Debra Meyerson started Labor Day weekend 2010 as an achieved Stanford professor, spouse and busy mom of three. She ended that Tahoe vacation paralyzed and within the ICU.

Meyerson, then 53, had suffered a stroke that originally left the correct aspect of her physique immobilized. Her thoughts was nonetheless working, however she was unable to talk.

What adopted was an almost nine-year journey to rediscover her sense of self, when she may not simply speak, train or be as lively and unbiased as she as soon as was — a frightening quest for identification that impressed her just-published memoir, “Identification Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke” (Andrews McMeel Publishing).

Her memoir comes mere months after the high-profile, stroke-related deaths of actor Luke Perry and director John Singleton. Like Meyerson, Perry and Singleton have been of their 50s, and their deaths display all too clearly that strokes don’t simply occur to people who find themselves older or sick.

Every year, some 800,000 individuals expertise a stroke in the USA — for 140,000 of them, it’s deadly. The remaining are left with disabilities that vary from gentle to profound. The discharge of Meyerson’s e-book coincides with Stroke Consciousness Month.

Portola Valley stroke survivor Debra Meyerson wrote “Identification Theft” along with her son, Danny Zuckerman. (Dai Sugano/Bay Space Information Group) 

When it occurred to her, Meyerson — as soon as an avid runner, skier and sailor — needed to be taught to stroll once more. She nonetheless strikes with a limp and has by no means regained using her proper hand. She will gown, feed and drive herself, however she wants assist with particular duties, like contact lenses. Her husband, Steve Zuckerman, places them in for her. And persevering with aphasia means she nonetheless has issue talking.

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It’s evident when she searches for phrases throughout an interview in her Portola Valley house. When the phrases gained’t come, Steve gently affords to translate her responses.

“Actually irritating!” Meyerson says of her aphasia.

“I can’t consider any two phrases she says with better ease,” Steve says, as Meyerson nods and smiles.

Meyerson’s speech difficulties finally pressured her to surrender her professorship in Stanford’s colleges of schooling and enterprise, a instructing and writing function that had lengthy formed her identification.

“The stroke took away my capability to work as I did earlier than, a lot of my talents and most of the different items of the life I had constructed over 5 a long time,” Meyerson mentioned in her memoir.

Rebuilding identification is a significant problem for lots of stroke survivors, Meyerson notes, but it surely’s not a difficulty generally addressed amongst docs and therapists, who largely deal with sufferers’ bodily restoration.

PORTOLA VALLEY, CA – MAY 17: A stroke survivor and the writer of “Identification Theft,” Debra Meyerson, and her husband, Steve Zuckerman, throughout an interview on Might 17, 2019, of their Portola Valley house. (Dai Sugano/Bay Space Information Group) 

Meyerson had little warning. She had simply dropped off her youthful son Adam, who was beginning faculty in Boston. She was gearing up for a busy 12 months of instructing, when she joined Steve and their different kids, Danny and Sarah, for just a few days of leisure at Lake Tahoe.

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Meyerson says her first symptom was a “bizarre” feeling in her proper leg that she observed on the drive to the mountains. Then got here a headache {that a} hike, aspirin and an evening’s sleep couldn’t alleviate. After which a “sluggish fall from a cliff” into paralysis. Docs mentioned the stroke had been attributable to a tear — or dissection — in her cerebral carotid artery, limiting blood movement from the guts to the mind, however they’re unsure why the tear occurred within the first place.

As Meyerson grew to become acutely aware of her situation within the ICU, she questioned whether or not dying would have been preferable. Luckily, Meyerson and her husband say, these ideas have been fleeting. “Denial” grew to become an ally, bolstering a cussed perception that she would sooner or later return to her outdated self, if she labored laborious sufficient in bodily and speech remedy.

After she had to surrender her professorship, Meyerson realized that denial was holding her again from accepting {that a} full restoration may by no means occur. She let herself mourn all of the issues she may not do, celebrated the elements of herself that remained unchanged and cast a brand new sense of self.

In her e-book, Meyerson says she nonetheless misses sure conversations along with her household, pals and former colleagues as a result of the phrases don’t come quick sufficient. Lingering aftereffects make it troublesome to put in writing quite a lot of sentences at a time; Danny co-authored her e-book.

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For a time, Meyerson anxious that the stroke had saved her from being mom to Sarah, who was in highschool on the time of the stroke. However Meyerson is happy with the best way Sarah “grew up quick.” Sarah, she added, was the primary to note that her mom’s post-stroke self is much less harassed than when she was juggling her Stanford profession and all the pieces else. She laughs extra, too.

However a key high quality Meyerson by no means misplaced was her mental curiosity, which pushed her to be taught all she may about her situation, hunt down different survivors and finally resolve that her story is likely to be helpful to different individuals — an extension, she says, of her lifelong objective to “unfold information.”

“That’s what led her to be a professor within the first place,” Steve says. “Is she nonetheless a professor? No, in that sense you would say she’s totally different. However she discovered a solution to do what’s most vital to her.”

And her voice comes via clearly within the memoir: “There are methods through which I really feel even nearer to my household, and we have been very shut earlier than.” Having a stroke “nonetheless sucks,” Meyerson writes, however “the life I’ve made for myself since my stroke is an effective and full life.”


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