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3.5 stars. This is a book in two parts. The first part is memoir of a catastrophic medical event. The author, Vanessa Potter, rapidly loses her vision in the matter of 72 hours following what felt like a prolonged cold. Along with her vision, other cognitive function is hampered, including degradation of feeling in her hands and feet. This first part of the book, vividly written and meticulously detailed, is very good indeed. Potter, a producer, immediately endeavored to record her sensations (both via her family taking notes and her own recordings of her thoughts). As a result, there is an immediacy to the sensations and fear, the ignorance and groping for a diagnosis, the halting steps toward recovery.
The second part of the book is an exploration of the science behind what happened to her and how she managed a partial recovery. This part of the book, while solid, is not nearly as engrossing as the first part of the book. This is largely because she has presented much of the explanation in dialog between her and various specialists. This ends up feeling a bit stilted at time and may have been better presented without constant direct quotes (in many ways, it can feel like a transcript, made a bit unbelievable because of the constant affirmation of whoever she is talking to in a given dialog). Despite these shortcomings, it is still very interesting to learn what may have triggered her loss of vision (a condition related to her immune system) and how her brain attempted to regain some of that vision, as helped by not only neuroplasticity, but also a number of daily projects and activities that Potter engaged in that helped rebuild her sight. In the end, there is no fully rosy picture, as her recovered sight is not the same as her original sight -- she perceives muted colors, reds are mostly lost, and she describes her sight as like looking through a dirty window or in washed out sepia tones like an old photograph. But her recovery at all is amazing and her exploration of the brain and how it can heal is uplifting.
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