A return-from-the-dead memoir that avoids the supernatural while illuminating the day-to-day detail of recovering a life.
In early 2013, Danish scientist Kjaergaard (co-editor: The Aesthetics of Scientific Data Representation, 2017, etc.) fell ill and was initially diagnosed with the flu. By the next morning, however, it was clear that something was more seriously amiss. After being rushed to the hospital, she was diagnosed with bacterial meningitis and declared “clinically dead. No light at the end of the tunnel, no angels, no harps. No Heaven’s Gate and no Hell. Nothing. Being dead means exactly that. You are gone. It’s as simple and frightening as that.” The precision of the author’s prose, as well as her empathy for her husband and children, also suffering through this long ordeal, makes for a rich reading experience, as the author recounts the months she spent in various stages of hospital recovery, one in which “all parts of my body were fighting each other. It was a battle of multiple foes and no allies.” She provides the backstory of an earlier health scare that weakened her immune system. She also testifies to her character as a “fighter” and how she had to draw on all her resources and resolve to regain a semblance of a normal life. As her chronicle begins, she admits that it was “like writing a biography of another person,” and she relies on the notes and documentation her loving husband provided to help reconstruct the period when she was in a coma. She describes the slog of awakening, trying to communicate with blinks, and relearning just about everything—e.g., how to breathe, how to swallow, who she was. It took months before she could take her first step or eat on her own. Ultimately, though she only has one thumb as her “only unimpaired finger,” she “realised I had gained so much more, which…added another layer to what it means to be human….I knew my life had changed for the better.”
An inspirational story of beating the odds.