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East Bay Book Club Message Board › Meeting Recap: May 2012 Contemporary Book Discussion (My Stroke of Insight b

Meeting Recap: May 2012 Contemporary Book Discussion (My Stroke of Insight by Jill Bolte Taylor)

Group Organizer
Union City, CA
Post #: 19
The discussion of Jill Bolte Taylor's My Stroke of Insight is certainly one of the more lively discussions we've had so far. (Not that other discussions haven't been lively, because they usually are.) Club member Kristin led the discussion and really didn't have to do much because everyone had so much to say about the book.

Before the discussion, there were a few interesting facts about the book Kristin mentioned:
- The book is actually being option for a movie adaptation. There was talk of actress Jodi Foster playing Dr. Taylor, but that hasn't materialized as of yet.
- There was even mention of a ballet inspired by this story. (?)
- The publisher paid a seven-figure sum to the author for this book.

Much of the beginning of the discussion provided an overview of everyone's background in relation to the book and their related comments. Examples:
- Christine, a science teacher, noted that the current understanding of the brain is that the left-right dichotomy isn't really as dichotomous as previously thought.
- Michal, a psychologist, agrees with this.
- Ann, whose father suffered a atroke, looked back on the wonderful care he received and also appreciated the list of stroke signs provided in this book.
- Pam, a speech therapist, recalls having to learn neuroanatomy to know how to pinpoint the location of a problem in the brain. She also brings up the concept of neuroplasticity, which suggests that neural rewiring and recovery can continue even years after the first six months traditionally considered to be the only window of opportunity for stroke recovery.
- I myself, in a former life, went to medical school, and the book took me right back to my neuroanatomy class in my first year of med school.
- Nancy said that the brain does indeed have the ability to recover, and that the change is always hopeful.
- Julianne was amazed how the author managed to recall the events of her stroke.
- Maria found the book encouraging because it shows how a stroke is like a spiritual experience (perhaps dying is similar).
- Deb D. noted that the book provides just enough material to understand the subject, with no extraneous details.
- Randi related this book to the situation with Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords who was shot in the head and spent months trying to recover, with a strong support network to help.
- Marianne shared insight about how everyone who has a stroke expriences it differently.

There was one moment where one club member shared a hilarious story. (I myself won't say who, but that person is welcome to disclose it.) It involved an experience of smoking marijuana and having a "right brain" experience where there was no attention to detail. That included the fact that the member's clothes were on fire, which explained a mysterious pain that had no apparent connection to the smoking. The point of this anecdote, of course, was to remind everyone of what the right brain does.

With so many spontaneous comments, Kristin only had to provide one more discussion question: What was everyone's stroke of insight from Stroke of Insight?

Some responses pertained to misconceptions about stroke patients:
- Maria commented that stroke patients may be able to hear just fine, so there's no need to raise your voice with them.
- Ann noted a part in the book where the author wanted to eat food presented to her but was unable to communicate it.
- Christine brought up two quotes to remember: "Cells that fier together wire together" and "Practice makes permanent."

Other comments were about how to use the right brain more, such as meditation and improv theater (Christine mentioned, in case you 're interested). Pam noted that using the left brain suppresses the right brain. Deb D. reminded us that "everyone has it [creativity] in them," and Randi took away the message to look what one CAN do and not can't do.

Aside from three people who said the writing style could be better, everyone loved the book. Several final thoughts were about how the book helps us appreciate being alive and how you can be in your right brain at any time. Stroke recovery and anything else involving your brain are all about the energy you bring.

Overall, a very fun discussion, even for a book that is less than 200 pages. :-)
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