Praise for But My Brain Had Other Ideas: A Memoir of Recovery from Brain Injury by Deb Brandon


Advance Praise

At turns harrowing and inspiring; also serves as a valuable piece of education on recovery from brain injury.”
Kirkus Reviews
But My Brain Had Other Ideas is wonderfully written—not only from a literary point of view, but also as a deeply personal and clear explanation of what it feels like to experience the things that Brandon describes.”
— Dr. William J. Hawthorne III, Psy.D, clinical psychology (neuropsychologist)
It's impossible to read But My Brain Had Other Ideas and not be in awe of this woman's determination to triumph over her disease. Brandon's clear-eyed approach to her story will hook you from the first chapter and remind you what it means to live life full on. Her refusal to be circumscribed by angioma is a reminder of the power of hope in all of our lives.”
— Lee Woodruff, New York Times best-selling author and journalist
Told in poetic and exacting language, Brandon's intimate account of life with a damaged brain is equal parts hypnotizing, harrowing, and inspiring.”
— Michael Paul Mason, author of Head Cases: Stories of Brain Injury and Its Aftermath
Disability does not discriminate, it can be joined in the blink of an eye or in this case a rupture in the brain. But My Brain Had Other Ideas is a mind boggling roller coaster reality ride of personal trauma, disability and society's mind numbing response.”
— Lawrence Powell, past director of the Office of Disability Resources, Carnegie Mellon University
Deb Brandon documents her journey with cerebral cavernous angioma, a disease of brain blood vessels, with ferocious honesty. Her tale offers a glimpse into an often confusing and frightening world in which reality can be upended from one day to the next, a world that requires reaching down to the depths of resilience to stay afloat. Deb’s struggles and triumphs will resonate with anyone who suffers from invisible illness and those who love them.”
— Connie Lee, Psy.D., President and CEO of Angioma Alliance
Deb Brandon is analytical, precise, and detail oriented. But her prose reveals “another side of her brain”: authentic, poetic, and romantic. I was singularly captured by Deb’s storytelling. Beyond my perspective as a surgeon and expert on cavernous angiomas, I could not resist hiking along with her in the wilderness, watching Deb draw from nature the strength to adjust, and readjust. As a professor, I wanted to be with her, as she balanced her challenges with the desire to teach and continue to contribute at the highest level. But My Brain Had Other Ideas is a lively portrait of the personal toll of brain disease.”
— Issam A. Awad, MD, MSc, FACS, Director of Neurovascular Surgery, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Services
But My Brain Had Other Ideas is a courageous story, one that rings with the truth of living through trauma that robs us of what we take for granted—a functioning brain and body, a sense of normalcy and trust in life itself. Deb Brandon's chronicle of her journey through the life-threatening brain bleeds of a cavernous angioma, the surgeries, rehab, and the long slog to adapt as a brain-injury survivor offers a beacon of hope for all coping with a disability of any sort.”
— Susan J. Tweit, speaker and award-winning author of Walking Nature Home


Deb Brandon's chronicle of her ongoing relationship with cavernous angiomas is both sobering and gripping. It will make the reader re-assess his or her life, and certainly it makes the reader admire the down-to-earth realism with which Brandon relates her story. It is impossible not to appreciate the meaning of changing how one pictures one's own health due to a shocking alteration. In Brandon's case, that shock occurred to a mother of two teenage children and as a woman whose identity was established as a young, forty-something "professor of mathematics at a prestigious university." Everything that was strong in her life was turned upside down. Brandon's literary voice is remarkably strong in her ability to convey to the reader how much of a seismic shift there is to not know one's body anymore. The bleeding in her brain changes every single relationship in existence. I was astonished at her ability to relay this experience in often lyrical terms, to give the reader a feeling of what it is to be trapped in a body undergoing, for instance, seizures. She also adroitly explains the emotional turmoil that affected not only herself but her daughter, son and then-husband, whose inner security was so deeply rocked that he acted out by usurping a family TV room to sleep in at the precise moment it was needed by his wife and children. She leaves the interpretation to the reader, but his action is clearly indicative of his own psychological turmoil. Once begun, it is hard to put down Brandon's memoir. The cover art is inspired, but no less so than the story.”
— Judge for 25th Annual Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards
The book is an easy read with a touch of humor and, at some points, even sarcasm that lighten up an otherwise serious narrative. The author is able to portray in vivid details the pain, discomfort, fear, anger, hope, disappointment, joy and other emotions she felt in the roller coaster ride that her life has become. Every page gives the readers a jolt, a reminder of how beautiful a pain-free life is. The story makes the readers feel thankful for things they don’t know they are lucky to have like coordination and the ability to speak, and things they take for granted that the author cherishes like independence, family, friends, work and hobbies.”
— kimmyschemy06 for
Although many of us know someone dealing with chronic illness, we sometimes forget that there is a real person underneath the disease. This book puts us inside the mind of a patient, offering an important viewpoint. The author tackles the concepts of fear, empathy and loss. She highlights the hopeless periods when tests, diagnoses and treatment options are tough to focus upon. Yet we also get to experience Brandon's valiant moments when her level of determination is unflinching. This is a compelling story for all of those affected by a chronic disability and I recommend it wholeheartedly.”
— Kimberly Luyckx for Reader Views
Cavernous angiomas are vascular lesions comprised of clusters of abnormally dilated blood vessels. What that description doesn't tell you, but Deb does, is the impact that condition has on the body and the daily struggle to lead a relatively normal life. After three surgeries, rehab, and battling depression, Deb clearly chronicles her journey and the emotional toll that all of it had on her and her family. The descriptions of the paralyzing effects of her experiences in a crowd situation are absolutely mesmerizing. Her fear is clearly evident and at the same time, her determination to recover and continue teaching as a professor in the Mathematical Sciences Department at Carnegie Mellon University is inspiring.”
— Kathy Nester, Penny for My Thoughts