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What Day Is It? A Family's Journey Through…
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What Day Is It? A Family's Journey Through Traumatic Brain Injury

by Rebekah E. Vandergriff

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Recently added bysmuuch, justablondemoment, caracabe

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Full disclosure: the author is a close friend of mine, and I make a few cameo appearances in this book.

In 1989, Becky Dyer--model, cocktail waitress and party girl--was in a car accident that left her comatose. This book, part memoir and part advocacy, is the tale of her slow, painful rebirth as Rebekah Vandergriff--college graduate, wife, mother and social worker.

Let's get the book's shortcomings out of the way first; they are few. A handful of typos and grammatical errors made it through the proofreading process. A couple of brief passages aren't entirely clear. Vandergriff sometimes switches from the personal to the clinical too abruptly. These are minor flaws in an important work.

Someone has said that what we want from a book, any book, is to know the author. Vandergriff has been my friend for years, but after reading this memoir, I know her better and appreciate her more. What Day Is It? displays her courage, not only in the way she meets her challenges, but in her fearless honesty. Vandergriff is a serious person, but not a somber one, and this also is reflected in her writing. Her journey is excruciating, but she is helped along the way--and so are her readers--by a sense of humor, even if it sometimes verges on the cynical. (“The general public does not have the patience--if money is not being exchanged--to wait for a stranger moving in slow motion...”)

Vandergriff's story is inspiring, but if it were only that, it would be one uplifting tale of many. She has intelligence, courage and drive, and she should be proud of her accomplishments. She also had advantages not available to everyone who suffers Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). She had insurance. She had a supportive network of family and friends. She had a mother who was wise, strong, and determined to help her daughter become independent. What matters in this book is not so much her victories (though they are important), but her insights. She's experienced TBI from the inside, and she articulates for us the pains, the challenges, and, yes, the joys, in a way clinical descriptions can never do. She also discusses rehabilitation and coping in practical terms, including topics that are often neglected, such as TBI and sexuality. (No, a brain injury does not usually make one asexual, however much caregivers might want to believe otherwise.)

Anyone close to somebody with TBI, or who works with TBI patients, should read this book. It will give them not only hope, but understanding and practical wisdom. ( )
  caracabe | May 27, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0982052200, Paperback)

On June 3, 1989, Rebekah Vandergriff's life changed forever when her car was struck, resulting in a catastrophic accident. In one summer, she went from the runway of a fashion show to a wheelchair in the recovery unit of a hospital. "What Day Is It?" is her triumphant story of recovery from a traumatic brain injury. Not expected to recover, she has accomplished the long journey from having to learn how to walk and talk again, to achieving a Master's degree and raising a family. Rebekah's story is one of encouragement that shows what persons with disabilities can do when they don't accept our limitations. Rebekah's life became an unending series of adventures as upon her release, she took her doctor's words to heart that "life would be her therapy now." Straight out of the hospital, we travel with her and her family on a vacation to Florida where her stepfather lives, stopping first in New Orleans, where their car gets stolen, and after Florida, on to camping in Colorado. Faced with unexpected circumstances, Rebekah finds the humor in things. Back home, for example, when she and her younger sister find themselves waiting at an inner-city bus stop with "several six-foot-one [prostitutes] dressed in bright, shiny clothes" she quips, "Obviously, we hadn’t been filled in on the dress code for this corner on a hot summer day." "What Day Is It?" is a rare book that is packed with useful information, and yet will often have you laughing and rolling on the floor. Advance Praise for "What Day Is It?" "Rebekah Vandergriff is a traumatic brain injury survivor. Today she has a title, Licensed Master of Social Work. 'What Day Is It?' is a journey of hope, encouragement and inspiration for any family that has been affected by brain injury. Equally important is its explanation of how the medical community views brain injury rehabilitation and how it should view rehabilitative therapies. 'What Day Is It?' explains the value of a family caregiver and includes commentary from many family members expressing their feelings along Rebekah's journey toward recovery. 'What Day Is It?' should be studied by families living with brain injury and the medical, insurance and government agencies who are heavily involved in treatment procedures. This book provides great insight about the thoughts and emotions of a brain injury survivor." Larry and Beth Jameson, Authors of Brain Injury Survivors Guide: Welcome to Our World "A lot of people write about brain injury rehabilitation—but most of these writings are abstract and academic. Rebekah Vandergriff has written a powerful, personal exploration that weaves some of these academic facts with the perspective of reality." Al Condeluci, PhD CEO - UCP of Pittsburgh "The instant I met Rebekah Vandergriff, I knew she was a teacher. Her chosen profession was social work but she was clearly a woman full of lessons. Lessons learned and lessons to teach. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I am eternally grateful to Rebekah for showing up at the right moment to be my teacher. I believe readers will be grateful she showed up to teach you as well. Her experience, brilliance and humor shine through." Janet Willams, PhD CEO communityworks inc.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:23:07 -0400)

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