Book Club: Brain on Fire

Brain on Fire was a really interesting book. The main character almost got admitted to a psych ward because she had a rare autoimmune disorder that almost didn’t get diagnosed. Here’s the breakdown from Good Reads:

A gripping memoir and medical suspense story about a young New York Post reporter’s struggle with a rare and terrifying disease, opening a new window into the fascinating world of brain science.

One day, Susannah Cahalan woke up in a strange hospital room, strapped to her bed, under guard, and unable to move or speak. Her medical records—from a month-long hospital stay of which she had no memory—showed psychosis, violence, and dangerous instability. Yet, only weeks earlier she had been a healthy, ambitious twenty-four year old, six months into her first serious relationship and a sparkling career as a cub reporter.

Susannah’s astonishing memoir chronicles the swift path of her illness and the lucky, last-minute intervention led by one of the few doctors capable of saving her life. As weeks ticked by and Susannah moved inexplicably from violence to catatonia, $1 million worth of blood tests and brain scans revealed nothing. The exhausted doctors were ready to commit her to the psychiatric ward, in effect condemning her to a lifetime of institutions, or death, until Dr. Souhel Najjar—nicknamed Dr. House—joined her team. He asked Susannah to draw one simple sketch, which became key to diagnosing her with a newly discovered autoimmune disease in which her body was attacking her brain, an illness now thought to be the cause of “demonic possessions” throughout history.

With sharp reporting drawn from hospital records, scientific research, and interviews with doctors and family, Brain on Fire is a crackling mystery and an unflinching, gripping personal story that marks the debut of an extraordinary writer.

It’s a very fascinating book and I highly recommend it. There were times I could relate to it because I do have an autoimmune disorder but it also gave me a look into the world of mental health. It’s something that definitely needs talked about more here in the US.

The next meeting for book club is taking place at a winery. I’m not that excited about it taking place there. There aren’t a whole lot of gluten free, low fructose options. And I don’t really like Caesar salads. So, it may just be one of my cheat days. I may just have a pizza or something. Although I probably won’t have any wine. I’m not a big wine drinker. Ah well, the company will be good. And that’s all that’s supposed to matter in the end, right?


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