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Where Is the Mango Princess? [Hardcover]

Cathy Crimmins
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 19 2000
This is a book that Cathy Crimmins never hoped to write: the story of how a tragic accident nearly destroyed her family; of how in a split second their lives were changed forever.

In 1996, Cathy Crimmins, her husband, Alan, and their daughter, Kelly, were on an idyllic lakeside holiday when a boating accident left Alan in a deep coma, with severe damage to the frontal lobes of his brain, the area that controls speech, memory, movement, and personality. Where Is the Mango Princess? is the story of what happened to Cathy and her family after Alan woke up.

From the frustrations of dealing with doctors ("The first doctor, whom we call Dr. Asshole, swooped down from the great Neurosurgery in the Sky to tell me he has nothing to tell me") and insurance plans ("You know what our HMO's brain surgery plan is? They give your wife a Black & Decker drill and an instruction booklet") to the enigmas of personality, mortality, and modern science, Where Is the Mango Princess? is a chronicle of an unforgettable transformation.

Crimmins's story is full of unexpected and hard-won wisdom: a reminder of the precariousness of health, of fortune, of life itself; an indictment of HMOs and the bureaucrats bred by them; a lesson in how resilient love is, and how wide its compass. Most of all, though, it is Cathy's ability to confront absurdity head-on and not be undone by it that awes and inspires us, in what may be the most miraculous, the most healing, the most uniquely human trait of all--the gift of wit, and how it held her together in the face of the worst life has to offer.

Writing with grace, candor, and remarkable clarity, Cathy Crimmins charts her husband's painful and often astonishing journey through the world of the brain-injured and takes readers on a voyage--life-affirming in even its darkest moments--through neurology, identity, and the mysteries of the human brain.

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"Alan's brain got run over by a speedboat," Cathy Crimmins writes. "That last sentence reads like a bad country-western song lyric, but it's true. It was a silly, horrible, stupid accident." And so begins the harrowing tale of a family vacation gone awry when a speedboat collides with her husband's small craft, changing their lives forever. Crimmins (The Seven Habits of Highly Defective People and When My Parents Were My Age They Were Old... or Who Are You Calling Middle-Aged?) is used to writing with wit, self-effacing humor, and a warmth that can bring readers to their knees--or at least to tears of laughter. But in this stunning memoir about her husband's brain injury and the subsequent fallout, Crimmins has outdone herself, bringing all her sharply honed narrative skills into play as she tackles the life-wrenching drama of witnessing her husband's near death and ensuing rebirth as a very different person.

Crimmins takes readers inside the drama with all the right details and interior feelings to keep us fully mesmerized: her 7-year-old daughter's ashen face, her husband's twitching body, the paramedic's alarming question, "Is your husband one of these people that ordinarily has large pupils?" As deftly as she takes readers inside this personal story of not-quite recovery--more like discovery--she is also able to pan back and show readers the comedic silver lining (the self-important doctors, the moments of mishaps, and of course, the whereabouts of the mysterious Mango Princess) that lies within the cloud of her family's tragedy. Anyone who has endured a head trauma or loved someone who has will be engrossed by this wise and knowledgeable storyteller. The rest of us will have a captivating lesson about the rejuvenation of the brain as well as the human heart. --Gail Hudson

From Publishers Weekly

Although it was frightening when Crimmins's husband, Alan, an attorney, suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI) while on a family vacation, it was his long-term rehabilitation that proved most daunting, for brain injuries can cause significant personality changes. This chronicle of Al's injury, treatment and rehabilitation shows how perplexing and stressful traumatic brain injury can be for both victim and family. Crimmins (When My Parents Were My Age, They Were Old and Newt Gingrich's Bedtime Stories for Orphans) knows how to tell a story for maximum effect, filling this account with funny and outrageous anecdotes, raw emotion and predictable rage toward HMOs that won't fund optimal treatment. Like many TBI patients, Al became bizarrely uninhibited; Crimmins describes how he swears profusely and masturbates in public, and her worries about suddenly being married to a stranger: "I once had a husband who was doing a dissertation on Samuel Beckett, who had a thing for obscure Japanese cinema.... I can't imagine being married to a man who won't be able to discuss books or go to the theater with me." Despite Alan's extraordinarily good recovery, Crimmins muses, "I miss his dark side.... Now I wince as he chortles over mediocre cartoons... with TBI he has become what he wasn't before, a regular, uncomplicated guy." Though this story is an eye-opener on some levels, it remains essentially shallow. More information on neurological research would have been welcome, and attention to the experience of other TBI families (to which Crimmins devotes only three paragraphs) would have added the perspective that this self-centered account lacks. Agent, Kim Witherspoon.
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars It opened my eyes and warmed my heart Nov. 28 2003
When someone close to you suffers an accident, and ends up in a hospital bed in a coma, the world around you collapses. This happened to us on April 6th 2003, when Mickey was involved in a car accident and was in a coma for over 2 months.
This book has been incredibly helpful. It contains a lot of priceless information, information you CAN understand, complementing it with loads of personal experiences.
Thanks to the very easy language (it can be read as a novel) it has allowed everyone in my family to understand and accept the choices and changes we wnet though and are still going through with a TBI survivor. It has also helped us understand and help Mickey in his recovery process.
I have cried and laughed on endless nights with this book.
I have underlined passages and read them over and over (something I dont do very often)
I have shared this book with the rest of my family, friends, Mickeys friends and caregivers and even some doctors....
Thank you Cathy Crimmins for helping US stay confident, focused, and happy....
This book opened my eyes and warmed my heart.
To anyone going through this terrible ordeal... there IS HOPE at the end. Dont despair!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Now we laugh..... Feb. 1 2002
My husband suffered TBI in 1996, a year after we began dating - that was over five years and a lifetime ago. We struggled through the first year just trying to get through each day. He never gave up and neither did we. "We", include his son and my three children. Watching him "fight" and evolve into a different person (a composite of the "old" & the "new") created a range of emotions for us all from anger, denial, sadness to relief (when we found the right mix of health care resources)& hope & happiness. We "blended" our families a year after his injury and while there are moments when we wonder "why did this happen to him", we continue to face each day - one day at a time. Some are good, and some downright stink.
Cathy's book reminded me once again that we are not alone - I dove into the research just like Cathy (the knowledge & my understanding of it was my life jacket. Our children, our reason for not giving up) Her messages are our messages - I hear my voice in her written word. There were moments when I had to put the book down as it saddened me to remember how painful those days, weeks, months were. How the fear and frustration made us feel physically and emotionally spent. And there were many passages where I laughed with her! I'm writing to say - we too survived! It's not easy, and it never, ever ends. It's about courage, love and support. It's about our new little family sticking together despite the challenges and now we look back and talk about some of our dimmest moments & smile. (Cathy's dedication to Al says it all for me - "to the past, present and future") Read the book - take the journey - you are not alone. Cathy, thank you.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must for all involved with a Brain Injury Nov. 22 2001
Although brain injuries take many forms, this book is a great start for anyone who has either suffered from some form of brain injury or the family members of patients. CE Crimmins tells a true tale of a horrible accident but she peppers it with her humor and her real feelings about what has happened to her family and her marital relationship. She understands and points out the inability of members of society who are not informed on this subject to understand what a very long recovery process is involved with any brain injury. I found it particularly poignant in the areas of looks normal/acts normal, but in fact, is not normal! In other words, Ms. Crimmins illuminates that although brain injury suffers may appear totally recovered the recovery process takes upward of one year. Ms. Crimmins also assists individuals who have suffered any type of brain injury in understanding how it feels to be the family member rather than the patient. The author gives her own valuable knowledge through her experience that provides hope that others will have patience and the information necessary to realize how many physical and mental issues continue to plague patients after surgery and during recovery - including the effects of the medications. Ms. Crimmins also describes the battles with the HMOs in a powerful way.
I loved this book and could barely put it down.
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5.0 out of 5 stars heart-wrenching and fascinating March 19 2001
By A Customer
Cathy Crimmins is an amazing woman for writing this book. Her husband has survived a near-fatal accident -- and she too is a survivor. She manages to cope with it all (without succumbing to a total nervous breakdown), and maintains some level of normalcy while bringing up her only child in an atmosphere that is vastly different from what it was only weeks ago - with a husband she no longer recognizes, a "new Alan."
Alan's new personality struck so many chords with me -- my brother was diagnosed in his early teens as having paranoid schizophrenia, and he and Alan display similar characteristics, even though their maladies are profoundly different. My brother isn't brain damaged, he was "born that way." I don't remember him being vastly different from what he was before, so my family doesn't have memories of "normal" to fall back on. I honestly can't say whether that would be easier or worse for us, so I can understand why this issue is so bittersweet for Crimmins. My brother exhibits a tremendous capacity for warmth, pride and giving (like Alan, he picks up on what interests you and carries it through to the extreme. A good example is, he knows I like music so he spent his entire disability check on a 300-disc cd player that I don't really need but wouldn't ever say as much. When I was promoted to a new position at my old music label job, he told everyone I was president of the company.) He also has stormy outbursts of temper where everything is someone else's fault (which, all these years later, is a family joke of sorts -- "YOU did it!" or "the DOG did it!") Tiny things send him into a rage, and moments later he is like a young child, apologetic and thoughtful.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Words of Wisdom to Soothe the Soul....
My heart is sore,,,,,,,I just finished reading this book for the second time. My lifetime partner had a brain aneurysm 18 months ago. Our world was turned upside down. Read more
Published on Feb. 28 2010 by Susan M. Davis
5.0 out of 5 stars jdubuc
Recently my mother suffered a severe brain anuerism and stroke. She was unconscious for over a week and spent 27 days in the SCU. Read more
Published on Nov. 16 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Julianna mango princess
Julianna Margulies will be in a new movie Where is the Mango Princess son on TNT! WATCH IT!
Published on Sept. 20 2003 by jules
5.0 out of 5 stars Where is the mango princess?
My son recently suffered a brain injury. This book helped me more than anything else that I have read. It also made me laugh and cry. Read more
Published on March 30 2003
4.0 out of 5 stars true story!
Cathy Crimmins partner researched medical libraries to provide factual details within the context of this entertaining and cohesive account of a chaotic and painful... Read more
Published on July 1 2002 by "rambla"
5.0 out of 5 stars Tells the truth
With wit and humor, this book provides a horribly accurate depiction of a TBI and its aftermath, as well as a surprising amount of insight into the functioning of both healthy and... Read more
Published on Nov. 12 2001 by Anise
5.0 out of 5 stars Astoundingly beautiful and brutal in its honesty.
There is much literature on the diseased and disabled and their caretakers, full of raw emotion and excruciating pathos. Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2001 by Stephen Richmond
5.0 out of 5 stars The Reality of TBI.
As a survivor of TBI, this book hits the "nail on the head"!!!
Published on Aug. 21 2001 by "surgryrn430"
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting and well-written
Great story, easily read and very interesting.
Published on Aug. 9 2001
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that will change your life!
Nothing I have ever read has touched me more than this book. Someone I love and respect very much was struck down by a brain injury in August 2000. Read more
Published on July 18 2001
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