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Brain Storm: the story behind the story

Mystery writer Elaine Viets personally experienced the medical nightmare in Brain Storm. In 2007, after four days of severe headaches, Elaine suddenly had difficulty talking and standing. She could not hold objects or tie a bow.

Her husband, reporter Don Crinklaw, rushed Elaine to one of the top fifty hospitals in the United States where a respected neurologist said that she was “too young and fit to have a stroke.” He ordered a PET scan for the following week and sent her home.

The evening before the scan, Elaine went to bed with a headache. Don was unable to wake her for a phone call at nine-thirty that night. An ambulance took her back to the ER, and the doctor on duty told Don she would be dead by morning.

Elaine had six strokes, including a hemorrhagic stroke. The neurosurgeon on call said he could save her life. He performed a craniotomy and removed a third of her frontal lobe. Elaine was in a medically induced coma for a week and spent more than three months in the hospital, including extensive rehab. She had to relearn how to walk, eat, use a toilet, and other everyday tasks. She used a walker, and then a cane, for more than two years. Her recovery took more than four years.

Today, Elaine considers herself nearly fully recovered and has resumed a full writing schedule.

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