Prognosis
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.

Prognosis Details

TitlePrognosis
Author
ReleaseAug 1st, 2019
PublisherLittle A
ISBN-139781542043021
Rating
GenreAutobiography, Memoir, Nonfiction, Biography

Prognosis Review

  • Rebekah
    January 1, 1970
    Not your typical white woman memoir of healing and redemption. Vallance's rendering of her life is told with brutal honesty and minimalist mush which just happen to include moments of humour and tenderness when confronted with the various faces of death. I laughed when I wanted to cry and vice versa.
    more
  • Ina Roy-Faderman
    January 1, 1970
    If you like Oliver Sack's article about face-blindness (New Yorker) or his books (particularly Uncle Tungsten and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), you will love this book.Before I get into why this is an amazing book: I've seen a few reviews by people who gave an unthinking criticism of the book because they believe that the author hates animals or is cruel to them. Those people really didn't get the book and/or didn't read the book through. This is the story of a woman who loves animals If you like Oliver Sack's article about face-blindness (New Yorker) or his books (particularly Uncle Tungsten and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat), you will love this book.Before I get into why this is an amazing book: I've seen a few reviews by people who gave an unthinking criticism of the book because they believe that the author hates animals or is cruel to them. Those people really didn't get the book and/or didn't read the book through. This is the story of a woman who loves animals. I mean, really loves them -- she even loves the animal who was involved in her near-life-destroying injury. There's a particular very upsetting decision in the book, and yes, you may be upset about the episode; importantly, you're supposed to be. So I'd suggest:*read what the author has to say about the particular event that upset some readers*read how she looks at herself because of that event (she's not giving herself a pass)*look at how it impacts her future decisions** make sure to finish the book. Autobiographers can choose leave things out to make themselves look better, and the fact that this author didn't leave this out tells you a lot about her story and about her love for other creatures. Now, about the book as a whole: As an M.D. and a person with a serious chronic illness, I get VERY tired of feel-good stories about near-fatal illnesses with simplistic arcs in which a savior (a doctor, a treatment, God, a lover, whatever) either fixes the illness or reconciles the patient to death. Some other reviewers have said the same thing, and I agree that Vallance's approach to her condtion is what makes this book so special. This memoir is not one of those easy feel-goods. Vallance is honest about how TBI affects every part of her life (her love life, her family, her education, her career, her living situations), and the mistakes she makes that are NOT about TBI --- she's unflinching about herself, which is the ultimate sign of a good memoirist. She's is unsparing about the ups and downs, the periodic helplessness, the moments of hope that people with serious injury or illness go through as they accommodate and battle a recalcitrant body. She tells the truths of serious illnesses, not a pretty, chocolate-box, Hallmark story. Unlike a lot of memoirs, this book is informative as well as personal -- it puts in a lot of really good information how so much of what's done to help/manage TBI and other neurological illnesses (e.g. Alzheimer's) are piecemeal, guesswork, case-by-case, and trial-and-error. Having to learn how to live with an illness that doesn't have a simple, easily-identifiable cause, or an obvious mechanism and progression of illness is one of the hardest things a person can do -- and harder still when it's unclear what your long-term prognosis is. Vallance tells us about herself honestly, but never at the expense of the story. The book is beautifully written, factual information gently added to the recounting of her adult life, so that anyone interested in what it's like when your brain changes on you will find both a moving story and information on what we know about TBI. This is one of the best books I've read this year.
    more
  • Peter
    January 1, 1970
    I do not like many memoirs, but this book reeled me in from the first page. I read it in two days. Wonderful insight into what it’s like to have a brain injury, and how to pick yourself up and keep going when all the odds are against you. It’s also funny!
    more
  • Cindy H.
    January 1, 1970
    This was a free Amazon Prime First Read selection for July. I feel a little apathetic giving 2 stars to someone who penned a memoir about recovering and living with a traumatic brain injury. But I’m keeping it real. While I can admire Sarah Vallance for sharing and relating her calamitous accident it did not make for an engaging story. The entire retelling felt devoid of any emotion. It was a rather dull read, and I found myself skimming pages.
    more
  • Kira
    January 1, 1970
    This is a work of phenomenal power. Vallance's story is one of courage and tenacity, revealing the need for a better understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury and its terrifying consequences. With wit and intelligence, Vallance chronicles her journey through experiences that would cause a lesser individual to give up. This memoir will make you appreciate the power of language and Vallance's ability to wield it affectively. Brimming with a viscerality that will make you both laugh and cry, Prognosi This is a work of phenomenal power. Vallance's story is one of courage and tenacity, revealing the need for a better understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury and its terrifying consequences. With wit and intelligence, Vallance chronicles her journey through experiences that would cause a lesser individual to give up. This memoir will make you appreciate the power of language and Vallance's ability to wield it affectively. Brimming with a viscerality that will make you both laugh and cry, Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain is a text that will remain with you, long after you have closed its final chapter.
    more
  • Catherine Dart
    January 1, 1970
    It is not often you get to read the pages of someone’s life with such openness, honesty, kindness and determination. This is a book I could not put down and was inspired beyond all else by the bravery, courage, intelligence and beauty of Sarah’s story. It brings awareness to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well gently unfolds the fear, loneliness, grit and hope of this wonderful woman. Her story is a “must read” and one that teaches us to not judge, but rather seek to understand everyone’s story It is not often you get to read the pages of someone’s life with such openness, honesty, kindness and determination. This is a book I could not put down and was inspired beyond all else by the bravery, courage, intelligence and beauty of Sarah’s story. It brings awareness to Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) as well gently unfolds the fear, loneliness, grit and hope of this wonderful woman. Her story is a “must read” and one that teaches us to not judge, but rather seek to understand everyone’s story. You simply must read this incredible book.
    more
  • Joanne
    January 1, 1970
    Sarah Vallance’s Prognosis is a ‘must read’. It is in turn witty, brutally honest, heartbreaking and uplifting. Rocking along at a good pace it keeps the reader riveted. I absolutely loved reading this book. An amazing achievement by a talented new writer. I highly recommended it.
    more
  • David H
    January 1, 1970
    Vallances deeply personal memoir is both beautiful and utterly absorbing. With intellect humour and compassion, she weaves together the multiple and complex strands, of her own very personal journey back from profound brain injury. Told with an unflinching and often confronting honesty, A memoir of my brain is moving, reflective and ultimately a hugely rewarding read.
    more
  • Katrina
    January 1, 1970
    an Incredibly emotionally ravaging and inspiring account of life after a brain injury ...this books draws you in from the first page and keeps the pace going as you join in an incredible journey of pain, loss, discovery and hope. A must read for anyone who loves memoirs.
    more
  • Aye See
    January 1, 1970
    Inspirational. Brutally honest. In turns funny and heartbreaking. With wry humor, this book had me riveted from the first page. The resilience of human spirit that refuses to be daunted by adversity. It’s a story that needs to be shared. I highly recommend this book.
    more
  • Vicuña
    January 1, 1970
    Wow, what a read! One of the best non fiction books I’ve read...ever. Honest, compelling, a tale of courage and truth.Sarah Vallance has written one of the most remarkable and memorable autobiographies I’ve read. It’s powerful, articulate and an extraordinary story of a personal fight against the odds.Sarah suffered serious brain trauma after being catapulted from horseback. Initially, she seemed OK, but after a day or two, it became clear that she was brain injured. The effects were devastating Wow, what a read! One of the best non fiction books I’ve read...ever. Honest, compelling, a tale of courage and truth.Sarah Vallance has written one of the most remarkable and memorable autobiographies I’ve read. It’s powerful, articulate and an extraordinary story of a personal fight against the odds.Sarah suffered serious brain trauma after being catapulted from horseback. Initially, she seemed OK, but after a day or two, it became clear that she was brain injured. The effects were devastating, personally, professionally and intellectually. Prognosis is her brave, honest and totally compelling account of what happened over some 20+ years.I can’t begin to imagine what it must be like to suddenly face the world without and anchor. Remove all the norms by which we act and make judgements. Everything we take for granted, day in and day out. Sarah allows us some insight into that different, challenging and confusing world she faced, daily. She does so with candour, humour and compassion. How does one deal with moving from being a respected senior professional, on the verge of a PhD to someone credited with an IQ of 80, offered a job stuffing rags into soft toys?This is heartbreaking but ultimately uplifting story. It’s a privilege to learn and understand how perseverance, with a large dose of bloody mindedness, can defy the odds. I’m humbled by her achievements and I’d urge anyone with ev3n a remote interest in h7man nature to read this book. It’s one which will stay with me for some time.
    more
  • Kathleen A
    January 1, 1970
    Hard to put downThe author presents her life in a stark way but very readable. Amazing what she has accomplished and how she perservered.
  • Karen Levay
    January 1, 1970
    Sarah’s life was upended with a traumatic brain injury. Her memoir tells how she “recovered” her life. She is honest about her life choices and history even if it sometimes is a bit hard to understand the reasoning.
  • Susan
    January 1, 1970
    July 2019 First Reads choice
  • Vikki
    January 1, 1970
    Prognosis was an interesting book. The brain’s capacity to adjust and learn is nothing short of amazing. I was stunned by the fact that her brain injury didn’t present more symptoms on impact. I admire her persistence in relearning all that she had to relearn. Parts of it were very repetitive and I would have liked to see her take more action to address the emotional side effects of the brain injury.
    more
  • Olga Hammock
    January 1, 1970
    I found this a fascinating account of how brain damage affects the sufferer. Vallance is honest and open about her failings but also non- self-indulgent and matter-of-fact. Very interring and well-written. I wanted to keep going.
  • Mary
    January 1, 1970
    One of the Kindle free books this month on Amazon.
  • Roanne Mountford
    January 1, 1970
    This is a standout memoir. The setup (a traumatic brain injury) is gripping but it’s the long game - the bittersweet human moments of relationship with family, lovers and oneself, and Sarah’s beautiful animals - that really bewitched me. The writing is witty, spare, paint-stripper honest. I read it fast and hard, hoping things were going to be okay, willing everything to come good, for Sarah’s menagerie of dogs and cats to pull her through. It’s punchy, pacy, and doesn’t disappoint.Read it in tw This is a standout memoir. The setup (a traumatic brain injury) is gripping but it’s the long game - the bittersweet human moments of relationship with family, lovers and oneself, and Sarah’s beautiful animals - that really bewitched me. The writing is witty, spare, paint-stripper honest. I read it fast and hard, hoping things were going to be okay, willing everything to come good, for Sarah’s menagerie of dogs and cats to pull her through. It’s punchy, pacy, and doesn’t disappoint.Read it in two sittings for a reason. I just couldn’t wait.
    more
  • Tara Wasinger
    January 1, 1970
    The book started out strong, and I was even recommending it to my friends, but then about halfway through it went downhill fast. I bought this book to learn more about traumatic brain injury, not lesbianism and sacrificing the things you love for your hot girlfriend. If the author had been hiding it her entire life and then all the sudden came out BECAUSE of the brain injury, then it would have had more of a place in the story, but she had already come out so I felt a lot of that stuff could hav The book started out strong, and I was even recommending it to my friends, but then about halfway through it went downhill fast. I bought this book to learn more about traumatic brain injury, not lesbianism and sacrificing the things you love for your hot girlfriend. If the author had been hiding it her entire life and then all the sudden came out BECAUSE of the brain injury, then it would have had more of a place in the story, but she had already come out so I felt a lot of that stuff could have been omitted. Also, she dotes on being such a dog lover, yet when Bess was having her separation anxiety, and I quote, the author said, "I killed my dog for Laura." She's right too, she didn't try any other options first such as trying to re-home Bess to a home where the owner wouldn't be leaving her 9.5 hours EVERY DAY for work. She knew her girlfriend didn't like her dog and disposed of her. Quite honestly it made me sick and I almost quit reading right then and there. Anyway, I do not recommend this book on account of so much personal drama/details that have nothing to do with the brain injury.
    more
  • Kira
    January 1, 1970
    This is a work of phenomenal power. Vallance's story is one of courage and tenacity, revealing the need for a better understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury and its terrifying consequences. With wit and intelligence, Vallance chronicles her her journey through experiences that would cause a lesser individual to give up. This memoir will make you appreciate the power of language and Vallance's ability to wield it affectively. Brimming with a viscerally that will make you both laugh and cry, Progn This is a work of phenomenal power. Vallance's story is one of courage and tenacity, revealing the need for a better understanding of Traumatic Brain Injury and its terrifying consequences. With wit and intelligence, Vallance chronicles her her journey through experiences that would cause a lesser individual to give up. This memoir will make you appreciate the power of language and Vallance's ability to wield it affectively. Brimming with a viscerally that will make you both laugh and cry, Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain is a text that will remain with you, long after you have closed its final chapter.
    more
  • Max
    January 1, 1970
    What a great book. I couldnt put it down. Beautifully written and a fascinating story.
  • Linda
    January 1, 1970
    A candid, compulsive, authentic memoir. This rollercoaster read which is often uncomfortable with its visceral truths, reminds us that it is our choices that make us. This author chose to boldly grab onto and rebuild her life with a force which left me with a huge respect for her achievement. You can't read this book without applauding the power of the human/animal bond as well.
    more
  • Tanya
    January 1, 1970
    I've just finished reading Prognosis by Sarah Vallance - and although I don't write many book reviews I feel compelled to write this one. I loved this book for so many reasons and on the off chance the author reads this review I want her to know it and to thank her.Before I get into what makes this book so good, though, I just want to address one thing - to say this is a book by someone who really, truly loves animals. I am a vegan and animal lover myself and am very sensitive to these issues an I've just finished reading Prognosis by Sarah Vallance - and although I don't write many book reviews I feel compelled to write this one. I loved this book for so many reasons and on the off chance the author reads this review I want her to know it and to thank her.Before I get into what makes this book so good, though, I just want to address one thing - to say this is a book by someone who really, truly loves animals. I am a vegan and animal lover myself and am very sensitive to these issues and I think Sarah is an excellent dog and cat mom based on everything she had said in this book. Yes she did have a 12 year old dog put to sleep - after the dog had explosive diarrhea every day for six months. She also rescued, loved, and cared for many animals who wouldn't have had a hope of survival without her.So now on to what was so compelling about this book:1. The way the author injected so much of her personality into this book. I feel like I really got to know her, warts and all, through reading about her struggles, large and small. Although she says she isn't a people person (a statement which hilariously lands her a job in HR), she comes across as very likable because she's very honest and real. 2. The quality of the writing. The book is very well written - particularly the pacing. Although Sarah had trouble with chronology following her TBI this doesn't come across in the way the book is written. She skips seemlessly from her childhood to the accident to the short and long term repercussions and back again but it's extremely easy to follow. At each stage she reveals the telling details at exactly the right time, drawing the reader in.3. The book is very informative without being dry. She does this with quotes by Pliny the Elder to statistics about getting and recovering from TBIs, and includes a set of quite comprehensive footnotes (I'm a sucker for a good footnote). The result is that the reader learns a lot without being bored for a second. In fact I was barely able to put this book down.4. The author is very inspiring. Not in a stereotypical way - she doesn't make herself out to be perfect and there are many times she nearly gives in completely. But she just makes me think she had done and achieved so much with a TBI that surely I can do more than I am doing without one!So obviously in conclusion I highly recommend this book. I hope it is very successful - I would love for that to happen to this pricklingly endearing author!
    more
  • Barbara
    January 1, 1970
    When Sarah Vallance fell off a horse she didn't expect it to change her life forever. Diagnosed with a 'mild' traumatic brain injury (TBI), she soon found out that the term 'mild' didn't mean it wasn't still very serious. She was working on her PhD whilst doing a well-paid and highly responsible job but was told she'd have an IQ of about 80 and would never work again.A chance meeting with a neuroscientist in a park led her to discover that it's not impossible for the brain to 'recover' capabilit When Sarah Vallance fell off a horse she didn't expect it to change her life forever. Diagnosed with a 'mild' traumatic brain injury (TBI), she soon found out that the term 'mild' didn't mean it wasn't still very serious. She was working on her PhD whilst doing a well-paid and highly responsible job but was told she'd have an IQ of about 80 and would never work again.A chance meeting with a neuroscientist in a park led her to discover that it's not impossible for the brain to 'recover' capabilities after such an injury and so she set about slowly, painstakingly, and methodically relearning words, grammar and how to write again.Her brain injury was only one part of the basket of problems she had to deal with. After her injury she realised her past and present sexuality wasn't the same and she had to deal with the continued anxiety associated with her father's death and her mother's indifference towards her.20% of my way into the book I called a friend who had a brain injury last year and suggested she get the book as this month's Amazon Prime choice. I was inspired at that stage that the book showed she clearly had recovered vocabulary and writing skills. I'm not entirely sure how my friend will react now I'm 100% of the way through as the book is so much more than a brain-recovery story and Vallance continues through most of the book to be depressed and, at times, suicidal.There are few constants in her life other than her deep love for animals and her determination to not be judged for her injury. She achieves amazing things, lives in interesting places, has almost functional relationships with various women and functional relationships with dogs and cats. Some will consider her somewhat unlikeable but I think that's unfair. There's an honesty in her book that few writers would risk; perhaps that's due in part to her distorted social filters that mean she's not sure when and what to say and doesn't protect herself through NOT saying things. Despite a lot of doom and gloom, this is a book that ends with a great big dollop of hope for the future. I'm glad I chose it as one of my Amazon 'First Reads'. I recommend it highly to anybody who knows somebody with such an injury........and to anybody who doesn't but still wants to know how a life can change in an instant and be rebuilt over decades.
    more
  • The Nashville Wife Reads
    January 1, 1970
    This was such a good book. I first rated it 4-stars for a few reasons but one being this was my first memoir. I had absolutely nothing to judge it on. Then the more it sat, the more my mind absorbed all I read, I realized this was truly a good book, especially considering it was the first she wrote. It deserves all it's 5 stars. I want to write a good review and I'm far too tired to do that so I will continue this later. Just do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Keep an open mind and under This was such a good book. I first rated it 4-stars for a few reasons but one being this was my first memoir. I had absolutely nothing to judge it on. Then the more it sat, the more my mind absorbed all I read, I realized this was truly a good book, especially considering it was the first she wrote. It deserves all it's 5 stars. I want to write a good review and I'm far too tired to do that so I will continue this later. Just do yourself a favor and pick up this book. Keep an open mind and understand that everything she writes about, she is writing about her life as a person with a brain injury. There have been comments made about her focus being on the fact that she was a lesbian and how she shouldn't have (which is so not true. She didn't focus on it, that is her life. It's no different than if she were married to a man and talked about him and other boyfriends all throughout the book. I think perhaps the reader may have been too focused on it themselves.) Anyways, the point is, this was a really great book. Well written with a LOT of really inspiring and thought-provoking writing all throughout. Thank you Sarah Vallance for writing such a great book and for sharing so much of yourself to us readers. "With work, I never had enough time to write. Now I had too much time. Freedom creates a prison all its own.""Like most introverts, I have few social needs, and if I cannot enjoy the company of the small handful of people I love, I would rather be alone. One of my many contradictions is that I don’t like people much, but I find comfort in having them around."“We brain-injured folk get a really raw deal. Doctors blame us for our accidents—as if we wanted a brain injury. Neuropsychologists think we invent our symptoms because we are emotionally unstable or trying to cheat the legal system. Society thinks we are violent and unpredictable. Families and partners tire of our mood swings. And I’m one of the lucky ones. There are scores of brain-damaged people who can’t speak for themselves."
    more
  • Libre Paley
    January 1, 1970
    This memoir charts an extraordinary journey. It begins with dramatic effect, charting the day Sarah Vallance was thrown from a horse and sustains alife-changing head injury – from which she walks away, initially believing herself to be unharmed. From the events of that one fateful day, we also gain glimpses of Sarah’s character, as a risk-taker, animal-lover, an independent woman, successful in her career,and a PhD student. She strikes me as someone who isn’t interested in undertaking something This memoir charts an extraordinary journey. It begins with dramatic effect, charting the day Sarah Vallance was thrown from a horse and sustains alife-changing head injury – from which she walks away, initially believing herself to be unharmed. From the events of that one fateful day, we also gain glimpses of Sarah’s character, as a risk-taker, animal-lover, an independent woman, successful in her career,and a PhD student. She strikes me as someone who isn’t interested in undertaking something unless she can be the best at it – she appears as proud of her complete inability in Maths as she is satisfied by her many accomplishments. However, she will no longerget to choose what she is good at, for the next day she discovers she has been dealt a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that has rendered her unable to continue in her career and reduced her IQ by forty points (as an aside, I am amazed at the faith placed in theIQ test here – hopefully its scientific debunking has taken hold since then).The rest of the book covers the author’s life over the ensuing twenty years. It charts Sarah’s fall into depression after her injury,able to bear only the company of her beloved dogs, then her rise in determination to get her life back. She documents her painful but determined return to her studies, teaching herself to read extensive text and to type again, as well as her efforts to regaina sex – and eventually romantic – life. This sees her move overseas for a number of years, away from her native Australia, studying, eventually holding down high-powered jobs, and forming several serious relationships before she finally, back in Australiaand in middle-age, meets her future wife. Along the way, we also get glimpses of the challenging childhood that shaped her character, the emotionally distant mother, and her adored father—who turns out have had a darker side. The story is told with an objective calm, almost clinical at times as the author seeks out and relates the facts around her condition.Sarah is not always a sympathetic character – a fact she is more than aware of – but you root for her all the way. An absorbing read (4.5 stars if I could).
    more
  • Kay
    January 1, 1970
    I read this because of Kindle First Reads and, if it hadn't been free, I'd want my money back.Vallance comes off as a heartless ass, using others so she can get whatever she wants and emotionally abusing her partners. Actually, everyone but Louise in this book seems to be kind of terrible. What can I say, I have high standards for humans I interact with.(view spoiler)[And no, Sarah, your ex did not "make you kill your dog". Fuck off with that garbage and take responsibility for a decision YOU ma I read this because of Kindle First Reads and, if it hadn't been free, I'd want my money back.Vallance comes off as a heartless ass, using others so she can get whatever she wants and emotionally abusing her partners. Actually, everyone but Louise in this book seems to be kind of terrible. What can I say, I have high standards for humans I interact with.(view spoiler)[And no, Sarah, your ex did not "make you kill your dog". Fuck off with that garbage and take responsibility for a decision YOU made. Your dog had serious anxiety problems that you could not solve (did you take her to the vet? get her meds? try to treat her at all and admit that your girlfriend had an excellent point that a dog spraying diarrhea all over the kitchen walls every day is not ok?). (hide spoiler)]Vallance waxes poetic about what a good father her dad was, but lest we forget he punched her full in the face and beat her so badly she had permanent scars. Far be it from me to understand other peoples' families, but.....holy shit. Those things are unforgivable for me. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯It's also deeply important to point out that Vallance is emotionally abusive and seemingly unrepentant about it, explaining it as a symptom of her TBI or (more often) not acknowledging her role as abuser at all. I'm reminded of a Chani Nicholas quote that seems especially pertinent: something about having trauma being fine, but you don't have the right to inflict your trauma on others. I'd argue that includes the emotional aftereffects of brain trauma. Vallance is not responsible for her violent outbursts, but she is responsible for their effects on others. This complicates the book, but ultimately does not diminish my supreme dislike of it.
    more
  • Jessica
    January 1, 1970
    Vallance's poignant memoir sells her woefully short. Her achievements in the face of brain injury and abject rejection by her family are truly remarkable. To me, this is not only Vallance's story about coping with and to some degree conquering TBI, but it also shows a) how far we've come since the 90s in understanding brain injuries, and b) that other health care systems aren't always the panaceas that Americans want them to be. Vallance is practically left on an island by an unfeeling neurologi Vallance's poignant memoir sells her woefully short. Her achievements in the face of brain injury and abject rejection by her family are truly remarkable. To me, this is not only Vallance's story about coping with and to some degree conquering TBI, but it also shows a) how far we've come since the 90s in understanding brain injuries, and b) that other health care systems aren't always the panaceas that Americans want them to be. Vallance is practically left on an island by an unfeeling neurologist, who shortly after her injury basically tells her she's now "retarded" and cannot work gainfully. But for a chance encounter in a dog park -- and some amazing dogs -- who knows where Vallance would've wound up? And, don't get me started on Vallance's mother. Let me first give credit: she never cared that Vallance is a lesbian. And that is the only good thing I have to say about this woman. Even assuming half of what Vallance writes is accurate, her mom is in the annals of "bad mom" (not to mention her deceased father, who she adored, was also abusive). That Vallance continues to pursue a relationship with her mother, let along care for her in eventual demise from dementia, is a fundamental sacrificial love. Overall, this is a story of a rebuilt, re-jiggered life. I do wish Vallance had spent some more time on how her depression and anxiety operated -- she often used it in conclusory fashion: this relationship failed because of my anxiety and depression -- and I would've liked a little more insight. Also, I was not impressed by the Australian medical system. Vallance seemed to lurch from provider to provider without any true medical care.
    more
  • Susan Kaplan
    January 1, 1970
    The Hidden Trauma of TBISarah Vallance sustained a traumatic brain injury as a young woman after being thrown from a horse. Although her injury was initially dismissed as mild, after years of struggling to reclaim her wits, as it were, she finally discovered that her injury was not mild, but severe, as is demonstrated by the deficits after the accident. A PhD candidate in the middle of writing her dissertation in Australia at the time of her accident, she discovered, to her horror, that she coul The Hidden Trauma of TBISarah Vallance sustained a traumatic brain injury as a young woman after being thrown from a horse. Although her injury was initially dismissed as mild, after years of struggling to reclaim her wits, as it were, she finally discovered that her injury was not mild, but severe, as is demonstrated by the deficits after the accident. A PhD candidate in the middle of writing her dissertation in Australia at the time of her accident, she discovered, to her horror, that she could no longer make sense of the written word, and literally taught herself how to read and write again.I was horrified at the lack of care and follow up Ms. Vallence received after her injury - that is, none. Little was known about TBI that left the injured person walking and talking, sounding and appearing sensible, and able to earn a living at the time of her injury. That she forged ahead and blazed her own trail of recovery is nothing short of miraculous. And, while she has permanent deficits, she is a successful and independent woman.The book describes her love life, her world travels, her complex jobs, and her deep affection for her dogs and cats. After two long term relationships failed, she vowed to just live on her own, but as fate works in mysterious ways, she found a woman, who, like herself, wasn’t looking for a relationship. They fell deeply in love and are now married.Sarah Vallence is a remarkable woman who has written an honest and heartfelt story of her life. We can all learn a lot from her.
    more
  • Mizloo
    January 1, 1970
    The author is a brain injury survivor, whose dearly loved father died the year before her injury. My dearly loved husband died the year before my head injury. The loss of the trusted, loving companion just before debilitating trauma leaves a patient at the mercies of an often impersonal healthcare system.Many of the personal details in our lives are much less comparable, but the plethora of damage experiences was riveting; It is so hard to process what is happening in one's life, when the primar The author is a brain injury survivor, whose dearly loved father died the year before her injury. My dearly loved husband died the year before my head injury. The loss of the trusted, loving companion just before debilitating trauma leaves a patient at the mercies of an often impersonal healthcare system.Many of the personal details in our lives are much less comparable, but the plethora of damage experiences was riveting; It is so hard to process what is happening in one's life, when the primary processor (one's brain) is disabled and malfunctioning by turns. Living with an important, but invisible disability is in itself such such hard work that the efforts of adjusting to a changed self, while attempting to relearn new strategies for everyday routines, is exhausting. Sarah Vallance conveys accurately the invasion of uncertainty into every part of life. From getting out the door clean and neatly dressed, to conquering groceries: the shopping, preparing, and cleanup involved. To social interactions: getting ready, getting there, controlling impulsivity and blurts. To work of any kind: finding the beginning, mustering the energy, recognizing the tasks, organizing the steps, mastering the exhaustion.This is a very good book about finding/recognizing one's life work, dealing with the realities of aging, the comforts of animal companions and understanding the intricacies of human relationships.It is a wonderful book about living with brain injury.
    more
Write a review