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Wonderful, wonderful book I m a neurologist, and it s amazing to see a book written from a patient s perspective, especially one with a such a good outcome The book progresses from the starting of the disease process and right up to the recovery stage It s unnerving to read about the psychotic episodes, the complex partial seizures, the generalised seizures and ultimately, the catatonia It must have been very frightening for both the author and her loved ones to witness all of those events u Wonderful, wonderful book I m a neurologist, and it s amazing to see a book written from a patient s perspective, especially one with a such a good outcome The book progresses from the starting of the disease process and right up to the recovery stage It s unnerving to read about the psychotic episodes, the complex partial seizures, the generalised seizures and ultimately, the catatonia It must have been very frightening for both the author and her loved ones to witness all of those events unfolding Scientifically, the book is well researched, and I love how the medicals terms are explained without jargons I particularly love the part where the author describes how IVIGs are produced That being said, I doubt the significance of the visual neglect as shown with the clock face drawing, and it was written as if the visual neglect led to the diagnosis of autoimmune encephalitis I guess, perhaps, the visual neglect counts as focal neurology hard evidence that something s wrong with the hardware i.e the brain, and that would have prompted the doctors to look harder for an organic cause of the psychosis and hallucinations This book truly highlights that doctors should always be aware that there are organic possibilities to consider before bouncing so called psychotic episodes over to the psychiatrist I truly hope that the thousands and thousands of patients with NMDA R antibody encephalitis and their relatives would find comfort in this book, and that they come across brilliant and compassionate neurologists who would champion their plight On the final note, I m glad for all the wonderful work that Dr Dalmau has done in the field of autoimmune encephalitis, and the author s recovery is testament to how well patients with the same condition could fare Without him and his group, many patients would have been locked up in a psychiatric hospital or a nursing home without any reprieve despite the fact that NMDA R antibody encephalitis is a treatable condition P S I read the very same Lancet paper by Josef Dalmau when I was looking up on how to treat this disease, and I still pass the same abstract around when colleagues from other hospitals specialties ask me about good papers to read regarding NMDA R antibody encephalitis I used to occasionally watch a show called Mystery Diagnosis where someone would come down with the strangest disease with the weirdest symptoms They would go from doctor to doctor being misdiagnosed every time In the end, a brilliant doctor who specializes in the strangest ailments would correctly diagnose the patient with a rare disease that affects 1 in a billion people This book is basically an episode of that show.Also, I am told that the show House was like that, but I never saw it.The I used to occasionally watch a show called Mystery Diagnosis where someone would come down with the strangest disease with the weirdest symptoms They would go from doctor to doctor being misdiagnosed every time In the end, a brilliant doctor who specializes in the strangest ailments would correctly diagnose the patient with a rare disease that affects 1 in a billion people This book is basically an episode of that show.Also, I am told that the show House was like that, but I never saw it.The plight of the author is enthralling but scary Everything that happens to her will make you realize how easily our normal lives could be turned upside down This is not a book for the queasy or someone with hypochondriac tendencies The descriptions in the book are raw and terrifying.One other thing I will caution, not really good or bad, it just depends on your taste, is that the book is very clinical After reading I almost feel like I could go out and diagnose this condition myself If you prefer your non fiction in layman s terms, this may not be the book for you.If you like mysterious and terrifyingly true tales of the human body turning against itself, and the plight of the innocent soul within, I expect you will find this book very intriguing I rarely read memoirs Too often the author spends far too much time painting themselves in the best possible light and or justifying their behavior It is a rare and gifted author that can objectively describe a personal event without infusing it with strong emotions.Perhaps Susannah was able to accomplish this huge feat due to the simple fact that she was unaware of herself much of the time that her brain was inflamed She begins with the first noticeable symptom a couple of bed bug bites tha I rarely read memoirs Too often the author spends far too much time painting themselves in the best possible light and or justifying their behavior It is a rare and gifted author that can objectively describe a personal event without infusing it with strong emotions.Perhaps Susannah was able to accomplish this huge feat due to the simple fact that she was unaware of herself much of the time that her brain was inflamed She begins with the first noticeable symptom a couple of bed bug bites that were probably hallucinations and escalates from there Some of it remembers in bits and pieces right up until her major seizure which wasn t a pretty picture, nor did she try to paint it as such Rushed to the hospital, her mind is blank for the next month until she is correctly diagnosed and begins the slow healing process I found Susannah s story absolutely fascinating She fairly balances her experiences with simple medical terminology, cites doctors notes and tries to piece together a chronological picture of her sickness, interactions with those who love her, and hospital video She describes her intense and insane mindset without previously establishing her basic personality This is an excellent strategy as her writing style and brief normal clearly defines her as an intelligent and engaging young woman The fact that she is confident enough to allow the reader to arrive at this conclusion endeared her to me all theby trusting the reader Although I recoil when an author writes a book with an agenda, Susannah s agenda is simply awareness of the possibility that mental illness can be physiological in nature, caused by a virus or bacteria, changing the personality of a person to such an extreme that mental illness is diagnosed and the person spends the rest of her life in an institution Susannah was greatly blessed by intersecting with a doctor who had recently made the discovery of this malady It s an amazing story and Susannah is an extremely gifted writer This reader was stunned to do the math on Susannah s age She was 24 when she fell victim to this illness and nothan 27 or 28 when she reconstructed the time period and wrote the book I can t wait to see what else she publishes Losing big chunks of your memory is a bit like losing who you are or who you thought you were Because of a rare condition, Susannah Cahalan comes close to losing both her life and sanity before making a recovery What I found most interesting about the recovery however, is the question of whether we ve come to the other end of the rabbit hole and are still who we think we are How can we tell Cahalan relies on friends and family to tell her she is who she was This wasn t the focus of the sto Losing big chunks of your memory is a bit like losing who you are or who you thought you were Because of a rare condition, Susannah Cahalan comes close to losing both her life and sanity before making a recovery What I found most interesting about the recovery however, is the question of whether we ve come to the other end of the rabbit hole and are still who we think we are How can we tell Cahalan relies on friends and family to tell her she is who she was This wasn t the focus of the story, but it intrigued me because how can anyone outside of ourselves know if our personality, our intelligence, our way of looking at the world has been altered Diagnosed schizophrenic Psychotic or the victim of the greed of drug companies The last book I read was Stir My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home, an experience of brain aneurysm and recovery It was very so so but the author s appealing personality added much to the book I hoped that Brain on Fire, in the same genre, would be better The author s personality didn t shine through, but this might have been a fact that she lost herself with her illness.The illness, a rare, auto i Diagnosed schizophrenic Psychotic or the victim of the greed of drug companies The last book I read was Stir My Broken Brain and the Meals That Brought Me Home, an experience of brain aneurysm and recovery It was very so so but the author s appealing personality added much to the book I hoped that Brain on Fire, in the same genre, would be better The author s personality didn t shine through, but this might have been a fact that she lost herself with her illness.The illness, a rare, auto immune disease of the brain seems to mimic schizophrenia and you could see this when it was full blown However, what was not clarified was when the author was nuts and when she was seriously ill Before her illness it becomes apparent th at she might go to work clean and neat, but her apartment is filthy and she is a hoarder Her first symptom was that of seeing a bed bug bite on her arm given the state of her apartment you could see that her sheets probably hadn t been washed in months but no one else could see the bed bug bite I did wonder about her boyfriend, why he had enabled her to live like a mentally ill person before she actually was Why hadn t he cleaned the place if she was incapable of it Or got in a cleaner, we are talking very wealthy people here.The author makes an excellent point in that many people living with schizophrenia might actually have the same, easily curable brain disease, but the process of diagnosis was very expensive, although now one would hope that there are protocols to follow to rule it out before labelling someone psychotic for life The treatment was beyond most people s means, and most insurance companies would have bailed out long before 20,000 a bag drips were given.This is where I take issue with the expense I was recently stuck in Florida unable to get home because of Irma and the damage to airports etc There is a medication I need, I get it on prescription and pay 6 per pack I got some yesterday on the island, price gouging, now 12 I ran out while I was in the US Normally US pharmacists will not fulfil a non US prescription and I would have to see a doctor to get a new one but emergency regulations let me have a month s prescription 250 The pharmaceutical companies had Bush s permission to charge whatever they pleased So on my island they pharmacy s were making a profit selling the drugs at 6, and in the US the insurance companies were being asked to pay out 250 for the exact same medication in the exact same packaging.So maybe people were being diagnosed as schizophrenics rather than having a brain inflammation because of the greed of the drug companies and the desire of insurance companies to put profits before health Is this not a sick society The book was an ok read Medical mystery solved Pretty girl goes back to work and becomes celebrated author It could have been better The author could have collaborated with the brilliant doctor who diagnosed her to present a proper check list of symptoms and of tests to be done, so that other people might have a better chance of diagnosis For this, it s just three stars I m going back to Florida next week just for a little break from this awful post Irma third world living If I move there, it would be cheaper for me to fly up to the Caribbean every other month to get the prescription than to get it in the US You could probably call this a great piece of investigative reporting Unfortunately for me, it was instead labelled as a memoir, leaving me feeling exasperated and mislead I guess I was hoping for something akin to theenjoyable memoirs that I ve read I m thinking The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, or even Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, which is not so much memoir as it is fiction based on memoir beside the point This waslike an excruciatingly long newspaper article, ch You could probably call this a great piece of investigative reporting Unfortunately for me, it was instead labelled as a memoir, leaving me feeling exasperated and mislead I guess I was hoping for something akin to theenjoyable memoirs that I ve read I m thinking The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls, or even Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden, which is not so much memoir as it is fiction based on memoir beside the point This waslike an excruciatingly long newspaper article, chocked full of too much medical jargon and theory to be enjoyable I was really hoping for something witty, funny, anecdotal, interspersed with childhood memories maybe Instead, it s about the most linear, dully written thing I ve read in a very long time The story actually, it sof a soulless recording of events starts with the onset of symptoms we have no context for what the writer was like prior to this event in her life, and thus lose some of the implied contrast The lack of description in the book I m a big fan of Hemingway s iceberg theory, but it s based on the assumption that there is a common human experience on which one can infer things that are not written having a completely debilitating brain disease is not a part of that common experience, thus we need things spelled out for us leaves a big divide between writer and reader One of the things that I was always told about good writing is that the writer should show rather than tell This book is all telling Having just finished this in a day and a half because I wanted to move on to somethingenjoyable I m really confused by the 4.08 Goodreads rating This means it s been set between I loved it and it was amazing That just seems like a really big stretch for me The excess of sentence fragments alone should disqualify it from being anything above a 3 star rating The book markedly lacks any sort of style or writer s voice It s verysingular.I noted down two sentence that I thought were a bit ridiculous andor less summed up the whole book for me When speaking about her mother, She was terrified of even hearing about cancer on the radio I think the writer meant that her mother became terrified when she heard about cancer on the radio Otherwise, she is describing an irrational fear of the radio everyone around me struggled internally to keep the superficial flow of words going while also concentrating on ignoring the obvious pink elephant in the room my shocking state Problem words internally, superficial, obvious, my shocking state What a horrid sentence I m so glad to be finished this Interesting and terrifying read. When you read you enter another world, and as someone who is uncomfortable with even the idea apparently of care giving entering the world of hospitals for the majority of this book was painful for me Beyond that, I was unimpressed with the pop culture mentioned throughout the book she described someone as looking like a character from Mad Men and she even uses Google as a verb The part where she interviews John Walsh was probably the only part that I found truly enjoyable The first When you read you enter another world, and as someone who is uncomfortable with even the idea apparently of care giving entering the world of hospitals for the majority of this book was painful for me Beyond that, I was unimpressed with the pop culture mentioned throughout the book she described someone as looking like a character from Mad Men and she even uses Google as a verb The part where she interviews John Walsh was probably the only part that I found truly enjoyable The first half of the book plays like a mystery as to what is wrong with her and then midway through you find out what it is and the rest of the book describes the recovery where she incessantly wonders if she will ever be back to normal and fears what others think of her As I got most of the way through, I felt I needed to finish it to find out if the boyfriend leaves her or if they get married and I didn t really ever find out It might have been because I didn t end up reading all of the last pages Susannah Cahalan, a young journalist working at a great ok not so great, kinda schlocky actually metropolitan newspaper, suddenly notices things going awry She starts having episodes of paranoia, becomes hypersensitive to sound, light and cold She suffers from loss of appetite and begins having out of body experiences and wild mood swings A tour of New York psych and neuro pros did not yield muchthan a suspicion that she had been partying too hard On the other hand, grand mal seizure Susannah Cahalan, a young journalist working at a great ok not so great, kinda schlocky actually metropolitan newspaper, suddenly notices things going awry She starts having episodes of paranoia, becomes hypersensitive to sound, light and cold She suffers from loss of appetite and begins having out of body experiences and wild mood swings A tour of New York psych and neuro pros did not yield muchthan a suspicion that she had been partying too hard On the other hand, grand mal seizures can be so convincing.Susannah Cahalan image from Reader s DigestCahalan s is a tale of survival It is amazing, in the 21st century, how much we do not know about the human brain Maybe the Star Trek people were wrong Maybe the brain is the real final frontier It sure seems like a lot of the weapons being used today are as old fashioned as spears and tomahawks It is Cahalan s journey through this hostile environment that is one of the main foci here She was diagnosed by serious professionals as having partied too hard, as being bipolar, schizophrenic, psychotic and probably a fewfun things from the DSM manual Her story is almost like a mystery, with clues, red herrings, suspects, good guys and bad well, there are not really any bad guys, just uninformed medical pros Good guys include a bf made of solid gold, and several of the docs who look into her odd case Dad stands pretty tall as well One way you can tell the pioneers is by the arrows in their backs In terms of what Cahalan is finally diagnosed with it is clear that many of those pioneers did not survive There is a point in the progress of this particular disease yes, they do find what ails her beyond which the damage is too severe to step back Cahalan comes through, damaged but recovering So what are we to make of all this Cahalan s is definitely a story that comes from the heart She had to struggle to reconstruct events from her life, events for which she was present, in which she was even an actor, but events for which she retained no memory Scary stuff Her journey through the medical Indian territory was frightening and her arrival at Fort Diagnosis was uplifting We learn something new about the world and the information has implications for a wide swath of maladies Might it be that many who are diagnosed with autism, say, or schizophrenia, might have a treatable, biological, as opposed to psychological, disease It might Consider your horizon expanded There is a smattering of science in the book, maybe not enough for my taste, but certainly not too much, and what is there is simple and understandable, even for those of us whose medical expertise stops where the rules of Milton Bradley s Operation end.One crucial element here is the personality of the narrator How we feel about Cahalan can affect our reaction to the book overall Here we run into bit of a teratoma I did not feel much for this particular person While she is certainly bright, and writes well, I got the impression that she was not exactly the best possible human being During one of her episodes, Cahalan threw repeated fits in a car, while with her family It was like a spoiled child on steroids and meth It is an appalling scene, yet seriously mitigated by the fact that this person is not well However, it does make one wonder about how the manifestations of this disease reflect the underlying person Her mother later recounts Oh, and you were totally nuts You walked into a restaurant and demanded food Just demanded it Although I guess it s not too far outside your normal personality Sorry, but it is tough to root real hard for such a person Cahalan does offer a bit of perspective, with info on some other people who have been diagnosed with her disease But there was nothing there indicating a correlation, or not, between disease driven behavior and the personality of the sufferer I suppose it should not matter Even obnoxious people do not deserve such slings and arrows One aspect of this disease is that it can seriously impair memory, removing some that are there, and making it difficult to impossible to form new ones Even though I was not all that taken with Miss Cahalan as a person, she is a good writer with a fascinating tale to tell, one with implications far beyond her personal journey I will not soon forget it.P.S Teratoma the reason for using that particular word is that many sufferers of Anti NMDA receptor encephalitis often have had such tumors prior to onset of the disease CS did not I fearlessly cut and pasted the ff from Wikipedia A teratoma is an encapsulated tumor with tissue or organ components resembling normal derivatives of all three germ layers The tissues of a teratoma, although normal in themselves, may be quite different from surrounding tissues and may be highly disparate teratomas have been reported to contain hair, teeth, bone and, very rarely,complex organs such as eyes, 1 2 torso, 3 4 and hands, feet, or other limbs `Download Book ☔ Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness ↿ An award winning memoir and instant New York Times bestseller that goes far beyond its riveting medical mystery, Brain on Fire is the powerful account of one woman s struggle to recapture her identityWhen twenty four year old Susannah Cahalan woke up alone in a hospital room, strapped to her bed and unable to move or speak, she had no memory of how she d gotten there Days earlier, she had been on the threshold of a new, adult life at the beginning of her first serious relationship and a promising career at a major New York newspaper Now she was labeled violent, psychotic, a flight risk What happened In a swift and breathtaking narrative, Cahalan tells the astonishing true story of her descent into madness, her family s inspiring faith in her, and the lifesaving diagnosis that nearly didn t happen