Carolyn Roy-Bornstein

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Crash
A Mother, a Son, and the Journey from Grief to Gratitude
ISBN: 978-0-7627-8045-7 Pub Date: 09/18/2012
$22.95 Hardcover Pages: 224

After twenty-five years caring for children as a nurse and a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her teenage son and his girlfriend are hit by a drunk driver. Gratitude for her son’s survival soon gives way to grief. While initially told Neil’s only injury was a broken leg, she soon learns his brain is bleeding.
 
Roy-Bornstein is now not the patient’s doctor or nurse, but his mom. The world she so easily navigated in a white coat must now be traversed, understood, and dealt with from the perspective of a parent.
 
There are many dividing lines in this story: the line that divides the family’s life into events that occurred before the crash and those that faltered in its wake; and the line that separates gratitude that her son is alive from grief for his loss of memory and changed personality. Roy-Bornstein’s years as a “medical insider” give her story authenticity while her newcomer status as the parent of a trauma victim adds poignancy and warmth to this first memoir.

After 25 years of caring for children, first as a nurse, then as a pediatrician, Carolyn Roy-Bornstein finds herself on the other side of the stretcher when her 17-year-old son Neil is hit by a teenage drunk driver while walking his girlfriend Trista home after a study date. Trista did not survive her injuries. Neil carries his with him to this day.

     Gratitude for her son’s survival ultimately gives way to grief. While initially told Neil’s only injury was a broken leg, Roy-Bornstein quickly finds herself riding in the front seat of an ambulance transporting her son to the ICU at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston; his brain is bleeding.

      Roy-Bornstein is now not the patient’s doctor or nurse but his mom. The world she so easily navigates in a white uniform or a white coat now must be traversed, understood, and dealt with from the perspective of a parent.

     There are many dividing lines in this story. The line that divides this family’s life in two: the events that occurred before the crash and those that came tumbling and faltering in its wake. The line that separates grief from gratitude: gratitude that her son is alive and as whole as he is; grief for his loss of memory and changed personality and for having his whole world shattered in an i nstant. The line that separates the world Roy-Bornstein knew so well as a doctor from the new one she must now navigate as the parent of a trauma victim. 
     In these pages she explores all of these boundaries: between then and now, grief and gratitude, before and after, us and them. Her many years as a "medical insider" bring her story authenticity and detail, while her newcomer status as the parent of a trauma victim add poignancy and warmth in this first memoir.


   
 

“For anyone who has gone through their own in-an-instant moment when life is reconfigured in seconds, Crash so beautifully articulates the pain, struggle, and long road to recovery and acceptance in the aftermath of injury and loss. Roy-Bornstein reminds us, with heart-breaking prose, that life is a journey and a mother’s heart is a powerful weapon.”

—Lee Woodruff, author of Perfectly Imperfect and co-author with Bob Woodruff of In an Instant

 

Crash is a powerful book. It speaks to us on the most human and humane levels about love, family, healing, and renewal. Written by a physician mother, it puts the horror of a roadside accident into the contexts of familial terror and doctorly wisdom. It is a consequential book, one I read in two straight nights and which resonated with me for a long time afterward. Read it—I was blown away.”

—Caitlin Flanagan, author of Girl Land and To Hell with All That

 

“A true testament of the unique love, dedication, and human spirit of a family sh attered by an unthinkable accident. Beautifully written . . . heartbreakingly intimate . . . unwaveringly honest.”

Julia Fox Garrison, author of Don’t Leave Me This Way

 

“This powerful memoir is both heart-wrenching and heart-warming. Every parent’s nightmare and the amazing journey of a son and the family who loved him.”

Julie Silver, MD, author of You Can Heal Yourself

 

“All of us, when passing the scene of a bad accident, know the flash of dread: “that could have been one of mine.” For Carolyn Roy-Bornstein that flash was her fate. As a doctor herself, Roy-Bornstein knows too much and, at the same time, not enough when suddenly thrust into the chaos of caring for a son broken, quite literally, in mind and spirit.”

Linda Keenan, author of Suburgatory 

 

From Publishers Weekly:

“Combining her medical knowledge with a mother’s empathy and grief the author deftly recounts her clear eyed observations and fears during the critical period following the crash. ‘At that moment I was again sadly aware of knowing too much as a physician….’ This is a remarkable testament exploring one family’s courageous journey through a medical nightmare and a new beginning.”

 

 
   
   
 

About the author

Carolyn Roy-Bornstein, MD, is an award-winning writer and practicing pediatrician who writes a monthly health column, Pediatric Points, in the national newsletter Pediatrics for Parents. She is also an ambassador with the Brain Injury Association of Massachusetts, giving speeches to civic groups, schools, and businesses.

 
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