With an introduction by Henry Marsh, author of Do No Harm
My brain, which had just let me down so badly, was perhaps never so active. The paramedics' question was a fundamental one. Who are you? Yes indeed. Who am I?
Robert McCrum was forty-two when he suffered a massive stroke which left one side of his body totally paralysed, his speech drastically impaired, and his sense of himself radically altered. What followed was a prolonged period of recovery, full of heart ache and frustration, as he gradually regained sensation, movement and self-esteem and as his family pulled together in the extraordinary effort necessary to make him well again.
My Year Off is a moving story of determination, courage and love that sings with wit and honesty. An invaluable insight into the reality of life after stroke, the moments of hope, the anger and despair, this is a touching classic that gives voice to millions.
McCrum (The Story of English), editor-in-chief of the British publisher Faber & Faber, was 42 years old and newly married when, one night in the summer of 1995, he suffered a massive stroke that almost killed him. This account of how that night changed his life, told with a skillful blend of candor, humor and comprehensible medical reportage, is not only an enthralling read but also calls attention to the little-known fact that strokes, normally thought of as an affliction of the elderly, attack younger people with remarkable frequency. As it turned out, McCrum was lucky; he almost entirely regained the use of his limbs, although he has a sluggish arm and tires easily. His personality also changed, from hard-driving and aggressive to reflective and relaxed. His marriage to Sarah Lyall, who, when he met her (at the Frankfurt Book Fair) was the New York Times publishing correspondent, obviously helped enormously in his recovery. Some of the most touching segments in the book are excerpts from Lyall's journals of dealing with her husband's slow recovery and his own thoughts on his sometimes harsh and bitter behavior as he strove to regain his life. The book offers solace to those similarly afflicted and is also a moving human document that, because of its protagonist, will be of particular interest to those in the book business.