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The Day My Brain Exploded: A True Story Paperback – January 22, 2013

4.3 out of 5 stars 50 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

More commonly known as strokes, cerebrovascular accidents—or CVAs—are an all-too-frequent occurrence among our nation’s elderly population. About 87 percent of these are ischemic strokes resulting from sudden blood clots in the brain, whereas the other 13 percent are classified as hemorrhagic. This latter type of CVA, where either a blood vessel or arteriovenous malformation (AVM) unexpectedly ruptures, can occur at any age, as former New York public-relations executive Rajamani horrifyingly discovered when he was only 25. In this frank and witty account of his own brain “explosion,” Rajamani describes in vivid detail the circumstances leading to the injury, and its devastating aftermath on both his family and himself, including chronic epilepsy and a freak form of blindness affecting the left side of each eye. With disarming drollery, the author also recounts his racism-tainted upbringing as an Indian American in white-dominated suburban Chicago. Shedding much-needed light on a little-known medical trauma, Rajamani’s sharp-edged prose is both informative and inspiring, especially for the many marginalized sufferers of brain injury and those close to them. --Carl Hays

Review

"In this frank and witty account of his own brain "explosion," Rajamani describes in vivid detail the circumstances leading to the injury, and its devastating aftermath on both his family and himself, including chronic epilepsy and a freak form of blindness affecting the left-side of each eye.  With disarming drollery, the author also recounts his racism-ringed upbringing as an Indian American in white-dominated suburban Chicago.  Shedding much-needed light on a little-known medical trauma, Rajamani's sharp-edged prose is both informative and inspiring." - Booklist

"First-time author Rajamani delivers a fascinating look at his life and his recovery as a brain-injury patient that is both heartbreaking and uplifting." - Publisher's Weekly

"...good-humored and self-deprecating...deals with his drama elegantly." - Harper's Magazine

"The Day My Brain Exploded is a memoir of epistemology. Ashok Rajamani shares how a man rebuilds a life of the mind. His prose is at once witty and probing, persistent and clear. If the brain could write an autobiography this would be it." - Stephen Kuusisto, Author of "Planet of the Blind" 

"A fierce, funny, fascinating memoir of a man's battle back from a brain injury that damaged his body but resurrected his spirit and the meaning of his life." - Wade Rouse, Author of "At Least in the City Someone Could Hear Me Scream"
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 270 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (January 22, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565129970
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565129979
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,226 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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This is an autobiography. The author suffered from an AVM, which means arteriovenous malformation. This is a congenital defect that occurs to the fetus during the third month of pregnancy. The veins and arteries become tangled in the brain. The person is essentially a ticking time bomb. AVMs often occur during periods of exertion or strain--such as going to the bathroom or giving birth. In the author's case, he was masturbating. One of his last thoughts before he lost consciousness was that they were right about the bad effects of masturbation.

The author, though, tells a bit of his life before the AVM. Sometimes this gets confusing, because he jumps between the past and present. Sometimes you don't understand why he has chosen to tell a particular story. He talks of his early life growing up. His parents were immigrants from India who settled in a primarily Caucasian neighborhood. He, of course, encountered some prejudice. It details the jealousy he had for his more successful brother.

The story also talks about the events that occurred after the AVM and how he had to readjust to a new life. He had to relearn how to walk, eat, etc. The AVM left him blind and gave him epilepsy. He also suffered from what is known as "Alice in Wonderland" syndrome--a condition where a person believes that their body parts are larger than they are supposed to be...or they see other objects or people in a distorted way. Another difficulty was that he didn't seem to truly understand his disabilities--and he tended to misinterpret people's reactions. He often thought they were being prejudiced against him because he was an Indian rather than that they were reacting to his odd behavior or his decreased functionalism.

The book is well written.
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Format: Paperback
I'm having trouble finishing this because of the pedestrian style and the unpleasant personality of the author. He proudly reveals himself as a racist as well as a religious bigot, all the while scolding the people around him for both those defects. His "humor" is of the frat-boy style and generally aimed at others.

I went through cancer surgery, a long hospital stay, and chemotherapy. I had to deal with some really unpleasant nurses aids, but I never blamed that on their color. Rajmani does.

A few pages after bemoaning that his mother cut her long hair after they moved to the USA, he writes that white nurse's aid wears her "grey hair inappropriately long" without a trace of self-awareness. The cumulative effect of his oft-expressed dislike for Caucasians is bilious and wearing.

If you want an interesting and un-sugar-coated story of brain damage and recovery, read "Where is the Mango Princess?" It's better-written, and you don't have to deal with the bile.
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Format: Paperback
Everyone has bad days, but back in 2000, Ashok Rajamani, a young man just coming into his own in the world, had a really bad day. Just before his brother's wedding, he suffered from a brain aneurysm caused by an Arteriovenous Malformation (AVM). The circulatory knot of arteries and veins, a congenital malformation, had ruptured; the literal ticking time bomb had gone off in spectacular fashion. The good news was that Ashok survived; the bad news was that the person that he had been had died. His account tells of his physical and mental struggles and how he came to an uneasy peace with the realization that he was now Ashok 2.0, a person who suffered from an odd form of blindness, epileptic seizures and visual hallucinations. Written in a conversational tone replete with healthy doses of gallows humor, especially when touching on doctors, and their advice or lack of it, his story is more than just an accounting of a recovery from a serious medical issue. He also examines what makes an individual unique through looking at his relationships and his experiences growing up as an South Indian American in the USA.

I received this book as part of Library Thing's Early Reviewer program.
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Format: Paperback
In 2006, I suffered the very same injury. Kudos to you on your honesty in this book regarding your recovery and ALL that it entailed both good times AND BAD. Too many leave out the bad ones honestly leaving others like me kicking ourselves viciously at those times when we're pretty sure it's not all rainbows and unicorns. Onward and upward, sir! Glad you are doing well, and thank you.
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Ashok has a very non-traditional writing style that kept me turning pages. Because the story is real, it is more intense than any fictionalized account of a severe 'brain explosion.' His well placed humor kept the momentum escalating instead of often leaving me in tears. I recommend this book not just to anyone with or associated with a brain injury, but to any reader interested in delving into the life of a successful survivor with extraordinary story-telling skills.
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Enjoyed this book so much, even though it is about really serious stuff, which is a testament to the author's writting skill and honesty. Great for anyone who has been affected by brain injury, seizures, or just wants to understand more. Highly recomended for anyone with a sense of humor. Inspiring for getting through the struggles in life the best we can while keeping our sanity (barely), ability to laugh at ourselves and keep moving forward despite it all!
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