Matt Padmore is a young foreigner living in Japan – teaching English for a living, enjoying sports, and married to a Japanese fashion designer, Jun. Though they plan to return to Matt’s native England one day, they are leisurely enjoying their newlywed life and are just taking things as they come. Until one day Matt collapses from a stroke in his mid-30s.
Halfway Gone: Life and Love After Stroke plays out as a series of journal entries that skip back and forth between Matt and Jun’s life before and after “the crippling”, as he refers to his stroke. This gives the reader an unparallelled look into the things that go through the mind of a person who suddenly finds themselves with a disability. Terror. Anger. Hopelessness. Confusion. Matt does not shy away.
The real unique feature of his story, is the setting in which Matt experiences this life-changing event – far away from home, in Japan. As he shares his story, Matt also takes the opportunity to give the reader glimpses of life in Japan by explaining his surroundings, the things he does with friends and his Japanese in-laws, and his life with Jun. While these tidbits are interesting, they serve to highlight that Matt is far from home when he has to deal with his emergency. He can speak Japanese conversationally, but being unable to understand medical lingo makes it all the more difficult to understand his new condition. He faces frustration and anger as he cannot explain his needs to the nurses. When it comes time to start speech therapy, no one in the staff can verify if his English pronunciation is correct or not. All of this comes back in reverse when he moves back to England and faces culture shock and isolation at his parents’ home in the country.
The chapters are short enough to read a little bit at a time, but you will find you will want to read “just one more” as Matt is an expert of drawing you in to his inner thoughts and living through the joy and fear with him. A must read.
Halfway Gone: Life and Love After Stroke is available on Amazon.