You would be hard-pressed to find someone who disagrees with the quote “Laughter is the best medicine.” What might be just as true is that sometimes it may be the only medicine capable of relieving the suffering of the physically and emotionally disabled. Author Andy Ellis knows a lot about this phenomenon, all recounted in his compelling recovery memoir The Dangers of Pimento Cheese: Surviving a Stroke South of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Suffering a devastating right-hemispheric stroke that seemed to come out of the blue, Ellis, 49 at the time, came to rely on his ample sense of humor to rally against a number of challenges over a ten-year span that included not only the effects of his debilitating left-side paralysis but also the inanities of hospital protocol, the clumsy gestures of well-meaning but clueless associates and the not-so-well-intentioned judgment calls of strangers. Yet in his book, he does not forget to mention the kindness of strangers as well as the gratifying support Ellis received from his family and friends.
The author brings to this narrative a facile way with words, honed by years as a successful advertising copywriter. Describing his periodic frustrations with adapting his body’s responses to a “post-stroke world,” Ellis explains that while his pre-stroke mobility resembled a straight line from A to B, in his post-stroke world, “that line looks like it was drawn by a deranged chimp with an Etch-O-Sketch.”
Caregivers of stroke survivors will easily identify with Ellis’ wife Cristie’s memories of those recovery years; caregivers bring enlightening perspectives to the process, and this book is enriched by the inclusion of Cristie’s voice.
Overall, The Dangers of Pimento Cheese (the author suffered his stroke while eating a pimento sandwich) will be a welcome addition to the libraries of other stroke victims, especially those who find it hard to explain their challenges to those unfamiliar with the frustrating effects of this medical event.
Also available as an ebook.