Happy Belated Birthday to Jessica over at The Tangerine. For her birthday she requested book recommendations. What a great gift! If only I could have written this post a little faster so that it was done in time for her birthday. However...
I recently read a fantastic book and am excited to share it. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness, by Susannah Cahalan, was both fascinating and terrifying. I was hooked from the very beginning! In this book, Susannah tells the true tale of her battle with a disease that involved her own immune system attacking her brain...basically her immune system tried to cook her brain. Like I said, terrifying and fascinating!
At first, there's just darkness and silence.
"Are my eyes open? Hello?"
I can't tell if I'm moving my mouth or if there's even anyone to ask. It's too dark to see. I blink once, twice, three times. There is a dull foreboding in the pit of my stomach. That, I recognize. My thoughts translate only slowly into language, as if emerging from a pot of molasses. Word by word the questions come: Where am I? Why does my scalp itch? Where is everyone? Then the world around me comes gradually into view, beginning as a pinhole, its diameter steadily expanding. Objects emerge from the murk and sharpen into focus.
I know immediately that I need to get out of here.
Susannah was lucky...I know, "lucky" is not a term one generally uses when talking about someone whose immune system tried to cook her brain, stay with me here...that she lived in a major city with a large hospital, she had insurance and she had family nearby to both help her and fight for her. Had she been in some small town in Nebraska (no offense, Nebraska), for example, I doubt her chances of a positive outcome would have been anywhere near as good. If she hadn't had family to help her she might not have been treated at all. If she hadn't had health insurance she surely wouldn't have received the treatment she did. Let's face it, this country is not a good place to be if you have a serious illness and no health insurance.
I shudder to think of other women facing this disease who are misdiagnosed, as Susannah was initially, and end up in a psych ward...or who do not survive. Terrifying.
This was a fast read because it was so fascinating. You can't make up stuff like this. It's amazing how much we still do not know or understand about the human body. Check out this book if you want to be both fascinated and terrified by what your body can do to you! For more information on this disease check out Susannah's website.
Sorry for being so late, Jessica, but I hope you had a fantastic birthday. Gefiliciteerd!! Check out other recommendations at Jessica's birthday link-up.