Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain

September 18, 2019 - Comment

The searing, wry memoir about a woman’s fight for a new life after a devastating brain injury. When Sarah Vallance is thrown from a horse and suffers a jarring blow to the head, she believes she’s walked away unscathed. The next morning, things take a sharp turn as she’s led from work to the emergency

The searing, wry memoir about a woman’s fight for a new life after a devastating brain injury.

When Sarah Vallance is thrown from a horse and suffers a jarring blow to the head, she believes she’s walked away unscathed. The next morning, things take a sharp turn as she’s led from work to the emergency room. By the end of the week, a neurologist delivers a devastating prognosis: Sarah suffered a traumatic brain injury that has caused her IQ to plummet, with no hope of recovery. Her brain has irrevocably changed.

Afraid of judgment and deemed no longer fit for work, Sarah isolates herself from the outside world. She spends months at home, with her dogs as her only source of companionship, battling a personality she no longer recognizes and her shock and rage over losing simple functions she’d taken for granted. Her life is consumed by fear and shame until a chance encounter gives Sarah hope that her brain can heal. That conversation lights a small flame of determination, and Sarah begins to push back, painstakingly reteaching herself to read and write, and eventually reentering the workforce and a new, if unpredictable, life.

In this highly intimate account of devastation and renewal, Sarah pulls back the curtain on life with traumatic brain injury, an affliction where the wounds are invisible and the lasting effects are often misunderstood. Over years of frustrating setbacks and uncertain triumphs, Sarah comes to terms with her disability and finds love with a woman who helps her embrace a new, accepting sense of self.

Comments

Anonymous says:

GRIPPING FROM THE FIRST WORDS WARNING FOR ANIMAL LOVERS. I’ve placed it at the bottom of the review so you can decide for yourself whether you want to read this spoiler.First the good stuff: In this memoir, the author, a lesbian who had recently come out, details her traumatic brain injury and its aftereffects. Thrown helmetless from a horse she should never have been on at the age of 31, she suffered a TBI without initially realizing what had happened. At first, she finds things in her home in odd places…

Anonymous says:

Superficial with an unlikable protagonist This book reads like a diary that details “how I rehabbed my damaged brain on my own.” The writer never seeks professional help (because she is hard-headed), blames her mother for not caring about her injury and situation, while acknowledging she has spent years “pushing her buttons,” and puts a dog to sleep to appease her girlfriend. There’s no deep thinking or self-awareness in this book and I gave up about halfway through (there was nothing left to learn, except I assume she completed her…

Anonymous says:

Vallance loves animals: finish reading the book, folks! First, I have to take issue with an unthinking criticism that a few readers have leveled at this book. This is the story of a woman who loves animals; if you read the whole book, it’s obvious — she even loves the animal who was involved in her near-life-destroying injury. Ifyou look at those reviews below, you can see that Vallance does something hard and heartbreaking (no spoilers) about the third of the way through the book that apparently convinced those few readers that the author must be…

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