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THE BEAR’S EMBRACE by Patricia Van Tighem

THE BEAR’S EMBRACE

A True Story

By Patricia Van Tighem

Pub Date: Sept. 11th, 2001
ISBN: 0-375-42131-9
Publisher: Pantheon

A bestseller in Canada, this graphic account by the survivor of a grizzly-bear attack movingly details her long road to recovery as she describes the disfigurement, emotional trauma, and strains on her marriage caused by the accident.

In the fall of 1983, Trish and husband Trevor set off from their home in Calgary to spend the weekend hiking in a nearby National Park. Trish, a nurse, and Trevor, a medical student, were both in their early 20s and endowed with good looks, close families, and many friends—and the future looked good. All this changed when on the way back Trevor was attacked by a bear, and Trish, convinced he was dead, tried to climb a tree to escape, and in turn was savagely mauled. Her jaw was broken, her left eye and cheek destroyed, and her scalp badly abraded. As she tells how she and Trevor, who was alive and actually in better shape than she was, were rescued by a party of hikers, she recalls how they met and married. She then details the excruciating 17-year recovery she endured, an ordeal that strained but did not destroy the marriage. She battled not only constant pain, but depression that led to hospitalizations and a suicide attempt, until she was finally diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. During those years she underwent numerous, and not always successful, surgeries: an attempt at creating a prosthetic eye and eyelid went horribly wrong when painful infections developed, and the doctor refused her plea to remove the titanium posts placed in her forehead. She also bore four children, one of whom has Down’s Syndrome; lost her father to cancer; lived for a year in New Zealand; and tried to return to work. When Trish finally received appropriate psychiatric treatment, she was able to face down her fears, accept her disfigurement, and savor the fact that she was a survivor.

An unsparing chronicle of fear and suffering and the hard-won courage that beat it all.