Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Brain on Fire - Cahallan

Slight physical issues: numbness in her limbs and dizziness, didn't much worry Susannah Cahallan. In the prime of her life, she was working her dream job at the New York Post, and in a new relationship with a wonderful boyfriend. Life was good.

Then, one night while watching television, she experienced a seizure. After multiple appointments with doctors, the best they could come up with was she was partying too hard, drinking to much.

But they were very wrong. And, eventually, her body betrayed her. She slipped into a psychotic state for more than a month and, despite efforts from various specialties, no one could quite figure out what was wrong. As she slipped slowly towards catatonia and possible death, a last minute addition to her medical team saved her life. Well-known neurologist Souhel Najjar, recognized, after a slew of tests, Susannah's signs. Susannah's brain was "on fire", her immune system was attacking them her brain cells due to a sort of autoimmune disease.

In Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, Susannah Cahallan tells about her harrowing experience, her possible death, and her struggle to recover and regain her life. Only with the assistance of her family's journals and notes is she able to recreate much of the experience as she has little memory of her month of madness. But she offers hope that her experience will ensure that someone else, anyone else, might not have to suffer as she did.

A medical mystery and intense memoir, this book was a great read. A trained journalist, Cahalan presents the facts honestly, with as much verification as she can offer given her state, while keeping it personal and entertaining. Worth a read!

3/5- Good. Read it, have a good time and move on. Or not.


Anonymous said...

Dang, that book sounds incredibly scary. I might have to check it out :)