Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views.com (4/08)
In 1998, Laura Bruno was in a car accident that left her with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She was 24-years-old at the time and working on her graduate school fellowship. The damage caused to her brain forced her to put her education and career on hold, while focusing on her recovery. “If I Only Had a Brain Injury” tells Laura’s story of learning to overcome her disability. Along the way, she discovered that what she learned to help herself can also help others who are dealing with illnesses that affect their sense of self. These illnesses include: chronic fatigue, brain cancer, fibromyalgia, vertigo, candida overgrowth, concussion, Lyme disease, migraines and other “Medical Mystery.” Six years after her accident, her husband was stricken with a mysterious disabling illness that turned out to be Lyme Disease.
Laura compares her story to Dorothy’s in “The Wizard of Oz,” because Dorothy’s journey begins when she has a concussion and continues on as she tries to find her way home. Her experience in having a TBI and her background in life coaching, medical intuition, Reiki and writing provide her with the tools to write a heartfelt, yet informative guide to healing and recovery. “If I Only Had a Brain Injury” inspires both individuals who are experiencing illness and their care providers to look for the positives in their healing experience.
There is a wealth of information provided in this book in a manner that is interesting and easy to understand. In addition to telling her story, Laura also offers healing hints, appendices with essays and interviews with people who are involved in the healing process. She also offers networking and contact information. This also includes book recommendations and websites. I couldn’t find anything lacking.
As both someone with fibromyalgia and a person that works with individuals with disabilities, I found that I gained a lot of insight into both my illness and those of people that I work with on a daily basis. The day after I read this book, a woman came into my classroom with a TBI. It was wonderful to have just learned about the issues that she is dealing with. I felt that I could be more empathetic to her situation and having that understanding also gave me a better idea of how I can help meet her needs in my program. The effects of her TBI are different from most of my students with TBI, and more similar to the author’s. If I had not had this information, I might have assumed that I was dealing more with a mental health issue. Her speech was very clear, yet her words were mixed up. I am so grateful that I read this book first.
I highly recommend “If I Only Had a Brain Injury” to individuals who are experiencing illnesses that affect their sense of self and to their care providers. Everything that they could possibly need to help them take positive action towards their recovery is contained within these pages.
Reviewed by Victoria Boutenko
Laura Bruno's book, If I Only Had a Brain Injury, is meant for people
like herself who survived brain injury or similar conditions. Even
though I never had a brain injury, I read this book with great interest.
Laura uniquely organized her personal account of her injury using the
Wizard of Oz story as a metaphor. Her striking sincerity together with
her superb literary skill make this book into an inspirational journey.
Dozens of practical helpful tips are included for brain injury
survivors. In addition to her own case, the author included several
testimonials from other survivors of traumatic experiences, some of them
world renowned individuals. As a nutritionist myself I can testify that
Laura's nutritional suggestions are well researched and represent the
newest scientific discoveries in healthful living. This book will
provide guidelines not only for persons recovering from brain injuries,
but will help anyone turn difficult times into joyous living.
Sedona author, life coach, and brain injury survivor tells her story
by Alina Oswald
Sedona, AZ - TBI, FMS, CFS… For some of us, these are only random groups of letters. For others, they represent acronyms for “mysterious” diseases, conditions or syndromes. Sometimes, the way Traumatic Brain Injury, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome manifest in patients brings up more questions than answers; therefore, it’s not uncommon for even medical practitioners to misdiagnose them.
But these “mysterious” conditions have the power to challenge and forever change the lives of those they touch.
TBI, FMS, CFS also Lyme disease and brain cancer affect many individuals, famous and not so famous, on a daily basis. These diseases, syndromes and conditions pertain to the life-challenging and life-threatening experiences that can turn individuals into surrenders or survivors.
For Laura Bruno, an intuitive life coach, Reiki Master Teacher and writer, her TBI diagnosis—the result of a seemingly insignificant car accident—changed her life from the path of achieving her doctoral degree and a successful career to the path of recovery. Laura Bruno’s TBI diagnosis didn’t only show her what’s most important in life, but also helped her discover her own “yellow brick road” to recovery and to a relatively normal life.
Indeed, parallels to the Wizard of Oz and Dorothy’s story are many and throughout the book. They help readers better understand Bruno’s personal experience, the reasons behind her decisions dealing with complex issues like treatments and doctors, insurance and lawyers. In this sense, "If I Only Had a Brain Injury" is an inspiring, informative and educative read, and also a wonderful narrative. By sharing her story, Bruno opens the doors to the world of so-called mysterious conditions so many of us have to live with, sometimes misunderstood.
"If I Only Had a Brain Injury" gives readers a chance to better understand not only the syndromes and conditions, but also the persons behind the medical diagnosis, the very individuals having to live daily with these syndromes and conditions. And by doing so, the book represents an irreplaceable resource for patients, caregivers, families and friends and also medical practitioners.
The book is exceptionally well structured and organized, while easy to follow and understand. It offers an amazing number of personal stories and experiences, interviews with experts in the field, as well as useful sites, statistics and hands-on advice—given by professionals and also tested and tried by Bruno and other patients. "If I Only Had a Brain Injury" is a page-turner and a must-read. It is a testimony of the power of believing in oneself, a true survival story.
Reviewed by Sue Vogan
I actually was only going to read this book to prepare myself for the radio interview with this author (May 29, 2008 on In Short Order at www.highway2health.net). Instead, I found myself glued to the pages of valuable information from a patient’s view. By reading this book, those who know or take care of a person with a TBI will be better able to understand what the victim is going through – a better handle on things makes for a better friend/family member or care provider. Those who treat TBIs would benefit from this book more than most – what you can’t see on tests can be learned here and therefore validate the diagnosis more quickly so that treatment can begin at an earlier stage. For those with a TBI, Lyme disease, or any disabling affliction, this book is your pair of ruby slippers.
Bruno equates a TBI to The Wizard of Oz classic. Although I have Lyme disease (which in many cases can be likened to a TBI), and can relate and benefit from this book, I never saw it put so simply – and well written. Just as Dorothy is whisked to another place, it is the same with most injuries and illnesses. We leave the life we know for a place we have never been before (and few want to make it a vacation spot). Come take the first step on the yellow brick road – where the journey to recovery begins.
Glinda (as we remember as the good witch) starts us on the path. Contacting organizations and support groups is an important step. Who doesn’t need support, information, and to hear from others on virtually the same path? There are many things to do to prepare us for the first steps to recovery, but often we forget where we need to begin. Order is the way to end chaos. Support is the way to end aloneness. And information is the way to the next steps that must be taken if recovery is the goal. And don’t forget, some who have grown accustomed to your disability-state may not want you to recover – learn why in “If I Only Had A Brain Injury.”
There are the ruby slippers and the wicked witch. The information in this section is most helpful because it starts us focusing more closely on ourselves. Here we can begin to turn the injury or disease into a new beginning. When we beat ourselves up or refuse to accept what we cannot change, we slow or halt our journey. Forgiveness and identifying change are good things.
Okay, we’re on our way. We may not be skipping yet, but we can add pep to our steps when we look at what can remove some of the stumbling blocks that have been preventing us forward movement on our road to recovery. Bruno learned that buying quality electronics (a computer monitor) cut down on her headaches and dizziness; which allowed her to work; which enabled her to earn a paycheck; which helped her to feel she was still in Kansas.
There are more ideas that are presented in this work – classical music, relationships with animals, and cultivating new friendships, to name a few. These will open new doors in the land of Oz and you may even discover new things about yourself that you never knew existed.
In “If I Only Had A Brain Injury,” Bruno has given us a map of the Emerald City, introduced us to the Munchkins, and provided a beacon for anyone who is associated with injuries and disease. It is a one-of-a-kind book.
This is a must read for all, with hopes that you find an owl in your life, too.