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PROGNOSIS by Sarah Vallance

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 prognosis: Sarah suffered a traumatic brain injury that has caused her IQ to plummet, with no hope of recovery. Her brain has irrevocably changed.

Afraid of judgment and deemed no longer fit for work, Sarah isolates herself from the outside world. She spends months at home, with her dogs as her only source of companionship, battling a personality she no longer recognizes and her shock and rage over losing simple functions she’d taken for granted. Her life is consumed by fear and shame until a chance encounter gives Sarah hope that her brain can heal. That conversation lights a small flame of determination, and Sarah begins to push back, painstakingly reteaching herself to read and write, and eventually reentering the workforce and a new, if unpredictable, life.

In this highly intimate account of devastation and renewal, Sarah pulls back the curtain on life with traumatic brain injury, an affliction where the wounds are invisible and the lasting effects are often misunderstood. Over years of frustrating setbacks and uncertain triumphs, Sarah comes to terms with her disability and finds love with a woman who helps her embrace a new, accepting sense of self. 

Title : Prognosis
Author : Sarah Vallance
Format : Kindle
Page Count : 284
Genre : memoir
Publisher : Little A
Release Date : August 1, 2019

Reviewer : Micky
Rating : ★ ★ ★ ★ .5

Micky’s 4.5 star review

It isn’t often I have the desire to pick up a non-fiction outside of climbing literature, it’s even less likely that I’d pick up something that relates to health or ill health. As a health professional, I avoid work-related literature so that reading is a break. However, I recommend this book to anyone who fancies a palate-cleansing different read. PROGNOSIS captivated me from beginning to end; from injury to life afterwards. You don’t need any insight into anything health related to read this.

Sarah’s memoir was a tough one. She experienced a fall in a horse riding accident and went to A&E the next day to find out that she’d had a traumatic brain injury. Not only that, she had dropped significant IQ in the injury and was told she’d never work again in her field or complete her PhD. Oh boy, did that make me empathise with her.

This memoir covered decades of Sarah’s honest and brutal narrative of the early weeks and months, to years of slow recovery. The story was candid in terms of her personality, behaviour changes, anger, anxiety, depression and relationships. It wasn’t joyful reading in the main but I was invested in her journey and I was cheering her seemingly hopeless situation on.

Animals were a crucial part of Sarah’s life and I came to appreciate this connection she had with her dogs and cats. The women she had relationships with after the injury had to withstand a lot from Sarah’s behaviour and it was a real roller coaster reading about this aspect. Sarah felt especially flawed as a girlfriend due to her injury and she painted a frank picture.

This was a story about persistence, mood, love, abuse, parents and fighting with your own brain for function. I didn’t always like Sarah in this story but I did admire her. This was a heart-felt account and I couldn’t put it down.

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