Each person who endures a serious illness or injury followed by a journey of rehabilitation has a compelling story to share. Now, six brave New Zealanders are sharing their accounts of recovery through self-determination and courage in ‘The Art of Recovery: Six Personal Journeys’ edited by Bernadette Cassidy and Carolyn Beaver. Whether recovering from a spinal cord or brain injury, drug/alcohol addiction or congenital condition, each of the six personal accounts is an opportunity to step into the rehabilitation process through the eyes of those who have lived it. Among those whose stories feature is Shane Thrower who survived testicular cancer and a traumatic brain injury; Ken Hird who was paralysed in the aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake, and Roydon Gibbs who’s battled addiction and depression.
10 years in the compilation, ‘The Art of Recovery’ was commissioned by the late Alan Clarke, executive director of the New Zealand Spinal Trust, who sadly passed away hours after writing the introduction for the book in 2007. Alan’s philosophy was that “rehabilitation is about taking charge of ones return to full participation. Rehabilitation can’t be “done to you”. It is not a treatment or a therapy. It is a learning process, educational not medical. One must set one’s own goals and make sure one gets there.” Alan, who suffered a spinal injury when he fell off the roof of his house, was also a keen proponent of Gerben DeJong’s independent living paradigm, which emphasises the need for the consumer to be in control of and responsible for his/her recovery. DeJong, currently a director at the MedStar Centre for Post-acute Innovation and Research in Washington DC, wrote the book’s foreword. He says “the six narratives that comprise this work are indeed about the art of recovery but they are much more. They are also about the art of reinvention — about re-imagining and reinventing one’s life and knowing that one can never go back completely to what once was.”
Co-editor Carolyn Beaver says the book will appeal to people in all forms of recovery and to health professionals with an interest in rehabilitation.
It has been published by the Burwood Academy of Independent Living (BAIL), a non-profit organisation committed to improving the life experience of people recovering from serious injury and illness. Based on site at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch, the Academy is dedicated to building a vibrant culture of research and learning.