My Stroke of Insight

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 April, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 April, 2009, 12:00am

My Stroke of Insight

by Jill Bolte Taylor

Hodder, HK$104

In 1996 Jill Bolte Taylor awoke to a sharp ache behind her left eye. Despite the piercing headache, she exercised, showered and dressed for work. She felt odd in other ways: light stung her eyes, her balance was off and she felt detached from reality. She was also having difficulty processing sound, although as time passed things grew quieter. Then her right arm went limp. In that instant, Taylor, a neuroanatomist, realised she was having a stroke. Soon she was rendered so disabled that she felt like 'an infant in a woman's body'. Little wonder it took so long for her to telephone for help. Numbers on her keypad were squiggles, the friend who answered her call sounded like a golden retriever and the only sounds that came out of her mouth were squawks. Taylor had experienced a haemorrhagic stroke, which occurs when blood floods from arteries into the brain. Her book, My Stroke of Insight, is an account of how it felt to have the left hemisphere of her brain shut down - and how she recovered. Her insights are not only fascinating but also important: they could help others identify what is happening to them and guide medical personnel.