Previously, I had read Robert Kurson's, The Shadow Divers, and loved it. Kurson writes in such a way that (as mentioned in a previous post) I almost hyperventilated as he described the rules for ascending to the top after a dive.
Crashing Through: A Story of Risk, Adventure, and the Man Who Dared to See has the same feel. At times I was tempted to skip ahead and end the suspense.
Kurson tells the story of Mike May, blinded in a chemical explosion when he was three years old. In his mid-40's, May learns of a stem cell and cornea transplant that could allow him to see. He is one of a few people in the world who had the right history to make the transplant work.
Mike May was known as "super blind guy" -- someone who "crashed through" life despite his disability. He had an uncanny sense of touch and echo-location (not to mention having the no-fear gene) and a mother who expected him to be treated like any other child. In fourth grade Mike was the school crossing guard, at 13 years old he built an 80-foot ham radio tower in his back yard. He learned to hike, often alone, and in his 20's he broke records as a speed-skier. He was always pushing his limits.
When he learned that he was a candidate for the surgery he already had a great life. Married, two kids, and a start-up business. He was successful and being blind was not an obstacle for him.
Kurson takes us into May's world and the deliberation of whether to have the surgery, which is about 50% successful. After about 9 months, he agrees to have the transplants.
May's sight is restored but there are risks, issues, and problems that come with restored vision after being blind for over 40 years. A lot has to do with the brain. Kurson describes brain science so that it is understandable and interesting.
I appreciate my ability to see and probably like you take it for granted. Learning about brain connectors, neurons, imprinting, and the like is fascinating. Kurson made me care about Mike and his family. I found myself checking the internet for a status report on May since the book was published three years ago. Reading Mike May's story was worth my time.