Where Is the Mango Princess?: A Journey Back From Brain Injury
2 journalers for this copy...
What makes this book stand apart is its honesty. Crimmins will disarmingly tell you how lucky they are, her husband can walk, talk, hold a job, all good outcomes which are rare for the severe type of TBI he suffered. And yet, as you watch her struggle with a husband who has lost his social inhibitions and sense of time and space, with HMOs and a world that just wants to move on and go back to 'normal' you wonder at their 'luck'. Worth reading, a dignified look at what a TBI means.
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Later: "Accidents divide things into the great Before and After." Even relatively minor accidents can do this, whether by demonstrating how much we take for granted, and something as major as this has an even wider divide.
This story opens with a humorous look at a "free prize" vacation that's anything but soothing - but all the many indignities and discomforts fade into nothing when a speedboat accident leaves the author's husband badly injured. The writing is very immediate, including realistic details about the level of disbelief and confusion - and denial - that can result from sudden disaster.
We see the slow stages of returning consciousness (which begin with Alan demanding to know "Where is the Mango Princess?"); the even slower stages of recovery - though Alan does better than many patients with such severe injuries; the wear and tear on family and friends; the difficulties of dealing with insurance companies... It's informative and touching, and has plenty of touches of humor among the turmoil.
One of the more eye-opening aspects of the story for me was that Alan's brain injuries resulted in personality changes that were so bizarre that his own daughter was terrified of him. Somehow I envision patients coming out of comas as generally quiet and distant, not chatty, aggressive, and sometimes outrageous. When a loved one is in peril it's easy to wish or pray for them to survive, often with the bargaining chip "at any cost, so long as he/she doesn't die" - but when the person has changed so much that he or she isn't recognizable as the person you once knew, how hard it must be...
Alan did survive, and did recover, but was still greatly changed; he jokes with his wife about being both her second and her third husband, someone very different from the man she married. A very powerful story, and a reminder that it only takes a moment for one's life to change forever.
I was saddened to learn that Crimmins died in 2009 at age 54, of complications from surgery to treat a broken ankle. After everything she'd been through with more severe health problems - those of her husband Alan and, later, of their daughter Kelly - it seemed too cruel that she would succumb to what should have been a standard procedure. Goes to show you never can tell, I guess...
WILD RELEASE NOTES:
*** Released as part of the 2014 Wine + Food + BookCrossing challenge, for "mango". ***
*** Released as part of the Head Shoulders Knees Toes challenge, for "brain". ***