Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain

Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain

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 progno...

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Title:Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain
Author:Sarah Vallance
Rating:

Prognosis: A Memoir of My Brain Reviews

  • Rebekah

    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.

  • Joanne

    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.

  • Catherine Dart

    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.

  • Aye See

    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.

  • Kira

    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.

  • Peter

    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!

  • David H

    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.

  • Ina Roy-Faderman

    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.

  • Gina

    Sarah had a good life. She was well on her way to getting her doctorate degree. She was very intelligent and scholastic things came easy to her (with the exception of math). She was very close to her father, a geologist, and exactly the opposite with her mother, who was decidedly cold and even mean at times. Sarah was also a daredevil.

    At age 31, she climbs up onto a horse she later admits she had no business being on, and she has no idea how to control him. She is thrown very high and actually f

    Sarah had a good life. She was well on her way to getting her doctorate degree. She was very intelligent and scholastic things came easy to her (with the exception of math). She was very close to her father, a geologist, and exactly the opposite with her mother, who was decidedly cold and even mean at times. Sarah was also a daredevil.

    At age 31, she climbs up onto a horse she later admits she had no business being on, and she has no idea how to control him. She is thrown very high and actually feels her brain jar upon impact. She was not wearing a helmet.

    She believes she is fine and carries on. Odd things begin to happen - things she cannot explain. Her toaster goes missing leading her to believe she's been robbed. Other things are also missing, found in strange places (like the freezer) and she has no recollection of putting them there. She can't think straight and she is told to go get checked out when her strange behavior continues at work.

    After that, her perfect world lies in a shambles. Told she has suffered a traumatic brain injury that has led to a severe drop in her IQ, she is told she will never work again, much less finish her doctorate.

    Angry, depressed and confused, she withdraws from everything and everyone. Her temper is uncontrollable, her mood swings violent. Her mother doesn't even care enough to check up on her, and her beloved father has died.

    A lover of dogs, a chance encounter at a dog park ignites a spark in Sarah and a new belief that recovery from traumatic brain injuries is entirely possible. She enters into a relationship with a partner, and begins to try to "fix" her brain. She is relentless and driven - and she is still violent and angry, which doesn't work while in a relationship. It is during this relationship that Sarah does something that really bothered me as an animal lover so be forewarned. There is a reason for it, but it was still horrific to read. I don't think I'll ever get over it because I truly believe there are always other solutions. Sorry if that's a spoiler but I don't want anyone getting slammed with that in the face as I was.

    Sarah does not shy from admitting her shortcomings and it took a brave woman to write this book. I applaud her for doing so. It is an eye-opening read into the life of a person whose entire life - actually, their entire personality - are forever changed after a TBI. Medical science is making strides in treating TBIs, but the effects on sufferers and their loved ones is extremely devastating.

  • Cindy H.

    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.

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