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Head Cases : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath

Head Cases : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath - 08 edition

ISBN13: 978-0374531959

Cover of Head Cases : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath 08 (ISBN 978-0374531959)
ISBN13: 978-0374531959
ISBN10: 0374531951
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 08
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc.
Published: 2008
International: No

List price: $16.00

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Head Cases : Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath - 08 edition

ISBN13: 978-0374531959

Michael Paul Mason

ISBN13: 978-0374531959
ISBN10: 0374531951
Cover type: Paperback
Edition/Copyright: 08
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Inc.

Published: 2008
International: No
Summary

Introduction The first thing I tell her is that I cannot help. Her son Jake is thirty-four, my age. His gray, bruise-flecked limbs are splayed out on a bed before me; his mouth is dry and agape. I know I cannot help him. I cannot file a lawsuit against the insurance company, I cannot conjure a way out of this dead-end nursing home, and I cannot sucker punch the aloof neurologist or throttle the ignorant psychiatrist. I hold no sway over the waiting list in my own hospital. I explain to her that I can do nothing at all, and she sighs. She is desperate to see Jake in a program where there is a sense of progress and direction. She knows that the rehabs and specialty hospitals are as inaccessible as the moon. She has called them herself, and she knows that nobody can help. She knows I cannot help, but she asks me anyway. She asks, in all earnestness, to do the impossible and find her son a bed, and in my weakness, I agree. It's my job to agree. Jake turns his head toward me and I suspect he can hear me. If he can respond, no matter how minimally, then he meets the most important criteria. He closes and opens his mouth arbitrarily, but not a sound comes out. I ask him to lift his head and I wait. Nothing. His mother is quiet and nearly in tears. I ask her to turn off the fluorescent lights and shut the door, and when she does Jake exhales faintly. It sounds like relief, like the hint of a response. I ask Jake once more to lift his head. A good fifteen seconds later, his head slowly raises an inch off the pillow, and then drops back down. That's criteria enough for me. His mother grins at me proudly, as though her son just won a marathon. In a sense, he has. The next two hours find me thumbing through a thick notebook of Jake's medical records, trying to decipher the scribbled progress notes and lab reports, then interviewing nurses and aides and doctors. I spend the last half hour of my evaluation explaining to Jake's mother that t

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