EverythingHealth strongly recommends a wonderful new book called “The Water Giver” and I predict you will not be able to put it down. Author Joan Ryan is a remarkable writer who takes the reader on a journey she lived when her son, Ryan, sustained a near -fatal severe head and brain injury on a skateboard. It is both a medical drama and a meditation on motherhood.
The book begins with Joan’s description of her son’s learning difficulties and years of psychological and developmental testing. Her style as a mother was to intellectualize, do research and try to fix what was “wrong” with her son. The years went by with family stress and teachers conferences and medical consultations but it wasn’t until the day he fell, that Joan realized some things are too big to be studied and fixed.
The nightmare began when he was 16 and went skateboarding without a helmet. The fall on a hill near their home caused a huge brain bleed that obliterated much of his brain tissue. He remained in a coma for weeks and underwent multiple surgeries to relieve pressure. The book chronicles months of near death events in the Intensive Care Unit that nearly drove his parents insane with worry. I will let you read it to find out how it turns out.
“The Water Giver” is more than a medical story and more than an account of a child’s medical crisis. Joan Ryan used this harrowing time to look deep within herself and understand, finally, what her relationship with this remarkable child was all about. It was a time of sadness, fear and anger, but also a time of self-reflection. It was a time for Joan to realize that sometimes, the best you can do for someone you love is to be the water giver and sooth their thirst. Through Ryan’s accident, she discovered what was at her core.
This book is interesting on so many levels. The medical story is riveting and each page is turned to find out what will happen next. It is also terrifying because we know how close each of our children can be to an accident that could change their lives forever.
But the wonder of “The Water Giver” is the deep emotion it evokes as we read about the personal transformation that Joan Ryan underwent when she experienced the most terrifying time of her life. And it is a transformation we can identify with and be thankful that she was brave enough to put it down in writing.
*This blog post was originally published at EverythingHealth*