Surviving Stroke: A Personal Story
Brain Scientist Jill Bolte Taylor on Her Stroke, Recovery, and the Warning Signs Everyone Needs to Know
Stroke Recovery: What Helped, What Didn't continued...
And during her waking hours, Taylor needed people around her who believed in
her ability to recover, no matter how long it took.
Before she had her language skills back, Taylor relied on nonverbal cues her
doctors and visitors displayed -- their facial expressions, their body
language, whether they were in a hurry or in a bad mood.
It took effort, energy, and time for her to try to listen and communicate.
And she would try to gauge who was worth it, or, as she puts it, who "showed
up" and slowed down and cared.
"If you do show up for me, then maybe I'm willing to show up for you. But if
you don't show up for me, I'm certainly not going to show up for you, and I'm
going to disconnect. And the more time I choose to disconnect, the more
disconnected I am from even trying," Taylor says.
Recovered, but Changed
Taylor now says she considers herself "110% functional" but different than
before her stroke.
"In every way, I have recovered, but I have not returned to being the same
person I was before," she says.
What's changed? Her priorities.
Before the stroke, "I was much more 'me' oriented, much more career
oriented," Taylor says. "And now, I'm not like that. Now, I'm much more
about 'we.' How do I use the time that I have here to use my gifts to make a
positive contribution to how we live our lives and for the health and
well-being for other people who are in the place that I have been?"
Stepping to the Right
The morning of Taylor's stroke, when her brain's left hemisphere -- the
chatty taskmaster side of the brain -- fell silent, Taylor felt a deep sense of
Today, she fosters that sense of peace when anger and fear start to rile her
She notices those angry or scared feelings, asks herself if she wants to
feel that way, and shifts her attention to the present moment -- often, to the
"I look outside if I can. I look at trees that are blowing. I look at
colors. I look at big pictures. I soften my eyes so I'm not focused on detail.
I shift my mind consciously into the present moment and pay attention to the
information coming in through my sensory system," says Taylor, who calls the
process "stepping to the right," or shifting to her brain's right
It's a legacy from her stroke that Taylor says can work for anyone.
"It can make all the difference in the world," she says.