Brain on Fire by Susannah Cahalan

Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness - Susannah Cahalan

She had worked at the NY Post for many years when she started to experience some unusual symptoms. It began with numbness and paranoid feeling about her boyfriend, these symptoms getting progressively worse as the days progressed. The 24-year old reporter then started to experience seizures and her mind started to wander, it was time to seek medical advice. They’re grasping at straws after MRI’s, EEG, and other medical tests are performed as all tests come back negative. Hallucinations, mood swings, nausea, you think it; she probably has experienced it as the doctors scramble to try to come up with a diagnosis for the multitude of problems that are invading her body. Although her divorced parents are barely speaking to one another, they are connected as Susannah battles this disease in the hospital. Her boyfriend Stephen is beside her, although at times, I know it has to be a struggle for him. The book moves quickly and there is lots of medical information, sometimes more than I can handle. The weight of the medical terms and conditions weigh me down at times but I plow through as I need to know what has plagued Susannah, what has mysteriously attached itself to her life. How something can grip a healthy woman and turn her into a slurring, confused individual- it baffled me and it was baffling many in Susannah’s life. Dr. Najjar and his blank sheet of paper change Susannah’s life. That one test that Dr. Najjar gives her explains many things and has the family deciding how to proceed. It was a book that offers hope, they continued to search for answers and her doctors never gave up. Unfortunately not everyone has the means to the medical treatments that she received but perhaps her story can help others.

I can relate to this story as many years ago, I was hospitalized for some illness which the medical staff could not identify. I even had the disease control specialist visit me which scared me, as I thought I had some strange disease but no one could find out what I had. I was hospitalized for about a week and at home, I was so exhausted, all I did was sleep for weeks. I really could relate to Susannah and was glad she got some closer and a diagnosis for her issue. Now I suffer from daily headaches, I’ve had the same headache for over 14 years. Medical conditions, they are life changing.