Viral

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Wow. Wow. Wow.

I have been sitting in my house for the past day (I seriously never left the house yesterday), stunned at the reception to my BuzzFeed Longform essay about my stroke and recovery, “I Had a Stroke at 33.” I have received thousands of encouraging and kind tweets, dozens of amazing emails, and so so so much support for that piece.

I am seriously floored, and in a giddy, dazed shock. I did not expect this many people to read my piece, nor did I expect it to illicit OMG there is that weird homophone aphasia thing again elicit so many connections. But I’m glad it has–I’m glad it has provided insight into traumatic brain injuries and stroke, that it has provided comfort to some and enlightenment to others.

When I was going through stroke recovery, I felt incredibly alone. Each stroke is unique, so that just furthers the isolation. And while recovering, I basically sat shiva for the person I lost, unready to face the person I’d become. So if this piece eases that solitary for others, I’m so happy.

In 36 hours, my essay was viewed 300,000 times. Three Hundred Thousand.

And this morning, it’s the “most dugg” post on Digg.

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(#4 is the horrific story about a man who has 100 hellish orgasms a day).

I’m trying to reply to each email and FB message. I’m sorry I can’t reply to all the tweets, but I see them, and am so psyched that people feel so passionate about the piece they are compelled to share it with others.

It took a long time to condense my stroke into an essay. Writing nonfiction for me is like cutting my wrists and letting them bleed into words. (Fiction isn’t any easier; that’s like INVENTING a pair of wrists and then cutting them until they bleed, too). I seriously thought my stroke was The Most Boring Story I could tell; who wants to hear about a sick person? And I wanted to write a narrative that provided layers of meaning to my experience. But this summer, I was ready. And apparently, you were ready for my story, too.

Thank you thank you thank you. Deep gratitude.

Thank you to my editor at BuzzFeed, Sandra Allen who lifted every stone and sharpened my story. Thank you to Lisa Perrin, whose illustrations captured the spirit of my essay. Writers don’t get to choose the artwork (and rarely the titles), and I so lucked out this time. Check out Lisa Perrin’s store on etsy.

1 Comment

  1. Christine, your essay about your stroke is lovely and brutal. I don’t know if I am struck more by your acceptance and grace or the cruelty of your fomer husband and friends. When my husband and I had known each other for about 3 months he fell, broke his neck and both wrists, and sustained a relatively minor traumatic brain injury. Although he has and continues to be a stoic, he cried often for about the first 4 months after his inury. I was a single mother at the time and he begged me to leave him, fearing that he would become a burden and our bond, which was so very new, was also fragile enough to break without scarring the both of us. I don’t know why I didn’t leave, it certainly would have been the rational thing to do, but I didn’t, staying one day at a time. We both learned a lot about each other from our experiences together — once out of rehab he had to move in with me, my 4 year old son, two dogs, the nanny, and the nanny’s practically live-in fiance. Between the six of us we helped J through months of rehab and ultimate return to his career. We married a year and half later. As we move farther and farther away in time from J’s fall I am shocked at how often we don’t speak of those times. On the rare occasions that we do, our conversation is wistful and tinged with regret — unlike your injury, J’s fall was the result of poor judgment. We reflect on how it has changed our lives, and although Jack has forgiven himself I think it weighs heavily. What would our relationship have been without the burden that bonded us but that we will bear together for the rest of our lives?

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