Brain Attack Music

A true story of stroke survival

Both Sides Now

Question:  What’s the best way to eat an elephant? 

Answer:  One bite at a time.

Never has this old joke resonated with me so often.  I couldn’t think of a better metaphor for brain attack recovery.

As I sit down at my laptop to write these blogs, to catch up on emails or to write some more music – whatever – after 15 or 20 minutes I find myself starting to get a headache, to feel fatigued and I fight the desire to quit and go and rest.  I think “I am NEVER going to finish this.  What’s the point?”.  Fatigue eventually gets the better of me so I stop what I’m doing, hit “ctrl S” and take myself off for some ‘P and Q’ as my Mum used to say (peace and quiet).

Most of these blogs that you read have taken several sessions to write.  Even the shortest ones take 4 or 5 sessions.  The longer ones much, much more.  The short music demos on the “Listen” page on this website seem to have taken forever.  I haven’t been able to write any music for about 4 or 5 weeks now.  Just starting this website, developing the content, writing a few blogs and continuing with my recovery has taken all my energy.  There hasn’t been anything left in the tank for the music.  Now that the website is up and running, it’s time to return to some music writing.  I try not to think how long it will take me to finish this project!

I have never run a marathon (and definitely never will) but I imagine that, for the amateur athlete, after 5 or 6 miles the runner starts to think, “What?  I’ve still got another 20 miles to go?”.  And this must carry on every few miles or so (“What?  Another 15?  You’re joking!”).  Of course, one small crumb of comfort is they actually know where the finish line is.  For us brain attack survivors and our recovery, where is the finish line?  How far away is it?  And how do we know when we’ve got there?  Well, we don’t, of course.  It’s just an ongoing process.  It therefore becomes a matter of will power – “Keep going, mate, you might feel better next year.  Or maybe the year after”.  As Curtis Mayfield once sang, “We just keep on keeping on”.

So, I regularly remind myself that the best way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time.  For us brain attack survivors, we don’t know how big the elephant is, how long it’s going to take to cook or how easy it is to digest, so we’d better make sure we enjoy eating it as best we can, however long it takes. . .

Until next time,


“Well, something’s lost but something’s gained in living every day”.