40 things to know

Forty Things I Needed Most Jill Bolte Taylor, Ph.D.

Jill Bolte Taylor was a healthy 37-year-old neuroanatomist at Harvard when, one morning...tap for more

… in 1996, she suffered a massive stroke in the left hemisphere of her brain. In four hours she lost her ability to walk, talk, read, write, and remember parts of her past.
From https://www.brainandlife.org/articles/my-stroke-of-insight#:~:text=Jill%20Bolte%20Taylor%20was%20a,remember%20parts%20of%20her%20past.

  • 1.I am not stupid, I am wounded. Please respect me.

  • 2.Come close, speak slowly, and enunciate clearly.

  • 3.Repeat yourself—assume I know nothing and start from the beginning, over and over.

  • 4.Be as patient with me the 20th time you teach me something, as you were the first.

  • 5.Approach me with an open heart and slow your energy down. Take your time.

  • 6.Be aware of what your body language and facial expressions are communicating to me.

  • 7.Make eye contact with me. I am in here—come find me. Encourage me.

  • 8.Please don’t raise your voice—I’m not deaf, I’m wounded.

  • 9.Touch me appropriately and connect with me.

  • 10.Honor the healing power of sleep.

  • 11.Protect my energy. No talk radio, TV, or nervous visitors! Keep visitation brief (five minutes).

  • 12.Stimulate my brain when I have any energy to learn something new, but know that a small amount may wear me out quickly.

  • 13.Use age-appropriate (toddler) educational toys and books to teach me.

  • 14.Introduce me to the world kinesthetically. Let me feel everything. (I am an infant again.)

  • 15.Teach me with monkey-see, monkey-do behavior.

  • 16.Trust that I am trying—just not with your skill level or on your schedule.

  • 17.Ask me multiple-choice questions. Avoid Yes/No questions.

  • 18.Ask me questions with specific answers. Allow me time to hunt for an answer.

  • 19.Do not assess my cognitive ability by how fast I can think.

  • 20.Handle me gently, as you would handle a newborn.

  • 21.Speak to me directly, not about me to others.

  • 22.Cheer me on. Expect me to recover completely, even if it takes twenty years!

  • 23.Trust that my brain can always continue to learn.

  • 24.Break all actions down into smaller steps of action.

  • 25.Look for what obstacles prevent me from succeeding on a task.

  • 26.Clarify for me what the next level or step is so I know what I am working toward.

  • 27.Remember that I have to be proficient at one level of function before I can move on to the next level.

  • 28.Celebrate all of my little successes. They inspire me.

  • 29.Please don’t finish my sentences for me or fill in words I can’t find. I need to work my brain.

  • 30.If I can’t find an old file, make it a point to create a new one.

  • 31.I may want you to think I understand more than I really do.

  • 32.Focus on what I can do rather than bemoan what I cannot do.

  • 33.Introduce me to my old life. Don’t assume that because I cannot play like I used to play that I won’t continue to enjoy music or an instrument, etc.

  • 34.Remember that in the absence of some functions, I have gained other abilities.

  • 35.Keep me familiar with my family, friends, and loving support. Build a collage wall of cards and photos that I can see. Label them so I can review them.

  • 36.Call in the troops! Create a healing team for me. Send word out to everyone so they can send me love. Keep them abreast of my condition and ask them to do specific things to support me—like visualize me being able to swallow with ease or rocking my body up into a sitting position.

  • 37.Love me for who I am today. Don’t hold me to being the person I was before. I have a different brain now.

  • 38.Be protective of me but do not stand in the way of my progress.

  • 39.Show me old video footage of me doing things to remind me about how I spoke, walked, and gestured.

  • 40.Remember that my medications probably make me feel tired, as well as mask my ability to know what it feels like to be me.


4, 6 & 16 particularly resonate with me.

I enjoyed reading this book…well most of it. Some of it went above my head.


Good post Simon. No deleting but I’m sure Jill Bolte Taylor would not object to a print out of her vital advice being given to every visitor visiting a Stoke Survivor in hospital or at home. Just come back from a three night stay with a sister, it’s the second time since my stroking two years ago. Should have taken that list, and compiled my list of ten things a survivor doesn’t want to hear several times a day. I know there’s Love there but could not wait to return home.


Yeah I’ve had a few conversations on here where I was reminded of her list recently so thought it might help as a resource for some folk

I think I’ll book mark so I can link to it too.

I’ve actually got the whole book in pdf.


No 8 too.
I’d add “I’m not ill, just not all of me still works correctly”


@SimonInEdinburgh great post which made me cry. Would have been a much used list when my late husband has his stroke. Wishing you well. Marie x


Sorry for your loss @Maz


I find that I am often challenged by these 3 points in my daily interactions with people. These phrases will be helpful for me. When I manage to get out to my local pub there is one man who constantly jumps in to my conversation when I have to stop to think of a word or phrase I want to say. By the time he has finished I have forgotten what it was I was trying to say. I have pointed out to him on several occasions that he must give me time to think. It is so frustrating! At times it is almost like he thinks he has to speak for me - I dont like that. I will try to practice Point 29 the next time he tries to finish my sentences.


I use the phrase " if you waited youd find out what I was going to say" and I don’t, generally finish what was that conversation either - It’s gone.

I find out annoying too


@SimonInEdinburgh i can resonate with all of them, just need to be able to copy it so i can print it out

You can download the PDF if you search jill bolte Taylor 40 things. Happy to send you a link if you can’t find it easily I have to move to the computer rather than the phone to do that but I can just let me know

hi @SimonInEdinburgh please can you send the link. i’m going to laminate it

@SimonInEdinburgh I’m just impressed that you got to 40 without any gaps :grinning:

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The authoring was not me!
I paste them from a PDF

My control c control v still works ok but I just have to do it left handed now

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If you can highlight the text you could save it as a pdf and print from there, if that helps.

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Thanks @SimonInEdinburgh - great helpful post cheers.

Its 32 34 and 37for me. Keeping positive and keeping going forwards are the key to this recovery lark.

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Yep I could centralise those three as well .
With 32 there’s also an element of what capability development do I want to engage in and I don’t call that RE-covery it’s development capability it’s forward looking not backward looking

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i have copied and pasted so i can print off and get my laminator out

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Thats an interesting one and you got me thinking there…
My end goal in my head is getting back to my independent self, driving, working , playing tennis.

There are better self by products that the stroke has given me which i will continue. No alcohol, no caffeine, healthier diet and joining a local gym. All of these with my awesome wifes support and her own commitment to her own health too x.

Downsizing and our up and coming house move helps our financial position hugely too.

Positive stuff has come out of my stroke…

I genuinely believe and embrace that as part of Andy version 2