Live or Die: A Stroke of Good Luck
by Richard L. Burns
Author Reputation Press

"The brain was inching forward in some sort of ‘recovery’ mode and I knew that I could make it all work for a new and improved version of me."

Burns was among the group of advertising executives who, one night in the bistro of Manhattan's Plaza Hotel, developed the catchy idea of dressing actors as different fruits for the legendary Fruit of the Loom commercials. Based on a dinnertime family conversation, he also executed the concept of painting smiling faces on PSA Airlines aircraft. But this book does not focus on the author's television advertising acumen. Rather, this incredible story is about how, at the age of thirty-eight, Burns suffered a stroke which the doctors thought he'd never survive. Resulting from a botched eye surgery, he experienced a cerebral hemorrhage, wherein the blood from a burst artery flooded his entire cranial cavity. As his doctor explained at the time, "This systematically destroyed your brain cells, top to bottom. You were brain dead."

Burns' memoir uses candor and an entirely positive approach in taking the reader through his fascinating, laborious process of re-learning basic motor and mental capabilities. He is living proof that brain cells can regenerate. "It just takes time, patience, and guts," Burns writes. "How else to explain the slow, steady progress of re-growing abilities, re-growing functions, mental and physical?" That after all these years he is still alive—still able to write these words, as he puts it—is a clear testimony of what current medical knowledge terms "neurogenesis." As modern neuroscience is proving, there are situations in which the brain can repair itself. In inspiring and fascinating terms, Burns explains the concept of neuroplasticity—the re-wiring and re-growth of brain and body. The author's engaging and informative account will likely appeal to those interested in the brain and how knowledge of ways it can be healed from devastating medical conditions is constantly emerging.

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