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Spades of Determination: A locked-in journey Paperback – December 28, 2017
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About the Author
In 2013, I suffered a brainstem stroke and fight my way through some form of rehab almost everyday trying to walk and talk again.
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Imagine you are having a nightmare in which you find yourself completely paralysed and unable to move a muscle. You can see and hear everything going on around you but can no longer talk. This was no nightmare, but Rachel's reality after suffering a catastrophic stroke in 2013.
Suddenly reliant on others and medical intervention for absolutely every single one of her physical needs, Rachel recalls her initial shock and confusion as she tried to untangle the threads of feverish dreams and lengthy periods of lost time to piece together what was happening to her. More than a memoir, Rachel writes with honesty, clarity and humour giving the reader a rare and detailed understanding of what it's actually like to be trapped in a body that has completely and utterly failed while leaving the brain still functioning well enough to try and make sense of this scary 'new normal'.
Rachel conveys her loss of independence and privacy; the gruelling physical and emotional pain she endured during the months spent in intensive care and later in rehabilitation; and the relentless frustration of losing her ability to communicate. Still largely unable to speak, her determination to master Assistive Technology (AT) has now let her express herself in her own words. Rachel also writes about the strain on her beloved husband and children as they all come to terms with what happened. For every stroke survivor, there is an entire network of family and friends also affected.
Rachel's journey continues as she finally leaves hospital and goes 'home' where she is faced with a whole new set of challenges, such as the practical and expensive realities of being disabled, the financial and emotional impacts on her entire family and how to navigate Australia's newly introduced National Disability Insurance Scheme. Plunged into the depths of despair on a number of occasions, Rachel manages to find the strength to return to a place of hope for the future and I for one am looking forward to reading everything she goes on to write.