My daughter suffers from a TBI that occurred 10 years ago. Although, her injury was no where near as severe she still has issues to this day. This book was honest, real and opened up the stress and agony that a family goes through after a TBI. This actually would be a great book to suggest your friends read if you are dealing with a TBI. It will help them see how valuable they can be to those who are struggling and give them a good idea of what you may be going through. One side note, the chapters are short and easy to read. A plus for busy people.
From the opening paragraphs of her gripping book Learning by Accident, two of author Rosemary Rawlins’ many talents immediately shine through. The first is her ability to organize the mass of detailed recollections she accumulated in the midst of family chaos. By carefully sifting this material, she has given us an intimate view of how she, her husband Hugh and their two daughters struggled through Hugh’s traumatic brain injury (TBI) for weeks, months and beyond. She presents her story in vivid prose that is fast-paced, brutally honest and filled with emotion. This reflects her second obvious talent as a writer and consummate story teller who draws us in, not as mere observers, but as participants in her family’s painful struggle. We ride with them on that fabled roller coaster down into the dark abyss of the unknown, upheaval, fear and helplessness. We climb upward with them, back to the light, only to be plunged down again into the black emptiness of doubt, exhaustion and anxiety. Her writing is masterful for these reasons alone. But it is more than that because of the other themes she not only writes about but lives. She emphasizes the strength provided by family, friends and numerous caring professionals who help Hugh – and his family -- recover.
Over the course of my own lifetime, my family confronted all too many circumstances like those of the Rawlins family. My father, a career Navy pilot, survived three wars, nearly three years captivity in the Korean War, five plane crashes and countless wounds, disease, burns and later in life, brain surgery. The parallels between my family’s struggles and the Rawlins’ are striking. Although the root causes of our respective anguish were different, the impacts and our responses were nearly identical. They converged and then merged. Because of this, Learning by Accident is a book that can benefit anyone whose life has been turned upside down by catastrophe. It can apply to the family of a civilian like Hugh who was grievously injured when struck by a car. It can just as easily apply to the family of a wounded warrior suffering the life-altering impacts of combat. Regardless, the way out of these jungles is surprisingly consistent. Rosemary Rawlins shows us that it is founded on a stubborn devotion to those we care about. It is fueled by a determination to never accept defeat, to never quit and to leave no one behind. Rosemary Rawlins has shown us how to do this even while struggling to do it herself; while trying to understand the how and why of the sad misfortune that struck her and her loved ones. By opening her heart to people she doesn’t even know, Rosemary Rawlins inspires all of us to walk through our lives, especially through the tough times, with hope and courage.
Jay Thornton, co-author, Believed to be Alive and author, You Make Me Strong
This is a brave and honest book about a family's journey through the first two years of severe traumatic brain injury (TBI). The lives of the author, Rosemary Rawlins, and her two amazing young daughters, change in a second when Rosemary's husband, Hugh, is thrown from his bike, battering his brain. This family was blessed with close and supportive family and friends, work colleagues, and excellent therapists. They had insurance to cover months of expensive hospitalization and rehabilitation requirements, and disability insurance to keep them financially afloat. Reading what they went through as Hugh took one small step at a time, is sobering, especially when one realizes how much more difficult it must be for those families without these extensive support and financial networks. But even here, it is only because of Rosemary's persistence in maintaining those networks, and keeping faith in her husband's ability to recover, that there is a happy ending. Hugh's recovery is truly remarkable, and highlights the most important tenant of recovery from TBI: it may slow, it may plateau, it may even backtrack at times, but with hard work, hope, continuing support, care for the caregivers as well as the TBI person, and perseverance, the brain will continue to recover. An epilogue written 6 years after Hugh's TBI gives wonderful hope, as this engaging family frolics once more in the surf at their new beach house. For Rosemary, writing the story was therapeutic, and reading it will be therapeutic as well as informative for anyone who has someone in their lives who has suffered a TBI, a stroke, or any other debilitating brain disorder.
I was married 6 months after sustaining a severe brain injury in 1989. Like Rosemary's husband, Hugh, I made a miraculous recovery. However, brain injury recovery is never smooth, quick, or easy. I have read numerous books by survivors telling their story, I have written two books (collections of essays) on brain injury, this is one of the few books written by a care-giver.
Care-giving is such a monumental task, writing a book is such a monumental task, that combined it is pretty obvious why there are not too many books available from this perspective. To find a book that is so well written and insightful is a gift and a rare jewel.
If you are a care-giver, buy this book for its hope, strategy, wisdom, and inspiration. If you are a person with a brain injury, buy this book because it will give an eye opening account of the "other side of the coin." Anyone with a brain injury who is married will gain a deeper appreciation for the loved ones who had to watch them suffer and struggle with their recovery. After 24 years of marriage I felt like I was seeing a whole new side of my wife. It has allowed me to become a better, more appreciative, husband.