A brush with a life-threatening accident spurs a writer to investigate the “hidden epidemic” of debilitating brain trauma.
In this revised version of her original 2012 publication, Canadian novelist and biographer Jeejeebhoy (Aban’s Accension, 2013, etc.) enhances the text with expanded personal detail, creating an immersive, multifaceted memoir. The author had studied neurophysiology as part of her collegiate curriculum at the University of Toronto, so she was well-versed in the consequences of brain injuries when she was involved in a major car collision in 2000. Before the accident, Jeejeebhoy was completing the manuscript for her debut biography, and her injuries put that project—and much more—on indefinite hold. These included apparent sprains and nerve problems, but investigation into nagging, chronic migraines and dizzy spells resulted in a diagnosis of mild traumatic brain injury. This led to months of experimental drug treatments with a two-year duration: either the therapies would work by then, or Jeejeebhoy would likely have to endure her maladies forever. The author painfully describes the toll that her injuries took on her relationship with her husband, Mistral; her panic at losing the ability to read; and other cognitive impairments. Desperate to return to her normal life, she became intensely motivated to find a reason and resolution for her injury through determined research and treatment alternatives. Jeejeebhoy’s harrowing journey takes on new characteristics when she weaves comprehensive clinical information into her recollections. She also effectively dispels the myth that a concussion is a mild affliction and shows that secondary symptoms, such as anger and fatigue, can indeed endure for many years. She’s uniformly candid when writing about a year of devastating setbacks, which she says felt like “a massive plough that trenches through your established networks.” Toward the end of the book, she delves even deeper into the scientific neuropathological data of her treatment plan and further developments of her “labyrinthine recovery.”
Perhaps overly expository for casual readers, but the intricate details of the author’s experience are riveting and enlightening.