“Brain On Fire” was a frustrating journey through one woman’s month of medical madness. When Post reporter Susannah suddenly begins having seizures and speech impediments, she seeks help from several doctors. No one can determine what is causing her symptoms, which worsen daily. Severe mood swings and erratic behaviour prompt her family to provide 24 hour care for her, until she is ultimately admitted into the epileptic ward of a New York hospital.
The memoir highlighted so well doctors who are committed to helping patients and finding a solution, and doctors who are satisfied with complacency. The doctor who was convinced Susannah’s behavior was nothing more than alcohol withdrawal is a prime example of how women’s health is still minimized by male doctors. After extensive tests, scans, and observations, it is Susannah’s inability to draw a clock, a classic test that requires a patient to utilize both sides of the brain, that allows a dedicated doctor to finally realize that Susannah’s body is attacking the right side of her brain. He tells her that her “brain is on fire.” This was a very interesting memoir because it not only tells the story from Susannah’s perspective but also really delves into the medical background surrounding her condition. I liked Susannah instantly for her passion and spirit, and was very interested to see how she managed to overcome this life changing event. The writing was strong and easily described medical jargon as well as Susannah’s emotional journey.
This was a thoughtful book I would recommend to anyone with an interest in medical issues.