As you may find on this website, I have written a book about traumatic brain injury (TBI). “A Matter of Recovery” is available online on both Amazon and Barnes & Noble. It’s about man named C.B. Miller and the journey he has been on for more than two decades.
The publishing company’s marketing campaign began recently, including a book signing at the annual conference of the Brain Injury Association of Pennsylvania?
I think it is a book well worth reading, even if you aren’t particularly interested in TBI, though chances are you know of somebody who fits in that definition, either by accident or stroke. Concussion is a type of brain injury, often diagnosed as mild, but the cumulative effects of multiple concussions can be much more severe. A growing number of professional athletes are learning its debilitating impact in the wake of their careers. There are new protocols for protecting high school athletes from concussions, and C.B.’s father, Towanda’s Mike Miller, was a major force in getting Pennsylvania’s high school concussion bill (Safety in Youth Sports) signed in November 2011. It’s just another example of how C.B.’s pain was someone else’s gain.
So what is the book about? The best way to summarize it is in my query to agents and publishers.
C.B. Miller, in the prime of his life, lost almost half of his brain one July night. A three-story balcony railing gave way in mid conversation and he plunged helpless and headlong through darkness, his skull colliding with inflexible hardness in an alley below. That was the first time he should have died.
Today, almost 21 years later, after numerous surgeries, demanding, painful rehabilitation and literally thousands of hours of tutoring and instruction, he can barely read or write. But, thanks to technology, oral learning skills and the tireless support of his family, he has a college degree, lives independently and shares his story to motivate at-risk kids and educate college students about traumatic brain injury (TBI).
“A Matter of Recovery” is a human-interest story, both inspiring and disturbing, interwoven with the humor so much a part of C.B.’s persona, even with virtually the left side of his brain destroyed. Yet it is also a primer for the brain injured and their families on how to negotiate an obstacle course of red tape, apathy and ignorance that often stymies the disabled in their pursuit of a meaningful life.
C.B. Miller is a member of an exceptional community of five million and counting with TBI, as estimated by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, who continue to rely on some kind of assistance— financial, technological or medical— in their day-to-day living. Aside from the cognitive, behavioral and communicative barriers TBI presents, chances of developing long-term, life-threatening health complications are dramatically higher than among the general population. In the United States alone, an estimated 1.4 million people sustain TBI every year, usually via injury ranging from firearms and falls to motor vehicle accidents and domestic violence. More than three-quarters are regarded as mild cases, while, conversely, at least 50,000 die from their brain trauma. That leaves about 230,000 survivors like C.B. Miller who in a given year require emergency care and hospitalization, which, for the more severely injured, are merely the beginning.
That doesn’t include the horrible afflictions of war in which young Americans are involved in the Middle East and elsewhere.
C.B. is among the more fortunate, with his youth (21 at the time) assuring plasticity for his devastated brain. His proactive father, now retired as a research chemist, waged a determined advocacy, surmounting formidable roadblocks along what he calls a journey of rediscovery. C.B.’s older brother, a recently anointed medical doctor interning in Philadelphia at the time of the accident, has been an invaluable resource that continues to this day as C.B. enters middle age.
This is not a neatly packaged happy-ending story, because life’s trials continue for TBI survivors, too. Challenges continue, as they do for just about everyone. Yet most of us can empathize with a life derailed by a sudden accident, the cumulative effects of multiple concussions or an internal invader like stroke.
I believed that C.B.’s story was as unique as C.B.’s personality, but several responses by editors to the above query indicated that there are all kinds of books out there about TBI and people afflicted by it. On one hand, that means there is a lot of interest in it, but on the other some agents indicated that perhaps interest in the topic (as the subject of a book anyhow) had run its course. Indeed my own research revealed that on Amazon.com alone there were more than 26,000 books about brain injury, from concussions to TBI. Many are clinical, medical or limited to topics such as advocacy or counseling, but there are also numerous human-interest stories. And yet each story is about a unique person, and I guarantee you won’t find anyone more unique than C.B. Miller.