HEADLIGHTS . . . by John S. Green


How I Turned the Lights Back On After My Stroke and Aphasia
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Combining a self-help book for stroke victims with a memoir of a life permanently changed by the illness, Green offers a testimony to the efficacy of will and social networking in largely overcoming the loss of coherent speech.

Green had a long-time dream of becoming a writer, but that aspiration initially seemed defeated when he suffered a massive stroke accompanied by aphasia, the loss of expressively clear speech and writing skills. This book is a gripping account of the author’s sheer will to live—and thrive—whatever the odds, especially since his stroke was a subsequent trauma after a bout of cancer requiring chemotherapy. Writing in a disarmingly candid, modest fashion, Green makes clear his indebtedness to various individuals instrumental to his recovery. Photographs concluding the book showcase his network of helpers that included his speech therapist, family doctor, nieces and grandchildren. Green’s account underscores how these young family members demonstrated exceptional patience during his early recovery period when words came to him with exceptional difficulty, if at all. Also notable was the role played by casual acquaintances on the golf course, his favored recreation when sustaining a social conversation could amount to a handful of jumbled words. Ultimately, Green credits his own tenacious willpower as the major driving force behind his recovery. One might only fault the author for offering an all-too-familiar list of methods (humor, puzzles, being read to, recreation) to keep willpower vigorous. When one physician questions aloud to what extent Green should anticipate a complete return to health after such a major stroke, the author challenges the right of any medical professional to place a definite ceiling on a patient’s future health after a stroke. This book was written five years after Green’s trauma, and since the full extent of stroke recovery can only be medically assessed after eight years, a follow-up account a few years down the road from Green would be welcome. Combined with a list of print and online resources for stroke victims and their social networks, the book is exceedingly useful for anyone touched by this terrifying disorder.

A riveting account of the terrible fear of being unable to communicate following a stroke and of the gradual return of verbal expressivity.

Pub Date: Oct. 26th, 2011
ISBN: 978-1466357846
Page count: 156pp
Publisher: CreateSpace
Program: Kirkus Indie
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