Memoirs of a survivor

Ten years ago, at the age of 42, observer literary editor Robert McCrum suffered a devastating stroke which left him paralysed down his left side. during his extended convalescence, he wrote a memoir. It was meant to close the door on his illness, but instead it opened another into a parallel world of other people’s pain.”

From The Guardian:

Is it for our 10 fingers that we think in decades? The Twenties for jazz and the great crash; the Sixties for sex and flower power; the Eighties for greed; some decades stick out like a sore thumb. Others make no impression. I have my own millennial decade. It doesn’t amount to a hill of beans in the sight of eternity, but it means a lot to me. Ten years ago, I could look at my hands resting in front of me on the bedsheet, but not count beyond five. Ten years ago, my left side – hand, foot, arm and leg – was paralysed, lifeless. I was recovering from a stroke. Most doctors who looked at me said I could expect years, even decades, of immobility, possibly in a wheelchair. At the time, I was quite grateful. According to the statistics, I was lucky to be alive. Of the 150,000 strokes that occur in Britain each year, one third are fatal. So 28 July 1995 is a date I won’t forget in a hurry. Ten years on it seems like a dream, a hallucination, or a nightmare. Occasionally, in the morning, I will wake and wonder, “Did it really happen?” But of course it did; I have what doctors call the ‘deficits’ to prove it. For me, amid all the late-Nineties talk of the millennium, the apocalypse came early.

More here.