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A Stroke of Insight

July 7, 2008 Steve Patterson 2 Comments

When I moved into my loft this past November I didn’t move any of my three televisions. I haven’t missed TV at all, I read far more now, I watch DVDs on my computer and we always have TED online. TED is an annual conference about ideas — in particular “ideas worth spreading.” I’ve watched many of the presentations. Last week I received an email with the TED top ten and there at #1 was one I had watched while in the hospital following my stroke:

Neuroanatomist Jill Bolte Taylor had an opportunity few brain scientists would wish for: One morning, she realized she was having a massive stroke. As it happened — as she felt her brain functions slip away one by one, speech, movement, understanding — she studied and remembered every moment. This is a powerful story about how our brains define us and connect us to the world and to one another.


My stroke was different than hers in that mine was on the right side of my brain. Especially at the time my speech was slowed and slurred but it was never totally lost. My long term memory was fully intact. I recall in the hospital seeing other stroke patients able to walk and move their arms but struggling to speak. I don’t think I’d trade places with them if I could, even though reprogramming my brain to operate my left side and to give me sitting & standing balance as been a major challenge.

My short term memory is greatly improved although if you were to tell me your phone number I might struggle to remember it long enough to dial it. A note to people that use the phone — call people from the number you want them to call back on.

Dr. Taylor’s presentation is very moving, I can see why it is #1.  It has been more than a decade since her stroke.  I know that once my recovery time is measured in years, instead of months, I too will be fully recovered.  Now that will be “neat.”


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  1. john w. says:

    I heard Dr. Taylor’s interview by Teri Gross on NPR the week before last. Her’s is a fascinating story, and must be more than simple encouragement for all that worry about lasting neurological damage from stroke. Dr. Taylor’s stroke was Hemorragic, but I believe an EBT scan can detect the degree of arterial closure for those at risk (for anyone, really) of the ischemic type of both heart attack and stroke. We should be doing much more to prevent stroke and heart attack- beginning with education.

  2. John M. says:

    I wish I had something insightful to add other than my two cents of entertainment choices. I purchased the ROKU box for $100 from netflix that allows streaming of 10,000 plus video choices to the TV, although I have only 450 or so that I am interested in given the current choices. They promise to add more, but, it is still a neat little device for the initial purchase price and $8 a month which still gives me a DVD rental from them besides unlimited streaming. Worth looking into if you like documentaries, as that is probably the largest selection of up to date available for streaming direct to TV.
    My xbox360 and PS3 are my true entertainment choices though, I honestly have lost more sleep to these two things than anything else in my life, including, yeah that. There is something just too fun about meeting up with friends all over the world and shooting at or against others online. It really is escapism at its finest. And if shooting each other is not your idea of fun, a good game of football, baseball or hockey. Just clean safe fun in the comfort of your home that is sort of pathetic to others not into it.

    If you have an XBOX360 with LIVE, feel free to add my gamertag to your list of friends “xGARP”.

    [slp —??????] 


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