By Molly Moser
“I knew at that moment nothing would ever be the same again. How could it?” said inspirational speaker Tara Fall, to a captive audience at the Guttenberg Public Library last Tuesday evening. Fall is author of the new book BrainStorming: Functional Lessons from a Dysfunctional Brain, and she speaks publicly about her experiences with seizures, brain surgery, stroke, and memory loss.
In the midst of brain surgery meant to cure her epileptic seizures, Fall awoke first to the sound of a bone saw opening her skull. Doctors put her deeper into a sleep-state, but she awoke again later to the sound of a retractor releasing her brain and the feeling of what she thought was an oncoming seizure. It wasn’t.
When she awoke from surgery, Fall couldn’t speak or hear, she was 98% blind, and she was paralyzed on the left side. As she regained her hearing doctors told her she’d had a stroke. At what might have seemed an all-time low, Fall rejoiced. She still had her memories, and she retained a remarkable optimism that has come to define her journey.
Prior to her brain surgery, Fall’s seizures had become more and more life-threatening. One night, a seizure occurred while she slept. When she woke in a hospital in Iowa City, she had lost the past 18 months of memory. She didn’t recognize her children or recall their births, and that’s when brain surgery became imminent. “I knew that surgeons were either going to take a piece of my brain, or the seizures were going to take my life.”