cover image The Day My Brain Exploded

The Day My Brain Exploded

Ashok Rajamani. Algonquin, $13.95 trade paper (256p) ISBN 978-1-56512-997-9

First-time author Rajamani delivers a fascinating look at his life and his recovery as a brain-injury patient that is both heartbreaking and uplifting. In 2000, Rajamani was a 25-year-old first-generation Indian-American living the dream as well as living on the edge: a rising star in the competitive world of New York City public relations as well as a full-blown alcoholic who arrives “volcanically trashed” for a major job interview and is still “hired on the spot.” Only a week after he is hired, his life changes entirely after he suffers a massive brain hemorrhage caused by AVM, or arteriovenous malformation—a congenital birth defect in which “a tangle of veins and arteries hidden within the brain” suddenly bursts, causing the brain to bleed and flooding the head with septic fluid. Rajamani expertly details his injury (“My brain had become, simply, a liquid mess”) and its treatment, describing procedures such as a ventriculostomy, “an operation in which they drilled holes in the skull and insert tiny plastic tubes, also called ventrics, to drain the fluid.” Rajamani describes how he recovers with the help of his family and an extended support group of brain-injury survivors, and discovers that “even though I face epilepsy and multiple functional defects in my sight, hearing and memory, I’ve become more at peace, finding a new kind of harmony with the world.” (Jan.)