Most would not expect a book about a stroke to be entertaining, but this memoir will force you to laugh through a tragedy, then cry, then laugh again.
Avrel Seale was fifty, did not smoke or drink, had low blood pressure, and had hiked more than two hundred miles the year a stroke nearly ended his life. In an instant, he was teleported into the body of an old man—unbalanced, shaky, spastic, and half-paralyzed. Overnight, he was plunged into a world of brain surgeons, nurses, insurance case managers, and an abundance of therapists.
Beginning three weeks before his stroke to set the stage, Seale leads us through the harrowing day of his stroke and emergency brain surgery with minute-by-minute intensity. We then follow him through ICU, a rehab hospital, and a neuro-recovery group-living center, where we meet a memorable cast of other stroke survivors and also those recovering from auto accidents and gunshots. Finally home, Seale leads us through a new life of firsts, including returning to work, to driving, to playing guitar, to camping, and even to writing a book—all with one hand.
What emerges from his humor (“elegant but devastating”) is a revealing critique of the hospital experience, the insurance industry, and rehab culture. And his nothing-off-the-table quest for recovery shows both the sobering struggles and inspiring possibilities of life after a stroke in twenty-first century America.
AVREL SEALE lives in Austin with his wife, Kirstin, and three sons. He has been a newspaper reporter and columnist and has spent much of his career at the University of Texas at Austin, as editor of its alumni magazine, speechwriter for its president, and as a writer for its news, marketing, and development offices.