In this self-help autobiography, retired Dutch engineer Bakker reveals what it’s like to recover from a debilitating stroke.
Brain strokes devastate more than 700,000 people annually in the United States; worldwide, it’s the number one cause of adult disability. Yet few people have told the inside story of this potentially debilitating condition. In this short but telling account, Bakker reveals the details of a brain stem stroke and what it takes to recover from its crippling effects. Bakker leads readers through this painful process using his own experience as a guide. When he awoke one morning unable to tell where he was, unable to speak, unable even to swallow, the doctors thought he wouldn’t survive. But through three years of physically and emotionally demanding therapy, he fought to regain the abilities he’d once taken for granted. Here, he illustrates the fortitude required to keep from simply giving up and wasting away. Through incredible resolve and an exceptionally positive attitude, he shows that a life devoted to rehabilitation can be a rewarding experience. But he also adds a personal touch, as when he describes one of his hospitals: “the original architectural details of the main building were distinct: tiled corridors, vain protrusions, high ceilings, and the acoustics of a mausoleum.” Sometimes, though, the prose can misconstrue idioms and muddle the clarity of a native English speaker. Vague pronoun usage and some nonstandard syntax also detract from the narrative, but its power still comes through. Each chapter recounts a different struggle to regain a particular capacity, and at the end of each chapter, Bakker provides a graph detailing how much time it took him to recover. For instance, “It could last for days,” he says of hiccups that exhausted him. The book suffers from some organizational problems, since Bakker doesn’t separate biographical material from the guidebook approach, but it nonetheless provides a unique resource for caregivers and anyone who has suffered a stroke.
This true survivor’s moving story doubles as a valuable guide to recovering from the destructive consequences of brain stroke.