My Stroke of Insight

Before I carry on with this post. If anyone is interested, on Amazon, they have televised Norman Doidge’s The Brain that Changes Itself. It’s a summary of the book essentially, with the most remarkable brain injury cases reviewed. It can be watched free.

Okay, so on with the post intended. I finished reading Dr Jill Bolte Taylor’s My Stroke of Insight. It is a very short read (183 pages all told), and summarises her severe stroke and eight year recovery. It’s a fairly fluffy account of stroke but the science is interesting. Jill is a very enthusiastic individual, with a unique perception of the brain. I can relate to this, but I am not as enthusiastic as her about life in general or spiritual matters. In fact, I found some of the overwhelming positivity to be counterintuitive to my own circumstances. I also believe that life is like a battery and requires both positive and negative to provide a life force energy. However, the fact that I didn’t feel a rapport with the writer didn’t prevent me from taking away some good ideas from her experience.

An interesting aside she mentioned, was that some people with aphasia from left-side brain damage actually have success in singing their sentences due to using the right-side brain instead.

She also spelled out the crucial importance of lots of daily physiotherapy, not just a few hours a day with a few attempts but thousands of attempts until a small amount of progress is made. She advocates stepping stones in recovery, mastering one small thing and then moving on to the next phase.

She also recommends working on each problem area at a time until progress is made. I think this is important because just relying on one’s daily life to correct a brain injury just slows down the process, and once other things in life compound recovery time, it makes it extremely difficult for the brain to establish connections as it is so busy with other stimuli.

Observing and and working with the brain throughout recovery was one of the most interesting and empathetic aspects of Jill’s story. Being a neuroanatomist, she presents her condition in a very inclusive way, by that I mean, she invests time to investigate what is happening and in understanding that, she is able to isolate issues and focus on reconnecting pathways in order to heal her brain and move forward with life. She doesn’t just resume, she actually blossoms as an “improved” individual. I very much have the same principle at heart.

I was bit bewildered by her recovery timeline, but I let it go in order to cherry pick parts of her story that spoke to me. I think this was her intention with writing the book, as there is an air of perfectibility in her writing that sometimes crosses over into a kind of self-help trope.

Addendum: I also have to add that Jill believes very strongly in the restorative power of sleep. For five years she would sleep eleven hours a night, and still find time during the day for a power nap. This made me feel a whole lot better about my ten hours sleeping time and, previously last year, sometimes thirteen hours. It’s a debated medical topic, that’s why I thought I ought to mention it.


Shwmae @Loshy, I think @Pds recommended it to me, so I ordered it off Amazon for about seven pounds. It’s a very easy going read. I finished it over a weekend.

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@Rups there’s some interesting things in your write up. I’m particularly interested in the bit about concentrating on 1 but of recovery at a time & not relying on daily activities to do your exercises.
I’ll have a look at the book. Thank you for the recommendation.

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Glad you enjoyed. That’s why I never stop believing and hoping in possibilities when addressing my damaged brain and what it can potentially achieve. The neurones that light up when someone else touches themselves is an amazing concept. I guess that’s why we all react the way we do when we watch an action film. We are responding to the physicality on screen as if it were literally ourselves.

That’s why some neurologists recommend that stroke survivors observe other people doing what the stroke survivors themselves struggle to do.

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Hi @Rups , I’ve just finished watching it too. Very interesting & encouraging for the future . The more people that dig further into this research more techniques and treatments will become available.
Particularly fascinated by the tests with physically doing something and thinking about doing it, both having similar results.
Good recommendation, thanks.

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Evening @Rups. I got the Stroke of Insight book when you mentioned it previously. I’m about half way through. I skipped to the end when I got it and read the appendix B, “40 things I needed the most”, which had me sobbing in recognition within minutes. She had me then and I needed to hear her story. Her experience is very different from mine but I am a scientist at heart and have studied and even held a brain in my undergraduate days so her approach appeals. I do believe knowledge is power so in educating ourselves we are putting ourselves in our strongest position. Thank you for recommending, Julia x


That is interesting, and funnily enough, before I was aware of that, when I came out of hospital and could only shuffle for about a year, I watched walking programs like Take A Hike and Tony Robinson’s historical walk around the UK. I watched anything that had to do with walking. Perhaps, it helped my brain reconnect along with exercise, as I no longer shuffle.