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Re-Membering by Ann Millett-Gallant

Author: Ann Millett-Gallant : Contact:

Published: 2017-03-11


Re-Membering, a book by Ann Millett-Gallant, is a memoir about being congenitally physically disabled and experiencing traumatic brain injury.

Main Digest

Ann Millett-Gallant is an art historian, disability studies scholar, and visual artist who specializes in painting and collage. She holds a PhD in art history from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and currently serves as a Senior Lecturer for the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

Re-Membering is a memoir about being congenitally physically disabled and experiencing traumatic brain injury. Millett-Gallant recounts her accident, recovery, and consequential discoveries by engaging multiple genres of writing. Each chapter is composed of: personal narrative, research on brain injury and art therapy, disability studies and other critical theory, information from medical records, and voices from other memoirs, as well as examples of her artwork. She underscores the vital roles of her family and friends, as well as art, in her recovery and provides hope and direction for others with brain injury, based upon one survivor's first-hand experiences.

Chapter Excerpt - Chapter 1 - Falling Together

Re-Membering book cover
Re-Membering book cover

"I believe there are many tools on the road to recovery--family above all, exercise, music, and even the reassurance of touch." As I previously discussed in relation to my collage, my family and friends fostered my recovery after the accident. And while relationships that were established before my accident deepened, new friendships also formed. Anna got on the phone just after the ambulance took me to the hospital and began a long chain of communications throughout my support system. She first called Paul, my boyfriend with whom I lived, but she got no answer. She then called my step-sister Brandee, who also lives in Durham, NC and has been my best friend since we were fourteen, who then called my father with the news of my accident. He got a hold of my mom, who immediately packed and got a flight to San Francisco. I can't imagine her state when she arrived, and she admits that for the next month or so, she often felt in a daze. "Luckily," I have been told, my accident happened quite close to a premiere trauma center, to which I was taken immediately. I would learn later that I entered the emergency room alert; however, I had been unconscious for ten minutes, I had a blown pupil, and doctors said that I was within twenty minutes of dying.

I don't remember anything about being in San Francisco. Medical records state that during my time there, I experienced a urinary tract infection, intermittent hypertension, and a pneumonia, likely caused by my ventilator. I was also on medication for a peptic ulcer. These records list intricate details about the levels of every gas and vitamin in my blood. Every organ was evaluated, and ultrasounds were performed. My body must have been looked at all over, inside and out, through a microscope. The records also describe how a seventeen-gauge feeding tube was inserted into my abdomen. I remained in the intensive care unit until June 19, 2007.

In this hospital, I was unconscious a lot of the time, and when I was awake, my mom told me, I was very agitated and even had painful muscle spasms. I know she spent a lot of time with me, talking to me and massaging my strained and static muscles. I also think she may have helped with grooming, by plucking my eyebrows. She was quite literally hands on! Annoyed that I was having trouble swallowing and that the nurses weren't doing anything about it, one day she closed my door, stuck her fingers down my throat, and cleared out a "hunk of junk." After that, I swallowed fine. Mother knows best! While much of what I have heard about my time in San Francisco is heart-wrenching, there are these stories that make me smile. For example, Brandee told me later that I had a very "hot" physical therapist (i.e. tall, athletic, and handsome), and that one day, he climbed into bed with me and began to thrust me back and forth to practice my falling reflexes. Brandee tried to duplicate the look I had on my face that she found so amusing, which made me think that I hadn't known what was going on and whether or not to enjoy it. She also said that she and my dad were uncomfortably amused. I'm glad to hear about the comic relief! Brandee also told me of times she shared a hotel room with my dad while I was in the hospital and commented, "He was in a lot of pain."


"Combining the art of storytelling with research and journaling, the author takes the reader on her difficult journey towards healing, a mental odyssey that has a lot to offer readers in terms of perseverance, friendship, self-love, and personal growth." - Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite.

"Millet-Gallant is a worthy follow-up to her heroine, Frida Kahlo, with her deep dive into the imaginal realm through which she creates a new relationship with her rapidly shifting experience of life following her injury. It has been truly inspiring to track her courageous and unflinching march into the painful territories of loss, fear, and guilt, uninterrupted by self-pity or doubt and brimming with sensitive self-awareness." - Gloria Mahin of the Expressive Therapist blog.

Independently published by Wisdom House Books
Paperback: $12.99 U.S. $16.99 CAN ISBN: 978-0-692-77235-5
E-book: $2.99 ISBN: 978-0-692-79988-8

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