The searing, wry memoir about a woman’s fight for a new life after a devastating brain injury.
When Sarah Vallance is thrown from a horse and suffers a jarring blow to the head, she believes she’s walked away unscathed. The next morning, things take a sharp turn as she’s led from work to the emergency room. By the end of the week, a neurologist delivers a devastating prognosis: Sarah suffered a traumatic brain injury that has caused her IQ to plummet, with no hope of recovery. Her brain has irrevocably changed.
Afraid of judgment and deemed no longer fit for work, Sarah isolates herself from the outside world. She spends months at home, with her dogs as her only source of companionship, battling a personality she no longer recognizes and her shock and rage over losing simple functions she’d taken for granted. Her life is consumed by fear and shame until a chance encounter gives Sarah hope that her brain can heal. That conversation lights a small flame of determination, and Sarah begins to push back, painstakingly reteaching herself to read and write, and eventually reentering the workforce and a new, if unpredictable, life.
In this highly intimate account of devastation and renewal, Sarah pulls back the curtain on life with traumatic brain injury, an affliction where the wounds are invisible and the lasting effects are often misunderstood. Over years of frustrating setbacks and uncertain triumphs, Sarah comes to terms with her disability and finds love with a woman who helps her embrace a new, accepting sense of self.
Sarah Vallance was born in Sydney. She graduated from City University of Hong Kong in 2013 with an MFA in creative writing. Her essays have earned her a Pushcart Prize. She has been published in the Gettysburg Review, the Sun, the Pinch, Asia Literary Review, and Post Road, among other places. Sarah was a Harkness Fellow at Harvard and holds a doctorate in government and public administration. She lives in Sydney with her wife and their three dogs and three cats. Prognosis is her first book.