When her condition became nearly catatonic, Cahalan was hospitalized on the epilepsy ward of the NYU Langone Medical Center. For several weeks, numerous specialists studied her, her test results, and her continually declining behavior. No one came up with any good answers.
Eventually a real-life Dr. House, Dr. Najjar took her case. Through a simple exercise during his examination of her, where he asked Cahalan to draw a clock face, he discovered what he thought was wrong. The neurologist told her family that her brain was on fire. Her body was attacking her brain.
After a brain biopsy that positively concluded that Cahalan was suffering from anti-NMDA-receptor autoimmune encephalitis. A series of drugs were started immediately with slow results that eventually returned Cahalan to her former self.
Though she has no memory of her month in the hospital when she was at her worst, Cahalan has recovered. She realizes that her body could attack her brain again, at least now she knows the symptoms and how to deal with it.
Have You Read Brain on Fire? Think You Will?
Yes, Cahalan explains so well her particular predicament and lets us see how lucky we are when we're healthy!
I heard Susannah Calahan interviewed on CBC radio when she was releasing this book. Every day we have of life is a gift. Stories like this help me realize how fragile life is and how grateful I am to be given another day.
This did play out just like an episode of House, I enjoy his style very effective. I had heard about the Susannah Cahalan story but not in much detail. it's good to get the rest of the story. Well done and great images!
This is a shocking story. We are so vulnerable. Now you are here, full of plans and everything and then, just click - everything changes upside down.
You're so right, Brenda. We never do know. Good luck to your FB friend. Susannah Cahalan was at the right place at the right time for her correct diagnosis.
You just never know when something debilitating is going to strike you. You can be perfectly healthy and then bam! It doesn't matter whether you're young or old either. I have a friend on FB who suddenly aquired a rare and debilitating disorder that is life threatening. I've learned that most Dr.'s go by the text book. It's usually the Dr. who looks outside of the box that gives the right diagnosis.