Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke

Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke

Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke

Identity Theft: Rediscovering Ourselves After Stroke


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Identity Theft is an award-winning book that follows Stanford professor Debra Meyerson’s journey to recover from a severe stroke that initially left her physically incapacitated and unable to speak. In addition to providing realistic expectations for the hard work needed to regain everyday capabilities, Meyerson focuses on the less frequently documented emotional journey in recovery. Virtually every survivor is haunted by questions like: “Who am I now?” and “How do I rebuild a meaningful and rewarding life?” after losing so much of what they had before—capabilities, careers and jobs, relationships, and more. This is a book full of hope for survivors—from stroke or other injuries—as well as their families and support networks.

Debra Meyerson and her husband, Steve Zuckerman, have created Stroke Onward (, a non-profit initiative of the Social Good Fund, to provide stroke survivors, families and caregivers with more resources to help them navigate the emotional journey to rebuild their identities and rewarding lives. Working with experts in the community, Stroke Onward has developed audience-specific discussion guides for survivors (with and without aphasia), care partners, healthcare professionals, and other book groups to deepen and personalize the reading experience (


Winner of the 2019 Silver Nautilus Book Award, Identity Theft centers on Debra’s experience: her stroke, her extraordinary efforts to recover, and her journey to redefine herself. But she also draws on her skills as a social scientist, sharing stories from several dozen fellow survivors, family members, friends, colleagues, therapists, and doctors she has met and interviewed. By sharing this diversity of experiences, Debra highlights how every person is different, every stroke is different, and every recovery is different. She provides a valuable look at the broad possibilities for successfully navigating the challenging physical recovery—and the equally difficult emotional journey toward rebuilding one’s identity and a rewarding life after a trauma like stroke.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781449496319
Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing
Publication date: 05/14/2019
Pages: 288
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Previously a tenured professor at Stanford University, DEBRA MEYERSON studied, wrote, lectured, and taught about diversity, gender, identity, and organizational change. In September 2010, Debra’s life and career were derailed by a severe stroke that nearly killed her and initially left her paralyzed on the right side—and completely mute. Years of intensive therapy and a relentless work ethic enabled Debra to regain her independence, but she still lives with physical limitations and speech challenges. Debra wrote Identity Theft to help other survivors and those closest to them navigate the emotional journey that she has found very difficult—and rewarding. Debra lives in Menlo Park, California, with her husband, and has three grown children.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Part 1 Unwinding a Self 11

Chapter 1 A Slow Fall off a Cliff 12

Chapter 2 Everything Can Fail 24

Chapter 3 A Teacher without Words 34

Chapter 4 Moving Forward 43

Part 2 What It's Really Like, Outside and Inside 57

Chapter 5 The Grind of Therapy 58

Chapter 6 Let Me Talk! 67

Chapter 7 Grief 79

Chapter 8 Lean On 88

Chapter 9 Stroke Is a Family Illness 102

Chapter 10 Partners and Intimacy 121

Chapter 11 People Are Social Animals 134

Chapter 12 How the World Responds 148

Chapter 13 Activities Adapted 156

Chapter 14 Careers and Callings 163

Chapter 15 Dealing with Financial Strain 174

Chapter 16 Advocating in the U.S. Medical System 182

Part 3 Redefining Recovery 193

Chapter 17 Reclaiming the Basics 194

Chapter 18 Choice in Our New Identities 205

Chapter 19 Fulfillment through Growth 221

Acknowledgments 227

Appendix I Survivor Biographies 235

Appendix II Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs 257

Notes 259

References 269

Index 275

About the Authors 281

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