different an injury and recovery feel to the patient vs. the experience of the nearby family and loved ones. Here as well they stray occasionally into a more typical celebrity bio, but the accounts directly relating to Bob’s injury and recover ring hearteningly true. Now slowly returning to the pulic eye, the Woodruffs have started a foundation to bring awareness of the frequency of brain trama in returning US servicemen and women-and help to fellow casualities who are not fortunate to have the financial resources of a huge TV network advocating for the best healthcare possible on their behalf.