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

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HEADLIGHTS . . .

HOW I TURNED THE LIGHTS BACK ON AFTER MY STROKE AND APHASIA

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. 26, 2011

ISBN: 978-1466357846

Page Count: 156

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Feb. 13, 2012

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Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and...

THE IMMORTAL LIFE OF HENRIETTA LACKS

A dense, absorbing investigation into the medical community's exploitation of a dying woman and her family's struggle to salvage truth and dignity decades later.

In a well-paced, vibrant narrative, Popular Science contributor and Culture Dish blogger Skloot (Creative Writing/Univ. of Memphis) demonstrates that for every human cell put under a microscope, a complex life story is inexorably attached, to which doctors, researchers and laboratories have often been woefully insensitive and unaccountable. In 1951, Henrietta Lacks, an African-American mother of five, was diagnosed with what proved to be a fatal form of cervical cancer. At Johns Hopkins, the doctors harvested cells from her cervix without her permission and distributed them to labs around the globe, where they were multiplied and used for a diverse array of treatments. Known as HeLa cells, they became one of the world's most ubiquitous sources for medical research of everything from hormones, steroids and vitamins to gene mapping, in vitro fertilization, even the polio vaccine—all without the knowledge, must less consent, of the Lacks family. Skloot spent a decade interviewing every relative of Lacks she could find, excavating difficult memories and long-simmering outrage that had lay dormant since their loved one's sorrowful demise. Equal parts intimate biography and brutal clinical reportage, Skloot's graceful narrative adeptly navigates the wrenching Lack family recollections and the sobering, overarching realities of poverty and pre–civil-rights racism. The author's style is matched by a methodical scientific rigor and manifest expertise in the field.

Skloot's meticulous, riveting account strikes a humanistic balance between sociological history, venerable portraiture and Petri dish politics.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2010

ISBN: 978-1-4000-5217-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010

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Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

HEALING OUR VILLAGE

A SELF-CARE GUIDE TO DIABETES CONTROL

Self-help guide for diabetes sufferers, mostly in question-and-answer format, with an emphasis on helping racial and ethnic minority diabetics.

Coleman is a pharmacist with a doctorate in her specialty, Gavin a Ph.D. and M.D. Aside from acknowledgments and a foreword signed by Gavin alone, their voices and expertise are indistinguishable, offering lucid, simple solutions for diabetes patients. Gavin relates watching his great-grandmother endure debilitating pain as a result of diabetes while he visited her as a youngster. He remembers hearing adults mention that sugar killed her, and he wondered how something that tasted sweet could cause so much harm. As an adult, he realized that his great-grandmother's affliction could be controlled through treatment. The authors focus on Type 2 diabetes, the most common form in minority populations. An estimated 18.2 million Americans are diabetic, with perhaps 5 million unaware of their situation. About 11 percent of U.S. diabetics are African-American, and about 8 percent are Latino. The question-and-answer format begins with an overview section about diabetes, with an emphasis on risk factors. Section Two covers management of the disease, including nutrition, exercise, blood-testing, oral medications and insulin use. In addition, the authors continually recommend smoking cessation, as well as instructing patients on the readiness of self-treatment. Section Three explains the complications—high blood pressure, high cholesterol and heart disease—that could arise if the condition remains untreated or treated ineffectively. The questions in all of the sections are worded simply, and the answers are usually free of medical jargon. Though the sudden shifts in tone and voice are occasionally jarring, the writing remains clear enough to distill the facts. The real downside here, though: patronizing, laughable illustrations that degrade the overall product.

Authoritative and, most helpfully, accessible.

Pub Date: Jan. 31, 2004

ISBN: 0-9746948-0-0

Page Count: -

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 27, 2010

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