Tuesday, March 17, 2009

In 1995 at the peak of his career and only forty-one years old, book editor and writer Robert McCrum woke to find that he could not rise out of bed. He had no feeling on the left side of his body. Through great effort, he fell out of bed and crawled down the stairs of his house to call for help. It took him most of the day to reach the one phone that was low enough for him to reach. He called his parents and tried to speak, getting out just enough words to be understood. They called emergency services, and McCrum was soon in a hospital. He had suffered a stroke.

In My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke, Robert McCrum recounts the ordeal of his brain injury, recovery, and rehabilitation. In his case, it took about a year to be able to feel comfortable with his speech, physical limitations, and fatigue. In this time, he experienced many emotions, despite all the professional help and the support of family and friends. Admitting that he could no longer maintain the hectic pace of life before his stroke may have been his most difficult concession.

In his book, McCrum includes what he has learned about stroke and its often unrecognized tendency to debilitate young as well as old. Using his diary, which he wrote with his good right hand, and the diary his new wife started after the stroke, he tells a story that will interest not only other stroke victims and their families but also readers who enjoy well-written memoirs. It should still be in many public libraries.

Thanks to Citizen Reader for the recommendation. I read most of it during one day of flying.

McCrum, Robert. My Year Off: Recovering Life After a Stroke. W. W. Norton, 1998. ISBN 0393046567

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm so, so glad you liked it, Rick. It's a perfect book to take on a plane--slim, and very very hard to put down. Although don't you find yourself worrying just a bit about what horrific health stuff might be around the corner for any of us at any given moment? I had a little shiver myself after I was done with the book.

Safe travels!