"The day our baby came into the world was the day I left. A day that began all smiles and excitement and anticipation and joy ended with running and panic and blood and tears. And then coma."
The Long Awakening is the true story of a life-threatening coma, a miraculous awakening, and the long quest to regain what was lost. Readers who have known someone with a brain injury or who has been in a coma will especially be drawn to this book, but I believe it's a story that anyone can relate to. Tighter writing would have moved the narrative along better, but I still enjoyed Lindsey's writing and was caught up emotionally in her story. So many elements come into play - finding oneself totally dependent on others, having to relearn the simplest things, questioning God, the effect of chronic illness on a spouse, making tough medical decisions, accepting a life that will never be the same. Lindsey's story touched me and I'd like to share a few quotes that made an impact.
Jacquelyn, struggling with her mother's crisis, thought of what it might be like to forget about God: "In her mind she literally saw a dirt trail with hills in the distance and the trail forked into two distinct paths. Down one path was her life if she chose to abandon faith and abandon God. The other path was her life with God. And she realized, both paths had pain regardless. . . . And from her life at that moment in its seeming hopelessness, she saw nothing different on either path. . . . Lord, as hard as this is with you, I don't want to do it without you."
Seeing her baby after coming out of a coma, Lindsey reflects: "I understand - this was my baby - but I wonder when her mother's going to come get her."
Tim had patiently and faithfully read to Lindsey during her coma, and she later says: "I'm so grateful that Tim believed and defended one piece of advice he'd been given: hearing is a sense that can remain after all others are gone. He'd been the sentry enforcing his order, for the two months I slept, that no one should say anything in my comatose presence that they would not say had I been awake."
Tim, trying to make a medical decision: "God can save. God can create miracles out of things and this is an opportunity for God if He so chooses to do it. It's His opportunity for a miracle and for me to step in and take away that opportunity was not a choice for me."
And in the continual questioning, Lindsey finally realizes: "I'd been looking for God in the fireworks and the feelings, and He'd been in the comfort, and in the peace in room 4273 and in questions, in community and their sacrifices, in the transcendence, all along, hiding in plain sight." I can't help but think how often I've found God "hiding in plain sight."
Anyone who has been associated with chronic illness or brain injury can relate to this story, but I recommend it to any reader looking for a true story of survival and recovery.
Thank you to Revell for providing a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Long Awakening unique side of Brain Injury & Recov
March 30, 2014
Blooming with Books
The Long Awakening
By Lindsey O'Connor
Imagine your life if you lost a part of it. You couldn't remember you were excited to welcome a newborn child into your life. Worse yet the first month and a half of your child's life would be something you would never experience. How do you recover from something like that and what's more how do you recapture what should have been?
On August 30, 2002, Lindsey gave birth to her daughter. But what should have been a time of joy and celebration soon becomes an long and lingering battle. Complications from pregnancy send Lindsey into a 47 day long coma.
But awakening from the coma was not the end of her ordeal - she needed to relearn basic functions. What you or I would take for granted was lost. And worst of all Lindsey seemed to have a detachment from her emotions. This is Lindsey's journey to recovering what she had lost and to reconnect with her family as both wife and mother.
When one hears about someone in a coma waking-up one doesn't necessary realize what the recovery after awakening is like. Lindsey can't even breathe on her own. I think when she compares having a bit of a memory arise being similar to coming to the end of a chapter in a book and not beimg able to continue on an interesting comparison.
Take a journey of awakening when you read The Long Awakening.
March is Brain Injury Awareness Month and as a result of this the publisher Revell has provided me with a copy of this book in exchange with my honest review.
Over the past few weeks, I've been reading an interesting book. It's this one by Lindsey O'Connor. I was curious about this book. I love to read books that help me step into someone else's shoes and understand his or her life. I want to know about how they've dealt with struggles and suffering, how it felt, and how other people in their lives responded (for better or for worse) and the impact of those responses. I want to know because I want to love people better. I don't want to say the wrong thing. I find that I am able to be more sensitive in my words and actions when I am aware of what hurts and what doesn't.
The Long Awakening is the the story of a woman who enters a coma for 47 days on the day she gives birth to her fifth child. The story talks briefly about her life before her family, her pregnancy and birth of her fifth child, her time in a coma, and her recovery from that coma. From the beginning, Ms. O'Connor explains that a family's living through a coma and the recovery from one is not like the movie "While You Were Sleeping". I had no idea. In fact, it is a very long process.
I would say that this book was very eye opening for me. Ms. O'Connor is a skilled writer and is very descriptive in how she explains what she has lived through. Her descriptions helped me see things through her glasses. Multiple times in the book, my heart hurt for her and her family. Compassion and sympathy is something I believe we have to cultivate in our hearts. I think that if we know more about other people's lives we are less likely to judge one another.
I think we are also more likely to have a balanced perspective about life--to understand that there is suffering in all of our lives. Someone else's life might look perfect or they might look like they have it all together, but we all have struggles.
I think what struck me most about this book was how gradual Ms. O'Connor's recovery from the coma was and how it came step by step--little step by little step. Her friends gathered around and stepped in to help her family. They offered and followed through. They loved, but didn't push. And when they did push, it was gently. They brought meals, their presence, cards, gifts for her children, listened to the promptings of the Lord about how to help (while Ms. O'Connor was asleep, one friend gave her daughter a bracelet on her birthday--just what she always had given her older children on that special day). A few years ago, I read a book for widows and for people seeking to understand and love them well. It was helpful to me at the time. This book is helpful to me in the same way. It helped me to realize that everyone's experience in a coma is different. It helped me better understand the gravity of what a coma means--and the recovery from one. She addresses many topics over the course of the book. One was an interesting discussion about the miracle of her waking up in the middle of the book. She doesn't come to a conclusion, but I appreciated her thoughts about whether she was a miracle or what happened was a miracle. It was very well-written and thought provoking.
I do have to admit that as I headed in to have Lasik surgery on my eyes last week, I did have to put this book down. Fears about the outpatient operation were something I needed to keep at bay and not feed by thinking about suffering that came unexpectedly from a medical procedure...
Would I recommend this book? Yes, I definitely would. Her book is a very frank memoir about not only her experience and what she felt emotionally, but also her faith.
Please note that I received a complimentary copy of this book for review from Revell Books.
I am reviewing this book in honor of Brain Injury Awareness month.
This book sounded really interesting to me and it was. But I really struggled to follow it. The thoughts seemed very random which as first I understood. You are reading the book from Lindsey's point-of-view and of course as she comes out of the coma she is confused.
Then the book bounces around a lot to different people, different times. This made it hard for me to stay engaged while reading.
There is a lot of beauty in this book, as Lindsey's husband stays by her side and as you realize she hasn't seen her baby in over a month and doesn't even know if her baby is a live. I can't even imagine going through that or what her older children had to experience not knowing when or if their mom would come home.
Even though I didn't love this book you might and I always encourage you to make your own opinion. If the book sounds interesting you might want to give it try.
A copy of this book was given to me by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
Probably one of the best books I'll read this year, and certainly one of the most moving. If the idea of this book intrigues you at all, you would do well to check it out. It's the story of a life-changing-event story, it's the story of a miracle, it's a story about what-happens-after-your-life-changes, and it's a warmly human story.
The way Lindsey tells this story is riveting. You'd think the account of a woman who goes into a coma the day her fifth child is born would be too terrible to even read, but there is such a sense of love in this book amidst the tragedy. Such a strong sense of family and caregiving and care-receiving and comforting each other and grieving together and the bonds between us that never let us go.
She recounts so many of her family's experiences in this book, giving us multiple windows into that time. We read about the way Lindsey's eldest daughter returned home to become sister-mother to newborn Caroline, and how Lindsey rejoiced that her baby had such good care and yet mourned that she didn't know her own infant's languages.
She tells us about the conversations that went on behind the scenes, as her family lived without the ability to grieve fully or the ability to completely hope.
It was like they were all underwater, her in the coma and them in the aftermath of uncertainty and fear. The worst thing I can imagine is having to look at children's faces while they ask "What is going to happen to Mom?"
Yet Lindsey keeps a little humor and hint of irony in her storytelling too. When she was released from the hospital at last, and all her friends and family would cry with happiness every time they saw her, she nicknames herself The Human Onion.
Chapter 21 may be my favorite chapter of all, as that is the one where Lindsey begins to look back and ask God what on earth was the meaning of all of that, and where was He in it. I was underlining quotes throughout this book, and I found some of my favorite in those pages.
Again, if you think this book may be for you, it comes highly endorsed by Eric Metaxas and many other well-spoken voices of our day. I would suggest you try it.