June 17, 2013

Brain on Fire - review

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness
by Susannah Cahalan
publisher Free Press, division of Simon and Schuster
published November 2012

Reflections:  One summer was rough for me.   Four people in my family had brain issues:  bipolar, cancer, PTSD, and early Alzheimer's.   A group of friends I knew on-line got together and sent me the most beautiful bouquet of flowers.   Our brains certainly do affect us, as well as the people surrounding us.

Susannah Cahalan is a reporter for the New York Post who was hospitalized with a mysterious illness.  Day by day she became worse -- hallucinations, attempt to flee,  blurred speech, short-term memory loss, and psychosis.

Her family and boyfriend stuck by her side.  More and more doctors looked into her case.  A brain biopsy was performed.  Eventually, one doctor made the diagnosis simply by asking her to draw a clock.  Susannah's fire in her brain finally faded.  A medical mystery became a medical miracle simply because her family refused to let her go into madness.

Because Susannah is a reporter, she wrote a short article about her experiences in the hospital and during recovery.   She interviewed the people who were there that month,  read her hospital files,  read her journal, and watched videos of her actions while in the hospital.   After more research, her article became a book.   Some of the book gives details about other people who suffered the same kind of mystery.  

I ended up closing the book with appreciation for medial personnel who won't give up and for patient advocates such as family members.

pages from The Reader's Digest