At just 24, Emma Gee’s future stretches before her invitingly. She was an occupational therapist, an avid runner, and had just climbed Borneo’s Mt Kinabalu with a group of friends. But months later she was suddenly a stroke victim, unable to move, speak or swallow and dependent on the medical system she had worked within.
Emma’s story begins with a mystery, first developing disturbing symptoms, then becomes a tragedy when, during a difficult brain operation, she suffers a debilitating stroke and is left in a coma. Nine days later she wakes and must slowly come to terms with the fact that her future has changed forever.
Tenaciously, Emma works her way back to walking and talking again. As a former health professional, she has a rare insight into life as a patient, and emerges with a very different perspective on person-centred care and what it takes to live with resilience.
Emma’s story shows how, with love, support and a positive mindset, a life can still be incredible, even though not to the plan previously envisaged, and entailing a daily battle with poor vision, balance and mobility. Emma is now a loving aunty to a brood of nieces and nephews and has an amazing support network. Working as an inspirational speaker, she is determined to benefit others by drawing on her own experience and deeper insights.
Writing a diary before, after and, as much as was possible, during the ordeal, Emma has woven her observations and memories into a book. She has a sharp eye for detail and a sense of humour that, understandably, becomes quite black at times. This is not only the story of a young stroke survivor, but also a valuable observational memoir for health professionals, written by one of their own who has travelled to ‘the other side’.